God does not love you.

May 11, 2014

'The Sacrifice of Isaac' by Caravaggio.

‘The Sacrifice of Isaac’ by Caravaggio.

This morning I found a collection of old photos of family, and myself as a child. My mum has less of a 1980s Bon Jovi haircut going on these days, but nevertheless is still looking pretty similar, whilst my dad hasn’t changed a bit (though he has thankfully opted to ditch the three top buttons undone on his shirt these days). Another similarity between my parents of the ’80s and my parents of the 10s, is that neither were religious back then, and neither are religious today. And yet, the picture depicts my family all smartly dressed and me as a baby, on the day of my Christening into the Church of England.

I was baptised almost entirely because of my mother’s fear. Fear that if I died young, and the Christian God really did exist, there’s a chance He might send me to the pits of hell simply because a man in an old, elaborate crucifix shaped building hadn’t dunked my head in water. It is the hideous notion that a baby – far from obtaining the age in which they can reason – has angered God simply by existing. The sin of Adam, passed onto a completely innocent child, that now requires a bizarre ritual to cleanse, or eternal punishment. This is not a ‘love’ that any parent would wish to emulate and inflict upon their child, because it is not ‘love’ by any definition of the word.

The element of fear is doubtlessly a factor driving people to baptise not only their children, but themselves, in times of danger. In 2003, the Chicago Tribune posted an article entitled: “Facing uncertain fate, troops line up for Baptism”. It includes a quote from Cpl. Jason Irving, that reads:

“If I don’t get to see them again here on Earth, I want to make sure that I am all right with God, so I can see them in heaven.”

– The implication being that if his head is not dunked in water, there’s reason to suspect that the God of Christianity will forever keep him apart from his children in an afterlife. For myself growing up through years of school prayers, and hymns, hearing stories of what seemed to be good people destined for hell, the “love” of the Christian God seemed confusing at best, and today it seems absurd to me to claim that God loves you.

If we are to start from the premise that God is the single, infinite cause of everything (which apparently, doesn’t encompass ‘everything’, if we play by the illogical features of the commonly utilised cosmological argument), and thus has full control over all of His creation, then it seems self evident to me that human beings, and every living creature on the planet, are just small parts of a rather grotesque game. We are ‘valued’ as a pawn on a chess board might be valued, and sacrificed, and discarded, in a game of chess that God is playing against himself. We have no choice but to be chained to this game, to follow rules that are completely His invention, for a supposed ‘higher purpose’ that He created and has the full ability to achieve without the suffering He inflicts, and all appear to be for no other reason than to stroke His ego by insisting upon unquestioned worship and reverence – like a slave holder – on fear of eternal punishment.

The Christian God offers us His ‘love’ at the small price of suspending all of our natural faculties of reason – something He endowed us with in the first place. We are a species that values criticism and doubt in order to progress. Indeed, criticism and doubt are the essence of reason. God must have been aware of the cruelty of this. Like dangling bread in front of a starving child, and threatening to punish him if he eats it. We do not then get to claim we had a higher purpose all along. It is not ‘love’, it is blatant cruelty.

The disciple Thomas – as described in John – seems to have been a very wise, reasonable and curious man. He was not convinced by the other disciples that Jesus had returned from the dead, and so rightfully demanded proof. Thomas thus reflected the curiosity of Adam and Eve, forever punished for wishing the freedom to learn and to question according to our natural curiosity. If there’s one thing that oppressive power structures do abundantly well, it is policing thoughts and expression, for their own ends. Later, Jesus appears to Thomas and shows him his hand and side wounds in order to provide Thomas with the evidence he demanded. Upon seeing the evidence, Thomas is convinced. Jesus says:

“Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

As with Genesis, Jesus seems to be condemning doubt, and blessing unquestioned belief. Thus, both Genesis and Jesus (according to the Gospel of John) punish humanity for our natural condition, whilst demanding the suspension of that natural condition in order to achieve his blessing. A sick and completely unnecessary game of abuse. We are not free if our minds are chained. A worthwhile teacher does not teach children to believe exactly as they’re told without evidence. A worthwhile teacher inspires curiosity and a yearning for knowledge, to engage their natural desire to understand without bias or dogma. There is no love in demanding unquestioned obedience. It seems to me that if we are to indulge our curiosity and inquire into the nature of God’s ‘love’, and it is a love we identify with, it is all the more stronger if backed up with evidence, rather than a claim of ‘love’ that we are demanded to accept without question. The latter suggests that God may be a little insecure about his concept of ‘love’.

After endowing humanity with curiosity, the ability to reason and to doubt, and yet failing to recognise that we might use that natural disposition to question His demands, God sets out to fix it. In order to correct His mistake (the mistake of a seemingly unintelligent designer), He refuses to accept any responsibility, and chooses instead to violently torture to death a 1st century Palestinian Jew, and claim it was all for us. Christians today tend to argue that this was a heartbreaking ‘sacrifice’ for God to have made. To me, it seems the opposite. A sacrifice isn’t a sacrifice if the ‘victim’ rises three days later, walks around for a while, and ascends to heaven to join God as a judge for eternity. And again, this is all part of His design, His game, nothing and no-one else is responsible, it is all Him. Any deviation from his apparent plan, reflects His inability to think and plan ahead. But he can’t accept that, He refuses to accept responsibility for his dreadful workmanship, and instead punishes his creation for it. A victim blaming mentality. Indeed, absolving sins requiring a torturous death, is also His concept, His broken rules, and His idea of a fitting punishment, no one else thought this up. He may just as easily have told us that forcing Jesus to wear sandals that are too big for his feet, is the punishment required to absolve our sins. It’s all his silly little game, not ours, we didn’t ask for this badly planned dictator-like game. And what a stunningly ineffective punishment the sacrifice of Jesus to atone for sins was, given that Christians spent the next 1700+ years killing each other, forcing conversions, and building oppressive empires. It spawned just as bad, if not worse oppression, than it replaced.

All of this, a few centuries after asking Abraham to sacrifice his son to prove his devotion, before stopping him at the last minute. What needless and self indulgent cruelty to inflict upon a child. In the years between Abraham and Jesus, God chooses to make Jephthah follow through on his promise to sacrifice his child in return for victory in battle, rather than renegotiating a far less horrific deal, thus freely choosing to violate the sacred life of a completely innocent young girl. This is a God that appears to think that showing love and devotion, is intrinsically linked to torturing and murdering family members. Appeasing a problem that He created in the first place, is apparently redeemed not by accepting that His plan may not have been the most wisely conceived plan in history, but by the suffering of others; whether Adam and Eve, their progeny, Isaac, Jephthah’s daughter, Jesus, or the rest of mankind; we are all liable to be punished for His mistakes.

The predictable answer from Christians, is that we cannot know God’s love. It is a divine ‘love’ beyond our limited understanding. We are finite beings unable to conceive of the love God has for his creation. I find this to be a cop out. After all, God must know that this World is all we know, and so it would make sense for his dealings in the material World, to be sympathetic and sensitive to our condition in order to cause us the least suffering and pain. Instead, He is fine with intervening according to His own standard, knowing the suffering and pain it causes His subjects. God must be aware that by way of its cruelty, the ‘love’ he offers, is a love that no reasonable person would strive to emulate with people that we love. And in fact, in many cases – human sacrifice as a sign of devotion for example – if we were to emulate His divine standard as reflected in His example to us, we’d be condemned to Hell.

To conclude, even if we discard the horror of God’s ‘love’ for us, it would still seem to me that a finite human being, with such precious little time on this Earth, offering to spend that time loving you for just being you, is a far greater love than an infinite being, unrestricted by time, offering to love you or torture you depending on how well you adhere to His list of demands. A human being’s love for another human being, is therefore greater than God’s ‘love’ for humanity. To the Christian God, you are simply an ant struggling to survive, and God has his foot hovering just above your head, waiting to crash down upon you if you do not sufficiently beg him not to. God does not love you, God tortures you.


The Power of St Peter.

February 23, 2014

Source:  Wikimedia Commons Author: By Emilio García from Parla, Spain (cropped version of San Pedro vigila).

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Author: By Emilio García from Parla, Spain (cropped version of San Pedro vigila).

It is ten years this year since my first trip to Rome. A friend of mine had given me ‘Rubicon’ by Tom Holland to read. It’s a book that chapters the fall of the Republic and the rise of Octavian. The epic nature and the timeless names of the final years of the Roman Republic, with all its contradictions, had me hooked from the first page of the book, and I endeavoured to visit the city. At that time, it never occurred to me that Rome was the cradle of not just one masterful empire, but two.

The Via della Conciliazione leads from Castel Sant’Angelo to St Peter’s Square. It’s a relatively narrow street given how central its location to Papal power. Far narrower than the Mall leading to Buckingham Palace in London. It feels like a tunnel that comes to an end at the vast opening of St Peter’s Square. St Peter’s is an odd contradiction. A beautifully crafted plaza surrounded by stone Saints and the genius of Bernini, yet funded by the hideous robbery of the poor by the church through the sale of indulgences. It was the sale of indulgences that started the ball rolling of the rejection of Papal authority, through what became the reformation.

Inside the walls of the Vatican stands St Peter’s Baldachin. Bernini’s towering Baroque structure is said to stand directly above the tomb of St Peter, which apparently – though very doubtful – lies underneath St Peter’s basilica. The giant structure and its placement echoes the power and supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church, built upon the ‘rock’ of St Peter. Which leads to the question, what is the Biblical justification for the presumed power and supremacy of Rome, and for the legitimacy of the line of succession from St Peter to Pope Francis, and all in between who have had such vast power and influence?

You will have to excuse my overlooking of the question of whether the Biblical Peter actually visited Rome at all, or in fact, actually existed. I want instead to focus on presumed Papal authority and its fundamental justifications.

Paragraph 882 of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church says:

“… the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”

– The problem with this declaration is twofold. Firstly, there is no Biblical reason to accept that the Church in Rome was considered supreme in authority over any other sees. There is likewise no early Christian writings that establishes Rome as the supreme centre of Christendom for at least a century following the death of Peter. And even then, Irenaeus’s suggestion at the power of. Roman Catholic authority is dubious, due to its many translations. Secondly, there is no Biblical justification for a line of supreme authority succession from the Roman “Vicar of Christ”.

On the first point, it is generally argued that ‘1 Peter’ establishes – by Peter – the episcopal see in Rome as the supreme church governing all churches, with this particular verse that Peter supposedly wrote to several churches throughout early Christendom:

“The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Mark my son.”

– It is this that the Vatican uses primarily to place Peter in Rome. The common argument is that ‘Babylon’ was an early Christian code-word for Rome. The Book of Revelation similarly calls Rome ‘Babylon’, and this is used as further evidence that Peter thus used ‘Babylon’ as code for ‘Rome’. Though there is a vast difference between the writing style of Revelation – figurative, mythological – and the reference to ‘Babylon’ in 1 Peter – a plain, rather boring, matter-of-fact salutation. Revelation is also written decades after the death of Peter, and there is no reason to think Christians at the time of Peter were already using “Babylon” as a code for Rome. Also, Revelation is not speaking directly to any group in particular. Peter is tasked with speaking to Jewish communities. We know from Josephus, that Babylon had a great number of Jews at that time, and it isn’t unlikely that Peter was writing from the actual Babylon on the Euphrates itself.

The Vatican’s insistence that Rome was established as the supreme church is curious for several more reasons than just the writing style of 1 Peter. Firstly, Peter isn’t only thought to have established the episcopal see in Rome, but also the episcopal see at Antioch. And by early Christian standards, Antioch was a far more important place than Rome. And if we are to consider the idea that the word ‘Babylon’ in 1 Peter refers to another city, I’d suggest it’s far more likely to refer to Antioch, than to Rome:

Rome isn’t mentioned once as an important Christian city in the New Testament, but Antioch plays a vital role. Indeed, the importance of Peter in the early spread of Christianity, is echoed in the importance of Antioch. In Acts 11:26 we see just how important Antioch was for the early Christians:

“…And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.”

