Easter and the Power of the Christian Message

Christian messageThis Easter Sunday morning, I woke up early and watched… the Jesus Film. This post contains my thoughts on the love of Jesus and the power of the Christian message. It’s not typical fare for this site, but my atheist friends, please bear with me… 🙂 The last time I saw the Jesus Film was in 1985 when I was 19 years old. My good friend Mike had just won me over to the Christian faith, and watching this film sealed the deal. I was extremely moved back then by the love of Jesus, and I still am today.

I invite my Christian friends to consider my thoughts. I invite my ex-Christian friends as well to consider my thoughts. I’m not asking either group of folks to agree with me. All I ask is your time and your thoughtful consideration. 🙂

I urge my Christian friends to consider the power of the message that they possess by faith. The story of Jesus is the story of LOVE. It’s the story of forgiveness. It’s the story of redemption. It doesn’t matter to me whether the stories we find in the Gospels are literally true or not. What matters to me is the power they have to change lives. These ancient stories that come down to us from a different time and a different place in history still have tremendous meaning and power today. Like many things in life, they can be used for good or they can be used for evil.

The Christian faith has motivated good people to accomplish great things in this world. But unfortunately, it has also been used to justify hatred. The first thing that comes to mind is Christians using their faith to vilify the Jewish people as the murderers of their Lord. Antisemitism is still a problem in the world today. Hitler used his Catholic faith to justify murdering six million Jews, and he made it clear that he believed that he was doing the Lord’s work. All of that was decades and centuries ago. But sadly, many Christians still use their faith as a vehicle for hatred. Jesus never said a single word about homosexuality, yet many prominent Christian preachers use their pulpits and their media outlets to preach hate against the gay community. A couple of the more extreme examples that comes to mind is a pastor in Arizona, I believe, who is openly calling for gays to be murdered. Another vocal pastor has called for gays to be rounded up and penned like animals so they can’t reproduce… but though most Christians don’t wish physical harm to come to gays, they make it clear that gays and lesbians are not welcome in their churches.

How incredibly, tragically sad is that? My understanding of the love of Jesus is that it is unconditional and that it is extended with open arms to EVERYBODY. That includes gays, lesbians, transgender folks, prostitutes, drug addicts, alcoholics, the homeless, the mentally ill, and the list goes on and on… isn’t LOVE the most powerful force in the universe? How can it possibly be limited to a select few when EVERYBODY is in need of it?

Luke 10:27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Consider those words of Jesus. Has anything more powerful ever been spoken? Imagine what our world would be like if we as a species lived those words. What if we all believed in a God of Love and we dedicated our lives to living out that love towards others? And what about loving our neighbors as ourselves? Who is my neighbor? Sure, it’s the folks who live in my neighborhood, most of whom I’ve never even met. But my neighbors are also the citizens of my city and my state. And the circle grows wider to include the citizens of my country. And then it grows ever wider to include the citizens of all other countries on this planet. And it grows wider still to include every single human being currently living on this planet. My neighbor isn’t just the folks next door. My neighbor is EVERYBODY, and they are all equally deserving of my respect and my love.

If I had a church and I was publicly representing the Love of Jesus, guess who would be welcomed in my church with open arms? Yes indeed… ABSOLUTELY EVERYBODY! And, in my opinion, that is how churches today should operate. Their doors should be open to EVERYBODY.

My Christian friends, do you realize what those of us on the outside of your faith looking in see when we look at your faith? We see it being used to spread hatred and bigotry. We see it being used to bilk those who can least afford it out of their money. We see it being used to build giant cathedrals and to buy jet airplanes for rich televangelists. Does Jesus need a jet plane? Do any of his followers need a jet airplane? No, of course not. In my opinion, those who claim the name of Christ need to wake up and realize that they have the most incredible message on earth. They have the potential to do tremendous good in the world. It is tragic beyond words that the greatest message the world has ever known is being used to spread hatred.

My message to Christian pastors is this: STOP USING YOUR PULPITS TO SPREAD HATE. USE THEM INSTEAD TO SPREAD LOVE! People in this world need LOVE. It is LOVE that they are looking for and it is LOVE that will win them over.
I am not currently a Christian, but I love the message of Jesus. This life is a battle that we have no choice but to engage in. Every moment of every day we are faced with the choice to do good or the choice to do evil. We can choose to reject those who are different than us, or we can choose to welcome them with open arms. We can choose to help others who are in need or we can choose to look the other way. The Love of Jesus as I understand it compels me to look at this world through the eyes of LOVE. The Love of Jesus compels me to do good and to help anyone I can in any way that I am capable of. It inspires and compels me to love everyone, regardless of their faith or their beliefs.

