This is a guest post written by Michael Runyan. Michael is a recently-retired risk analyst for the U.S. government. A former Catholic, he currently works as a freelance writer focusing on critical assessments of the Christian religion.
(1) Relative Time
It makes no sense that the relatively short life we live on this planet, at most 100 years and perhaps as brief as a few minutes, would be used by a God to determine our ultimate destiny, one that will last trillions and trillions of years and beyond. This would be like compensating a baseball player for his entire career based on how he performs in his first major league at bat. If he hits a home run, he would receive a high salary, but if he strikes out, he will get only minimum wage throughout his career no matter how well he plays thereafter. The time difference between the trial period and the punishment/reward period is drastically out of sync.
Some Christians say that God will give people another chance after they die to accept his grace, but if that is true, then why be so concerned about the unsaved in this life? And if you get a second chance after you die, you will obviously know that Christianity is true, making the decision to believe not a matter of faith, but of fact. This makes no sense, and it would render the core theology of Christianity meaningless.
(2) Lack of Gradation
Christianity proposes that only one of two fates awaits humans after they die — an extremely attractive invitation into Heaven or a miserable, dreadful sentence to Hell. Given the complexities and varieties of human experience, offering only two judgments is absurd.
People are born into many different circumstances, some with Bible-believing Christian parents and others with Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, or atheistic parents. Some were born during the Middle Ages when sectarian belief was ubiquitous versus the societies today which are much more secular. Some lived before the era of Christianity. Some were born with damaged mental capabilities. To shoehorn all of these people into a two-tiered judgment system is irrational.
Some Catholics believe in “purgatory” where souls can be purified before they are allowed to enter Heaven. This would seem to alleviate the problem somewhat if it weren’t for the fact that it is completely made up without any basis in the Bible. However, it would also make the choices you make in this life much less meaningful if you could compensate for any shortcomings with a visit to purgatory. No matter how long the layover there, it would be infinitesimally short compared to the eternity that awaits in Heaven.
(3) Barbaric Punishment
Jesus mentions Hell or some derivative thereof many times in the gospels and hints that most people will end up suffering there (wide is the path of destruction). Here are some of the scriptures addressing Hell:
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.
A belief in Hell is unavoidable if one is to believe in Jesus. If Hell doesn’t exist, then why would God have allowed it to be so prominently addressed in the Bible? This brings about an interesting comparison. Hitler sent Jews to the concentration camps and gas chambers for no reason other than their ethnic identity. This was a temporal punishment; it sometimes lasted only a few days. God, on the other hand, is prepared to send good, well-accomplished, and generous people to a place of everlasting punishment and torture for the crime of not believing in something for which no credible evidence exists. The God of the Bible is, in effect, worse than Hitler.
(4) Hitler, Ted Bundy, and Bill Gates
Related to the previous point, Christianity can be understood to endorse a spectacularly cruel and senseless outcome of how certain people are judged. All one has to assume is that Hitler, a Catholic by birth, understood the gravity of his sins and confessed them to Jesus before committing suicide. According to Christian doctrine, this simple act was sufficient for him to have all of his sins forgiven and to be welcomed into Heaven. On the other hand, the 6,000,000 Jews that he had murdered, and who by default failed to accept Christ, were sent to Hell. This is beyond unjust and irrational; it is unthinkable.
Similarly, Ted Bundy, a confirmed murderer of over 30 young women, confessed his sins before his execution and, according to Christian doctrine, was sent directly to Heaven.
On the other hand, Bill Gates, an atheist who has lived a virtuous life and has donated more than $27,000,000,000 to global health, development, and education will be sent to Hell. This irrational and senseless result is entirely consistent with the dogma of conventional Christianity.
(5) Evil Nature of God
Christians have tried to sidestep the evil deeds that God allegedly commits in the Old Testament by claiming that the New Testament overrides and replaces the Old Testament, based on the idea that Jesus supplied mankind with a new covenant. This is somewhat understandable, but what cannot be denied is that Jesus himself was a student of the Old Testament, firmly believed in it, and warned that it was not to be ignored or discarded.
Given the Christian belief that Jesus was God, then in order for Christianity to be true, Jesus/God must have performed the evil deeds as documented in the Old Testament. Otherwise Jesus would have corrected the scriptures and explained that God the Father (or He Himself?) did not commit those atrocities. To repeat, according to Christians, Jesus was God, and he was physically on Earth teaching from the Old Testament. If the scriptures were wrong in their portrayal of God, Jesus would have emphatically announced this fact to his followers and whoever else would listen.