– The concept of being ‘Christian’ comes to us from Antioch. ‘Prophets’ – whomever they are – came specifically to Antioch all the way from Jerusalem, suggesting that Antioch was a city with great importance and influence for the early Christian communities across the empire at that point. This is also where Peter specifically chooses to establish a Church.

The fascinating pre-Christian history of Antioch brings up an unexpected link with Babylon. It was Alexander the Great’s general Seleucus I Nicator that built and established Antioch as his city of governance for the new Seleucid Empire in the fourth century BC. Seleucus established himself in Babylon in 312bc, which is the year given for the beginning of the Seleucid Empire. The importance of Babylon at that point cannot be overstated. Seleucus soon noticed that the Western section of the empire including Syria, and Turkey, had considerably more advantages than the Eastern section. The Eastern section contained Babylon. The Western section needed a Babylon of its own. So Seleucus had Antioch built in the West, and soon flocks of people from the east – including a great number of Babylonians – were now moving west, to Antioch. The establishment of Antioch and other cities by Seleucus was one of the key reasons for the decline of Babylon. Indeed, it was the Babylonian Priests that dominated Antioch at that time. Antioch was so incredibly Babylonian a few years later, that the historian Franz Cumont noted:

“There can be no doubt that Babylonian doctrines exercised decisive influence on this gradual metamorphosis and this latest phase of Semitic religion. The Seleucid princes of Antioch showed as great a deference to the science of the Babylonian clergy as the Persian Achaemenids had done before them.”

“It was Babylon that retained the intellectual supremacy, even after its political ruin. The powerful sacerdotal caste ruling it did not fall with the independence of the country, and it survived the conquests of Alexander. The researches of Assyriologists have shown that its ancient worship persisted under the Seleucids, and at the time of Strabo the Chaldeans still discussed cosmology and first principles in the rival schools of Borsippa and Orchoe.”

– From the clear influence of Babylonian culture on the foundations of Antioch, and from the clear central importance of Antioch to the early Christians, I would suggest that if we are to follow Papal reasoning, that Peter was not referring to Bablyon – then the reference to ‘Babylon’ in 1 Peter is more likely a reference to Antioch, and not to Rome. The Seleucid’s may have moved to Antioch, but remained the Kings of Babylon. This seems too significant for me, to simply overlook.

So, if we cannot reasonably suggest that Peter had established the church in Rome as the supreme authority, and placing aside the translation issues of the often quoted Irenaeus passage for the supremacy of Rome from around 120 years after the death of Peter – is there any Biblical reason to presume the supreme authority of Peter, and that of the established line of Papal succession?

Biblical scholars date the Gospel of Matthew to between 80ad and 110ad. At best, around fifteen years after the death of Peter in Rome, and at worst around half a century after the death of Peter in Rome. Between the death of Jesus, and the Gospel of Matthew, there is no hint of justification for the supremacy of the Bishop in Rome. Whilst Peter is given a special place among the apostles in spreading the message of Jesus, his establishment is never suggested supreme over all others, and the other apostles certainly are not told that they are subordinate to Peter.

The authors of the letters of Paul and Peter themselves appear to have no conception of Roman church supremacy. As shown, there is certainly more reason to suggest the primacy of the Church at Antioch, than Rome. Paul certainly isn’t preaching the supremacy of Rome, and in fact appears to consider himself to be the authority on early Christian doctrine especially in relation to gentiles. It is Paul who by his own words rebukes Peter over Peter’s apparent hypocrisy. In Galatians 2:11-14 Paul says:

“When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?”

– Paul here – and later – argues that old Jewish laws should not apply to gentiles. Peter didn’t seem to know where he stood on certain Theological questions of the early Christians, which Paul then goes on to argue and address. The only mention of Peter, by Paul, is an argument between the two, and Paul rebuking Peter. It is afterall not the case today, that Christians must observe the laws of Moses.

Indeed, the author of 1 Peter himself seems to hint that Christians in Asia Minor are also to be considered stones upon which Churches are built, in much the same way as Matthew describes Peter:

“4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

– Later in the same chapter of 1 Peter, the author’s use of language is not demanding – as one might expect from the supreme leader of the Church over all other Churches – but simply one of an advice giver:

“11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.”

– He ‘urges’. There is no authoritarian demands, as one might expect from the single authority of Christian dogma. There is simply suggestion. He has no authority to demand. He isn’t ever claiming to be an authority on the entire church.

It is clear from the Gospels that Peter doubtlessly plays a more pronounced role in the spread of Christianity, but not as the single supreme authority on the new faith. There is no hint in Peter’s letters in the New Testament, that he considered himself to be the supreme head of the entire Christian faith. This idea seems to come from one brief and ambiguous passage in Matthew – written decades after Peter’s death, and presumptions of superiority due to his elevated status among the other apostles. There is no hint anywhere in the Bible that Peter ever set out to establish a supreme Church to rule all the churches, from Rome. There no hint in the Bible or in the writings of Peter or Paul, that an apostolic line of succession for the Bishops of Rome would forever be the ultimate Christian authority. There is nothing from Paul to indicate that he had any idea of the supremacy of Peter – indeed, Paul rebukes and argues with Peter – or the necessity for a central authority in Rome. This has no basis in anything but later conjecture, that seems to begin with the Gospel of Matthew and – as usual – relies heavily on cherry picking.

So the question remains; for such a powerful institution that has controlled and influenced the land, the art, the expression, the sexuality, the thoughts and the lives of so many Christians and non-Christians over the centuries, on from clear Biblical basis does the Roman Catholic Church derive its power?


The importance of Moses

August 15, 2013

529px-Moses_Pleading_with_Israel_(crop)

It is difficult to over exaggerate the importance of Moses to the narratives of the three major religions. The Talmud refers to the Pentateuch as the ‘Book of Moses’. Jesus mentions Moses’ supposed Prophecy if the Gospels are to be believed. The Qur’an speaks of the exodus as if historical fact, with Moses (Musa) being a key Prophet for the faith. All three rely on his existence, and his deeds. All three rely on the story of the Exodus. If the stories of Moses & the exodus fall down, all three major faiths fall down with it.

It is of course obvious, that the first five books of the Bible contain massive inconsistencies and errors. This in itself is not enough to dismiss the entire text, given that it isn’t considered the exact word of God (as the Qur’an is) but it is enough to question the legitimacy of the claim that the first five books were penned by one man; Moses. It has been the opinion of most scholars for around the past century, that the first five books were written by multiple authors. There has been disagreement over how many authors there may have been, when they were composed, when they were edited and put together. Despite the disagreements, it is generally accepted that multiple hands are at work with the first five books.

The Yahwist source (known as Source J, and named so because it refers to God as ‘Yahweh’ – Jehovah – some argue that this source was produced in the 6th Century BCE as a prologue to Deuteronomistic history covering Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings) places Moses as someone only able to stop God’s plagues upon Egypt. God is solely responsible. Moses, the intermediary. Whereas, the Elohim source (Source E, named so because it refers to God as ‘Elohim’) suggests that Moses was someone who openly threatened Pharaoh, and was himself responsible for bringing about the plagues. Both sources were written centuries after Moses supposedly lived.

The contradictions begin right at the start of Genesis, and proceed from there. The contradictions are actually two versions of the same story. For example, the order of creation in Genesis 1 is: plants, animals, man & woman together. Whereas, the order of creation in Genesis 2 is: man, plants, animals, woman.

So, if we can discount one Jewish/Christian myth of Moses, what about the others? Well, the most notable story is the Exodus out of Egypt. It is this story that places Moses at epicentre of Judaism, and therefore Christianity, and later, Islam. Without this, Judaism falls to the ground, Jesus’ mention of Moses in the Gospels, is irrelevant, and the Qur’an appears as nothing but a plagiarised version of the other two.

The supernatural elements of the claims about Moses certainly have no evidence. There is no evidence to suggest that a large amount of Israelites crossed a parted Red Sea, no Egyptian source that ever mentions Israelites enslaved in Egypt who later escaped. In fact, no Egyptian source mentions an enslaved Israelite population at all. There is also absolutely nothing to suggest the plagues took place. No evidence of the mass genocide of first born Egyptian sons.

We can of course accept that the supernatural elements were invented to give divine aspect, thus solidifying a story for the purpose of group solidarity and power, in much the same way as the later – more creative – stories of the Prophet Muhammad developed in order to solidify a new Arab Empire.

On a side note, one of the supernatural elements of the story – that of the genocide of first born Egyptian sons commonly known as Passover – always seemed to me to be a particularly vile ‘celebration’. There seems to be an odd obsession with linking death, to salvation within Christianity and Judaism. I have never been able to understand why Jesus needed to die, in order to absorb the sins of humanity. Where is the connection between the two? Why must Egyptian children be murdered, in order to free Israelites? I am delighted that Passover isn’t based on historical fact

The situation though, seems to suggest that even the more historically ‘believable’ aspects of the story lack any sort of evidence. Archaeologists have all but given up searching for evidence of a mass exodus of Israelites out of Egypt. There is nothing that even slightly suggests it ever happened. Ze’ev Hertzog, an Israeli archaeologist says:

“The Israelites never were in Egypt. They never came from abroad. This whole chain is broken. It is not a historical one. It is a later legendary reconstruction—made in the seventh century [BCE]—of a history that never happened.”

Similarly, renowned archaeologist Israel Finkelstein says:

“Modern archaeological techniques are quite capable of tracing the very meager remains of hunter-gatherers and pastoral nomads all over the world…repeated archaeological surveys in all regions of the Sinai peninsula…yielded only negative evidence, not even a single shred , no structure, not a single house, no trace of an ancient encampment…there is simply no evidence at the supposed time of the Exodus.”

The traditional date set for the exodus at 1450bc (set, due to the mention in Kings of 480 years before the founding of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem) conflicts with Biblical description of just how the Israelites were put to work years before the exodus, here:

Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.
– Exodus 1:11

– The name Rameses was used by Egyptian Pharaohs, though the first to use these conflicts with the dates given for the supposed building of the city of Raamses. As Kenneth Kitchen points out:

The first of these, Ramesses I, reigned only sixteen months and built no cities. None of the rest founded major cities either, with but one exception. He was Ramesses II, grandson of I, who was the builder of the vast city Pi-Ramesse A-nakhtu, “Domain of Ramesses II, Great in Victory,” suitably abbreviated to the distinctive and essential element “Ra(a)mses” in Hebrew.

Ramesses II reigned from 1279–1213 BC. Two hundred years after the exodus, and even longer after the Bible suggests the Israelite slaves built the city. Ramesses II’s body was buried in the Valley of the Kings, but is now in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum…. not at the bottom of the ocean after the parted Red Sea engulfed him.

The site “Islamic Awareness” also comes to the conclusion – through Qur’anic inquiry – that the Pharaoh of the exodus (as well as at the time of Moses’ birth) was Ramesses:

“In conclusion, the Qur’anic presentation of the Pharaoh of the Exodus is internally consistent and fits well with the extant egyptological data. This is also in line with the earlier studies by Hamidullah[87] and Fatoohi et al.[88] who have arrived at similar conclusions, albeit using less exhaustive and sometimes shaky evidence, that the Pharaoh who ruled Egypt before the birth of Moses until the Exodus and his (i.e., Pharaoh’s) death was Ramesses II.”

– And despite their thorough discrediting of the traditional Biblical narrative, “Islamic Awareness” offer no evidence for an exodus during the time of Ramesses. They also do not mention how Ramesses II actually died; at the ripe old age of 90, with terrible arthritis and hardened arteries… not drowned at sea, as the Qur’an claims.

