Of all of those Big Questions central to philosophical concepts that surround life, the universe and everything, the realms of theology and religions and the nature of deities continue to fascinate. Opinions proliferate in books, articles, videos, conversations in bars and pubs, and in fact anywhere and everywhere two or more humans are in proximity. There’s the pro side; there’s the anti-side. There aren’t too many fence-sitters. I’m still in the anti-camp as the following bits and pieces illustrate.
*Christian theist: God is the answer!
Sceptic: So how do you KNOW that God is the answer instead of (fill in the blank)? The answer is you don’t KNOW and you can’t KNOW! If you don’t KNOW the answer, then your answer should be “I don’t know”, not “God”. Further to that, just because you don’t KNOW the answer (if you stop to admit that to yourself) doesn’t mean that God is the answer by default. For example, I don’t know why archaeologists and historians can’t find any trace of The Exodus. Therefore God must have erased or covered up all of the evidence. Why? Because God works in mysterious ways, that’s why! Not a very satisfactory explanation now, is it.
*Religion is an illusion rooted in wishful thinking or in wish fulfilment; our need or desire to confront our inner fears and insecurities – paraphrasing from Sigmund Freud: “The Future of An Illusion” (1927). Spot on! People desperately cling on to their various religious faiths, against all rationality because they are terrified of the brutality and hopelessness of daily life and the finality of death. As one saying goes, “life’s a bitch and then you die”. As philosopher Thomas Hobbes expressed it, life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. So people search for some sort of personal security, meaning and purposefulness in an indifferent, cold, uncaring and purposeless cosmos. If no one really cares about you (and everybody has got their own set of personal issues and problems to deal with) then you clutch at the straw that is that invisible magic man in the sky. You want a Big Brother to make everything come out all right just the way your parents did when you were a child when they sheltered and looked after you and kissed away the hurt and the tears when you cried in their lap and always comforted you.
*If you have to lie in order to promote your religion, then your religion is utter crap!
*You have to wonder how much of their religion Christians ACTUALLY believe vis-a-vis are they just going through the motions; going along with the crowd in order to be accepted by family, friends and their society; in order to fit in with the majority.
*Religion first gives you the disease (the original sinning stick) then gives you the cure – the afterlife carrot.
Regarding Faith & Belief
*Faith is just wishful thinking.
*If you say you believe there is a God, there’s no comeback from Doubting Thomas’s other than to have you try to justify your belief. But if you claim to actually know that there is a God, then you have to go way, way, way beyond justification and start citing actual evidence that can be independently verified.
*Logic might be a pathway to what is true, but logic in and of itself is not actual evidence that what is logically postulated is actually true.
*Theists propose that there are just two kinds of evil. There’s natural ‘evil’ (i.e. – disease, earthquakes, drought, etc.) and then there is moral evil where humans harm humans and often innocent animals and the environment (i.e. – paedophilia, kidnapping, blackmail, rape, littering, etc.). However, theists conveniently forget two other categories of evil. Firstly, there’s religious evil – humans harming humans in the name of their god (be it God or Allah, etc.) and by god there’s been an awful lot of that sort of evil. Secondly, there is holy evil or God’s evil and you don’t have to read very far into the Bible to find examples, examples like The Flood, Sodom & Gomorrah, the 10 plagues, the sanctioning of slavery, genocide, animal and human sacrifice, cruel and unusual punishments like stoning to death children or letting loose bears on kids. Humans can be evil but by god, God is their role model.
*Why be good when you can just be forgiven?
*No matter what alleged moral absolutes you postulate (i.e. – murder is wrong), I’d wager the human intellect and imagination can come up with a scenario that justifies a violation of that alleged absolute. In the case of murder, there’s self-defense; war; capital punishment; abortion in certain circumstances; mercy killing / euthanasia and scenarios where the act of killing one innocent saves the lives of five other innocents (The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one – Mr. Spock.)
Regarding the End Times
*The End Is Nigh: 50 AD – any day now. 100 AD – any day now. 250 AD – any day now. 500 AD – any day now. 750 AD – any day now. 1000 AD – any day now. 1250 AD – any day now. 1500 AD – any day now. 1600 AD – any day now. 1700 AD – any day now. 1800 AD – any day now. 1900 AD – any day now. 2000 AD – any day now. 2017 AD – any day now.
Regarding Heaven & Hell
*Anytime, or nearly anytime a True Christian Believer gets cornered by atheistic logic / reasoning and can’t wriggle out of the paper bag they have taken refuge in, they often resort to, and come out lashing, striking out at the atheist with dire threats like “you’re going to burn forever in Hell”; “your soul is now damned for all eternity”; “I hope you enjoy your eternal torment” or as Maude was prone to say, “God will get you for that”! That’s not really the proper way to respond when you lose an argument.
Regarding the Bible
*”The Bible said” is actually some human(s) said, and humans say an awful lot of things that have no basis in reality for a whole variety of reasons, some innocent; some not so innocent. The Bible (as well as other holy books) was written by humans for humans and any quotations therein are dubious at best since I’ve yet to see documented that there was anyone back then taking shorthand and writing down the words of wisdom of this or that Biblical character, including alleged supernatural characters. On the other hand, works of fiction are full of author-invented dialogues and monologues.