The following is taken from Steve Wells‘ Drunk with Blood: God’s Killings in the Bible, listing 158 killing events for which God was either directly or indirectly responsible. A partial list is shown below for effect, but one in particular deserves a focused look, 1 Samuel 15:3:
Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.
Jesus did nothing to defend or denounce this scripture, and apparently it was consistent with his concept of God the Father.
The case can be made that God killed or authorized the killings of up to 25,000,000 people. This is the God that Jesus looked up to and of whom he was allegedly an integral part. That is to say: Jesus himself was an accessory to these massacres. Therefore, Christianity cannot extract itself from these atrocities; it must own them and admit that their God is in fact a serial, genocidal, infanticidal, filicidal, and pestilential murderer.
(6) Transfer of Punishment
Christians believe that Jesus died for their sins and received the punishment that they would otherwise deserve. At its root, this is unethical. It would be as if in a court of law, a murderer sentenced to death finds another person willing to die in his place, and the murderer is then set free. Why would we accept God’s plan of salvation while categorically not using a similar rationale in our own judicial system? Well, because it is ill-advised, and it leads to the next problem.
(7) Belief versus Actions
Christianity credits what you believe far above what you do. This idea has caused much misery and suffering over the course of the past two millennia. The notion that what you believe can erase your bad deeds is a very attractive idea to someone who wants to take liberties with the lives and property of other people. And this is exactly what happened during the scourges of the Inquisition and other atrocities committed by Christians. How different would the world be if Christianity instead declared that your ultimate reward is based on your actions, what you do, how you conduct your life, how much you help others, etc. instead of offering this exceptionally generous “Get Out of Jail Free” card? What if it said all of the good you do is balanced against the bad, and you would be judged based on that comparison?
(8) Infant Death
Most Christians believe that people who die at a young age are given a free pass to Heaven. This is a comforting thought, but it makes for some peculiar considerations. It would seem to suggest that dying at a young age, before encountering the age of accountability, would be the best and safest way to leave Earth. This would guarantee a place in Heaven without having to take a risk of living a potentially failed life in the sight of God. Some demented parents have exploited this idea as an excuse to murder their children.
(9) Beginning of Life
Many Christians believe that life begins at conception and an entire anti-abortion industry has been built around this concept. But it presents a problem. Does a fertilized egg that fails to implant in the uterus go to Heaven? This seems a bit absurd, but it is important to consider in the context of Christian dogma. If one assumes this is not the case, then it becomes very difficult to identify when a developing fetus becomes eternal in the eyes of God. Is it at the moment of birth, such that a baby that dies just before delivery is denied Heaven? There is no non-arbitrary way to solve this problem.
Many Christians accept at face value that Jesus’ miracles as described in the Bible were true historical events. However, these alleged miracles occurred in Roman-occupied lands, and the Romans had spies that attended large gatherings of Jews to detect any whispers of insurrection. News of these miraculous events, especially feeding thousands with only five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 14:13-21), would have spread rapidly all around the empire and eventually to the Roman emperor. It is hard to imagine that the Romans would not have investigated these extraordinary phenomena, documented it in their written accounts, and perhaps have tried to determine if Jesus or his methods could be used to solve some of the problems of the empire. The lack of Roman documentation of the miracles makes their historicity highly suspect.
(11) Failure to Return
Biblical historians are quite clear on this matter. Early Christians — notably Jesus, Paul, the disciples, and other followers — were all convinced that the End Times were near and that Jesus himself would return to Earth within the generation of some of the people who were currently alive. The Bible claims that Jesus made the following comment in Matthew 16:28:
“Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Jesus also advised against going to court against someone who steals something and also told people not to store up stocks or reserves for the future. Clearly, he also thought the end was very near.
For the same reason, Paul advised followers not to marry. In the passage below, he obviously believes that some of the people he is talking to will still be alive for the Second Coming:
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18)
The obvious fact is that the Second Coming was not in fact forthcoming or even close to being near. The 2,000-year delay is a strong piece of evidence that Christianity is a failed religion.