The exodus would have been perhaps the most calamitous moment in Egyptian history (with the exception of Augustus’ annexation) The Biblical narrative states that:

37 And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside women and children.
38 And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.
– Exodus 12:37-38

– To put this into perspective, the English city of Manchester has a population under 600,000. Less people live in Manchester than the population of Israelite men (not including women & children) supposedly breaking away from Egypt. When we include women and children, we can guess of a number higher than 1,000,000. At around the time of the exodus, Egypt’s population hit around 3 million people. This means, that around 33% of the population of Egypt escaped from a state of captivity, without any record of them ever existing.

The Amarna letters dated to the mid-1300s bc, make no mention of any huge slave revolt or inevitable economic meltdown that a 1,000,000+ slave revolt would have caused. The Amarna letters are unique, in that they are 382 diplomatic correspondence on clay tablets from that very specific period of Egyptian history. Fourteen correspondence with the Babylonians, more to the Syrians, Hatti, and Lebanon. None mention Israelite slaves or a mass revolt.

The website “Answers in Genesis” tries to argue that the Israelites didn’t just build Pi-Ramesses, but also built the Pyramids. David Down, the author of the article, and apparent archaeologist says:

“When we take the history and chronology of the Bible as written, we find that it makes eminent sense of the archaeological evidence. The pyramid builders were not people who had evolved from animals over millions of years. Rather, they were once part of an advanced civilization which built an imposing tower that soared over the plains of Babylon (Genesis 11), a people descended from a family that disembarked from the 15,000-ton ocean-going Ark (Genesis 6–8). We still do not know exactly how they accomplished all their engineering feats in ancient Egypt, but we can be sure that a people who were less than 30 generations from Adam had incredible intellectual skills.”

– It is difficult to know where to begin on such a ridiculous paragraph, but what strikes me as being at the heart of this piece, is that Down takes for granted the idea that the Pyramids were built by slaves. This is a myth. It is handed to us by Greek historian Herodotus, who claimed the Pyramid builders were slaves originally, but modern archaeology tells us that the Pyramid builders were in fact, paid labourers. Ex-director of Berlin’s Egyptian Museum, Dieter Wildung says:

“The myth of the slaves building pyramids is only the stuff of tabloids and Hollywood.”

– Many of the workers who died during the construction of the Pyramids, were buried with honour, by the site, something that would not have been offered to slaves. Slaves did not build the Pyramids. Israelite slaves, descended from a family on an ark, certainly didn’t build the Pyramids.

The ‘Torah’ relies on the story of Moses for credibility with regard its laws, handed down by God, to Moses. If Moses did not pen these laws, and if multiple sources over time penned these laws, then it stands to reason that they came from already established systems of law. Around 3200BC there existed a tribe of people who lived in Egypt called the Kemet. They seem to have been a civilisation who lived a rather advanced existence, just slightly before the Early Dynastic period, and so predating Pharaoh Narmer who is identified as the man responsible for uniting the different tribes of Egypt, thus becoming known as the first Pharaoh of Egypt. The unified Egypt incorporated ideas and beliefs from the tribes that it unified, one of which was the Kemet concept of “Ma’at“. Ma’at was the principle used as a guide on law, morality, truth, and spirituality that was needed to help unify Egypt. The principle was depicted as a Goddess – also called Ma’at – who was said to be in control of the stars, the sky, law, and men. They deified the concept of Ma’at. She was essentially the main God. The guiding principles of Ma’at were set out in what is known as the 42 Declarations of Purity. Of those, 10 of which can be found in the Commandments handed to Moses. Or, possibly, given that Egypt had long been a force in Canaan and the surrounding area, by the 20th century BCE, the influence of those basic principles enshrined in Ma’at; principles that lived on in Ancient Egypt, reached the Israelites, who simply appropriated much of it for themselves.

Judaism relies on the story of the exodus for its origins. Christianity relies on the historicity of Moses for the very fact that Jesus himself mentions Moses as if a historically accurate figure from the Old Testament:

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.”
Matthew 19:8

Indeed, if the first five books of the Bible are not written by Moses, then Jesus is completely wrong:

45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.
46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.
47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

– Christianity, and the claim of Jesus as a fulfilled Prophecy from Deuteronomy 18:15-22 among others, relies solely on not only the existence of Moses, but his penning at least some of either Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, if not all of it. And yet, we now know that those five books were penned by different authors, at vastly different times.

Similarly, the Qur’an, a book supposedly the exact, uncompromising, completely accurate word of Allah mentions the story of Moses, as if historical truth:

Then we sent after them (the messengers) Moses with Our signs to Pharaoh and his chiefs, but they disbelieved in them; so see what the end of the corrupters was (7.103). Moses said: “O Pharaoh! I am a messenger from the Lord of all peoples (7.104). It is a duty on me to say nothing about Allah but the truth; I have come to you with clear proof from your Lord, therefore send with me the Children of Israel” (7.105).
Sura Al-A’raf

– This suggests that either Moses’ people escaped from Egypt, left absolutely no trace, and their captors wrote nothing of them, or even acknowledged their existence until God mentions it to Muhammad thousands of years later. Or, the Qur’an is not the word of God, and was instead used as a way to anchor the new Arab empire to a religion that was strengthened by the name of already established mythical names and events. Indeed, later Hadith tell us that Muhammad upon his Night Journey visited heaven, and met Moses. The reliability of both the Qur’an and Hadith, and so, Islam’s claim on Jerusalem, whither away to nothingness, if the story of the exodus is false, which is appears to be.

There seems to be very little reason to believe Moses achieved what the Holy books claim he achieved. It is as good as certain that there was no vast exodus out of Egypt; the underpinnings of Judaism, Christianity and Islam fall at their most basic hurdle. If the exodus didn’t happen, then Christianity stole it from Judaism and fabricated the words of Jesus in an attempt to confirm the Prophecies of Moses. Similarly, if the exodus didn’t happen, early Muslims must have appropriated the story for themselves, added a few bits, subtracted a few bits, but ultimately the point remains the same. Therefore, the first five books of the Bible – written by different people, at different times, for different purposes – are the most important aspects of the three major religions.

Collective enslavement of Israelites in Egypt, and their subsequent break from bondage, appears not to have ever occurred. The supernatural elements of the story can therefore be equally as dismissed as fantasy. It is more likely that Canaan slowly became Israel, incorporating Semites from Egypt, with stories of their own, crafting a new narrative for a new people. All civilisations have their creation myths. Moses was a key name to this, much like Romulus was a key name to the mythical creation of Rome. Whether Moses existed historically, may never be determined, but what is becoming increasingly obvious is that the stories attributed to Moses from the Torah, the Bible and the Qur’an, are all fabrications.


The Incoherence of ‘End Time’ Prophecies.

March 24, 2013

Oxford University has a rather curious name for the beginning of its January term. This is referred to as “Hilary Term”. It is named after the 4th Century End Time Prophet and Bishop of Poitiers, St Hilary. Hilary predicted that the end of the World would occur in the year 365ad. This rested on the idea that the short-lived Roman Emperor, Jovian, was the anti-christ for restoring Paganism as the Imperial religion. Hilary believed Christ would soon return, that those times were predicted in the Bible, and that the end was on its way. Hilary is the first that I have been able to find, whom directly claims the Biblical rapture was imminent.

A lot of writing and philosophising has been exhausted by Catholics and Protestants alike, in their attempts to work through Biblical references to the end times, and what the words could possibly mean for humanity. End time prophecies based on selective interpretations of Biblical language have plagued humanity since the collating of the Gospels. Any slight Earth tremble, is interpreted as the beginning of the end. Any election of a President the American Right Wing dislike, is sure to herald the rapture. Whenever a Nation legalises same-sex marriage, the Christian Groups insist that Jesus is on his way back in a fit of outrage.

The ‘End Times’ have inspired many self-proclaimed End Time Prophets to attempt to insist that the end is here. It is a theme that follows through from the beginning of Christianity, right through to today. The prophesies of Hilary, to Pat Robertson, in 1990 claiming the end of the World would take place on April 29th, 2007. For those wondering….. it didn’t end.

The Vatican is not immune to End Time prophets in their highest rank. Riots sparked when Pope Sylvester II claimed that the new millennium, in 1000ad would herald the end of the World. Pope Innocent III predicted that the World would end in 1284, 666 years after what he considered to be the beginning of the rise of Islam. And today, we still have people claiming End Times. The worry today, is those claiming to be “prophets” based on ancient hearsay are often exposed for the frauds that they quite obviously are, attempting to build a worryingly dangerous cult around themselves, but only when it is too late. Jim Jones is a good example of this. We must be ever vigilant, with the onset of social media and the ability of these people to reach a large audience, including very young, vulnerable and impressionable people, the dangers of those attempting to create cults around themselves, built on threats of eternal punishment, instilling fear in order to win people over to their cult. Some, i’m sure, believe what they are saying. Most, I would argue, are manipulators, and very dangerous con artists.

For a sneak peak at today’s manipulative end time ‘prophets’, preying on the vulnerable:

1
brenda
– Marketing-your-cult lesson One: Set up a picture of yourself praying. Add blood drops around it to convey doom. Abraham did this too!

Where then do End Time Prophesies originate? What does Jesus actually say? I have spent the past week trying to plot out exactly what he supposedly said, and to read, and re-read the exact language, within the context of the people he was addressing, the situation at the time, and the comments of Biblical commentators later on in the Book who mention End Times.

It seems to me that the description of when the End Times is likely to occur in the Bible, is perhaps the least ambiguous and most agreed upon between Gospel writers, of all Jesus’s speeches or actions. The Gospels are notoriously inconsistent, and quite often disagree with each other without any explanation, driven largely by the fact that they were penned decades after the supposed death of Jesus. The quite obvious question we must pose, when searching the Gospels for answers on the End Times, is “When?” We must read the Gospels with that question at the front of our minds. And so it turns out, the disciples asked the exact same question, and got a direct answer.

According to Matthew 24, Jesus begins to describe the end of days:

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you.
5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,
11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,
13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—
16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house.
18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak.
19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!
20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.
21 For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equalled again.
22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.
23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.
24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
25 See, I have told you ahead of time.
26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.
27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.
29 “Immediately after the distress of those days “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.
31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.
33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.
34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.

– Throughout this piece, Jesus is directly referring to his disciples. This is not a prophecy set to take place thousands of years in the future. He refers to those living in end times, as “you”. He is clearly suggesting that his disciples, the very people who asked him the question “When?” will still be alive when the end of days arrives. Jesus clarifies this further, with the most important line of this entire section, with “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened“. All these things. This includes the loud trumpet call whilst the ‘Son of Man’ appears in the clouds. Jesus is not talking to us, 2000 years in the future, he is talking to the people there and then, about an event he expects to take place within their life times.

This isn’t unique to Matthew. Luke 21:32 recounts the story, and states:

“Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”

-It is clear. Jesus expected End Times to occur within the life time of his disciples. We can point to ‘wars’ now as mentioned would appear, by Jesus. Or famine. Or Earthquakes. It is all irrelevant, because Jesus sets a time frame of within the lifetime of those whom he is addressing at that time.

