Monday, December 6, 2010

Two Types of Creationist

There are two main types of creationist, but no doubt there are some outliers that don't fit within these categories.

Type One: The Ignorant Idiot

The best examples of this type of creationist are people like Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, NephilimFree etc. These people sincerely believe that the earth is 6,000 years old, that evolution is a myth, that scientists are part of an enormous atheistic conspiracy and that they are doing god's work. The best approach with people like this in my experience is to minimize the amount of condescending ridicule in your dialogue and to try and present facts and evidence as clearly and openly as possible. Take the time to explain how scientific theories are derived and how creationism is not scientific but is actually purely religious. When they try to preach the gospel to you in the middle of a discussion about science (as Ray Comfort loves to do), don't engage them on this issue, but bring the discussion back around to science. A lot of these types of people, despite years of indoctrination will eventually see reason, don't give up on them.

Type Two: The Deceitful Demagogue

Ok, Demagogue isn't really the right word to use here, but I wanted to continue the alliteration so...
These are the people who make money by pedalling creationist nonsense (or at least try to). They may or may not believe everything they teach but either way there is a lot of doublethink and cognitive dissonance either way. Many of these people have gone to great lengths to achieve qualifications in scientific disciplines, only to then go and work for propaganda-mills like AnswersinGenesis or Creation Ministries International. They publish magazines, build museums theme parks, produce films, arrange speaking tours and sell merchandise, all for profit. I haven't had any experience discussing anything with these people, nor have I seen any debates with any of them. They are heavily invested (perhaps both emotionally and financially) in their "ministry" and may never change their mind (in the public eye anyway). Type two creationists are entirely dependent on the existence of type one, because the ignorant religious masses are the ones who buy their magazines, videos, movies, go to their events and pay to go to their museums theme parks. If type one creationists fade into non-existence, then type two creationists will eventually follow once the money dries up.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Not Getting Through to the Propaganda Mill

I just thought I'd have a quick look at the AiG website to find something to write about. One article jumped out at me, it was called "Are They Teaching the Truth in Biology Class?".

The large majority of the article was about how scientific progress is made, and old ideas are sometimes overthrown by new ones. I'm not going to address this part as it was fairly innocuous.

What I really wanted to see was their latest and greatest arguments against evolution. What surprised me when I read it, is that they really didn't have a single argument against it, they just kept saying things like "[Evolution] is getting harder to defend." and "this view is getting more difficult to defend in a logically coherent fashion." They didn't present a single piece of evidence, or even try to construct an argument, they simply tried to explain the mechanisms evolution works by and claim that science is going to prove it wrong. I specifically remember at the beginning of the article they wrote that "Science has become somewhat of an idol in our culture." yet here they are waving science as a magic wand trying to claim that it will prove evolution wrong.

AnswersinGenesis are an absolute joke, as with all creationists, there is an enormous wealth of evidence for evolution, and it's available at a single click of a button, seriously, click here. If creationists wish to remain pig-ignorant it's their onus, but whenever they say something stupid I'll continue to call them morons, or if they're not telling the truth I'll call them liars.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Anachronistic Old Testament.

I don't feel like I need to go into depth explaining why the Bible is utterly unreliable as a history book. In any case, here is what I consider to be one of the strongest criticisms of the 'good book' and its historicity.

It has been shown by archaeology that the Old Testament (almost in its entirety) was composed at the very earliest, during the reign of Josiah. Josiah was King of Judah between 641 and 609 BCE, and many of the events described within the Pentateuch are supposed to have occurred around 4000 BCE. Here are a few anachronisms that place the limit of date composition to the mid first millennium.
-Camels are mentioned in the Patriarchal Narratives as used by Arabian Traders, and the products they were carrying "gum, balm, and myrrh", as these products were not traded and camels were not used in the area until well after 1000 BCE.
-Isaac encounters the Philistines in Genesis 26, but the Philistines didn't even enter this area until after 1200 BCE. (several-thousand-year discrepancy there)
-The names of several cities are recorded as being destroyed by Joshua, but the majority of these did not exist at the time. Including Jericho, Ai, Gibeon, Lachish, Hazor and many others. The ones that did exist at the time were not destroyed during the timeline of Deuteronomy.

In fact the entire history before ~1200 BCE written in the Old Testament is like a complete fabrication, as all evidence points towards the Israelites only appearing in Palestine around this time, and it is most probable that the Israelites were simply a sub-group of Canaanites, but that's an issue for another day.

What fascinates me with the historicity of the Old Testament the most, is that Jesus, as attributed to him in the Gospels, speaks as if Abraham and other Old Testament characters were really historical figures. Christians believe that Jesus is actually God, yet he doesn't seem aware that the people he speaks about are fictitious.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Demons and Devils

They don't exist, and to prove it I will write out my challenge to any evil (or good) spiritual entities online. When nothing happens, my point will have been proven.
I challenge any supernatural forces or spirits or anything to come prove your existence to me right now. I will worship the first one that appears, so Gods, Goddesses, fairies, Poltergeists, Demons, Devils, Angels, Djinns, whatever, have a race to prove your existence.
Some time later...
I actually feel a bit silly writing this, but nothing has happened. It just goes to show that either A) no conscious supernatural force exists or B) if one exists, it doesn't want us to know about it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


No, nothing to do with the singer.
I had always thought of the work of Bishop Ussher trying to add up the dates from the old testament to come up with a date for the creation of the world was a bit of a joke. It just seems so obviously wrong to me. Apparently the folks at CMI don't feel the same way. They're still promoting this 17th century hack-job of a history book.


Monday, November 1, 2010


To all my readers I apologise for being so inactive in the last few weeks. I was supposed to be practising for my end of year recital, but I always managed to find ways to procrastinate, but keeping up with the blog didn't end up being one of those things. I've been reading a bit lately so I have some fresh ideas to put out there.

I plan on getting some posts done this week.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Old Atheist Strawman

One of the most irritating things about being an atheist, is when people intentionally try to misconstrue your position as faith-based. It usually comes in the form of an accusation like "You have faith that God doesn't exist", by the time you attempt to correct them, your detractor has usually moved onto something else, or if not they generally seem to ignore you.
I wrote a post last year explaining the positions of atheism and agnosticism and showed why they are not mutually exclusive, because they are essentially dealing with different realms. In short, agnosticism is claiming you do not or cannot have any knowledge pertaining to the existence of god(s), while atheism is a reaction to the claim that god exists.