The following quotation from Stephen L. Harris, Professor Emeritus of Humanities and Religious Studies at California State University — Sacramento, completes this point with a devastating argument. Remember that Jesus was a Jew who had no intention to deviate from the Hebrew scriptures:
“Jesus did not accomplish what Israel’s prophets said the Messiah was commissioned to do: He did not deliver the covenant people from their Gentile enemies, reassemble those scattered in the Diaspora, restore the Davidic kingdom, or establish universal peace… Instead of freeing Jews from oppressors and thereby fulfilling God’s ancient promises — for land, nationhood, kingship, and blessing — Jesus died a “shameful” death, defeated by the very political powers the Messiah was prophesied to overcome. Indeed, the Hebrew prophets did not foresee that Israel’s savior would be executed as a common criminal by Gentiles, making Jesus’ crucifixion a “stumbling block” to scripturally literate Jews…”
Jesus’ immediate followers, mostly his 12 disciples, probably did not immediately identify this failure, because after Jesus’ body was likely stolen and concealed, a rumor spread that Jesus had been resurrected from the dead. A sense of optimism overcame their grief about his execution and renewed some hope that he was a true messiah. If they had known then that there was to be no return in the near or long-term future, they likely would have abandoned any further activity. Despite this resurgence in their faith, they never agreed with Paul’s concept of Jesus as being divine. Anything written in the Bible to suggest that they did is probably a result of later editing by some of Paul’s followers. Such a belief would have been an exceptional departure from the Jewish faith.
(12) Delayed Documentation
The accounts of Jesus’ life in the gospels were written well after the events allegedly occurred. The crucifixion of Jesus is believed to have occurred around 30 AD. The best estimates date the gospels as follows:
Mark: AD 68-73
Matthew: AD 70-100
Luke: AD 80-100
John: AD 90-110
The time lag between the events and the documentation was long enough for exaggeration and myths to contaminate the historical account. It would be similar if a person today wrote a biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. just by talking to people who heard something about him from their now-deceased ancestors.
(13) Fact Checking
It is widely understood that the persons who wrote the gospels were not eyewitnesses to Jesus’ ministry and were not historians as we would define the term today. Rather, they were educated storytellers who used material from both mostly oral and some written sources while at the same time adding in some embellishments and myths at their own discretion. There was no fact checking available (i.e. no contradicting information sources) and no one alive who could testify that any given story was untrue.
(14) Roman Bias
As mentioned, almost all of the eyewitnesses of Jesus’ ministry were dead by the time of the gospel writings, either of natural causes or as a result of the Jewish-Roman war that began in AD 66. The band of Jewish followers of Jesus, led by his brother James, no longer existed. The only Christians remaining were the Romans and other Gentiles who were followers of Paul’s concept of Christianity. Consequently, the gospels are told in a manner consistent with Paul’s theology and also with an anti-Jewish, pro-Roman bias. One of the best examples of this bias is the exoneration of Pontius Pilate and the condemnation of the Jews for Jesus’ death (Matthew 27:24), a fabrication of the first order (and one that has had tragic consequences for Jewish people for the past two millennia). Another is the story of the Roman centurion who was allegedly commended by Jesus for having more faith than anybody else in Israel (Matthew 8:5-13).
(15) “Growing Fish”
The stories told in the gospels became more impressive as each new gospel was written. In Mark, there is no account of a virgin birth or of a resurrected Jesus interacting with the disciples (other than the ending verses that were added much later). With Luke, the virgin birth is added. With John, the raising of Lazarus is first presented, and Jesus is for the first time equated with God the Father.
Another example is that the temptation of Jesus by the devil grows in significance and details from Mark to Luke to Matthew. These examples reflect a classic illustration of myth-making, such that events are embellished over time to make for a more persuasive story.
Another example of the evolution of Christian writings is as follows:
About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)… And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
In Matthew, Jesus is expressing displeasure with God for allowing the crucifixion, but in the later gospels, Luke and John, there are no longer any hints of dissatisfaction. It suggests that the writers of the gospels made revisions to improve the image of Jesus and to make it appear that he viewed his crucifixion as an expected and necessary part of his earthy mission.
(16) Gospel Contradictions
If the scriptures were inspired by God and then accurately copied by scribes, we would expect to see a fairly rigorous consistency among the books. The best way to test this hypothesis is to examine the four gospels, as they all claim to describe the same events. What we see are numerous contradictions, including:
- The genealogies of Joseph in Matthew and Luke disagree significantly.