There is very little agreement on whom penned the Book of Hebrews. Paul is often cited as the author, others claim Clement of Rome. Great early Christian scholars like Origen accept that no one knows for sure. It is a wonderfully written book nonetheless, and is further essential to our investigation into when End Times was expected, within a Biblical framework. Mention of the End Times is given prominence right at the beginning of Hebrews.
Hebrews 1:1-2 states:

“1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways,
2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. ”

– It is quite unambiguous. Early Christians understood End Times as being exactly as Jesus had intended. Christianity was not meant to be a religion that spread throughout the ages, filled with Popes and Cathedrals. Jesus was supposed to be the very final messenger in the very final days of the life of the people of Earth. It seems, as End Times didn’t arrive as planned, and yet more people were exposed to Christianity, structure began to become important to the faith. Jesus does not mention any form of necessary Church structure. He is primarily concerned with ‘saving’ people then and there, because he is convinced End Times are around the corner. To Jesus, there would be no reason to begin such an organised religion. To Paul however, as End Times didn’t seem to be imminent, we suddenly see structure and uniformity becoming important; organisation became the key element to the early Church, whilst still presenting the idea that End Times are on their way (this had to be kept up, otherwise it undermines Jesus’ teaching entirely) and so it is from that perspective, that I interpret 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18:

“16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

– This seems to be a bit of a pep talk. Essentially, ‘don’t worry, I know you’re waiting for the end to come, and it will come very soon (“we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds”), just keep the faith’. It makes reference again, to that specific generation. They were clearly expecting Jesus to return to that generation.

St Peter, the chief of the Apostles, according to the Catholic Church, was another of the generation of Jesus, who understood Jesus’s words, as they were meant to be taken, not as we take them today, concerning End Times. In the First Epistle of Peter (1 Peter 1:, largely believed to be written by St Peter (though, there are several reasons to believe this isn’t true), it is stated:

“He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.”

Peter Continues. 1 Peter 4:7:

“The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.”

– Throughout Peter, Thessalonians, and the Gospels, the subject of End Times is of key importance to the early faith. And that End Time is considered imminent. There is a theme of desperation running through the texts. There is absolutely no way that Jesus according to the Gospels ever considered the idea that the End Times would not happen within that particular period. Thessalonians echoes Jesus’ thoughts. Peter starts to echo the thoughts of Jesus, telling his followers that Jesus is about to appear. But time is now passing, and there is no Jesus. It has been decades. There is no sign of a return. So Peter changes the story a little… and by a little, I mean, completely. 2 Peter 3:9 :

3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,
4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
5 For this they wilfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water,
6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.
7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judegment and perdition of ungodly men.
8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

– Here, Peter changes the entire story, that End Times are coming. Every End Time position since, can be traced back to this. Peter here, tells his followers that End Times aren’t imminent after all. It is clear that between 1 Peter and 2 Peter, followers had been wondering why End Times hadn’t arrived, enough to make Peter address the problem directly. And he does that, by moving the goal posts. He suddenly introduces the idea that a day in human time, is a thousand years to God, and so Peter suggests that what Jesus actually meant was not that the end was coming to the generation that he told the end was definitely coming to…definitely….. he actually meant it could occur at any time, according to God’s misshapen time schedule. But then the question arises, why would Jesus not just say that in the first place? He was speaking to mortals, trying to save mortals. Mortals who had no concept of God’s 1000 year = 1 day scale of time. He needed to be far more specific with such an important aspect of his message.

‘End Times’ is not a valid Theological position to hold in the 21st Century. In fact, at any time outside of the immediate generation of Jesus, ‘End Times’ could not be considered a valid position to hold. To hold this position, is to ignore everything Jesus actually said on the matter, and everything Hebrews, and Thessalonians say on the matter, and instead to cling to the desperation of Peter to salvage what was left of a key concept to a faith – a concept that was quite obviously being questioned, even at the time – that relied so heavily on End Days. This has further implications for Christianity as a whole, given that it would appear the early writers considered the end of everything to be imminent, Jesus to be key to that, and their writings reflect the necessity for that generation to be fully prepared for it.

It is therefore, not a surprise that of the 23 predictions from modern prominent Christians, that the World would end between January 2000 and today, alone….. none of them have actually come true.


The Jesus Myth

July 9, 2012

I have previously pointed out – here – that one of the major inaccuracies in the entire Bible is the suggestion that the Ten Commandments – the very foundation of Christianity – are unique to Christianity, or originated with Christianity. They didn’t. They originated with a pre-Pharoah tribe of Egypt called the Kemet, whose concept of truth, law and justice was consolidated into a theory called ‘Ma’at’. The ten commandments of the Bible are derived from the 42 principles of Ma’at.

But what if the glaring lie that the ten commandments were uniquely handed to Moses at the top of Mount Sinai, was not the biggest inaccuracy in the Bible? What if the biggest lie in the Bible was that Jesus existed at all?

Biblical historians generally agree that a man named Jesus probably did exist. Though, they never tend to give any strong evidence for his existence. Nothing written from the time he was alive. Nothing for decades after his death. It is all hear-say. If we are to give such power over people’s lives to the Church, we should at least provide evidence that the entire base of the Church itself is credible. At the moment, it really isn’t. Why must we resign ourselves to believe he existed, when we have pretty much no evidence? It seems far more likely that Jesus didn’t exist, and i’ll explain why.

I have been convinced for a number of years that there was never a man called Jesus as described by the Gospels or by Paul. He just didn’t exist. I will try and give as good an explanation as possible for coming to this conclusion, starting with Raglan’s Scale, moving onto Biblical inaccuracies, addressing an argument made famous by C.S Lewis, a quick glimpse at Paul, and ending with the Crucifixion, and quite possibly the most important element of my claim that Jesus never existed; Philo of Alexandria.

Raglan’s scale
In 1936 Lord Raglan wrote a book that attempted to rationalise ancient religious hero worshipping by their shared characteristics, and rank them. The more characteristics that fit the so-called hero, the less likely they were to be real, and simply following a tried and tested method of hero creation. If they had less than five of the characteristics that Raglan sets out in his book, then they are more likely to be historical figures. The characteristics were as follows:

1. The hero’s mother is a royal virgin
2. His father is a king and
3. often a near relative of the mother, but
4. the circumstances of his conception are unusual, and
5. he is also reputed to be the son of a god
6. at birth an attempt is made, usually by his father or maternal grandfather, to kill him, but
7. He is spirited away, and
8. Reared by foster-parents in a far country
9. We are told nothing of his childhood, but
10. On reaching manhood he returns or goes to his future kingdom.
11. After a victory over the king and or giant, dragon, or wild beast
12. He marries a princess, often the daughter of his predecessor and
13. becomes king
14. For a time he reigns uneventfully and
15. Prescribes laws but
16. later loses favor with the gods and or his people and
17. Is driven from from the throne and the city after which
18. He meets with a mysterious death
19. often at the top of a hill.
20. his children, if any, do not succeed him.
21. his body is not buried, but nevertheless
22. he has one or more holy sepulchres.

– Each mythical hero is given a score out of 22 depending on how closely their lives follow these characteristics. For Raglan, Oedipus scores the highest with 21 out of 22. Here is a ranked list of ancient heroes:

How Some Heros Scored
Oedipus scores 21
Theseus scores 20
Moses scores 20
Dionysus scores 19
Jesus scores 19
Romulus scores 18
Perseus scores 18
Hercules scores 17
Llew Llaw Gyffes scores 17
Bellerophon scores 16
Jason scores 15
Mwindo scores 14
Robin Hood scores 13
Pelops scores 13
Apollo scores 11
Sigurd scores 11.

– Jesus makes the top 5. By Raglan’s scale, it is more likely that Apollo existed, than Jesus. The Jesus myth seems to follow almost perfectly – the mould for religious hero creation. This of course doesn’t necessarily mean that Jesus never existed, it would however be quite the coincidence if he just so happened to follow the exact pattern of hero creation. But if we are to still believe Jesus was an actual historical figure, we must ask…. why not Apollo too? Why not Mwindo? Mwindo is more likely to exist than Jesus, and Mwindo is a figure who is said to have travelled to “the underworld”.

Historical inaccuracies:
The Bible is excellent at rewritting history. It is wonderful at contradicting the life’s work of so many great history scholars. We know for example, that there is no historical mention of Herod’s slaughter of the innocents as mentioned in Matthew 2:16-18. This is quite plainly invented history, much like the Exodus in the OT. There are other important aspects of the Jesus story, that are also clearly invented:

2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.

– It is in Luke that we get the story of Jesus’ birth. Luke suggests that the reason the family of Jesus travelled to Bethlehem was because Augustus issued a census of ‘the entire Roman world’ so that Joseph, being a descendent of David, had to go back to the town of his forefather.
This short description, given by Luke, is entirely nonsense. Put aside the fact that a Roman census absolutely never forced people to go back to the town of a certain generation of ancestor, and put aside the fact that we now can only really trace our lineage back a few generations whilst Joseph seems to have been able to trace his back thousands of years (unlikely), there is no evidence whatsoever that Augustus ordered an Empire wide census to take place throughout his entire 40 year reign. It isn’t like we don’t know much about Augustus; he is one of the few Emperors that historians have a wide knowledge about, and not once, in all the literature written about Augustus, or at the time of Augustus, alludes in any way to a census. The only time it’s mentioned, is in the gospel of Luke.
Perhaps then, Luke was just a little bit incompetent his historical accuracy (which in itself, means the entire Bible should be called into question) and was in fact referring to the Census of Quirinius in 7ad. Quirinius was governor of Syria and proposed a census for tax purposes. Again, this didn’t mean everyone had to travel back to the land of a certain generation. The problem with this is that if Luke was referring to this, he then places Jesus birth around 7ad. It gets problematic, because the Gospel of Matthew states:

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

– Herod died in 4bc. 11 years before the Census of Quirinius.
Either Luke is wrong, Matthew is wrong, or as I suspect…. given that they were both written decades after the death of Jesus, by people who had never met Jesus, nor lived close to Jesus…. both are wrong. There have been attempts to correct this mistake, all have been disastrous attempts to hold onto something that is just massively inaccurate. In the 1550s, the cardinal and “historian” Baronius tried to argue that Quirinius must have been governor more than once. In the same era, John Calvin tried to suggest that the census was ordered by Augustus before Herod’s death, but not implemented until after his death (an entire decade? really?). None of which has any historical evidence to back it up. It is unsurprising that Luke got it all wrong, given that he was writing after 70ad (he mentions the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, which occurred in 70ad. Jesus supposedly died in 34ad. Quite the gap).
The one thing that is obvious from the gospels, is that Jesus had ‘divine’ parentage. This isn’t new. Julius Caesar claimed to be descended from the Goddess Venus. This again, follows the myth creation mould perfectly.
So, we know that the gospels really do not have any idea what they’re trying to represent. There are glaring contradictions between the accounts. And they were written by people who were writing second, third, maybe fourth hand information, three generations away from the actual events they describe.

The ‘trilemma’
Linking somewhat to historical inaccuracies, the author C.S Lewis attempts to draw us into a ‘proof’ for the divinity of Jesus by offering a false ‘trilemma’ argument:

” am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell.”

“We are faced, then, with a frightening alternative. This man we are talking about either was (and is) just what He said, or else a lunatic, or something worse. Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God. God has landed on this enemy-occupied world in human form.”

– There is a falsity here. Lewis is claiming that there are only two possible alternatives to the divine Jesus. Either he’s divine, or he’s a lunatic, or he’s ‘the Devil of hell’. Which suggests ‘the Devil of hell’ actually exists, which automatically presumes God exists. This is an argument, already presuming a God. He doesn’t question the existence of God, the Devil, nor Jesus in the first place, nor does he consider the possibility that a man named Jesus perhaps existed, and a legend of hear say grew up after the death of the human Jesus. It goes something like this:
1. Jesus was either a mad man, a liar, or divine.
2. Jesus was neither a mad man, nor a liar.
3. Therefore, Jesus was divine.
– On the surface, perfectly logical. But dig deeper, and it becomes very problematic on several levels. Firstly, “…or divine” is a bit of a leap, given that Jesus makes no such claim as we understand it today, to be the son of God. We know that the only real claims on divinity – and often cited – come from the Gospel of John. We cannot take this seriously, as it’s the last gospel to be written, and so almost certainly inspired firstly by the other gospels (Mark in particular), and by the consensus and traditions of the early Christian church. So, “..or divine” is not an acceptable addition to the premise. Secondly, why are those the only three choices? Why not “Jesus was either a mad man, a liar, divine, didn’t actually exist, or a later legend?” In fact, i’m sure we could all think of many more choices to add. And so, by not including “or didn’t exist” as an option in point 1, it already presupposes that he did. And so we should add point “0.5. Jesus Existed” before Point 1. Point 2. is irrelevant as point 1 is incomplete. Though on point 2, how can we be certain Jesus was neither a mad man nor a liar? C.S Lewis fails on this one, and yet it is often used by Christian apologists as a proof of Jesus’ divinity. They use the Bible to ‘prove’ Jesus was neither mad nor a liar. Fallacy after fallacy.