This 'faith' strawman is rather puzzling, because the accuser is almost always a person who believes in god purely on faith, yet they accuse us of having a faith, as if it was a bad thing. There is no more faith involved in being an atheist that there is in rejecting the validity of homeopathic medicine. Until you show me evidence that your unlikely claim is true, I am going to disbelieve it, which requires no faith on my part

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Fundies

This is a perfect example of how religion can rot your brain, and be detrimental to society as a whole. Imagine if there was larger number of people who believe that the rapture was just around the corner, giving them the excuse to do nothing? I think the earth would become dilapidated and run down fairly quickly. It's related to the conservative Christian political view known as Dominionism, where based on a verse in Genesis, where God tells Adam that he has dominion over all the earth, the Dominionists take that as a command to rape and pillage the earth, because they believe that their god will create a new one soon anyway and destroy the old one. It's dangerous, and poisonous. People actively promoting these beliefs need to be lobotomized to prevent them from infecting others with this mind-rot of a religious/political doctrine.

Quote# 40793

(A rapture thread, this one has a bunch of folks talking about how they have no motivation because of the rapture being "just around the corner"):

I hear you on this. I have to constantly fight the feelings of "what is the use". Its like we have diagnosis of a fatal incurable disease and we have only so long to live.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Purpose in Life

I'm frequently seeing this presumption everywhere that there is an overarching purpose to life, and it often comes in a question form from theists directed at atheists. They'll ask something like "What's the purpose of life without god?", which I find incredibly naive and condescending. Firstly, I'm not convinced that god exists, so I don't see how it (god) could possibly give life purpose. I think that by 'purpose' they must mean 'subservience to an invented deity with the childish hope of an afterlife'.

On a different note, I think it is possible to build a fairly strong case against a blanket purpose for life. When one considers the fact of evolution, it is quite obvious that life as we know it, is a mere product of chance and accident, we were formed by an unguided process. How illogical then is it to try and impose a generic purpose to all of life? Let's take another product of chance, an accident of the universe, an asteroid, meteorite, comet etc. Is there a transcendent purpose for their existence? I think not, so likewise it is ignorant to suggest that there is a purpose to be discovered for life.

Now before you make any assumptions, I'm not a pessimistic nihilist. We have brains, and from our direct observations, our race is the highest form of intelligence in this region of the universe, so why should we require an unseen higher power to designate us a purpose in life? From my perspective, it makes much more sense to create purpose for ourselves, rather than to wait for purpose to come to us. If you look at all of the great figures in history, every single one of them made a conscious effort to achieve their goals, some may have just been in the right place at the right time, but the majority of them didn't sit there waiting for their god to assign them their lot. The only purpose in your life is the one you create for yourself, you're the only one that can be held responsible for your successes.

So there, I think that just about sums up what I think about the purpose of life.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Religious Experiences are Manifestations of Brain Activity

For some time I've been of the opinion that religious experiences were the result of physical brain activity, so seeing someone doing research in this area is really great. I think Morgan Freeman is narrating it too (it sounds like him anyway).

Friday, October 8, 2010

Anti-Evolution TV Documentary Review

Before watching the 'documentary' I wrote down a list of things that I expected they would say, and ticked them off as they were mentioned. I wrote down 14 preconceptions, and 13 of them were confirmed rather strongly, they included things like 'cyclical change' and 'limit to variation', 'mutations can not produce new information', 'rapid deposition', 'Darwin was racist' and so on.

The title screen had a voice over that was asking the question "does his (Darwin) science still make sense?" but beside that, the Creationist slant was mostly absent in the beginning. It wasn't too long into the film that they started saying that there is a debate over the age of the earth today, and the first hints of 'flood geology' started appearing, with references to drowning animals and rapid deposition of sediments to create fossils. There was a recurring theme  throughout that "as science progresses, intriguing new possibilities are emerging that run contrary to Darwin's understanding", they were constantly trying to undermine his achievements by saying that we shouldn't judge him by the standards of modern science.

They were obsessed to the point of fanaticism over the influence the geologist Charles Lyell had on Darwin, and attempted refutations of uniformitarianism probably account for at least 10% of the content. They were presenting Darwin as a dogmatic uniformitarianist, and that he was "convinced Lyell was right", while getting Young-Earth geologists to spout nonsensical propaganda about single floods carving out entire valleys with constant references to catastrophic geological events like earthquakes.

The first mention of creationism itself came probably about halfway through the film, when they were trying to discredit speciation. They said that natural selection was conceived of by a creationist, and had one of their lackeys say that "nature has been created to modify itself". They had more propaganda about Darwin himself, implying that he was indoctrinated into evolution by the work of his grandfather and into "deep time" and uniformitarianism by reading Lyell's books, often saying things like "he had preconceived ideas" and that "he was convinced" to give the impression that Darwin was stubborn and unwilling to accept evidence to the contrary. In fact they even specifically said that he had observed evidence that contradicted his theories, but as usual, this went completely uncited.

In the last segment they were really trying to hit home the creationist view, with a false emphasis on the 'debate' over evolution, having creationists say things like the human body has a "perfect design". They framed Darwin as having an agenda saying that he just wanted to remove the bible from science. They were emphasising the "bedrock of the truth of Genesis" and spent several minutes just attacking scientific naturalism, portraying it as dogmatic and unscientific, which is rather ironic, coming from religious creationists. They mentioned that "Darwin's book avoided ... the origin of life itself" and they never once mentioned a single piece of evidence for evolution, and never showed his work in a favourable light at all. They had creationists frequently making claims that there is no evidence for evolution, which made it apparent that this film was simply a propaganda piece. They ended with someone saying that "Darwins theory is not about science it is about god".

I give this film 0/10, they were trying to hide their creationist view at the start, and gradually introduced it over the course, and focussed much more on undermining Darwin's methodology and character than on presenting his work. This just goes to show that CMI and creationists in general are bunch of disingenuous liars.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Contorted Fossils Prove... Nothing.

In the CMI Newsletter that I received a few days ago they were mainly taking aim at Stephen Hawking's new book, they didn't really address anything he said, but merely attacked his character and motivation, while asserting that his ideas require 'faith'. Not really much of an argument against anything if you ask me.

Anyway, back on topic.
They linked to one of their recent articles called "Death Throes", the main idea in the article is that since many fossils are found in contorted positions, with the neck bent back, or with twisted limbs proves that all fossils were formed in a global flood.
Sorry, it proves nothing of the kind. It is worthy to note that the picture they used was quite possibly the most extreme example they could find, in fact since the picture they used was from wikipedia, I'll post it here too.
As you can see, the neck is bent back all the way so that the spine is starting to become detached, and the head is touching the lower back. I'm no palaeontologist, but I think it's safe to say that this creature died from a broken neck. This could have happened any number of ways I can think of three: from falling, in a landslide or in a flood. The creationist's method seems to be: finding an example of something that could possibly have been formed in a flood, attribute it to their flood-myth and then walk away with a smile declaring victory.