My Christian friends, you have an incredible gift to share. You have faith in a loving God and you have been shown incredible love. My suggestion to you, offered in love, is to get busy sharing it! Show God’s Love to EVERYBODY, not just people you are comfortable with. Your message, the Christian message, has the power to change lives and to change the world. Think about that reality and use it wisely and with love…

My 2 cents… if you’ve read this to this point, you are amazing and thank you. I don’t ask you to agree with me. I just ask that you consider my thoughts. Thank you, and I hope you have an awesome Easter Sunday.

From Atheism to Christianity – A Review – Part 6

This is part 6 of my glorious response to this article.

Persuaded by Lewis of the reasonableness of the Christian message, I then examined the evidence for the historical truthfulness of the Gospel records in the New Testament. And once again closer scrutiny of the facts forced me to abandon my old prejudices against Christianity. The first thing I noticed was the internal evidence for the truthfulness of the Gospel accounts. Far from being self-serving propaganda, the Gospels faithfully record the weaknesses and failings of Jesus’ disciples, including their frequent inability to understand what He is talking about. Peter, to cite the most famous example, refuses to believe Jesus when He warns him of His impending arrest and execution, and is firmly rebuked for it. Later, at the Last Supper, he swears he will never abandon Jesus even if all the other disciples do, but then goes on to do precisely that, denying all connection with Him in the courtyard of the High Priest’s house after Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. The other disciples are revealed in a similarly poor light. On one occasion they are shown quarrelling about who amongst them will occupy the highest positions in Jesus’ Messianic Kingdom. At other times they, like Peter, are shown to be either unwilling or unable to accept Jesus’ teaching that He, the Messiah, must suffer and die “as a ransom for many”. Not surprisingly, they too abandon Jesus at the moment of supreme crisis in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The Christian message is not reasonable. God sacrificing himself to himself to save us from himself is not reasonable, nor is the ridiculous mythological story that led up to the supposed need for God to sacrifice himself to himself — the talking snake, the two obviously mythical people, and the magic fruit from the magic tree affair detailed in the Book of Genesis (Genesis 2:4-3:24).

The truthfulness of the Gospels? They were all written anonymously decades after the events they purport to describe allegedly occurred, and they are riddled with myth, legend, and geographical errors. The Gospels also hopelessly contradict themselves. Take a look at Dan Barker’s Easter Challenge concerning the contradictory resurrection accounts. The Gospels are not only not true, they are not even in agreement on the most important alleged event in Christian history, which of course is the alleged resurrection of Jesus! I’ve pointed out the fact that the Gospels are myth and not history before, but that fact bears repeating again. I posted this glorious video from Dr. Richard Carrier before in a previous response, but here it is again.

Even more significantly, all the disciples are taken by surprise by the Resurrection, despite having been told in advance by Jesus, before His arrest, that He would come back from the dead. Indeed, this very fact, mirrored in their slowness to accept the testimony of their women and the evidence of their own eyes, offers powerful support both for the truthfulness and reliability of the Gospels as a whole, and for the reality of the Resurrection. And this brings me, finally, to the two most compelling and convincing reasons for believing in the truth of the Christian message and the story on which it is based: the undeniable fact of the Empty Tomb, and the subsequent careers and martyrdoms of Jesus’ closest followers.

If these two reasons are the most compelling and convincing reasons you can come up with for believing the Christian message, then the message is in real trouble and on very shaky ground indeed. The undeniable fact of the empty tomb? Sorry, but that’s a later development in the Christian myth. The earliest accounts of the resurrection contain no mention of an empty tomb. The evidence available to us shows that the earliest community of believers did not know where the tomb was. The modern locations for the alleged empty tomb have no historical basis. And, we can reliably sketch out the development of the empty tomb story. It is a legend and nothing more.

The alleged careers and martyrdoms of Jesus’ closest followers carries no weight at all for the supposed truth of the Christian message. People throughout human history have believed things that are not true strongly and they have died for myths and lies. That is going on right now in the modern world as militant Islamic terrorists blow themselves and others up for the glory of Allah, firmly believing that their reward will be Paradise. Of course, that is not true, but does the willingness of these Islamic fanatics to die for their beliefs and their god indicate that Islam is true? Of course not, and so of course the Biblical disciples of Jesus and their alleged careers and martyrdoms does nothing to indicate the supposed truth of the Christian message, even if the accounts we have of their lives and deaths are accurate, which is questionable at best.