Paul.
Paul, the man that Christian scholars point to as evidence for the existence of Jesus does not mention his divinity, his virgin birth, or his miracles. Paul didn’t know Jesus; never met him. Simply had a “vision”. I’m afraid I can’t base historical or divine accuracy of Christ, on a supernatural “vision”. Nor is there any evidence, actually, to suggest Paul was real. Paul was supposedly hunted down by 200 soldiers, 70 horsemen, and 200 spears men according to Acts. There is absolutely no evidence for any of that actually happening. Not one reference other than the Bible. For a man who supposedly caused quite a lot of ripples in the ancient World, in a well documented and understood region, to not be mentioned once is ludicrous.

Paul is the link between the death of Jesus, the thirty years in between, and the writing of the gospels. So, how did the gospel writers come across all this information about the divine birth, the years in the wilderness, the miracles, the Jewish council (who supposedly met up on Passover eve to condemn Jesus…… that just wouldn’t have happened), the wise men, the disciples, and every other aspect of the life of Jesus that Paul had no knowledge of and never spoke about?

Philo of Alexandria.
Perhaps the biggest thorn in the side of Christianity in their quest to prove the existence of Jesus, is Philo of Alexandria. Philo lived a long life throughout the entire supposed life of Christ, lived in and around the areas affected by Christ, and wrote about the Jews of the time extensively. He was in or around Jerusalem when Herod supposedly sent out the order to massacre the children, he was in Jerusalem for Christ’s supposed entry into the city with a plethora of adoring fans. He was there when Christ would have been crucified, when the darkness came over the city, when the earth shook with the wrath of God. Philo lived through it all. And yet, in all his writings, he mentions none of it. He doesn’t acknowledge any earth shaking, he doesn’t mention a man who apparently had the ear of thousands, he doesn’t mention the trial on the eve of passover, he mentions nothing of the sort. The name Jesus, is not even suggested by Philo.
It is not like he would not have known, that it might all have been kept from him. Philo’s nephew was married to the daughter of Herod Agrippa – the ruler of ‘the Jews’ in the region after the exile of the evil Herod of Bible fame. Philo’s brother was one of the richest men in the area. It is impossible that Philo would have not known of such an important and beloved-by-the-masses son of God. The reason that Philo does not mention Jesus in over 850,000 words that he wrote of the time period, is because Jesus didn’t exist.
Philo isn’t the only person at the time who didn’t mention Jesus. No one else did either. Not even Jesus himself. There is nothing written by Jesus in the history books (for such an important man, you’d have thought something might have survived), there is nothing written by any contemporary’s of Jesus, written about Jesus. The first mentions come decades later.

Crucifixion and Resurrection.
Ressurrection may seem miraculous to we with 21st century rationale. But in 1st Century Judea, it was nothing special. Everyone was doing it. It was the cool thing to do. Jesus did it within the Christian tradition. Izanagi did it in Japanese mythology. Dionysus in Greek mythology, along with many other parallels between this god and Jesus, did it. The Phoenix in Arabian tradition rises from the ashes. Ba’al of the Caananites around the Levant did it. Inanna, who, quite scarily was the Sumerian goddess of sex… and war, did it. So you see, Jesus rising from the dead was pretty common, and had been done before. He was nothing special.

In fact, even regular dead people were rising back to life:

….the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
Matt 27: 52-53 (NKJV)

– We picture Jesus rising from the dead. Nowhere in any lesson, do Christian teachers tell us that dead people started breaking out of their graves and walking the Earth, like a mad zombie attack. What this shows is, raising from the dead isn’t exactly an attribute that only Jesus possessed. Everyone was doing it.

The death of Jesus is the central point of the Christian religion. The cross is the most revered symbol on the planet. Churches are built in its design. So, you would think, given its importance, the Gospels would be consistent on this central event. But no, they contradict each other…. again.
Firstly, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, all agree that Simon carried the cross to the place of execution. John however – along with Mel Gibson – have decided that Jesus carried the cross. This is the story as we picture it. As suggested by one gospel. The gospel of Thomas, which was excluded by early Church leaders for being too heretical (not conforming) does not mention the crucifixion or resurrection at all. The gospel of Peter, says that Herod, not Pilate ordered the death of Jesus. Peter also says that Jesus was resurrected, and ascended on the same day, not days later.

According to John, Jesus last words were “It is finished“. According to Luke, they were “Father, into your hands I commit your spirit“. In Matthew and Mark they were “My god, why have you forsaken me?” … he also said “Woman, behold your son” to his mother, he also said “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do“…… Jesus said way too much for his final words. In a Court of Law, the gospel writers, as witnesses, would be deemed unreliable.
Who did Jesus first magically reappear to? Well, if you believe Mark, to all the disciples. If you believe Matthew, to Mary Magdalene. If you believe Luke, to Cleopas. Truth is, the gospel writers are clearly guessing. They have no idea. Because, as shown previously, the one link – tenuous as it is – that they have, is Paul, and Paul didn’t witness any of it. There is no reason to accept such weak hearsay as fact, or even historically probable, in any way.

The theory of where the myth of Jesus actually came from varies to large degrees. It has been hypothesised for over a century that Jesus may not have existed. In the early 20th Century a Mathematics professor from New Orleans named William Benjamin Smith put forth the idea that a small Jewish cult existed centuries before the supposed birth of Jesus that believed in a God named Jesus. A sect that essentially grew into what it is today by incorporating myths from other sects and evolving over time, becoming more inclusive. Smith points to a couple of suggestions by the third Century Theologian Hippolytus, that there existed a pre-Jesus sect of Nazaraean’s.

Ellegard argues that Paul was simply a mad man convinced that the World was set to end, and when it didn’t, the gospels arose to give credit to his claims amongst his followers and believers who now had very little to believe in. Ellegard’s articles are well worth a read, and can be found here.

This has been a pretty short introduction into why I’m almost certain that the historical, and divine Jesus as depicted in the Bible never existed. Nonetheless, it can all be summerised quite simply by stating that there is nowhere, other than the Bible (and the gospels that were not accepted into the final edition of the Bible) that mention Jesus, or any part of his life from any contemporary source. Nothing written by Jesus. Nothing written by any of his followers. Nothing written by any historian of the time. Just, nothing. This suggests to me, that there was not a divine, nor historical figure of Jesus present at the times suggested. The implications for Christianity are obvious; if Christ was either not divine, or didn’t exist, the power of the Church is illegitimate.
Christianity began with the gospel writers. Not with Jesus. Not with Paul. It began with gospel writers, and history was then rewritten to fit their story, for reasons of power. Nothing more.
Even if we were to suppose by some huge leap that Jesus did exist as depicted by the Bible; there is no reason to believe what he says was true. Being born of a virgin does not automatically make you dependable or trustworthy. Power should be able to legitimate itself. The power of the Christian religion over the poorest and vulnerable throughout history, the bloodshed, the forced conversions, the excesses of faith by revered figures such as Mother Theresa. The treatment of homosexuality, the subjugation of women, the regressive attitudes toward social progression and scientific advancement. All of it is illegitimate, borne out of the premise of either a very ambiguous historical narrative, or a completely invented narrative. Further, if Jesus was a completely invented figure; it would seem to suggest that Islam plagarised much of its religious claims, from Christian traditions. The implications for the non-existence of Jesus, are huge, and should be the topic of intense historical research and critical analysis.

UPDATE:
For Part II of this, I have written here, and deals entirely with Christian claims that the writings of Josephus ‘prove’ the existence of Jesus.

For Part III of this, I have written here, to focus exclusively on the Annals of Tacitus; another often referred to source.


If we believe absurdities, we commit atrocities…

March 6, 2011

You are perhaps going to have to forgive me for writing a blog that is all over the place, this is a subject that I have tried to grapple with for the past few days, almost non-stop, and so this blog is almost just a bunch of thoughts splashed on a page. It may not make sense.

On Thursday night I went to along to a debate between the Muslim International Public Speaker and Researcher Hamza Tortzis and Atheist Philosopher and editor of the Philosophy magazine “Think“, and senior lecturer at Heythrop College in the University of London Dr Stephan Law.

Allow me to set the scene.
95% of people in the room – Muslim.
5% – Atheist.

The fallacies set fourth by Tortsiz were just too easy to discredit. Law was good, but he didn’t have enough time to really get to grips with the arguments. And he was faced with a room full of people who had already decided he was wrong, before the debate even began.

After the debate I got a few minutes to try to debate with Tortzis myself. Unfortunately he had to leave and so I didn’t get the chance. But he very kindly left me his email address, so that we could carry on the debate via email.

One of his points that I took issue with, was the subject of objective morality. It is widely used by the religious community. Tortzis claimed that one can only have a sense of objective morality through God, because the Bible/Koran are books that anchor morality. I find that claim to be ludicrous. It is ludicrous because if it were the case, we would still be advocating stoning people for working on a Sunday, and selling slaves. We have outgrown religious morality, and so it cannot possibly be anchored, transcending time and culture.

I emailed this:

Firstly I wanted to debate a couple of points you made.
You suggested that we Atheists can have no moral basis, simply because we don’t have a belief in a God. You somehow linked a lack of belief, to a lack of basis for morality, to….. Hitler. As if Scientific rationalism (which i’d even agree, can be flawed) lead to Hitler and the holocaust. You mentioned Hitler and the holocaust in relation to a lack of basis for morality several times. The Pope actually made very similar remarks when he was in England.
Firstly, Hitler was Roman Catholic. He certainly wasn’t Atheist.
Hitler in 1922, said this:
“My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. .. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison.”
Hitler in 1933, said this:
“Today they say that Christianity is in danger, that the Catholic faith is threatened. My reply to them is: for the time being, Christians and not international atheists are now standing at Germany’s fore. I am not merely talking about Christianity; I confess that I will never ally myself with the parties which aim to destroy Christianity.”
Hitler, also in 1933, said this:
“We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.”
Hitler in 1934, said this:
“National Socialism neither opposes the Church nor is it anti-religious, but on the contrary, it stands on the ground of a real Christianity.”

To even have suggested Atheism can lead to the rise of people like Hitler, is a gross manipulation of the historical fact, which shows quite clearly that Hitler’s motives came far more from a belief in organised religion, than it ever did from some sort of Christopher Hitchens style Atheism. It is simply wrong of you to have suggested that, it cannot be presented in any other way.