I thought that I would take the effort to look up this claim on the Talk Origins list of creationist claims, and I found it there.
This is what TalkOrigins has to say.

  1. As carcasses dry, ligaments contract and distort the body (Weber 1980). Also, dead animals are often disturbed by scavengers and/or water currents before their remains become buried. This can account for the contorted positions.
  2. Some fossils do form by rapid burial, but these indicate only local catastrophes, such as landslides of a river bank. 
 I thought it was quite interesting that the journal that they referenced refuting CMI's claim came from 1980. So this piece of creationist propaganda was refuted three decades ago, and is refutable by common people. I can't seem to think of a good justification for creationist lies.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Anti-Evolution TV Documentary

I was just looking through the TV listings for the week and saw something on the Christian TV channel 'Shine TV' called 'The Voyage That Shook the World', it's about Darwin's voyage on the HMS Beagle from (I assume) a cretinist perspective. I programmed it in to record on Thursday, so I'll sit there with a notebook and write down every lie and deception they make. I'll either make a blog post about it on Thursday or Friday.


It turns out the 'Documentary' is sponsored by CMI. On the website for the film, their 'Digging Deeper' section gives a link to Also, CMI are showing the trailer for the film on their own website.

On top of that, 2/3 of all the reviews of the film on IMDB, are giving praise to the film and a 10-star-rating were submitted within a one-week period, the majority of them being submitted on the same day (26th August 2010) from either New Zealand or Australia. It is quite obvious that a Creationist or Church group made a concerted effort to sway the ratings of the film. Once I publish the review of the film on my blog, I encourage all of you to give your own review of it on IMDB, along with the 1-star rating it deserves for being a lying piece of creationist propaganda.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dennis Markuze (Or whatever his real name is)

Thanks to PZ Myers at Pharyngula for posting this picture.
I'm trying a new method of blocking him from this blog, Link Here.

Here he is folks.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Blasphemy Day

I'm told that today is Blasphemy day.

So here's some obligatory blasphemy.

Jesus wasn't the messiah.
Catholicism is for cannibalistic kiddy-fiddlers.
Mohammed was a pedophile.
Moses never met Yahweh on Sinai (He most likely didn't exist)
Joseph Smith was a pervert and a liar.
Nirvana (not the band) is stupid because it's more-or-less just non-existence.
Reincarnation is a joke.
L. Ron Hubbard was a conman and a bad storyteller.
Satanism is a pathetic religion for immature adults who don't want to grow up.
The Jehovah's Witnesses are an anti-intellectual brain-washing cult.
Wicca is absurd because magic doesn't exist.
Paganism is so bronze-age.

Did I miss anything?

Books, Books, More Books

I've ordered some books on Biblical Criticism, two on the Old Testament and Archaeology and two on different aspects of the historicity of Jesus.

Robert M. Price - The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable is the Gospel Tradition? (2003)
Hyam Maccoby - The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity (1986)
Israel  Finkelstein & Neil Asher Silberman - The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts (2001)
Israel  Finkelstein & Neil Asher Silberman - David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition (2006)

I won't have time to read them all in the near future, but come November, I'll be going on a huge reading spree. I have a fairly large list of books on my shelf that I haven't read yet.

Here is the list, all the ones that I haven't given a rating to yet are the ones that I haven't read yet.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dissecting Some JW Literature

Some Jehovah's Witnesses stopped by my house a few days ago, and gave me a little pamphlet that says "All Suffering SOON TO END".

Here's a quote.
"At some time in your life, you have likely asked, 'Why all the suffering?'...Will all of this ever end? ... The comforting answer is yes"
The correct answer is no. At least not until either our sun explodes or the universe suffers heat-death.

I'm taking them out of context, but I really don't care. This piece of literature is just one giant faulty premise. Lets start from the beginning - the claim that suffering (and death) began when Adam and Eve sinned. This is slightly problematic, considering that A) Adam and Eve never existed in the first place, and B) 99% of all animals that lived before humans are extinct. This means that there was a whole lot of suffering and death. Every time they make a claim, they just quote something from the Bible, which is probably out of context (they're really good at that). There isn't a single claim on this paper that is grounded in anything that could be considered rational, sane or factual. It's all based on faith and misunderstandings of their own holy book.

TheGoodAtheist wrote in a recent post (talking about religious people) “They have it easy: they can make an infinite amount of baseless claims, and we’re seen as the bad guys for calling them on their bullshit.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Funniest Video Ever

The Origin of Life Made Easy

I just watched this video and had to post it here, it's an excellent, concise explanation of current scientific theory regarding the origin of life.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Religious Privilege

Am I missing something? Some religious people seem to think that their belief systems should have a privileged status in society and I can't think of a single reason why. In light of the recent fiasco with the Florida preacher wanting to burn Qurans on September 11th, many Muslims were outraged that this might happen, and are now pressing the UN to make "all forms of offense against religions" illegal.  Others are calling for the preacher to be arrested and his church permanently shut down. Now I don't agree with his reasons for burning the Quran, but do I care that he's doing it? No, and why should I? The Quran is absolutely meaningless to me. It's a piece of literature from another culture that I haven't read and don't really ever plan on reading it. I can understand why Muslims would be upset by this, but to have the man arrested, and make free speech a crime? Grow some balls.
On a similar note, an Australian University lawyer's job is in danger, as some people took offense to his smoking of the bible and Quran. He didn't hurt anyone or damage anyone else's property so what's the fuss about? Religions have been shitting on everyone else's front doorsteps for millennia, and now that some individuals are deciding that enough is enough, the religious are screaming bloody murder. I challenge every single person out there reading this, to try and think of one single reason why religious belief deserves to be exempt from criticism. On top of that, I cannot think of any reason why anyone should have the right to not be offended, and why should causing offense be illegal?

I would never demand that people respect my individual values and beliefs, only that people respect my right to hold them. I would never demand that someone be jailed for desecrating something of great importance to me (like reason itself). In fact, every day I am encountered by desecrations of reason, they're called creationists. I find their sheer stupidity quite offensive, as they reflect badly on the competence of the human race. However, I am all for their right to believe whatever anti-intellectual vomit they want to believe in, as long as I have the right to be able to criticize them for believing it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Parasites and Creationism

I signed up for the Creation Ministries International email newsletter the other day, so I'll be checking out their latest and greatest arguments for a young earth all the time.
In the first email I received from them, the main article they linked to was about parasites and how they fit into creationism. I'll just go through this article and see what I can find.

Firstly they talk about how the flatworms of the genus Schistosoma have "a bizarre and complex life-cycle which defies an evolutionary explanation." So straight away we have an argument from incredulity.. Uhh I meant to say argument from complexity. They are basically saying "Look how complicated it all is! GOD DID IT!" which is quite frankly an awful argument. They can't conceive of an evolutionary mechanism, therefore in their mind, creationism automatically wins. Sorry, that isn't the way science works.