- Luke has Mary and Joseph traveling from their home in Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem in Judea for the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:4). Matthew, in contradiction to Luke, says that it was only after the birth of Jesus that Mary and Joseph resided in Nazareth, and then only because they were afraid to return to Judea (Matthew 2:21-23).
- All of the gospels disagree on who found the empty tomb. In Mark, it is Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome. In Matthew, it is Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. In Luke, it is the women who had come with him out of Galilee, including Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, plus two others. In John, Mary Magdalene found the stone removed and ran back to get Peter and another disciple.
- There are also major contradictions about what they saw at the tomb. In Mark, a man in a white robe was sitting in the tomb. In Matthew, an angel was standing on the stone that had been removed. In Luke, it was two men in dazzling apparel. In John, Mary and Peter and the other disciple initially find just an empty tomb. Peter and the other disciple enter the tomb and find only the wrappings. Then Peter and the other disciple leave and Mary looks in the tomb to find two angels in white. After a short conversation with the angels, Mary turns around to find Jesus.
The existence of these and other contradictions can be explained as either (1) the original authors were not divinely inspired and therefore didn’t write stories that aligned with each other, (2) scribes made errors in copying the scriptures, or (3) the writings were deliberately revised by scribes to meet their personal biases or beliefs. In any event, it is clear that God was not overseeing the Bible-building effort to ensure a perfect product. As such, the Bible cannot be viewed as a reliable portrayal of history.
(17) Raising of Lazarus and Woman Caught in Adultery
The stories of the raising of Lazarus from the dead and the woman caught in adultery are extremely important in the effort to define who Jesus was. One tells of his immense power, and the other tells of his divine wisdom. Both would have been told and retold throughout the region, spread virally, and held up as convincing evidence for having faith in Jesus.
However, curiously, neither of these events is documented in the first three gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke). Not until the gospel of John, written at least 70 years after the death of Jesus, is the raising of Lazarus documented in scripture. And the story of the woman caught in adultery is not found in the oldest manuscripts of the gospel of John, and only appears in manuscripts beginning in the fifth century. This casts considerable doubt on the historical truth of these events.
(18) Palm Sunday/Good Friday Conflict
Jesus is adored and worshipped as a King as he enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. He then proceeds to work miracles, heal the sick, and demonstrate his supreme wisdom, making him even more of a figure for adulation. But five days later, without explanation, he is abruptly hated so much by his own people that, given a chance to have him released, they chose to free a common criminal instead. There is something seriously wrong with this story.
What most likely happened is that the account of these events was altered to absolve the Romans and place the blame for Jesus’ death on the Jews (see Problem #21). This is because by the time the scriptures were written, the focus of Christian evangelism was on the Gentiles throughout the Roman Empire, while the Jews, freshly defeated in their war with Rome, were viewed as detestable villains.
The story of Judas, the traitor, is fraught with inconsistency. First and foremost, it should be obvious that what he allegedly did actually hastened the salvation of mankind, as defined by Christianity. Without Jesus’ capture and execution, everybody would still be subject to the condemnation of original sin as well as their personal sins. Second, Jesus was not in hiding during his time in Jerusalem. He was out and about, performing miracles, and routinely in plain view of the Roman authorities, making it unnecessary for anyone to rat him out for arrest. Third, if we are to believe Christian doctrine, Jesus knew that he was to be executed and that this was the principal point of his mission, so why would he call out Judas as a traitor both at the Last Supper and in the garden at the time of his arrest? Judas actually offered a beneficial contribution to Jesus’ mission.
To make some sense of this story, one has to assume that it was changed to fit a new narrative that placed blame on the Jews for the crucifixion. Painting Judas as a traitor was a part of that effort. What probably happened was that Judas was sent by Jesus to entice the Roman soldiers to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus then expected that God would miraculously intervene to defeat the Romans and begin the reign of Jesus as the king of the restored Kingdom on Israel.
(20) Roman Census in Luke
The Gospel of Luke states that a Roman census was conducted during the time of Jesus’ birth (BC 4). There is no record of this in Roman history. According to the Romans’ meticulous records, the only census that took place during this time frame was in AD 6-7 and it did not include the areas of Nazareth and Bethlehem. According to Luke, the residents were required to travel to their cities of birth to be counted. This absurd requirement was never applied to any census that the Romans conducted throughout their empire. This would have involved cases where families would have been split apart going to different cities, and it would have devastated the region’s economy. Obviously, the Romans would want to know how many people were living currently in each area rather than how many were born in a certain city.