Another reason why it is wrong to have suggested that it is Atheists who have no basis for morality, is that it would appear you chose to ignore the absolute atrocities committed throughout the history of religion, in the name of religion. Atheists did not imprison Galileo. Atheists did not torture people of other faiths. Atheists did not start a war, killing innocent people, over a piece of land in the middle of the desert. Atheism did not behead, torture, rape, encourage our “brothers” to kill in the name of our religion like the Catholic Church did in the 16th Century, or like Protestant England did around 1534 onwards. Atheism is not responsible for the idea that it is perfectly acceptable for a grown man to suck the blood out of the mutilated penis of a baby boy, like the Jewish Mohel is employed to do. It wasn’t Atheists who called for Salmon Rushdie to be beheaded, simply because he wrote a book. It wasn’t Atheists who burnt down a Danish embassy, simply because a cartoon “offended” them. It wasn’t Atheists who moved to the Colonies of the United States and began the biggest mass genocide up until that point, in history. It isn’t Atheists who shoot abortion doctors in America. It isn’t Atheists who go to Uganda and profess that condoms actually cause AIDs. It isn’t Atheists who torture and kill people in Africa simply for being in love with someone of the same sex, because their vicious dogmatic hatred tells them that is acceptable. It isn’t Atheists who blocked the entrance and constantly picketed and threatened staff at a cancer unity, and made that cancer unit in England give it’s donation back to the writers of Jerry Springer the Opera because they considered it “blasphemy”, thereby depriving that cancer unit of key equipment. Religions claims on morality are bordering on laughable, given the history of it. Where is the morality in that? Those people aren’t Atheists. They are religious, and they genuinely believe what they are doing is right by their God. Christianity even has ten commandments, in which most of them are just rules on how to not make God jealous, rather than something like “do not molest children”. You chose to ignore all of this, and by doing so, presenting just one simplistic version of what morality is, you managed to make a bunch of people who clearly could not think for themselves, sat in front of me, say constantly “great point!! Atheism is fucking nonsense”. And again, for our Atheist debater to have not picked up on any of this, was incredibly frustrating. What you essentially did, was ignore the immorality of religion over the years (which is so vast, I don’t even know where to start) and point to the holocaust, as evidence for where a lack of moral basis can lead, and even that was flawed because as seen, Hitler was Roman Catholic. So that entire five minutes of your argument was just invented history.

On to the subject of Atheist morality itself, you suggested we have no basis for morality. I would argue that my basis for my sense of morality comes from the progress society has made to get to the point we are at now. It is all a process of Natural selection. My basis for morality is the history of morality. We have acquired such “codes” if you will, to survive. The same can be said for religious evolution. Have you noticed that people who have so-called “Conversions” almost always convert to a religion that is predominant in their culture anyway? I never see a person in Leicester suddenly decide they need to convert to Taoism. It is rare to find a person in Leicester suddenly, out of nowhere, decide they had a religious experience in which they saw an elephant with a blue face and several arms, it will almost always, in the West, be a conversion to Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. There will be the odd one or two discrepancies, but if research were undertaken on this, I’m fairly certain we’d find that “conversions” are very much influenced by cultural values already quite strong in whichever area one grew up. This, i’d suggest, is because religion updates with the rest of society. If we were to abide by the Biblical or Quranic “ethics” of 1500 years ago, I cannot imagine we’d all be too happy.

You argued that Atheist morality cannot have objection meaning. Well, nor can religious. Religious people will always argue that their book can be interpreted in many ways, so by definition, it is subjective. An Islamic fundamentalist will no doubt read the Quran far differently to how you do. Does that mean he is wrong? Why is he wrong? He is interpreting the Quran in his own way. He is getting out of the Quran, how his mind interprets it. So on the one hand an Islamic scholar may completely deplore Islamic fundamentalism, and on the other an Islamic scholar elsewhere may condone it. Subjective morality based on apparently objective values. If Christians were to interpret the Bible in the way that early Christians did, then the institute of marriage now would be between a man/rapist/child molester and his virgin woman, another woman, another woman, a few more women, a hostage, a rape victim, and the female children of parents who have just been slaughtered. But never a homosexual, because that is apparently where they draw the line, quite amusingly.
So religion itself can be very subjective, because it rules are ambiguous and in many cases, very out-dated (as of my interpretation, i’d guess you might interpret it differently – proving my point).

To his credit, he emailed back almost immediately with:

Hi Jamie
Thank you for your email
I will read thoroughly and respond appropriately
But one thing you need to understand, I never claimed Atheists have no moral foundation or are immoral, not once did I say this.
What I said was that in absence of God you do not have a conceptual anchor that transcends human subjectivity. In other words there is no foundation for objective morality.
With regards to the Nazi Germany point, I never claimed that Hitler was an atheist! My point was that if we take social pressure as a foundation for objective morality then we cannot fully condemn such atrocities which were the result of social pressure.
You really need to listen to what I am saying, and not skew what I say via your previous experiences with religious people etc.
I will respond in more detail. But in the mean time please read “Ethics” by J L Mackie (who was a leading atheist philosopher) and you will see that according to the atheistic perspective there are no objective morals. They are just relative.
Warmest Regards
Hamza

I never said I thought he’d told me that Atheists are immoral.
The line:
“My point was that if we take social pressure as a foundation for objective morality then we cannot fully condemn such atrocities which were the result of social pressure.”
…. is a again misleading, because if we take Religion as a foundation for objective morality, we cannot fully condemn such atrocities that are committed by people who genuinely believe what they are doing glorifies God.

Also, the line:
“a conceptual anchor that transcends human subjectivity”
is very unnerving, because a concept, by definition, is surely man made? And so a concept cannot transcend human subjectivity. A conceptual anchor is just another way of saying a theory. A concept cannot be an anchor because it is not, by definition, truth. Surely a conceptual anchor could also be a political theory…….. like Fascism? To its adherents, it transcends human subjectivity.

The greatest adversaries of morality, are those within the religious community, who sincerely believe that the acts of great cruelty and evil that they commit, are permitted and encouraged by their God and that they will be receiving a reward in an afterlife for committing such acts.

If your book of “objective morality” can permit such acts, or be interpreted to apparently condone such acts, then I do not want your objective morality; it’s fucking horrific. I never once claimed, nor do most Atheists, that we base our moral foundation on social pressure. I certainly don’t. I base it on the one rule that outshines every other when it comes to morality: Treat others as you would be happy to be treated yourself.

Are we honestly saying that for hundreds of thousands of years, the evolving man raped and murdered his way across the World, and then, in the middle of the Desert, 1500 years ago, God suddenly said “okay this needs to stop”. How ridiculous.

Surely an objective truth is objective to the person making the moral statement, unless he is lying. So if there is only subjective morality and I say “It is moral to slaughter millions of Jewish people“, that is objective to me, in the same way as a Muslim suicide bomber would argue that it is morally right to fly a plan into a building.

The reliance on a God for the basis of objective morality, is subjective also because one cannot prove, or come anywhere close to proving the existence of God, and so one cannot prove, or come close to proving the existence of objective morality. I have just as much evidence to say that my God is a man with three heads and talks to me when I am asleep, and has told me that it is morally acceptable to kill all men with ginger hair. If we are to take the Theist argument, then that is my new basis for objective morality. You can be as absurd as you wish, and claim that that particular absurdity provides you with a foundation of objective morality, without offering any proof into the existence of the very thing that apparently gave you the morals in the first place.

Moral objectivism is contradictory, because it updates itself when new evidence is presented to the contrary. So it is subjective by nature. Maybe moral conservatism is a better term. If we are the follow the “objective morality” of the Old Testament, we must surely be arguing the case for slavery? Have the moral objectivists succumbed to so-called “social pressure”? Was the “objective morality” of the Old Testament simply “objective morality” within the context of the time period, in which case, it isn’t objective.

Suicide bombing is almost monopolised by religion. Shooting abortion doctors is definitely monopolised by religion. Chopping the foreskin off of a baby is definitely monopolised by religion (it is also a crap argument for design, if you have to cut off the foreskin of a babies penis, had God messed up when he created foreskin?). Marrying off children to older men is definitely monopolised by religion (and the Catholic Church is REALLY trying hard to make paedophilia a monopoly held by religion). “Objective morality” sent by “God” necessarily makes otherwise good people do awful things they would not normally do. Where would anyone get the idea that it is okay to mutilate a child’s genitalia, without their “conceptual anchor” saying so? Is that really what we’re calling a morally superior system?

How are we to judge whether what organised religion tells us is an objectional basis for morality, is moral in itself? How can you say for certain that it isn’t the work of Satan trying to mislead us? How am I to judge the morality of your Holy Book? Where does the objective foundation for my judging your Holy book come from?
It remains, that even if you conclude that objective morality can only come from God (which I absolutely don’t accept), there is no way to know that that basis, is moral in itself, for that you require belief.

Tortzis continued:

Whatever basis you select or decide for our sense of morality it will always render morals subjective, unless its God.

Take evolution and social pressure for instance. They both change and therefore make morals relative to biological or social changes.

Why must moral facts, come from a God? We can, as Atheists, say rationally that causality plays a role in our morality. We can say that by a given action, this will happen, we can deduce a moral judgement. David Kelley in “Logical structure for objectivism” (which I’ve just picked up at the library, for this very reason) states:

” Material needs such as needs for health and food: these values contribute directly to survival.
Spiritual needs such as needs for conceptual knowledge, self-esteem, education and art: these values are spiritual in the sense that they primarily pertain to consciousness, and contribute to survival by helping Reason to function properly.
Social needs such as needs for trade, communication, friendship and love: these values are social in that they occur only through interaction with others. Logically, their status as values is due to the fact that they contribute to the fulfillment of spiritual and material needs.
Political needs such as needs for freedom and objective law, which are needs concerning the organization of society. These provide the context for fulfilling our material, spiritual and social needs”

It is a similar point to what Maslow was getting at. Objective morality, they argue, is based on causality. Like religion though, the basis of that morality is quite clear, whilst the implementation may differ from person to person. My need for love being that with a member of the opposite sex, will be different to my gay friends, but the need for love itself, is objective. This doesn’t then lead us to say that that particular objective structure, could lead to the rise of Hitler or people like Hitler. Because you must introduce context to the action, because context is reality. Killing a snake as it about to bite us and killing someone on the street are two entirely separate things. The state of ourselves, the state of the thing being killed, the action needed to perform the killing, all lead to different results. One way, we are saving ourselves, the other way, we are a criminal who just murdered someone. The Bible states “Thou shalt not kill”. There is no context to that, we just must never kill. So, actually that is not objective, because it isn’t based on reality, because it doesn’t take into account context, and context is always necessary to make moral judgements. Dogmatic subjectivism cannot give moral answers. As we see every day with the way religious people use their religion to carry out horrific acts.

Thomas Paine noted this, two centuries ago:

“Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistant that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.”

Are we to claim that those cruel and tortuous executions, that unrelenting vindictiveness is objectively moral?

So, i’d go one further and suggest that kinship is also a factor. In fact, i’d suggest objective morality is a very deep mental process that cannot be summed up with just “God”. It is a process of learning. It is kinship and the recognition of others right to life as we recognise it in ourselves. It is knowledge, education, health, freedom, friendship and love, and causation, leading to what it is that will make us happy without hurting those around us; treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself. If we hadn’t developed this system of “codes”, we would not be here now, we would have been one of 99% of natures victims. If I bring God into the equation, I may treat others as I wish to be treated…. unless they’re Gay, or a non-believer, then I should unquestioningly presume they are going to hell, but just after I have sold my slave.

We have evolved to have certain characteristics; love, aggression, hate, friendship, compassion, anger. We note which ones give a positive response from others, and so that becomes a part of our moral decision making process.

Besides, I think I have found a moral in the Bible, that I actually like:

So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But Thomas them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
John 20:25

I interpret this very subjective passage, to mean that one should question everything, until you see what is being fed to you as truth, demonstrated for you. I like that moral. I will stick to that moral, because that moral leads me to logically conclude that the god of the Bible, does not exist.

If we are to accept that the foundations of objective morality come from God, then why worry about anything that He has created? Humans existing and living in parts of the World that are largely uninhabitable? The fact that we have natural disasters that aren’t in anyway the fault of humanity? It’s all part of God’s plan. Why care? Do we have to care for the sake of reward in an afterlife, or fear of punishment? Is that moral? If my boss is saying to me “you either come to work, or you stay at home, but if you stay at home I will sack you”….. then morality suddenly has a context factor introduced, which renders it almost immoral; i.e – I am going to work, because if I don’t, I will be punished.

