The myth of the changing diciples!

Once again this old argument has raised it’s ugly head. It was trotted out during a #bbctbq debate on “Is God the problem?” As usual the debate became one of God’s existence.  And given the lack of Continue reading

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When is a biblical mistake nontrivial?

This blog has been lying vacant for a while, however some recent exchanges on twitter have prompted me to resurrect it.

The subject has been the claims by certain Theists of the Abrahamic bent, that the holy books on which they base their world view are either inerrant or that any inaccuracies are trivial.

I will concede that the majority of the mistakes and contradictions in the Bible/Koran do not affect their message in any way. However for those people who like to have a valid reason for their beliefs there are many left which should give cause for concern.

I shall give three examples that have arisen in conversations recently for which I can discern no mitigating circumstances that would lead any fair observer to have anything but doubt as to the veracity of the claims surrounding the passage in which they occur.

1. The zombie apocalypse in Matthew.

Matthew 27:45-54

New International Version (NIV)

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.

46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[c] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[d]

47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink.

49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split

52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.

53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[a] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
Jerusalem was not a sleepy backwater in the Roman Empire, it was one of the most important cities and as such there would have been a strong Roman presence both military and financial. To imagine that an event where..

A. there was an earthquake which damaged it’s premier building.

B. During an unrecorded solar eclipse the Sun stopped in the sky for hours ( A feat which would require an enormous amount of energy and depending on which way it was done would lead to disaster for the Earth or the Solar system)..

C. hundreds of graves opened and their denizens strode around town talking to many of the citizens.

..would not be recorded by any contemporary Roman or Jewish Historian is to put it mildly unbelievable.

Yet this was derided by some Christians as something that could be ignored as it doesn’t impact on the central claim of the chapter that Jesus rose from the dead! Which indecently is a “FACT” agreed by every Biblical scholar and Historian who has ever lived. If you were to believe the typical amateur Christian apologist, or even the professional ones.

2. The place where the Sun sets.

Muhsin Khan

Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout. We said: O Dhu’l-Qarneyn! Either punish or show them kindness.

The second claimants assert that “God cannot lie” and cite the Koran as the “Perfect word of God” But in the Koran it states that the Sun sets in a muddy puddle. Now the cunning linguists of the Islamic persuasion scream they they can change those words to mean whatever they choose it to mean, ignoring all of the millennia of translations and interpretations that have gone before. However when you ask an honest scholar you find that indeed God did show Mohammed PBUH the puddle or swamp where the Sun set. So we have a true dichotomy, if we accept the assertion that the Koran is the perfect word of God. Either God is a liar, or an imbecile.

3. Last but not least. God can’t count to six!

  1. Leviticus 11:20
    “‘All flying insects that walk on all fours are to be regarded as unclean by you.
  2. Leviticus 11:21
    There are, however, some flying insects that walk on all fours that you may eat: those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground.
  3. Leviticus 11:23
    But all other flying insects that have four legs you are to regard as unclean.

These are the instructions given to Moses by a supposedly omniscient and omnipresent deity, to pass on to humanity. As Christians, Jews and Muslims claim that their God is incapable of lying we can only conclude that their God is either.

A. a grade A moron.

B. does not exist, and the people who made him up were grade A morons who couldn’t count to six.

I have read all the apologetics I can find to explain these anomalies in the holy texts, but none of them come close to giving any sort of satisfactory answer to these problems. If anybody thinks they can provide a solution please feel free to reply or contact me via twitter @TheTomtomPiper.

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Why do people believe things without evidence?

Thanatophobia

The fear of death.

I have oft wondered why Theists and Polytheists believe utter nonsense without a single shred of evidence or even the crutch of personal experience to fall back on. But after a comment on one of my videos provoked a bout of thinking (STFU I have been know to think from time to time……. well sometimes, OK there was this one time, but I diverse…..)

I arrived at a startling conclusion, the thing that drives religions, the thing that differentiates Agnostics and Atheists from Theists and Polytheists, their attitude to Death.

First I must outline my own views on this most divisive of subjects… Why fight the inevitable? And I truly believe that we all have within us the opportunity to have a kind of immortality, through our offspring and the offspring of our siblings.

Some part of us has the chance to live on, and for the lucky few that will progress into the future for aeons. So death is something which should be accepted for what it is, and believe me at my age I have seen my fair share.

Religious views on Death vary, but have one thing in common, they view Death as an advesary, they can’t face the prospect of a personal end, they fear the Reaper, and they are weakened by this.

They live for a tomorrow that may never come, they fritter their life away in the service of some phantom deity in the hope of cheating the second law of thermodynamics! Sadly this is a futile and narcissistic pursuit. Whereas Agnostics and Atheists accept reality and live in the Here and Now.

So my advice, for what it is worth, is to live life in the clear and certain understanding that this is it! You only get one go, so for goodness sake make the most of the time you have.

 

 

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A World without lies, Nirvana?

Theists have a monochrome view of morality, as we saw in “War! What is it good for?….” some things are not inherently immoral, and even immoral actions can have beneficial long term consequences, the world is Technicolor, not Monochrome. Having thought about the negative consequences of a Black or White view of morality I have tried to imagine a world where nobody lies, the Theists idea of Heaven.