Their next play was predictable, they assert that "The straightforward, biblical answer is that these evils did not exist in the original creation." Parasites (and all other bad creatures) apparently didn't exist until after Adam and Steve sinned. With this argument they take aim at other Christians and theistic evolutionists who "accept the secular belief in millions of years", saying that since death and disease and parasites exist before sin in this view of the world, that Young Earth Creationism must be right! Oh boy, I've really picked a great article to pee on haven't I?

Next is the explanation for the origin of parasites, and it is comedic gold. I'm just going to quote them. My comments are in red, bold and underlined square brackets.

"Parasites must have been benign and beneficial in their original form. ... But when Adam and Eve sinned [HAH!], things began to go wrong. These once-harmless creatures degenerated [evolved?], and became parasitic and harmful ...

Perhaps some became parasitic as a result of mutations [evolved?]...

Other kinds of genetic change may have been involved too [evolution?]. For example, microbes can swap genes  [and evolve?]...

In many cases, however, the life-cycle of the parasite is so complex that new genetic information may have been needed [evolved?]. Mutations do not provide new genetic information [WRONG]; so the information may have been there from the beginning. However, it was in a ‘switched off’ mode before the Fall [HAH!], and was not ‘switched on’ until after the Fall. God could have included this genetic information because of his foreknowledge that Adam and Eve would disobey him. "

They're so clever that they're committing post hoc fallacies with events that never happened.

Finally, they mention Noah's Ark, and try to explain the existence of parasites in the context of it. They propose the typical creationist hyper-evolution post-flood. All parasites in their mind have evolved from a few different parasites into the millions of species of parasitic organisms we have today, in just 4000 years. It blows my mind how much cognitive dissonance there is in the mind of a Young Earth Creationist.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gotta Give AiG Some Credit For This

I just logged into the Answers in Genesis website to see what nonsense they were peddling today and I came across this article about the creationist argument 'If humans evolved from apes, why are there still apes today'. To my surprise, AiG actually did a good job of explaining why this is a retarded argument, and why creationists should not use it.

Then I went back to their homepage and saw something about their creation 'museum' and I was suddenly brought back to reality. I can't really give them much credit for debunking something a child can understand (and probably debunk just as well).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why Biblical Literalism is Wrong Part 5: New Testament

The Old Testament isn't alone with its errors, the New Testament has a fair share too. Though most of them are related to illnesses being caused by sin or by demons. Here is a short list of some of them.

Herod killed all young boys under 2, yet it is not mentioned by any historians, Josephus who wrote in great detail about Herod doesn't even mention it. Mat. 2:16
The devil shows Jesus the whole world from a mountaintop.. Flat earth? Mat. 4:8
If you have enough faith you never get sick. Mat. 9:22
The inability to speak is caused by demon-possession Mat. 9:32-33
Illness is caused by unclean spirits Mat. 10:1
Mustard seeds are not the smallest, and they do not grow into the greatest of all trees. Mat. 13:31-32
Jesus thought Noah's flood was an actual event Mat. 24:37
Jesus taught that Adam and Eve were there at the beginning of creation, though this is emphatically untrue. Mark 10:6
Epilepsy is caused by demon possession Luk 9:39
Angels cure disease John 5:4
Being crippled is a punishment for sin John 5:14
A blind man is cured by washing in a pool. John 9:7
Paul is bitten by a poisonous snake in Malta, yet there are no snakes on Malta or any evidence that there ever were. Acts 28:3-8
God is self-evident. Sorry, I don't see him. Rom 1:20
Only dead seeds germinate? Sorry Paul you're wrong. 1 Cor 15:36
Paul believed the creation myth 2 Cor 11:3, 1 Tim 2:13
Storms and droughts are caused by Satan Eph 2:2
The earth doesn't move, because it is set on a foundation. Heb 1:10 (geocentricism fail)
All beasts, birds serpents and sea creatures have been tamed by humans. James 3:7
All illness is curable by prayer. James 5:14-15
Author of 2 Peter believed the flood story 2 Pet. 2:4-5
There's a whole lot more in revelation, but anyone with 1/2 a brain knows that it is apocalyptic literature, and none of it is meant to be taken literally.

This series has the potential to carry on for a long time, but I've run out of categories to post about. I think I have made a fairly strong case for why the bible is not literally true, regardless of whether it is intended to be interpreted as such or not. In retrospect, I think I haven't really made a case for why Biblical Literalism is wrong as a theological approach, but rather argued for why I think that it is not correct. In summary, as a collection of texts, the Bible can not be taken as literal truth so long as it contains: Creation myths, contradictions, scientific errors, historical errors and anachronisms.

The Bible is not literally true, if anyone thinks they can give a reason why they think it is I would love to hear it.

Part 4: Errors
Part 3: Genesis
Part 2: Contradictions
Part 1: Creation Myths

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Running With The Devil

The other day I was driving home from University, and when I pulled onto the motorway, I saw some enormous words on the back window of the vehicle in front of me in the other lane. The words were "JESUS LOVES YOU", I chuckled to myself at how silly I find that sentence and then stopped thinking about it. No more than 10 seconds later, a new song started playing on the radio, lo and behold it was Van Halen's 'Running With The Devil'. Now as you can imagine, I was quite pleased at the situation I found myself in. Driving alongside a vehicle with "JESUS LOVES YOU" on the back while I'm listening to 'Running With The Devil'. I couldn't resist head-banging, pulling the metal (devil) horns and poking my tongue out à la Gene Simmons at the people in the Jesus car.
Best coincidence ever.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why Biblical Literalism is Wrong Part 4: Errors

The Old Testament contains a lot of extremely un-scientific and un-true statements, which is odd for a book that is supposed to be literally true and infallible. As I said in the previous instalment the bible was written by uneducated (by today's standards) men, so we really get what we should expect. I would not expect to see anything that is scientifically sound in 2000-3000 year old writings. Here is a short list of some errors to demonstrate my point.