The morality of the Quran and the Bible seem to be “I, God, made you sick, with a sickness that I created, and now I have given you the chance to be well, but if you don’t get well, I will have you tortured for eternity”. If I were to enact that kind of regime on Earth, I would surely be labelled immoral by many different people, including the religious.

I find it simply absurd, that apologists of organised religion can have the nerve to claim they have a foundation for objective morality, when people within their own faith cannot even agree on its rules. It is a contradiction beyond anything I think I’ve ever stumbled across.
The mere idea of objective morality is just as troublesome, if not more so, than moral relativism.
Perhaps we should call religious “objective morality“….. “non-thinking morality” or “blind acquiescence morality“.

There are actually no amoral primate social groups anywhere in the World. Even Baboons have codes of conduct. The biologist Edward Wilson describes instances where chimps jump into water to save drowning mates. He suggests this is a primitive version of morality.

Michael Shermer, the American scientist has noted that certain traits are noticeable in great apes:

attachment and bonding, cooperation and mutual aid, sympathy and empathy, direct and indirect reciprocity, altruism and reciprocal altruism, conflict resolution and peacemaking, deception and deception detection, community concern and caring about what others think about you, and awareness of and response to the social rules of the group.

This suggests a rather primitive form of moral codes, to aid the survival and progress of a social group.

I would argue that morality is innate, it has evolved along with humanity over millions of years. It is an essence of solidarity and survival. For a good person to commit a great evil, is far more often committed because the person believes they have permission from a God to commit such an evil. Evil people will always do evil things, good people will only do evil things for their “conceptual anchor” be it a political concept or a religious concept. A suicide bomber who blows himself up outside of a hotel or a school, is not necessarily born with the belief that killing innocent people including children is a moral act. Their interpretation of their faith is what guides them to commit atrocities, so how fucking dare the religious apologists try to suggest that they have the monopoly on objective morality, because for too long all it has achieved is the casting of a vicious and violent and hateful shameful shadow over humanity.

I would also go one step further and claim that religion came about as a product of morality, not the other way around. Fear of punishment was a great way to get humanity to obey certain rules of conduct, very similar to how Hitler used the abstract “conceptual anchor” of Nationalism.

Is it true that without a divine dictator, everyone would do exactly as we wished? We would all be murdering our way through life? No. Of course not. Morality is socially evolved, and a product of survival. Nothing else.

“If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities” — Voltaire


My law on marriage

February 26, 2011

If we are to take the Biblical view, that marriage is between a man and a woman, we must look at what Biblical marriage stood for. Christians who oppose gay marriage, if they are going to use to the Bible to try to justify their prejudices, must be consistent and follow through with the Biblical guide to marriage. So perhaps we should use the Bible to structure a new Federal law on the Defence of Marriage. Let’s call it, Futile Democracy’s Defence of Marriage Act 2010. I took it upon myself to write it up:

Section 1 define marriage:
A marriage is defined as a union between a man and a virgin woman.
Deuteronomy 22:13-21
A marriage is also valid, in the eyes of God and so the eyes of the United States Congress, if it is between a man and his sister.
Genesis 20:1-14
The union also permits the man to take concubines whenever he sees fit.
2 Sam 5:13
2 Chron 11:21

Section 2 relating to women as captives:
If a man within the United States of America finds a desirable woman in a room of captives, he is entitled to marry her on the spot, without her consent.
After marrying a captive, it is required, by the consent of the United States Congress, that the man must first take her home, and shave her head.
Deut. 21:11-13

Section 3 relating to women as property:
Trading in women, is a perfectly acceptable form of property dealing, within the United States of America.
RUTH 4:5-10
Wives must not speak, or offer opinions, especially in Church, except in the company of her superior (husband) at home.
I Corinthians 14:34-35
If a man rapes a virgin, he shall pay fifty pieces of silver, and then marry her.
Deut. 22:28
If a woman is kidnapped at a party, this shall not fall under the law of the United States forbidding kidnapping, as long as the man marries the kidnapped woman.
Judges 21:19-25
When at war, is it permitted that you destroy their cities, kill all men and women and male children, take the female children for yourselves, and marry them.
Judges 21:7-23
Purchasing children of foreigners is acceptable in God’s eyes. You may marry them, as they are now your property.
Leviticus 25:44-46

Section 4 relating to adultery:
The punishment for adultery is stoning to death.
Death shall not be enforced before a quasi-trial is given for the wife. If the parents of the wife can prove that the wife is a virgin by spreading the cloth worn by the wife on a table to the City Elders, the husband must pay compensation to the parents and the wife is not permitted to see her parents ever again.
If she is found guilty, she must be put to death.
Deut. 22:22-30

Section 5 relating to pregnancy:
If a wife gives birth to a boy, she must spend a week in isolation because she is, by decree of the Congress of the United States, and God Almighty, unclean.
If a wife gives birth to a girl, she must spend two weeks in isolation, because she is, by decree of the Congress of the United States, and God Almighty, very very unclean.
Leviticus 12:5

Section 6 relating to the death of a husband:
Definitely don’t marry your dead husband’s brother.
Leviticus 20:21
Definitely do marry your dead husband’s brother.
Deuteronomy 25:5-10

Section 7 on divorce:
If a citizen of the United States of America abandons his wife and children, for Jesus, he will be rewarded.
Matthew 19:29
A woman who is divorced for a second time or widowed by her second husband, must not remarry her first husband.
Deuteronomy 24:3-4
Divorce and remarrying, is committing adultery against your first husband or wife in the eyes of Jesus and the United States Congress. This isn’t a law as such, just to let you know, if you get divorced, we think you’re scum.
Mark 10:2-12

Section 8 conclusion:
Marriage within the United States of America, is hereby described objectively as a union between a man, brother, rapist and a virgin woman, another woman, another woman, a few more women, a hostage, a rape victim, and the female children of parents who have just been slaughtered.
But NEVER let a homo marry. This is unnatural and immoral.

I think that just about sums up exactly what the new US law on Defence of Marriage should consist of, you know, if it really is about pleasing God, and not about simply being horrific bigots.

I found this poet, Alvin Lau, in a powerfully beautiful poem exploring the bullshit of Christian homophobic attitudes that are prominent on the American Right wing. I cannot think of a better way to put into words exactly how I feel on the subject of gay marriage, than Lau does:


The burden of proof

February 22, 2011

It seems apparent from early on in the history of the Church, that the existence of a Christian God was not disputed. The arguments and the philosophical debate seemed irrelevant. It simply gave many people who were already becoming suspicious of the Polytheistic system forced upon them by Rome, a chance to reassert control over their lives, and a way to escape and hide in a World of their own. A sense of individuality apart from Rome.

Doctrine became more important than spirituality and truth. Bishop Victor of Rome, around 190ad decided when Easter would be celebrated. He came up against opposition from a sect called the Quatrodecimens who insisted on celebrating Easter on Jewish passover. Victor demanded uniformity. The Catholic Church was becoming powerful very early on, and any descent from its ranks, was met with swift punishment and calls of heresy. Many gnostic groups felt the full force of the Catholic Church’s iron fist. The truth was that many different Christian sects existed. Some didn’t even acknowledge the resurrection. Many didn’t believe that Jesus was born of a virgin. There could only be one sect that reigned victorious; not because of any divine power, but because it had friends in very high and rich places. The Catholic Church spread its message violently and with threat of severe punishment, for centuries proceeding the early years of the Church. Islam is experiencing much the same attempts to monopolise knowledge and debate in Eastern Nations now. If you dare to question the tenets of Islam in a Nation like Iran, you better run for your life. That is the only reason organised religion is perpetuated. The existence of God and the philosophical arguments surrounding his supposed transcendental nature, were not explored pre-Enlightenment, through fear alone, not reason.

Anyway, today I had a short discussion with a Muslim guy who told me that as an Atheist, I could not disprove the existence of a God.

There were two problems I can see instantly with this statement.

Firstly, this is entering the realms of Deism. It is true, I cannot disprove a creator. But a creator has no attributes, and so it takes a rather large leap to get from a creator, to the Christian or Islamic God. A creator could be anything; an infinitely good creator, an infinitely evil creator, two creators, a creator whose final act before dying, was to create the universe, a creator that created the universe but then stepped back. This is entirely different from a God of religion. To prove a religion is worthy of public power, it must first prove a creator who is infinitely good, infinitely knowledgeable. And so we are given the old cosmological argument provided by Aquinas, and currently being used constantly by William Lane Craig in every debate he has:
1. Every thing has either been caused to exist by something else or else exists uncaused.
2. Not every thing has been caused to exist by something else.
3. Therefore, at least one thing is itself uncaused.
The problem being, that point two is conjecture, rather than truth. Aquinas’ logic is limited by time itself. If existence is infinite, then everything that exists has indeed been caused by that which came before. Fortunately for those of us who languish in unbelief; not everything that exists, has a cause. On the subatomic level, protons appear spontaneously and cease to exist just as quickly. The entire study of Quantum Mechanics backs this up. Both Stephen Hawking and Lawrence Krauss attest to this.

Even if Aquinas’ logic is applied to the existence of a God, it is impossible to assign the logic to the existence of a God of organised religion, because Aquinas’ God could have been the first cause, but has had nothing to do with existence ever since. Perhaps it was more than one first cause. But obviously this is irrelevant because no philosopher would take the old cosmological argument seriously any more.

There is a more rounded version and a more modern version of the cosmological argument that is early Islamic in origin, though taken from earlier traditions. But even this argument, is weak. The Kalam Argument as it is known states that:
1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
It is weak because of how it is worded. The language is its downfall. “Everything that begins to exist has a cause“. This places a limit to “everything“. Everything…. that begins to exist. Which automatically excludes the idea of something that doesn’t begin to exist, i.e – a God. It is trying to prove God, by just presuming God already exists as something that didn’t begin to exist, and just existed any way. The Islamic Kalam argument does not point out where the evidence is for that which did not begin to exist. It is trying to persuade the reader that God is already a known. He is transcendental and so already exists. Almost clever, but not actually.

It is also limited by the constraints of time. Something cannot ‘begin’ unless time exists. Since time sprang into existence at the point of the big bang, there is no ’cause’ before. Because before doesn’t exist. The entire chain of cause and effect began at the point of the big bang. So, the premise of the Kalam argument is wrong. It follows then, that the rest of it, is wrong.

On the cosmological argument, the Muslim guy tried to suggest to me, that the Koran offers evidence that science has only just managed to discover. He quoted the Koran:

Then He turned to the sky, when it was still gas, and said to it, and to the earth, “Come into existence, willingly or unwillingly.” They said, “We come willingly.”

Quite how this relates to science is beyond me. As far as I can discern, a God looked at some Gas and said “make the Earth”. I’m pretty sure that isn’t what Stephan Hawking is trying to suggest. It is not a very persuasive argument to say the very very least. Even then, the Koran is saying nothing new. Even for the time period. The Ancient Greeks, 1000 years before the Koran, were theorising about atoms, gas particles and even evolution. The Greeks had guessed that the atom was the building block of everything, long before Islam sprang into existence. It would be wholly arrogant for Islam to take credit for knowledge that pre-dates it, by about a millennium. That being said, the Koran doesn’t mention atoms. It mentions gas (doesn’t go into much detail, unsurprisingly for a Religious text). And so, is wrong. Scientists would be ashamed to call this verse scientific in any way whatsoever.

The cosmological argument, in every way, fails.
Even if it didn’t fail, the cosmological argument does not imply a personal God of any sort. That is problem number one with the statement “Prove God doesn’t exist“.