As Frank Morison (originally a sceptic) argued long ago in his illuminating book, Who Moved The Stone? none of Jesus’ enemies and opponents of the newborn Christian Church could deny the disappearance of Jesus’ body from the tomb in which He had been buried by Joseph of Arimathea. Despite having every religious and political incentive to do so, neither the Jewish religious authorities who condemned Him, nor the Romans who crucified Him, were able to produce Jesus’ body, and by doing so, give the lie to the preaching of His resurrection by the disciples. If they had done so, Christianity would have been snuffed out instantly. But they didn’t because they couldn’t.

As has already been pointed out, the empty tomb is a myth, and for the record so is Joseph of Arimathea. Christianity started out as a very small and very persecuted sect that wasn’t even made legal in the Roman Empire until the year 313 A.D., and it was not much of a concern to Jewish or Roman authorities. Again, the Gospel stories are myths (historical fiction, at best) and not reliable historical accounts. The Jesus of the Gospels is a myth, and very little if anything accurate can be known of the real historical Jesus at this point in time. That includes knowing what happened to his body!

Secondly, only the fact of the Resurrection and the disciples’ encounter with the Risen Jesus can adequately explain the change that took place in them, and their subsequent careers. Having been a frightened, broken-hearted, and demoralised group of men, they emerged from hiding and became a band of joyful and heroic missionaries, boldly and fearlessly proclaiming the Christian gospel, in the teeth of persecution and suffering. What is more, all of them except John eventually suffered painful martyrdom for doing so. Three of them, including Peter, were crucified; two were stoned to death; another two were beheaded; Thomas was killed with arrows in India; Philip was hanged on a pillar in Phrygia; another disciple was beaten to death, and Bartholomew (Nathaniel) was skinned alive in Armenia. Is it likely, if the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body (as their enemies alleged), that they would have endured all this for something they knew to be a lie? Is it, in any case, psychologically credible to believe that these men, emotionally shattered by Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, would have had the will, motivation, strength, or courage to attempt to snatch away His dead body from under the noses of the soldiers guarding His tomb?

A paragraph of nonsense and suppositions about stories that I have already pointed out are suspect at best as far as their historical accuracy goes. There are various legends about how Jesus’ disciples died, but that’s all they are is legends! I have already pointed out that people throughout human history have lived and died for myths and lies! They are still doing so right now in our modern world! That Jesus’ disciples did the same according to ancient stories and legends is nothing remarkable.

My former scepticism about the Resurrection was further challenged by the undeniable and highly significant fact that St. Paul, the great ‘Apostle to the Gentiles’, had originally been the fiercest opponent and persecutor of the Early Church. Here was a man who had been passionately convinced that the Christian claims about Jesus were dangerous blasphemy, and that those who believed them deserved imprisonment, beatings and death. Then, suddenly, this same man changed a hundred and eighty degrees and became the greatest and most widely travelled evangelist of the fledgling Christian Church, a transformation, moreover, which began during an anti-Christian heresy-hunting missionary journey! What else, other than his encounter with the Risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, could possibly explain Paul’s dramatic conversion? This conclusion is further reinforced by the telling references in one of Paul’s pastoral letters to the many different witnesses to whom Jesus appeared after His resurrection, most of whom, Paul declared, were still alive at the time he was writing (see 1 Corinthians 15:3-10). Would he have dared to say all this, implicitly challenging sceptics to interrogate these living witnesses, if Jesus had not risen from the dead? And would he, like the other apostles, have endured beatings, imprisonment, stoning by hostile crowds and eventual beheading, for a message he knew to be false?

The great Apostle Paul couldn’t even get the story of his own alleged conversion straight! There are three contradictory accounts of it given in the Book of Acts. See this link for a lengthy discussion of Paul and the development of his theology, which by the way, was quite different from what Jesus himself allegedly taught in the Gospels. The Book of Acts, which details Paul’s missionary journeys and the supposed growth of the Christian church is historical fiction as Dr. Richard Carrier demonstrates in this glorious video:

In addition, this glorious book makes it clear that the Book of Acts is fiction, not history.

What do alleged witnesses to an alleged event that never happened matter? It’s religious FICTION! Jesus never rose from the dead and never appeared to anybody!