As a side note, this deception by the author of Luke provides some evidence that Jesus was a true historical figure, given that a mythical person could just as easily have been invented who was born and raised in Bethlehem.
(21) Passover Prisoner Release
The four gospels state that the Roman governor over Judea, Pontius Pilate, was obligated during the Passover to commute one prisoner’s death sentence and to have him released based on the acclamation of those attending the ceremony. There are no Roman records suggesting that such a custom existed. Further, the implication of such a practice would be absurd. It would mean that the Jews could plan for someone to perform a heinous crime just before the Passover and then have that perpetrator released.
This fictional story was first added to Mark’s gospel and then copied by the writers of the subsequent gospels. The author of Mark used this tale, perhaps inspired by a similar story in Homer’s “The Odyssey” to shift blame for the crucifixion away from the Romans and toward the Jews. It is likely that Barabbas (translated as “son of the father”), the name of the criminal allegedly chosen by the crowd for release, was actually a nickname used for Jesus. So, in effect, the crowd was actually demanding the release of Jesus, finding that his arrest was unwarranted. When the author of Mark was confronted with the folklore that the Jews were asking for the release of Barabbas, he simply made Barabbas into a separate individual and then concocted the myth of the prisoner release tradition.
(22) Other Gospel Books
The selection of the gospels to be included in the Bible was made by a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325. At this council, four gospels were selected from a total of approximately 60 that were in use at the time. Three of the four gospels selected are called the Synoptic Gospels: Mark, Matthew, and Luke. These were not independent efforts but had many elements borrowed and shared among them. The fourth gospel, John, is very different from the other three and presents a somewhat contradictory theology.
The other 56 or so gospels that were discarded do not agree for the most part with the four that were selected. Examples are the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Peter, the Gospel of the Nazarenes, the Gospel of the Ebionites, and the Gospel of the Hebrews.
It is likely that the truth of what happened lies buried amid the numerous tales told by all of these gospels, with various true and fictional elements scattered throughout. But what should be troubling to a questioning believer is that the council undoubtedly preferentially selected the gospels that were favorable to the Romans (i.e., the ones that made them look good) and excluded whatever did not flatter them. It is certain that this process resulted in a whitewashed portrayal of history.
(23) Too Many Messiahs
Most Christians believe that Jesus was a unique figure in his time, a one-of-kind preacher who mesmerized followers with his wisdom and magical acts. This is not true. There were many messiahs at this time including Hezekiah the bandit, Simon of Peraea, Athronges the shepherd boy, and Judas the Galilean. In addition, there were many other preachers and prophets who were gathering followers and preaching a messianic message about the coming of the Kingdom of God. Some advocated a violent overthrow of the Roman occupiers as a prelude to the coming. Others stressed a less violent approach including repentance, prayers, and beseeching of God for deliverance. Added to this list is the most popular preacher of all, John the Baptist. Jesus was possibly a follower of John until John’s arrest and execution (as exemplified by the subservient act of submitting himself for baptism), and then he may have assumed leadership of John’s movement.
Jesus was just one of many itinerant preachers of his day, and there was nothing particularly unique about him, because all were preaching the same ideas, and almost all of them ended up being crucified for the crime of sedition against the Roman Empire. It is a historical fluke that Christians pray to Jesus instead of John or Simon or Hezekiah.
(24) Two Gospels
Unbeknownst to most Christians, the early Christian church had two distinct divisions or denominations. One was organized by the Jewish followers of Jesus, his disciples, and close associates. The other was headed by Paul and his mostly non-Jewish followers.
The Jewish followers of Jesus were led by Jesus’ brother James. This group did not view Jesus as being divine, which would be unquestionably contrary to the Jewish faith, but rather a prophet setting the stage for the coming of the new kingdom of Israel to be established on Earth. As mentioned earlier, they viewed the empty tomb as evidence that God has resurrected Jesus into Heaven. But before that, they were certainly disillusioned by the crucifixion because it was not an expected outcome of Jesus’ mission. After all, Jesus had just been defeated by the very forces he intended to overcome. It is also likely that Jesus himself did not expect to be put to death. His complaint to God for being abandoned as recorded in the gospel of Matthew (27:46) is probably one of the few Biblical statements by Jesus that can be assumed true because of its disparity with the main gospel message.