-The Israelites took 40 years to make a journey that would have taken less than two weeks to walk. Exo 16:35
-Disabled people are made that way by god. Exo 4:11
-There are four-legged fowls Lev 11:20
-Bats are birds Lev 11:13
-The Israelites went from a total population of 70 to a few million in only a few generations. Num 1:45-46
-Leprosy is caused by the wrath of god or the malice of Satan Num 12:10
-There were giants that were 14 feet tall Deut 3:11 (Yet somehow not a single skeleton has ever been found)
-Joshua destroyed Jericho before it even existed, and said that whoever rebuilt it would be cursed. Too bad that it still exists today. Josh 6:26
-Joshua destroys the city of Ai, but it was already an abandoned city centuries before this supposedly happened. Josh 8
-The stars helped people in battle. Judg 5:20
-The sun goes around the earth Judg 5:31
-The earth rests upon pillars 1 Sam 2:8
-God is the cause of thunder and rain 1 Sam 12:18
-God is the cause of earthquakes 1 Sam 14:15
-Earthquakes can be caused by people singing and shouting loudly 1 Kings 1:39-40
-Pi =3 1 Kings 7:23
-Droughts are a punishment for sin. 1 Kings 8:35

I think that's plenty. There are hundreds more, I didn't even go through comprehensively, and didn't even get through half the Old Testament. It goes without saying that a book that is 'literally true' and infallible would not contain egregious errors of this kind. Some are no doubt metaphorical (or are they?) like the verses mentioning that the earth rests upon pillars, or that there are four corners to the earth. It seems like the others actually mean what they say they do, that Joshua destroyed cities that didn't exist and that bats are birds.

Part 5: New Testament
Part 3: Genesis
Part 2: Contradictions
Part 1: Creation Myths

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Fundies

Today's Friday Fundies quote will be from the Channel description from the youtube page of user 'SAUNDERSacts2618'. I came across this user because he went street-preaching with another user called TheWoodsofJordan. Jordan used to be an extreme fundamentalist Christian, who used to make videos about hellfire and so on. Anyway, a while back, Jordan left the church and became an agnostic-atheist. About a week ago, Jordan decided to get baptised into the Mormon Church, and he sold all his Metal CD's to buy church clothes. He's already left the Mormon church and is hanging out with this extremist fundie SAUNDERSacts2618.

Jordan, if you read this, which I don't think you will. I'm trying my best not to put you in the same box that you started out in, but hanging out with this guy really doesn't look good. I wish you all the best.

Here's the quote.. It speaks for itself, and all the spelling mistakes and all-caps are from the original formatting.

Jesus is God! Every knee will bow and confess Jesus is Lord!!!!
If you become a friend i will pray for you daily!also i ask that you would pray for me!Also lets keep winning souls to The True God Our Lord and Saviour Jesus.All Glory to our Father!! Praise the Lord!! Please subscribe!


" Jesus said,I AM the WAY,the TRUTH,the LIFE,no man comes to the FATHER but through Me.

I'm a five point calvinist.
I'm pretib rapture.
I believe all the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

In the beginning there was nothing, and nothing happened to nothing, until nothing exploded, and created everything. Then, the nothing that became everything magically rearranged itself for no reason into self-replicating complex life forms, that became intelligent beings that believed in God. Makes perfect sense. LOL.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Why Biblical Literalism is Wrong Part 3: Genesis

Now this is quite possibly the easiest way to show that the Bible is not literally true and thus not infallible, since it was written in the pre-scientific era by humans who had no knowledge about biology, astronomy, advanced mathematics and whose method of recording historical events was extremely poor. Statements of 'facts' whether historical or scientific are one of the many problems with biblical literalism.

I already addressed the fact that the Genesis creation accounts are part of the genre of Creation Myth's, and by definition should not be taken literally, but let's take a second look at them from a scientific standpoint.

-The earth is created before the stars?
-Light is separated from darkness, but we still have no stars?
-There is a solid object called a firmament between 'heaven' and earth that separates the higher waters from lower waters?
-Plants are made before the sun? photosynthesis fail.
-God places the sun and stars in the previously mentioned solid object called the firmament?
-The moon is a light source?
-All animals were herbivores?
-The entire creation takes six days? The universe is 13.7 billion years passed the big bang, new stars and planets are constantly coming in and out of existence.
-Humans weren't created from the dust, but evolved over a long period of time.
-Adam went and named all the animals? That must have taken a while since there are hundreds of millions of species currently alive, not to mention all the ones that have gone extinct since the origin of life(which Adam was supposed to have been very close to) .
-Woman was created from the rib of man? Actually, men and women evolved together over millions of years..

I'll stop there, because there are about 40 more factual errors in the rest of genesis following the creation myth, including Noah's Flood, 970 year old humans, and historical errors, such as the assertion that the Philistines were in the land of Canaan around 800 years earlier than they actually were. It seems quite obvious that there is no way that Genesis is literally true at all, and it most certainly is not infallible, unless you define infallible as 'rife with errors'.

Part 5: New Testament
Part 4: Errors
Part 2: Contradictions
Part 1: Creation Myths

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

God is Superfluous Pierre-Simon Laplace quote

When doing my post a while back called 'God is Superfluous' I was searching around for this quote, and google wasn't helping me much because I had the wording wrong. Alas, I have found the quote that I was searching for. The quote comes from French Mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749-1827). Laplace was giving a copy of his work Mécanique Céleste (Celestial Mechanics) to Napoleon, who had been informed that it made no mention of god, and Napoleon asked Laplace "they tell me you have written this large book on the system of the universe, and have never even mentioned its Creator." and Laplace responded "I had no need of that hypothesis."
So it is with all of our natural models, they do not contain god in them, because they work perfectly well without the assumption of god.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Why Biblical Literalism is Wrong Part 2: Contradictions

I've done some posts on contradictions before, but there's no harm in covering the same ground more than once.

It doesn't take a genius to notice that the bible is full of internal discrepancies, differences in name, number, order etc. and some apologists have become moderately adept at trying to explain these away. For example when a passage in Numbers mentions that 24,000 died from a plague(in Moses' time), and the apostle Paul writes that 23,000 fell in a day from the plague, an apologist will say something flaky like "It is not contradictory that 23,000 should die in a day, and another 1000 die before or after" . While what they say is true, it isn't very convincing. The account in Numbers was not written by Moses, but rather much later, and then Paul is writing over a millennium later again. A better explanation of this contradiction would be that Paul was referring to the same passage from numbers, but his copy of the text had a different number written down than the text we have today.

In fact some contradictions addressed by the same apologist were ascribed simply to copyist error. For example 2 Sam 8:4 says that David took 700 horsemen, and 1 Chron 18:4 says that David took 7000 horsemen. If this apologist is able to realise that there are errors within the bible, even if they are potentially attributable to copyist error, then what on earth are the literalists thinking? The origin of the contradictions is not important because the fact that they exist is enough to demonstrate that the bible is not literally true, and is most certainly not infallible or inerrant. Are you really willing to believe that Joseph's father was Jacob, and Joseph's father was also Heli? Is it possible that the accounts mentioning how many men the chief captain of David's army killed are both literally true considering one account says it was 300 and the other account says 800? Certainly not.