Finally, the last nail was hammered into the coffin of my former atheism by the realisation that there was very good external evidence for the authenticity and truthfulness of the Gospels. There are first of all significant corroborating references to Jesus’ existence and execution in the writings of Roman historians like Tacitus and Suetonius, as well as in those of the first century historian, Thallus. There is similarly corroborating evidence about some of the details of Jesus’ life and death in other non-Christian sources like the Jewish Talmud. To quote one of these, the first century Jewish historian, Josephus, writing in about AD 93: “At this time [the time of Pilate] there was a wise man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good and (he) was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.” (Antiquities of the Jews)

Nonsense. Although Josephus did mention Jesus twice in his writings, the Testimonium Flavianum referenced here is known to be a later Christian interpolation. Parts of it are original to Josephus, but parts of it were added later by Christian scribes. Most, if not all, of the supposed extra-biblical references to Jesus can be dismissed as hearsay. Further discussion of the Jesus and Josephus question can be found here, though it is buried in a response to David Fitzgerald’s book entitled “Nailed”. Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah, as Orthodox Jews can easily prove. They maintain a number of “anti-missionary” sites on the Net, and they can prove conclusively that Jesus did not fulfill the requirements necessary to be their Messiah.

In addition to all this, the manuscript evidence for the authenticity and reliability of the Gospel texts is earlier and more plentiful than that for any other document of ancient times. In particular, the historical reliability of Luke’s Gospel and its sequel, the Acts of the Apostles, which is full of explicit political, legal, medical, cultural and topographical details, is confirmed by a lot of archaeological evidence as well as by plentiful documentary evidence from non-Christian sources. According, for instance, to classical scholar and historian, Colin Hemer, in his study, The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History, 84 separate facts in the last sixteen chapters of the Acts of the Apostles have been confirmed by archaeological and historical research.

The manuscript evidence we have for scripture, including the Gospels, is actually not very impressive. As has already been pointed out earlier, the Book of Acts is historical fiction and not a reliable account of actual historical events. Even if it’s true that there are some facts that can be verified in Acts, that does not make the accounts it relates historically accurate and true. The TV show Star Trek makes references to some stars that actually exist. Does that make Star Trek true and for real? Of course not.

So, confronted by all these facts and arguments – philosophical, scientific, and historical – I surrendered my sword of unbelief to God, and asked Jesus to forgive my sins and come into my life during the hot, dry summer of 1976. In the years that have followed, I have never regretted that decision, despite many ups and downs and trials of my faith. Through prayer, worship, and the company of other Christians, I feel I have begun to know Jesus personally and to understand something of the breadth and height and depth of His love for me and for all His creation. If, therefore, my journey from atheism to faith has helped in any way to persuade you of the truth of Christianity, I can only hope and pray that you too will experience the joy of reconnecting with your Creator by asking Jesus to forgive your sins and come into your own life. He longs for you and is only waiting for you to make the first move.

Questionable “facts” and arguments that are easily refuted? Yeah, real convincing stuff you have there… you can’t have a real relationship with someone who does not actually exist, and that includes Jesus. There is no Creator to have a relationship with. Sin is a religious concept with no demonstrable basis in reality. And, I thought Jesus made the first move by sacrificing himself to himself to save me from himself? I sincerely gave my heart and my life to Jesus on March 7, 1985 when I was 19 years old. That was after extensive “witnessing” by a Christian friend (who remains a hardcore believer to this day) and after seeing the Jesus Film. I have lived to deeply regret that decision, as have many other ex-Christians, many of whom are now atheists, just as I am.

On the other hand, if you are still unconvinced by my testimony but are willing to explore these issues further, I invite you to read I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, (Crossway, USA, 2004). It is a very readable yet scholarly book which sets out, in massive and very interesting detail, the philosophical and scientific evidence for the existence of God, as well as the historical and archaeological evidence for the reliability and truthfulness of the New Testament. Get hold of it and see whether it can resolve your doubts or answer your objections and questions.

It takes absolutely zero faith to be an atheist. And Christian apologetics by people like Norman Geisler? Gimme a fucking break and pardon me while I enjoy a good belly laugh. I haven’t bothered to read Christian apologetics in years, and the one time I tried recently, I had to stop reading when the author of the book (William Lane Craig) started blaming shit on Satan. Again, give me a fucking break…. I’m supposed to take an author and a book seriously that blames shit on an obviously mythical being who likes to appear as a talking snake in mythical Bible stories? And this book was supposed to convince me that Christianity is a religion that makes sense for modern, thinking people to embrace. 😆 🙄

This concludes my response to the article “From Atheism to Christianity”. I hope it’s been helpful and that it has demonstrated the many problems that exist with taking the Bible and the Christian religion seriously and as being believable by educated people living in the modern world. Glory!