The second problem and most important, is the burden of proof.
As an Atheist, I did not start by saying “God doesn’t exist“. I simply hear a religious person say “God does exist” and I reject the notion, based on the lack of evidence to support the assertion that the religious person has made.

The burden of proof is not on me to disprove the existence of a God, because it is logically impossible to do so. It would be equally as impossible to ask a religious person to prove that there isn’t a monkey sitting on my head, that turns invisible whenever someone else looks at me. They would not logically be able to disprove it, because it is an assertion that I have made without the use of evidence. The burden of proof is lodged firmly with me. If I am to make an extraordinary claim, and use it to justify horrendous abuses and prejudices (the appalling and frankly moronic and dangerous way religious people treat homosexuality), then they MUST provide extraordinary evidence.

Proof against an assertion with no characteristics or evidence, is logically impossible. I should not be expected to provide evidence for denying an assertion. The person making the assertion should provide the evidence.
So the burden of proof is not on Atheists, it is on the believers. And none of them can offer any proof whatsoever. It comes back round to the original cosmological argument, especially with reference to the Kalam argument. A God that cannot be seen or heard or have any kind of human attributes attached to it, and was the first cause so must exist outside of the realm that He created (if I make a cup, I am not part of the cup, I am apart from the cup), cannot be disproved as such. I cannot possibly, as an Atheist summon up enough arrogance to presume I can disprove something that according to those who make the assertion, exists beyond the realm of human knowledge. We are all subject to the limitations of time and space and we cannot transcend that. That goes for religious people also.

And so it stands, the burden of proof is not on me, it is on the religious person.
Needless to say, the Muslim guy I was speaking to briefly, didn’t answer.


Darwin is greater than Jesus and Muhammad

November 15, 2010

A couple of my Muslim friends wont let me touch their Koran. They think that because I don’t believe in their silly little fairy tale, I am somehow unworthy of touching their book of nonsense. It is sacred apparently. I have therefore took it upon myself to ban all my religious friends from touching my copy of The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. I do this, because in the book, Darwin applies logic and evidence to come up with the greatest revelation the World has ever known. This revelation wasn’t given by a vicious dictatorial God/Allah in some obscure corner of a desert to a man from a nation of angry warring illiterate tribes who were convinced for centuries that the Earth was the centre of the universe and executed people for heresy if they thought otherwise. This revelation was given by nature, as pure fact. Fact is something both the Bible and the Koran seem to be lacking, and so I ban them from touching my copy of the Origin of Species, because they are unworthy of reading anything other than pure fiction. They are though, more than welcome to read my copy of The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe. Although I fear they may take it literally and start ordering the immediate deaths of anyone who says a bad word against Aslan.

It is interesting what people find sacred. Religious books, I prefer to laugh at. They are pointless, archaic, and worthy of ridicule. They should not be taken seriously, and people in a position of power should not have to swear on them, when they take office. It is apparently all about devotion to God.

God, or Allah, or whatever name he has to go by (Apollo, Yahweh, El) is to be obeyed at all times. Prayed too constantly, sang about, worshipped endlessly, feared, loved, and never disobeyed on fear of burning for eternity in utter pain (but he loves you, remember that). God is a dictator. Pretty fucking evil at that.

The painter Caravaggio, one of my favourite painters of all time, paints a beautiful baroque style piece depicting Abraham on the verge of sacrificing his son Isaac by the word of God, as an angel appears to stop him, revealing it was all just a test to see how devoted Abraham was to God. The contrast of light and dark is beautifully striking in the painting. But the subject of the painting is clearly Isaac. Which is great, because Christians tend to ignore the importance of Isaac in this story. This story doesn’t portray God as all loving, or Abraham as a great devoted Prophet of God. It portrays God as a dictatorial maniac, and Abraham as insane.
In the painting, as in my mind, Abraham has absolutely no emotion on his face. He is a man possessed. By contrast, Isaac is terrified. His dad has bound his hands behind his back, is holding him face down on a stone alter, and is about to gut him…. because God demanded it. When I have children, if I am told to kidnap my child, tie him/her to a stone alter and stab him/her to death, for God, I will happily tell you, no matter how sacred your God may be, he is a despicable cunt.

Child sacrifice is prominent throughout the Old Testament. The king of Moab sends a burnt offering of his dead son up to God. It works too, because his nemesis is swiftly dealt with:

Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt-offering upon the wall. And there came great wrath upon Israel; and they departed from him, and returned to their own land.

God appears to endorse child murder. As long as it’s in his name. The book of Exodus seems to confirm God’s need for people to kill their children as a sign of devotion to him:

“You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. The first-born of your sons you shall give to me.”

Less brutal, but just as despicable is both Judaism and Islam’s use of circumcision. I wont refer to it as circumcision for the remainder of this blog, it shall henceforth be known as child genital mutilation. According to Jewish law, a child should be genitally mutilated soon after birth. It is non-negotiable. The child has no say. He hasn’t even decided if he believes the bullshit his parents are forcing on him, before he is mutilated. It strikes me as utterly abhorrent, and worthy of prison (if I were to go out, and cut a bit off a kid’s penis, I am pretty sure i’d be thrown in prison and Daily Mail readers would call for the death penalty to be bought back for monsters like me), but instead, child genital mutilation is entirely legal purely because the cult that practices it, has quite a few members. No evidence for their logic, just strength in numbers. A logical fallacy if ever I saw one.

Islam is the largest group of people in the World that practice genital mutilation. The BBC website says:

Some Muslims see circumcision as a preventive measure against infection and diseases.

A better preventative measure against infection and disease, would be to recognise that the entire study and practice of modern medicine and biology, is based entirely and necessarily on Evolutionary theory, not on out dated, unnecessary, dirty, despicable rituals. Now, people who actively and happily mutilate babies, both Jewish and Muslim, are not bad people. Which suggests that their blind obedience to fairy tales leads them to make utterly absurd decisions. They are influenced by the illogical and the dangerous.

But that’s what happens when as a divine being, you spend 98,000 years of human existence ignoring them, and pop up in the last 2000 years, with a book of ridiculous rules. A book that you don’t bother giving to a society that has advanced to the stage where its population are largely literate and educated (China), but instead, you give it to crazed uneducated, illiterate tribesman in the middle of the fucking desert. God massively misjudged his original audience.

On the website Bible.ca, they have a page called “Darwin was wrong”. I read the first two paragraphs and sat wondering how anyone could be so ignorant and ridiculous. Then I noticed they were religious Americans. So I put 2 and 2 together.
Their website says:

If a fair maiden kisses a frog which instantly changes into a handsome prince, we would call it a fairy tale. But if the frog takes 40 million years to turn into a prince, we call it evolution. Time is the evolutionist’s magic wand. Fairy tales come in many forms!

– Apparently a talking snake in a magical garden of a man made out of dust and a woman made out of a rib of the man does not come under the whole idea of ‘fairy tale’. How ironic. Secondly. That isn’t what evolution says at all. No one has ever suggested a frog can become a human. A frog is just as evolved today, as you or I. A frog has adapted to its surroundings, and thus survived, and evolved to deal with change. 99% of all species throughout time have not been as lucky. I would happily start believing in God if a frog suddenly became a man. Stop misrepresenting Darwin, you absolute cretins.

Darwin’s theory of evolution says that over millions of years simple life forms (one celled creatures) slowly evolved into complex life forms (fish), and that one kind of animal evolved into another kind (ape to man)

No one has ever said a chimp suddenly became a businessman or politician (although George Bush exists, so I might be wrong). Man has simply adapted to changes in surroundings and climate over the millions of years of time on Earth, to situations and to the necessity of survival. We have evolved both biologically and socially over many millions of years. We are descended from the ape family, but we did not suddenly become human from ape, in the same way that your great grandad did not suddenly become you.

It isn’t even a debate any more. It is fact. Evolution is a fact. Natural Selection is the theory, the model behind Evolution. But Evolution itself is fact. Religion should be neglected; pushed aside as dangerous dogma and outdated superstition that has no place in the modern World.

I am taking quite a swipe at religion today. Most people on here know I hate religion and all it stands for. I hate its divisive nature. I hate its indoctrination of children. I hate that it has held science and discovery and human advancement back centuries. I hate its power. I hate when its members start getting violent and demanding special attention. I hate that I will get death threats to my email if I say “Isn’t God/Allah absolutely inhumane and a little bit shit“. I hate that I am supposed to respect religion. I don’t. It disgusts me. I say this, because both the books of Christianity and Islam condemn me, for being Atheist.

I was actually quite reassured when I read this verse in the Koran:

You shall not accept any information, unless you verify it for yourself. I have given you the hearing, the eyesight, and the brain, and you are responsible for using them.

On the surface, this seems like the most important, and logical verse, in any religious book anywhere. It seems to be suggesting that you are your own person, free from the influence of others. Think for yourself. Come to your own conclusions. Don’t be dictated too. Almost Atheist thinking right there in the Koran.
So, following that rule, I have verified for myself, after reading the Bible in its entirety, and much of the Koran, as well as The Origin of Species, God is not Great, The Selfish Gene, and knowing that my dog is the result of mixed breeding, and that I am losing my hair at 24 years old, just like my dad did…. that the Koran and the Bible are both entirely nonsensical, and Evolution outranks them both. Great. I used my own evidence. I did what the Koran told me too. Allah must love me for this.

” If you encounter those who disbelieve, you may strike the necks.”
– Koran 47:4

“Lo! the worst of beasts in Allah’s sight are the ungrateful who will not believe”
– Koran 8:55

“That (is the award), so taste it, and (know) that for disbelievers is the torment of the Fire.”
– Koran 8:14

“But as for those who disbelieve, for them is fire of hell; it taketh not complete effect upon them so that they can die, nor is its torment lightened for them. Thus We punish every ingrate. And they cry for help there, (saying): Our Lord! Release us; we will do right, not (the wrong) that we used to do. … Now taste (the flavour of your deeds), for evil-doers have no helper.”
– Koran 35:36-37

Oh….erm…… okay. So, what the verse about thinking for yourself actually meant was: Think about it, but then agree with Islam, otherwise you’re going to burn in hell, tortuously for eternity, after my followers kill you. Whilst burning in hell, we will then cry for help, from the very entity that condemned us in the first place.

The Bible isn’t much easier on us evil non-believers (by non-believers, I mean, intelligent people). Deuteronomy suggests that not only should those who don’t believe in the Christian God be put to death, but the entire town in which an Atheist (or believer in another Faith) lives, should be exterminated.

Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock.
– Deuteronomy 13:13-19

They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.
– 2 Chronicles 15:12-13

Forgive me if I fail to respect religions that condemn me to the worst kind of punishment possible. I am clearly their enemy. So fuck them.

God/Allah/Hitler (they are all very similar) demands complete obedience. Which begs the question, what the fuck is the point of life? I despise these doctrines, and yet I’m supposed to follow them avidly or be eternally punished? What a horrible life. Atheism does not demand anything of the sort. We do not claim that you have to be moral because you might be punished in an afterlife if you aren’t. We say morality is based on social evolution and the need to survive.

We as a species are incredible. Morality comes from us, and nothing else. We do not need a vengeful lunatic fairy in the sky to make us perform good deeds. We do it for the sake of good, not for the sake of God. We do not need silly superstitions and rituals in an attempt to please a vindictive bastard in the sky, in the hope that we might go to a nice place when we die. Humanity is great. The discovery that Darwin made, is far more stunning and awe-inspiring (as well as truthful) than anything religion has ever had to offer. The name “Darwin” should be taught to children and heard in classrooms across the World, years before the names “Jesus” and “Muhammad” are uttered.

I would like to see Temple Mount in Jerusalem destroyed and replaced with a statue of Darwin, because Darwin makes the prophets of the two warring religions, look like amateurs in comparison.