Lets imagine some scenarios…

“Mindful of smoking’s negative impact on surgical outcomes and wary of liability, some doctors are refusing to operate on patients unless they quit smoking,”

Daytona Beach News

In the Theist world. A woman walks into the Doctors office, she complains about being short of breath, “Do you smoke?” asks the Doctor, “Yes” the woman replies, “you will have to give up smoking before I treat you or I will be wasting my time, can you do that?” the woman shakes her head, “I don’t have the willpower to give up smoking.” she says honestly. “Well in that case I can’t treat you, there are plenty of people needing my help who will benefit more from the treatment.” He shows her the door, six months later she is dead from cancer.

In the real world. A woman walks into the Doctors office, she complains about being short of breath, Do you smoke?” asks the Doctor, “Yes” the woman replies, “You know that isn’t good for you, you should give up.” the Doctor says examining her chest, “I’ll do that Doctor.” she says. He nods and takes a blood sample, after her surgery the woman has a complete recovery, two years later she comes to see him again with another infection and she still smokes, he prescribes antibiotics.

The woman lied, and as a consequence she lived and her husband and children were not deprived of a wife and mother.

Theist world. A young child asks their father, “Is there a Santa?” the father replies, “No, he doesn’t exist, me and your mother have to put ourselves into debt to buy you and your brothers and sisters presents every year and we are sick of it.” The child runs away crying and grows up mentally scared.

The real world. A young child asks their father, “Is there a Santa?” the father replies “Of course there is, who do you think brings the presents at Christmas?” The child goes to sleep happy and expectant.

The Father lies, and the child has many more years of happiness and innocence.

Theist world. A man has Alzheimer’s disease, he has told his wife he does not want to go though the living death his father suffered and makes her promise to help him die if he should succumb. When he is found dead the police question her. “How did your husband die?” “I fed him alcohol and and paracetamol, enough to kill him, he asked me to.” The police arrest her, and after her trial she is killed by lethal injection, her son and daughter mourn their parents, both of them.

Real world. A man has Alzheimer’s disease, he has told his wife he does not want to go though the living death his father suffered and makes her promise to help him die if he should succumb. When he is found dead the police question her. “How did your husband die?” “I think he found a bottle of Black Bush that was left over from when he was well, and he must have taken too many of his pain killers, he has a bad back, but with his condition he forgets how many he has taken, between that and the drink, it was a tragic accident.” The police man gives her a Hug, at the funeral She and her children bid a loving husband and father farewell, grateful that he never suffered.

The woman lied and her husband was spared years of living trapped in a living hell, she gets to live out the rest of her life and their children only lose one parent.

A world without lies, my idea of hell.

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War! What is it good for?……

During a recent exchange a Theist who asserted moral superiority over me by dint of his moral code being supplied by an imaginary Being for which there is not a shred of evidence, cited wars carried out by secular states which are immoral according to him, as proving that secular societies and those who support them are morally inferior to Theists. There are a few problems with his argument, primarily the obvious fact that his invisible sky daddy of choice allows rape, murder, and child abuse, as well as ordering Holy War against anybody who gets in their way. But there is also the fact that not all wars are bad, consider Kosovo, the war against Hitler The American Civil War and The Cold War, and not all bad wars are entirely bad. What do I mean by that last statement, not all bad wars are entirely bad?

Consider if you will the modern world we live in and take a few of the many things we take for granted.

Do you own a Mobile Phone? Chances are you do, and where did the technology behind this modern wonder come from? Born of the desire to clear the fog of war in the fast moving battles of WW2. The field radios had by 1946 spawned the first Car Phone, and by 1973 thanks to The Cold War and its accompanying Space Race hand held devices appeared, the rest is history.

The Computer you are reading this on also owes its existence to the work of Alan Turing and his need in WW2 for computing power to crack German codes, the Third Reich’s need to keep tabs on the Jews and the Space Race spurred on by the Cold War which shrunk the room sized computer into a few microchips, the data for this Blog is being streamed over the World Wide Web, constructed in the Cold War to enable secure communications after a Nuclear Strike.

It is a sad fact that wars breed technological advancements, Steel was created to make weapons first, its modern uses are just an afterthought, Rockets were originally weapons of Mass Destruction long before they were instruments of exploration, and Jet Engines were made for war, not for international travel.

Yes war is hell, all wars even the justified ones, but war is not inherently immoral, and even the immoral ones can have positive ramifications for humankind that far outweigh the short term negative effects. It is not a pleasant truth, but not all truths are pleasant.

And here is where we get to the crux of the matter, where we expose the difference between Theists and rational thinkers. Theists see the world in monochrome, Good and Evil, Wrong and Right, Moral and Immoral, Us and Them and Pure and Impure. Rational thinkers see the world in colour Better and Worse, Plausible and Less plausible, Advantageous and Disadvantageous and all the levels in between. Yes War can be a bad thing, but it isn’t always so, and Peace can be a good thing, but there has been peace in North Korea for decades. I for one prefer a world in glorious Technicolor, not for me a 2D bland world of Black and White.

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Moral smugness.

Recently I have been struck by how people who get their moral code handed down to them by an imaginary friend feel that this makes them morally superior to everybody else, including those of us who have had their morals delivered via a different imaginary friend. I am doing a little research into the subject, and asking a few questions.  I hope to unearth some reasons and shine a light on the consequences of such beliefs.

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