In order for anything to be inerrant, infallible or literally true, these kinds of contradictions would have to be completely absent. Far from being free of contradictions, the Bible (both new and old testaments) is filled with them. Apologists have conceived of ways to explain many of them away, but most are utterly unconvincing, and others require some amazing feats of mental gymnastics to avoid some serious cases of cognitive dissonance. 
"Genesis 1 says that God created them both, and that He did it on the sixth day. It does not say that He created them at the exact same moment. He created Adam first, then created Eve from his rib later the same day. Not a contradiction."
Not only did this aspiring apologist take the verses out of context when he quoted them and misunderstands the creation myth (because he's an ignorant biblical literalist), he also doesn't appear to be familiar with the plot of Genesis 2. God created Adam, then realises that Adam is lonely and has no companions, so he creates all the animals, which Adam then proceeds to name. God then created Eve out of Adams rib to be his companion because he apparently didn't have the foresight to realise that he'd created a sexual being, who required another member of the same species (and opposite sex) to reproduce. Unless Adam was Superman, The Flash and a hyper-genius all rolled into one, I highly doubt that all of those events could have happened in the same day. There are literally billions of species if you count all of the ones that went extinct hundreds of millions of years before homo sapiens existed. Oh wait, I just remembered something, Genesis is a creation myth from a culture that knew nothing about science, no wonder it doesn't make any sense as a literal story.....

By now it should be quite glaringly obvious that being a biblical literalist requires some very serious mental deficiencies.

A list of 1512 contradictions by book.

Part 5: New Testament
Part 4: Errors
Part 3: Genesis
Part 1: Creation Myths

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ken Ham has a Vacuum for a Brain

What really angers me about Ken Ham and his ilk is that very frequently they target their misinformation at children, for example on the AiG website they have an entire section called kids answers. In this section of their website they take questions from children, (though I'm not even sure about that because Ken Ham has the integrity of a rat), and give them extremely fallacious creationist responses. This particular example is a child asking the question "Why are Stars Millions of Light Years Away?"

Ken Ham responds with an extremely childish answer,  something that I would expect to see in a parody like Monty Python. Anyway, in short his answer is that god created the light already reaching Earth. It is so moronic that I have difficulty finding words that describe precisely how stupid I think Ken Ham is. You know that when they're giving answers like this that they really have nothing intelligible to offer. It's about as viable of an answer as saying "God put the fossils there to test our faith" or "Junk DNA and vestigial organs were created to give the appearance of an evolutionary history" or "The sedimentary layers on earth just give an appearance of age, god created them 6,000 years ago" or "The igneous intrusions into sedimentary rocks that are used to radiometrically date many layers were created with partially decayed radioactive materials to give the illusion that they were laid down sequentially over billions of years". The only reason you don't see creationists spouting lines identical to these ones, is because they have other explanations for these phenomena, the problem is that their explanations are about as coherent as a 2 year old child's first attempt at artwork.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Why Biblical Literalism is Wrong Part 1: Creation Myths

Something that seems to plague conservative Christianity is the idea that the Bible is literally true, literally the word of god and that it is infallible. This becomes problematic from the very start of the bible with the Genesis creation myth. Besides the extremely basic distinctions between the "historical" texts, law texts, prophetic texts, gospels and epistles, biblical literalists don't seem to be able to grasp the more specific genres contained within certain books.
First off, with Genesis, the first few chapters belong to the genre of Creation myth. The Genesis story is not unique, original, or true in any sense and to interpret it as such shows an enormous misunderstanding of the genre. It isn't meant to be interpreted literally because creation myths were symbolic narratives that described how the known world came to be, not scientifically accurate accounts of actual events. They developed in the same way most folklore does, by being passed down orally through many generations. Genesis was written down to preserve the cultural tradition of the Israelite creation myth. This is most likely the reason why there are two different accounts of the same basic story contained in Genesis. Chapter one and two give two divergent accounts of the same basic story, the events are in different orders, one contains details that the other doesn't and vice versa. The biblical creation story is a myth, nothing more, and we find parallels to it all throughout early human history, many of which predate the Israelites. If you want to understand the Genesis creation narrative, you interpret it within its cultural context, not take it as infallible, literal truth.

Anyway, here is a List of 46 Creation Myths if you're interested.

Part 5: New Testament
Part 4: Errors
Part 3: Genesis
Part 2: Contradictions

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Apparently I Write Like a Happy Old Man

Hat tip to Blag Hag for the idea.

This nifty little website takes the text of a blog, and determines the approximate age, gender and demeanour of the writer by the style of writing.
So what does it say about me? is probably written by a male somewhere between 66-100 years old. The writing style is personal and happy most of the time.
Close but no cigar. Everything but the age is spot on, and I imagine that it picked me as an old man because of the words I use, sentence structure and so on. I'm pleased that it didn't pick me as a geriatric old woman.

Politicians Staging an Assault on Atheism

Well not quite.....

I just noticed two things in the blogs today.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke at a university to a conference of Christians and Muslims and said that they need to unite to fight a war against the "secularist agenda". Just what the hell is a secularist agenda? The only thing that comes to my mind is justice and freedom for all, regardless of race, religion, gender, preference or anything else. A war against secularism is a war against freedom. Tony Blair is an imbecile, and is morally vacuous.

PZ Myers over at Pharyngula has a post about a recent speech of Obama's where he said "We are one nation under God. We may call that God different names, but we are one nation." Which is a shame, considering that in his inauguration speech he made a minor mention that non-believers were Americans too. It seems the U.S.A. will have to wait a while longer before they have a President that isn't simply a puppet to the faithful and decides to represent ALL of his citizens.

I can't wait till the day when Politicians get their snouts out of religious excrement and when religions stop eating from the gargantuan trough that is tax-payers money.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Atheist Intelligence

I was linked this rather humorous article on the OkCupid blog. It was titled "The REAL 'Stuff White People Like'" and the majority of the article was concerned with taking the most common phrases on 500,000 profiles on their site and dividing up the people into their self-professed racial groups, and then seeing which phrases came up the most for each race/gender group. I found it funny because a lot of stereotypes were confirmed, and it was based simply on what people said about themselves.
But anyway, that's not what I wanted to talk about. At the very bottom of the article they had a section on literacy vs. religious belief. They used a program to analyse the reading/writing level of the text contained on each profile, and sorted the profiles by religious belief. You probably won't be surprised by the results.

Then they made another graph sorting each religious group (and non-religious) into 3 categories, 'not serious', 'somewhat serious' and 'very serious'. You probably won't be surprised by the results in that graph either.
As you can see, for all the religious groups but two, the 'somewhat serious' group were the dumbest, followed by the 'very serious'. In all the religious groups, the people who were least serious about their belief were the most intelligent in their group. That brings us to the agnostic and atheist groups. The results were flipped for atheists and agnostics, the more serious they were about their non-belief, the higher their literacy was.
Another VERY interesting result from these graphs was how the religions compared. No surprises that protestants were at the bottom of the heap, it's almost impossible to drag that number up no matter how many intelligent protestants there are. Protestants are more likely to be creationists and biblical literalists than Catholics, who didn't fare much better.