*Here’s another Biblical oops. In Genesis 1: 11-12 & 29, God gives us all plants and seeds that are good to eat and to plant as future plants that are good to eat. Wrong, for alas, not all plants and seeds are good to eat and to plant (and then eat the resulting plant). So God says plants and seeds are good; actual practice suggests that various plants and seeds can end up planting you six feet under. Yet another Godly oops.
*Though it seems to be widely reported to the contrary, nowhere in Exodus do I read where the death of the firstborn (i.e. – the tenth plague) was restricted to children. It would seem that anyone of any age who happened to have been the firstborn got zapped by God. (Reference Exodus 11: 5; 12: 12; 12: 29; and 13: 15).
*Variation One: Why would anyone in their right mind put any sort of credibility into the Bible? I mean it was written over many hundreds of years; thousands of years ago; by people who remain totally anonymous / unknown with questionable education; leaving behind no original source material; ultimately cobbled together and re-cobbled together by differing committees with differing faiths and agendas and opinions; translated and retranslated with translations of the translations; telling tales that would be pretty fantastic even by modern science fantasy standards.
*Variation Two (adopted from “The Atheist Experience” TV Show): The Bible is just a collection of individual books for which we have no originals, written by people we can’t interview and we weren’t even sure who wrote what or even most of it. So how can you use the Bible as an authority for something (i.e. – God) that’s supernatural?
*Variation Three (also adopted from “The Atheist Experience” TV Show): The Bible is just an old book, written by unknown people, of unknown origin, with unknown dates, none of which is confirmable. There’s no contemporary evidence outside of the Bible itself that corroborates any of it and yet this is sufficient to convince multi millions upon millions that magic happens.
*The Bible is true! Source: The Bible! Every word in the Bible is true and it’s true because the Bible says so. How can you argue against that! [Thanks to Jaclyn Glenn.]
*It’s a rather sad fact that not all Christian True Believers are aware of the fact that the Bible wasn’t written originally in English!
Regarding the Exodus
*Here’s some reasons why the Biblical Exodus is a total nonsense. According to the Bible, 600,000 men (not including women and children) left Egypt for the Promised Land. When you take into account women and children, I’ve seen estimates that up to two million ‘slaves’ left Egypt, accompanied by birds and livestock (Exodus 12: 37-38). Now let’s assume the journey was about the same from modern day Cairo to Tel Aviv. If you go as the crow flies, it’s about 400 km, but that cuts across water. It you head north out of Cairo to the coast then follow the coast, it’s about 625 km. If you head NE out of Cairo until you hit the coast then follow the coast, it’s about a 500 km journey. Why follow the coast? Well you can’t really get lost if you hug the coastline, keeping the Mediterranean Sea to your left as you forge ahead. Sooner or later you’re going to hit the Promised Land. Further, even if you walk just one km a day (heck, you could crawl on your hands-and-knees or even on your belly and make one km a day) you’d make the Cairo – Tel Aviv journey in less than two years. And tens of thousands of other people, nomads, have crossed the Saini desert in days or weeks without any trouble. That alone puts the 40 year Biblical journey in the wilderness in the totally-made-up category, especially when you consider that according to the Bible, God was leading the parade from Egypt to the Promised Land as a “pillar of a cloud” by day and as a “pillar of fire” by night (Exodus 13: 21-22). Maybe God didn’t have a map or didn’t think to hug the coastline. Actually God apparently deliberately chose to lead His people via the long route initially heading SE (Exodus 13: 17-18). No doubt if His Chosen People knew in advance that He was leading them up one extremely long garden path, He might have gotten the middle finger treatment – and nearly did – and who could blame them for telling God where to go and what he could do with Himself when He got there.
Anyway, if the 600,000 men started off on the Egypt to Promised Land journey single file, and allowing for 1 metre separation between them, well 600,000 metres equals 600 kilometres so the first in line would have reached the Promised Land more likely as not before the last one even left Egypt! Of course maybe they didn’t travel single file. Still, that motley former ‘slave’ crowd would have taken up quite a significant area.
Now the area of a circle is equal to Pi times the radius squared. If each of the 600,000 males we know about requires roughly 10 square metres of space (actually nearly most everyone would demand way more than just 10 square metres of personal space) then all 600,000 would occupy roughly an area of 6 million square metres. If you crunch the numbers, the mob would have occupied a circle with a radius of 1.382 km or a diameter of 2.764 km (don’t forget there was no “up” as in multistory buildings to reduce the area in question – everybody occupied ground level). That’s a large area!
Further to that point, you can’t convince me that 600,000 plus people on the move wouldn’t leave behind any rubbish (i.e. – broken pottery and broken / worn-out tools and other non-organic refuse); wouldn’t have buried their dead – those who died on the journey (burials since exposed by erosion); and left behind those millions of campfire residues (which could be carbon dated). The arid environment of the Sinai Peninsula should also have preserved organic stuffs like clothing and artefacts like discarded wood implements. The essential point is that any population numbering 600,000 plus (up to perhaps two million), even a nomadic population, will leave behind archaeological traces. Archaeologists have documented numerous hunter-gatherer tribes 1/1000th the size of God’s Chosen People as related in Exodus.