With the belief in a resurrection, Jesus’ closest follows were refocused to continue to follow his gospel and to expect a quick fulfillment. They were based in Jerusalem and had some success in recruiting new followers for several decades after the crucifixion.
In contrast, Paul viewed Jesus as being both a human and the divine savior of all mankind. Instead of the Jewish concept of a human messiah reigning over a restored kingdom of Israel, Paul envisioned a heavenly kingdom that was open to all peoples with admittance predicated simply on accepting Jesus as a personal savior, and without any obligation to perform good works.
For obvious reasons, a conflict developed between Paul and the original apostles, which shows up the book of Acts and Galatians. When Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem were decimated. This eliminated the opposition to the gospel of Paul, which then became the template for the new religion of Christianity. The New Testament books were written by followers of Paul after the destruction of Jerusalem. They were fashioned to support this new gospel, including statements added to make it appear that Jesus saw himself in the role as envisioned by Paul.
In summary, Jesus was a failed prophet, as was ultimately well understood by the Jews. Paul reversed the Jewish theology by viewing Jesus as a God-man and viewing his death as a final sacrifice for the propitiation of sins, making unnecessary any further animal sacrifices that were standard rituals in the Jewish temples.
These events explain the historical irony of how a Jewish preacher became the cornerstone of a new religion that was rejected by the Jews themselves.
(25) Evolution Demarcation
For those Christians who accept evolution, there is a noteworthy problem dealing with the starting point when humans first became bound for eternity in the eyes of God: There has to be a starting point when God first awarded an eternal life to human beings. Without this demarcation, we would have single-celled life forms living for eternity in heaven. Whenever this occurred, it would create a problem. It would mean that many people going to heaven would do so without the company of their parents, who would die and not be raised up, similar to all of the other animals. No matter where the cut was made, this problem was unavoidable.
(26) Tiny Drama/Huge Stage
At the time the Bible was written, most people viewed the Earth as the center of the universe while the sun, stars, planets, and moon revolved around its flat surface. Christianity is based on this worldview, placing an emphasis on humans as the ultimate reason that the universe was created in the first place. Not only is Christianity Earth-centered, but it was also limited to a few hundred square miles in its beginning and did not reach all areas of the Earth until about 1,500 years later. Further, it is limited in its overall time scope to something less than 10,000 years.
What we have since learned about the age and size of the universe has spectacularly dwarfed the Christian world view. Instead of being 10,000 years old, the universe is approximately 13,800,000,000 years old. Instead of the Earth and a few objects orbiting around it, we have the Earth (4,540,000,000 years old) orbiting the sun, which is just one of about 300,000,000,000 stars in the Milky Way galaxy, which itself is only one of at least 176,000,000,000 galaxies in the observable universe.
The idea that all of this was created so that God could create and test human beings is absurd. If that was so, then:
- Why did God wait more than 9,200,000,000 years after creating the universe to construct the Earth?
- Why did God wait 4,500,000,000 years after creating the Earth to create human beings?
- Why did God wait 100,000 years after creating modern human beings before making any contact with them?
- Why did God allow 3,500 years to pass after the initial contact with humans was made before his Word had spread world-wide?
- If God is a perfect creator and designer, why is the universe so chaotic, disordered, and messy?
These thoughts are best summed up by a quotation from Richard Feynman:
“It doesn’t seem to me that this fantastically marvelous universe, this tremendous range of time and space and different kinds of animals, and all the different planets, and all these atoms with all their motions, and so on, all this complicated thing can merely be a stage so that God can watch human beings struggle for good and evil — which is the view that religion has. The stage is too big for the drama.”
(27) Chosen People
Christians are obligated to accept the fact that God first chose to minister and support only the Jews, and to ignore all others, and even to assist the Jews in plundering the neighboring Gentile populations. At the time there were large civilizations in Asia, Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Australia. People living in these areas did not learn anything about Jesus until centuries later, some even until around 1,500 years later. To consider this fact is sobering. Why would God do this, ignore humans for tens of thousands of years only to present himself solely to a desert tribe on a tiny spot of land? A more reasonable explanation is that the Jewish people invented a God that favored them, just like nearly every other culture that has ever existed.