Please note: I'm not taking this as conclusive proof that Christianity rots your brain, I just find it incredibly interesting. The results speak for themselves, and most other major studies done in this area have found similar results.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Debating a True-Believer™

Recently I was having a discussion on a Facebook group forum. It was an anti-vaccination group and I'd only gone there to look at some of the things they were saying, and what I saw amazed me. I had never seen such convoluted reasoning before in my life. People were giving anecdotes for why their particular belief was true, while simultaneously saying that they weren't basing their views off anecdotes. When pressed to give data supporting their position, they would go on a rant about how scientists are being paid off by big-pharmaceutical companies. When I would mention the fact that most medical scientists could earn a lot more money if they converted to alt-medicine, because people like them would buy any books they would write, they would have another anecdote about a scientist they know. When the nature of their argument was shown quite clearly to be circular, they would continue repeating the same things ad nauseum. Perhaps attempting to engage 'True Believers' is pointless......
What motivates me is that some of them are out there doing real harm to people, and perhaps if one person turns their back on medical quackery, then there might be one child who doesn't have to die in the hands of an incompetent homeopath

Monday, September 6, 2010

Apology for lack of posts

I'm sorry I haven't posted anything really in the last 2 weeks, but I promise I have a semi-decent excuse.

I was in a car accident, got busy looking for a new car.
My internet usage exceeded my data-cap and I've been slowed down to dialup speed and it depresses me to try and do the simplest of tasks. I'll be back up on full-speed shortly though and I'll try put out some thought provoking content.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

On the Origin of Jesus Part 3: Mythical Jesus

This is a subject that I haven't really made my mind up about yet, because there is no conclusive evidence, but I'll have a crack at it anyway.

There are three main things to take into consideration when analysing the idea that Jesus was mythical. First, that there are no secular sources that mention a miracle-working Jesus (I've dealt with Josephus before). Second, that the earliest Christian writings (Paul's Epistles) do not provide any evidence for a recent historical Jesus. Lastly, that many aspects of the Jesus story have close parallels in other Middle-eastern religions, with stories about messiahs, dying gods, which Christian apologists have tried to explain-away since the beginning of the religion. In the second century C.E. early church fathers were dealing with criticisms that their religion had plagiarised the pagan religions, and their primary response was that Satan had anticipated Christianity, and copied aspects of it to make it look like Christianity had copied paganism. This is one of the most pathetic defences of any religion that I've ever seen.

In my  last post I mentioned that the fingerprints of oral tradition, aka. folklore are smeared all over the gospel accounts. It has been suggested by apologists that the contradictions between the four gospel accounts are evidence that they're true, which I find ludicrous. That argument could possibly be used if the accounts were written down by eye-witnesses, because people often make mistakes in their observations. However, the gospel accounts were not written by eye-witnesses, quite far from it in fact. Depending on which gospel you look at, we're talking between 2 and 4 generations passed between the alleged death of Jesus and the time the gospel was written down. I find it quite absurd to suggest that the gospel accounts we have written down, were passed down orally through 2-4 generations and then written down in more-or-less the same form. I find it far more reasonable that the variation arose from many decades of telling the same basic story. We have no indication of when the original story arose, or what that story even was, as there is no archaeological evidence to support the Jesus story, and many aspects of it are quite plainly fictitious. The gospels themselves place the Jesus story at contradictory places in history, which to me seems to be an attempt by each of the authors to place a myth within a historical context.

There seems to be 4 common views of the historicity of Jesus, I find 3 of them plausible.
1: Jesus never existed.
2: Jesus existed, but we can't know anything about him, due to the contradictory nature of the sources.
3: Jesus existed, and we can discern some core ideas about his identity, but he is not the same Jesus as the gospels portray.
4: Jesus existed, and the gospels portray him accurately.

1-3 I find all equally viable explanations, number 4 however seems to ignore the evidence. This is unfortunately the position that the majority of lay-Christians hold to, probably because they really don't know much about their own religion.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Fundies

 This one is a quote from a thread debating the infamous creationist film 'Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed'. It's a perfect example of circular reasoning, using the bible to justify the bible, offering bible verses to 'prove' what he said, and then challenging his opponents to prove him wrong 'biblically'. It's possible to justify anything using the bible, which is to be expected since it is a compilation of many different works, by many, many authors. Fundies just don't seem to be able to grasp the mental concept that the bible isn't meant to be taken as literal truth. The truth of the matter is much more complex than their simpleton brains could possibly comprehend.

Quote# 44002

(In the Evolution Debate thread, Wayne keeps trying to prove to us "blind" people that humans are not animals "cuz the bible sez so!)

First,, the bible is the Word of God and the Word of God is Jesus Christ in the flesh....... AND it IS the beginning and the end of all matters. Want the verse that proves it or do you know it? Man is created from the dust of the ground. Show me how I'm wrong biblically.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Comic: The Downfall of Mormonism

I found this delightful comic on reddit, and thought I would share it with you all. It perfectly shows what SHOULD be happening, unfortunately though, there are a lot of gullible people out there, who simply take peoples word and never look into anything for themselves.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Does being a dick pay off?

After watching Phil Plait's speech from TAM, I've been thinking about the whole concept of being friendly to antagonists a whole lot more. I rewound my brain to remember whether people insulting my beliefs had anything to do with my deconversion. It may have had some small effect on my pride, but to be quite honest, there was probably only one single person who impacted my deconversion more than all the others combined. I don't even know his name, but we used to debate on Myspace group forums about religion, evolution, science and everything in between. Even though I said a lot of things which I would now regard as being rather moronic, he seemed to keep his cool amazingly, while I was the one going off the rails, not with insults but with incoherent ranting, and copy/pasting things I had seen on apologetics websites.

One time I sent him a private message to convince him to read an apologetics book, which I mentioned in my deconversion post over a year ago, 'I don't have enough faith to be an atheist'. He in turn recommended a book to me, 'The Age of Reason' by Thomas Paine. I highly doubt that he ever read the book I recommended to him, and I hope he doesn't, because when I re-examined the book years later it wasn't all I thought it had been.
Some 4 years after he recommended that I read Thomas Paine, I bought a copy of the book, read it and was completely intrigued the entire way though. I had never looked at the bible that way before. Even though Paine was fervently arguing for the Deistic position, by the time I had finished reading The Age of Reason, I was agnostic about whether god existed or not. At that point I no longer considered myself a Christian, but still had a desire to believe in god.