And further yet to that, one cultural aspect of the human condition is that people like to leave their mark (i.e. – Kilroy was here). Graffiti is not a modern phenomenon. So if you have a band of the great unwashed numbering some 600,000 plus, then you should expect to find some associated graffiti (i.e. – up the pharaoh; golden calves rule, OK; Moses is a jerk; Joseph loves Mary; where’s the exit sign; are we there yet?). Yet I’ve never heard of any account by ancient or Biblical historians finding and translating the graffiti resulting from The Exodus.
And where are the remains of the original Ten Commandment tablets which were broken to bits by Moses (the jerk) as related in Exodus 32: 19? Are they still there? Were they ‘shoplifted’ as souvenirs? Did they even actually exist at all?
So in conclusion, based on the above as well as for lots of other reasons (i.e. – there’s no independent verification from ancient Egyptian texts that verify The Exodus; and of course the holy of holies, the Ark of the Covenant has vanished into the Twilight Zone – how convenient), I can only conclude that The Exodus is just a work of historical fiction – 1% history and 99% fiction. The fact of the matter is, if any actual hard-core evidence had ever been found that verified the Biblical story of The Exodus, it would have been front-page news and absolutely common knowledge around the globe. It hasn’t – it isn’t.
*One can imagine the existence of a maximally more perfect being (i.e. – God). However, so the argument goes, the actual existence of such a being would be even more perfect. Therefore, by imagining God, God actually must exist. But, one can also imagine the non-existence of a maximally most perfect being and since external reality is more perfect that imagination, then therefore the maximally most perfectly being is non-existent in an external reality.
*If God is the most maximally perfect being possible, then God cannot change because to do so would make Him even more or less perfect that He already is which is by definition impossible.
*It is said that God and God alone is a necessary being who must exist independently of all else. All else, all other beings are contingent beings who don’t to have to, of necessity, exist. Alas, if life, the Universe and everything can be accounted for and explained without resorting to God (or any other deity) then God is hardly a necessary being.
*God (i.e. – Mr. Magic Man) is the pathetic rationale which you invoke when you can’t think of any alternative.
*When you get to the point where you cannot explain X, your answer must be “I don’t know” and not that I know the answer has to be God.
*A magic man created the world and then committed suicide. How logical is that!
*In the mind of the True Believer, God has always got to be right! If you begin with the premise that everything God does is morally right, then you can spin any Biblical story to fit that preconception.
*God’s attitude is “might makes right”. I have might and therefore I am right. I created you (i.e. – might) so therefore I can kill you (right).
*Is God so weak and feeble that He can’t figure out a way to convince me of His existence? Apparently so.
*If God is so against homosexuality, how come He didn’t do a Sodom & Gomorrah on ancient Greece and in particular Sparta? Consistency is not God’s middle name by any means.
*If God and company (i.e. – Jesus) appeared to the great unwashed in the Near and Middle East preaching their bona-fides, why did they fail to appear personally to the great unwashed in Australia, Polynesia, the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe? Was God lazy? Or maybe God couldn’t find the time being too preoccupied and busy terrorising the inhabitants of His rather small patch of terrestrial turf. Perhaps it’s because the writers of the Bible didn’t actually know these places existed and therefore couldn’t have their fictional deities appear there! Of course once these places were discovered, then to make up for that oversight, the Christian Church sent their representatives to convert the heathen and pagan natives around to their way of thinking. That didn’t work out all that well, at least for the heathen and pagan indigenous peoples. These underlings of the Church, who really had no business to undertake such a task, often did anything but preach their Christianity, or when they did, did so via what one would have to call rather un-Christian ways and means, like convert or we’ll torture you – in fact we’ll torture you anyway. But these so-called Christians turned out to be often more interested in gold and silver and resources and other riches. In their wake they usually left behind a trail of death and disease and destruction of native cultures to Christianity’s everlasting shame. The crimes against humanity committed in the name of God (and Jesus) are legendary – least we forget.
*There is no contemporary source(s) penned at the time Jesus (allegedly) existed that mentions him apart from the Bible and that wasn’t even contemporary since the Gospels were written many decades after-the-fact. Why is there no other even quasi contemporary source material that mentions Jesus? Very strange.
Regarding Atheists & Atheism
*Atheists are those who believe that no deity of any kind exists – not just God. Atheists don’t believe Zeus exists or existed either. Atheists have never claimed that they know that no God exists. If an atheist does claim that then they have made a statement they cannot back up. Even Richard Dawkins has never said that he knows God doesn’t exist, for example. Atheists are smart enough to know that you can’t prove a negative deity. I do not believe that God exists, but I never have claimed that “God does not exist”. That statement would put the burden of proof on me. If it should turn out that God (or any other deity) exists, I’m more than ready, willing and able to justify my theological worldview before Him, Her or It.