(28) Ignored Scriptures
Some Christians are aware of the absurd laws that are described in the Old Testament, such as being sentenced to death if you work on the Sabbath, or for children to be killed for cursing their parents. They usually say that the Old Testament has been superseded by the New Testament and therefore no longer applies. This is despite the fact Jesus emphatically said the opposite.
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)
But to be generous, let’s look strictly at the New Testament. What we find are many scriptures even there that are completely ignored by Christians, such as the following:
“If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.”
“But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
“Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.”
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.”
Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.
Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
It goes without saying that a Christian has no authority to pick and choose which scriptures he will follow; either they all apply or none of them do.
(29) Jewish Fate
If God chose the Jews as his chosen people (a fact necessary for Christianity to be authentic), why did they suffer so many defeats and tribulations at the hands of their enemies? The outcome of many of these conflicts would make it appear that God had chosen the other side instead. This is best exemplified by the Jewish-Roman war of AD 66-73, where the Romans slaughtered the Jews all of the way from Jerusalem to the final stronghold of Masada. It makes no sense that the people backed by an all-powerful God would fall victim to its non-God-aided enemies, much less in such a brutal and convincing fashion.
Objective studies have revealed that prayers are not effective beyond any statistical measure of coincidence. Most notably, they do not work for amputees or paralyzed individuals. Prayers for terminally ill people almost always fail. Prayers for rain, to allay storms, and for fixing damaged property, among others are rarely attempted because the supplicants know they won’t be effective. But what do the scriptures say?
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
An objective person must realize that the promise described in this scripture is not true. The fact that there is no discernible efficacy for prayers is a valid clue that there is no God listening and responding to them.
The Bible condones slavery. Some Christians today claim that the Bible actually refers to servants, who were presumably working voluntarily for wages. The following scriptures demonstrate otherwise:
“Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.”
“Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.”
Either the persons who wrote these scriptures were not inspired by God, or God is not good and should not be worshipped. If the former is true, it still must be noted that God did not intervene to remove these verses from the Bible. A real God would have known that slavery is morally wrong and that it would eventually be outlawed through most of the world; for this reason, he would have prohibited slavery to be practiced by his chosen people.
Christianity is scripturally locked into the concept that God views homosexuality as an abomination. There are many verses in both the Old and New Testament confirming this point. If the churches accept homosexuality as an authentic alternative lifestyle, it would be an admission that the scriptures are wrong. However, to hold steady on this issue will further alienate the growing tide of people, most notably the young, who view it as a matter of equality. Christianity loses no matter which direction it goes. And the Bible and Judeo-Christianity lose credibility for not having foresight on this issue.
(33) Status of Women
There are numerous scriptures in the Bible that clearly pronounce that a man is superior to a woman, which was consistent with the times it was written. Consider the following scriptures:
But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.
But times have changed. Societies the world over have bent over backwards to give women equal status and opportunity. Most marriages are now viewed as a 50/50 venture, a two-person team, as opposed to a master and a helper. The sticking point is that a real God and those he allegedly inspired would have foreseen this ultimate evolution of societal mores.
(34) Lack of Scientific Insight
The Bible lacks any insights related to science that were not understood at the time and includes many of the then-current scientific misunderstandings. The two creation myths in Genesis are good examples. What should be troubling to a Christian is why this is so. Wouldn’t the maker of the universe have communicated some basic truths about the world, such as the germ theory of disease to alleviate a lot of needless suffering? The absence of new ideas about science in the Bible is evidence that it was written by men with no inspiration from a supernatural being.
The surest sign of a man-made enterprise is that it splits quickly into many different factions. On the other hand, one initiated by a God would be expected to converge into a tight unity. This is because only those groups that aligned correctly with the divine theological blueprint would receive supernatural support and thereby flourish, attract members, and survive the long term. Any wayward factions would lose favor and couldn’t compete for new members.
There are now more than 41,000 Christian denominations, many of which have very disparate beliefs and practices. This is a valid clue that Christianity is a man-made concept.
(36) The Way Things Happen
The events in the world proceed with no evidence of manipulation by gods, devils, demons, angels, or anything else of the like. We see natural disasters, plagues, wars, mass shootings, and all sorts of mayhem without any evidence that these tragedies are being controlled or planned for any purpose whatsoever.
An existence overseen by supernatural forces would look very different. There would be a detectable sense of an outside influence and violations of scientific principles such as gravity, entropy, or the conservation of mass and energy. Instead we see none of these effects, just a world fully consistent with the absence of a God.