I'm certainly not advocating the complete elimination of offensive words, because a well-placed insult can add a great dramatic flair to a passionate argument, especially when it comes to things like Chiropractors manipulating the spines of infants and young children I can't help but throw wild insults, that shit makes me sick!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

God is Superfluous

I'm just going to take a minute to explain methodological naturalism before I get to the point of this post. Methodological naturalism is the practical assumption that all science works from, when there is a gap in scientific knowledge it is assumed that there is a natural explanation for that phenomenon. If scientists sometimes assumed that a particular unknown was the result of a supernatural intervention it would effectively place a brick wall in the path of progress.

As you should know, science has effectively replaced religion in terms of understanding the natural world. We now know that Zeus doesn't throw lightening bolts, Neptune doesn't control the seas, our sun isn't a deity and Yahweh didn't create life on earth or fashion mankind out of the dirt. All of those things have completely natural explanations, those gods are superfluous. We don't have to stop there though, apologists have tried to find god in the realm of physics too, attempting to attribute the big bang to a supernatural origin. Unfortunately for them though the data strongly indicates to us that no such miracle occurred to kick-start our universe into being. Stephen Hawking wrote in 1988 "In the case of a universe that is approximately uniform in space, one can show that the negative gravitational energy exactly cancels the positive energy represented by the matter. So the total energy of the universe is zero." Apologists will then most likely posit the question 'Why is there something rather than nothing', and the simple answer is "Nothing is unstable" -Frank Wilczek. According to the principles of quantum mechanics, not only is 'nothing' unstable, but it seems nothing is also impossible. Thus, gods are superfluous in explaining the origin and existence of the universe too.

If we have relinquished the role of gods in explaining the origin and nature of the universe, and we can't detect any supernatural interactions with the physical world, for what purpose do we (as a species) still believe in gods? Is it to satisfy some deep-seated desire for a transcendent meaning to life? Or is it simply just wishful thinking?

Friday, August 20, 2010

3D Imaging of Oldest Fossils

New Scientist has an article about the work being done making 3D images of what are thought to be the oldest fossilised animals on earth. These fossils are sponges from pre-Cambrian strata, which makes them another piece of evidence that creationists/ID proponents will ignore. The 'Cambrian Explosion' popularised by creationists is now even more of a joke than it was before.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Resurrection Account in Mark

On a similar note to the post below this one, I found a video on YouTube by a user named KingHeathen, and he mentioned something that I did know but hadn't played connect-the-dots with.
Mark chapter 16 begins with the account of Mary, Mary and Salome visiting the tomb of Jesus to find the stone already rolled away and Jesus' body missing. There is a "young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment", who tells them that Jesus is risen. The book of Mark ends with this at verse 8 "And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they  trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for  they were afraid."
Most decent Bibles will then have a little note that says something like this after verse 8.
"The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20."
Mark 16:9-20 is the part that mentions Jesus appearing to many people after the resurrection and ascending into heaven.
As we know, Mark is the earliest gospel of the 4 in the Bible, and these last verses are a later addition. So, the earliest gospel doesn't really mention the resurrection in any detail, all we hear is from a man sitting inside Jesus' tomb explaining that the reason there is no body is because he rose from the dead.

So, who was the man in the white robes? We aren't told, Mark and John simply say that he is a man dressed in white. Matthew and Luke say that his appearance was like lightening. As a matter of fact, Luke and John say that there were two men inside the tomb, but that's beside the point. From what it seems, all the accounts of Jesus appearing to people and ascending into heaven were later additions to the gospels, because the earliest gospel (Mark) didn't contain them.

Just a thought.

Here's the video that I mentioned anyway

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

On the Origin of Jesus Part 2: Oral Tradition

Reading Alan Dundes' book has given me a whole new insight into this topic so I've decided to do a second part.
Between the death of Jesus and the time the gospels were written as I mentioned last time, Paul was the only person to write about Christianity. Paul's writings only contained a small number of the details that are known as the story of Jesus, and they are often slightly different to the what is contained within the gospels (which differ from one another), the point of this post is to highlight the origin of these variant texts.

Just to give you an idea of the kind of thing I'm talking about I'll give some examples.

How many women visited Jesus' tomb?
Mark     - 3: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome
Matthew- 2: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary
Luke     - more than 3: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the others with them
John     - 1: Mary Magdalene

When was the Stone Rolled away?
Mark, Luke and John- The stone had been rolled away when they arrived
Matthew- After they arrived, an angel appeared, rolled the stone away and sat on it.

I'm not going to spend any more time showing you more of these, but here's a short list of variant texts to do with the resurrection of Christ. You can take my word for it that the gospels are full of this kind of thing, or you can go look them up yourself, they aren't exactly hard to find.

Apologists have tried to reconcile these apparent contradictions by saying things like "they're divergent accounts, and prove that it's correct!" as a mantra. I believe Josh Mcdowell was a huge proponent of that idea. The problem with this idea is that it is just plain wrong. We've established that none of the new testament writers were eye-witnesses to anything that happened, so where did the textual variations come from? The details of the story were passed down 2-4 generations before they were written down, which is more than enough time for discrepancies and errors to creep in. How much of the story is genuine? We'll probably never know. As far as I'm concerned, there are only 4 details that are almost certainly true, that he lived, had a crowd of followers, was influential and that he died.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Skeptic Conference (And Me!) On TV

Here's a clip from New Zealand's TV3 about the conference.
I appear in the video at 41 seconds in the background of an interview (it's only my back though) I'm on the left hand side wearing a black jacket with a stripe across it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Bible as Folklore

A while ago I went on a book buying-spree and one of them was a short book titled 'Holy Writ as Oral Lit: The Bible as Folklore' by Alan Dundes. This book was quite an eye-opener in terms of understanding the Bible and all its confusions and contradictions. Dundes' main point was to explain what constitutes folklore, which is that folklore generally will have multiple versions of the same story often with variations in names, sequence, wording and/or numbers. He then proceeds to go through dozens and dozens of passages within the bible where the story is told several times with both major and minor differences in each copy. Dundes posits that the huge number of these duplicate and variant texts within the bible and parallels outside the bible are evidence that it was written out of a previously established oral-tradition.

I had heard the oral tradition argument from Christian apologists as a reason why the Gospels were composed so long after Jesus' lived, but in the Christian version of the argument they always try and say that the Hebrew people were very meticulous in their oral tradition, and that it was transmitted extremely accurately. This book quote thoroughly makes that argument to look rather stupid, as the sheer number of contradictory and variant texts is quite overwhelming and Alan does a great job of presenting them.

The book is only 118 pages long and if you have any interest in understanding the cultural and literary background of the bible, you should read it.

Here it is on Amazon.

Here it is on Fishpond for my Kiwi readers (though it is unavailiable at the moment).