(37) Fictional Stories
Many people believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God, but, for that to be true, it must stand up to critical analysis as a factual history. Any deviation from this ideal would mean that any other portions of the Bible, even the otherwise believable stories, would be suspect for their veracity. Most Biblical stories cannot be proven true or false, but, as an example, the following ten can be considered false beyond a reasonable doubt:
- Garden of Eden: Modern science has long surpassed this amateurish explanation of our origins
- The Great Flood: There is no evidence of a worldwide flood
- Census in the gospels: The Romans took great care in documenting their censuses; there was no census at the time of Jesus’ birth, and there was never a requirement for people to travel to their birth cities to be counted
- Passover prisoner release: The Romans never released a prisoner at the Passover
- He who is without sin: The story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery was added to the scriptures almost 400 years after the fact and was copied from a previous religious tradition
- Hebrew enslavement in Egypt: Absolutely no evidence from any source including Egyptian historical records exist for this
- Camel archaeology: Camels were discussed in the Old Testament before any camels existed there
- Zombies after Jesus death: Matthew’s account of people rising from their graves, walking around the city, and conversing with people is false based on its intrinsic absurdity
- Elisha calling down a curse of boys who were mocking him resulting in two bears emerging from the woods and mauling 42 children: False by reason of absurdity
- The Tower of Babel: Linguistic studies reveal this explanation for different languages to be farcical
These are just some of many examples, but they are sufficient to show that the Bible contains a lot of fiction and the extent to which it pervades the book is unknown. It calls into question every story presented in the Bible as being potentially fictional or otherwise exaggerated.
(38) The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments have been presented as the ultimate guide to human morality. But a close inspection reveals that only five have a meaningful impact: do not steal, do not perjure, do not kill, don’t commit adultery, and honor your parents. Just as revealing is what is not included:
- No proscription of slavery
- No proscription of child endangerment
- No proscription of bigotry
- No proscription of racism
- No proscription of sexism
- No proscription of classism
- No proscription of blackmail or bribery
- No proscription of discrimination against LGBTQ persons
- No proscription of incest
- No proscription of torture or terrorism
- No proscription of rape
- No proscription against the mistreatment, exploitation, and relocation of native populations
- No command to treat animals humanely
- No command to take care of the Earth’s environment
- No command to help others in need
- No command to settle disputes peacefully
- No command to distribute the Earth’s resources fairly
It should be obvious that an all-knowing, all-wise, all-discerning, supernatural God could have devised a much better set of rules for mankind, a set that would have placed humanity on a more peaceful, loving, and kind trajectory that the one we have experienced.
(39) Borrowed Miraculous Elements
Most of the miracles discussed in the Bible were common elements of pre-Christian pagan religions including:
- Miraculous foretelling of a deity
- Virgin birth
- A guiding star
- A nativity visit by royalty
- The baby God threatened by a jealous ruler
- Manifesting extraordinary wisdom in childhood
- Turning water into wine
- Walking on water
- Enabling the lame to walk
- Healing the sick
- Raising up dead persons
- Restoring sight to the blind
- Allaying storms on the sea
- Casting out devils
- Communion with a holy meal representing the God’s body
- Being put to death
- The sun becoming dark after the death
- Rising from the dead
- Talking to disciples after resurrecting
- Ascension into heaven
- Providing salvation for mankind
The truth is that very few of the miracles discussed in the Bible are unique to Christianity. This is a strong piece of evidence that Christianity is a man-made, cobbled, and fundamentally plagiarized faith.
(40) Too Many Problems
A true, factual religion represented by a supernatural God would not suffer the number of problems that we see in Christianity. It would be precise, flawless, authentic, transcendent, unmatched, prescient, prophetic, revelatory, internally consistent, and scientifically accurate. In Christianity, we see none of these elements.
The conclusion of an objective analysis is that, beyond a reasonable doubt, Christianity is untrue.
One major lesson to be learned about determining what to believe and what not to believe can be summed up in a few words: The things that are real can be observed, measured, or demonstrated. To that end, we can say confidently that ghosts, goblins, poltergeists, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, alien abductions, wizards, witches, angels, demons, fairies, and unicorns are not real. And we can add one more item to this list: The God of Christianity.
(Image via Shutterstock)