Was there a Historical Jesus?

I am not as familiar and up with the times on historical Jesus or Josephus scholarship as I would like to be. I have a lot to learn, if I can ever find the time and desire to do so. But, I have read a couple of books on the theory that there was no historical Jesus. One was Earl Doherty’s book “The Jesus Puzzle” and the other was David Fitzgerald’s book “Nailed”. Both books are easy to find on Amazon. A friend of mine shared with me a critical review of “Nailed”, which is available here:

http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/2011/05/nailed-ten-christian-myths-that-show.html?m=1

Fitzgerald’s response is here:

http://davefitzgerald.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/nailed-completely-brilliant-or-tragic.html

The critical reviewer, Tim O’Neill’s response to Fitzgerald again:

http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com.au/2013/12/the-jesus-myth-theory-reponse-to-david.html

I came away much more impressed with O’Neill.

At this point in time, I think it’s likely that a real historical Jesus did live 2000 years ago and that there was a real man at the core of the gospel Jesus stories. But, the Jesus of the Gospels is myth. That is well known and obvious, and only fundamentalists would be in denial of that fact now. The Jesus depicted in the Bible indeed never existed. But a real itinerant Jewish apocalyptic preacher, about whom little that is reliable can now be known, probably did.
I don’t really care if a historical Jesus lived or not. If he did, he is long dead. Thinking about the issue is fun and interesting, but it’s sort of like debating about whether Star Trek or Star Wars is the more awesome science fiction franchise. I think it’s Star Trek quite clearly. I have been a hardcore Trekkie since I was 13 years old, but Star Wars is cool too.

We do know and can know very little, if anything, that is reliable about a real historical Jesus, if he did live. The Gospel stories about him are myth and show a great deal of mythical and legendary development, and they all were written decades after Jesus died by anonymous authors, and they were writing religious propaganda, not history. The Gospels are basically long religious tracts, sort of like a Chick tract today but without the cartoon illustrations.
Anyway, my 2 cents… The Jesus of the Gospels is a myth and Christianity is easy to debunk and disprove. So I’m not that worried about whether a real historical Jesus lived or not…

An Observation made by a Christian

My Christian friend Jeremy posted this observation on his Facebook page a couple of weeks ago or so.

Don’t take this the wrong way, just making an observation: It’s pretty cool when you study the authenticity of scripture and the bible that… yup, it’s not just a bunch of “stories”, but also very historic. And this is widely agreed upon worldwide … not that I ever doubted it, but it’s fun to put the pieces together for my own eyes!
I’ve heard people say ignorant things like “Jesus wasn’t real”…
Jesus was very real and actually religions that may ‘not’ call him God almighty in flesh, like I believe, agree on the fact he was real lol and even testify of his power!

My response:

What authenticity of scripture? We don’t even know who wrote most of it, and that includes the Gospels, which are the only records we have of the life of Jesus, aside from a few disputed extra-biblical references. The Bible absolutely is, for the most part, “just a bunch of stories” that ancient men made up. The Bible contains a great deal of myth and legend. In fact, the first eleven chapters of Genesis, including the two contradictory and absurd creation myths (two obviously mythical people, an omniscient God who clearly is not all-knowing, a talking snake, magic trees, and magic fruit! Gimme a fucking break…Oh, and let’s not forget the magical flaming sword meant to keep the two obviously mythical people out of the obviously mythical Garden of Eden..), are known to be myth. The Bible also contains hundreds of meaningful contradictions (see http://bibviz.com/ for a graphical representation of them that conveniently ties them all together), many atrocious accounts of God either ordering or directly committing mass murder and genocide (for examples click here and here, and much known bad alleged history. The Bible does not fare well when it reports history, and it’s actually this fact that is now widely agreed upon worldwide. Even the Gospels are now known not to be history and they are certainly not eyewitness accounts. All four Gospels were written decades after the events that they purport to portray allegedly took place, and they were all written anonymously. The Gospels are now known to be myth, as Dr. Richard Carrier explains clearly and brilliantly in this video:

People who claim that Jesus wasn’t or isn’t real are not being ignorant. They are going with the best evidence and biblical scholarship currently available and are telling you the truth. There may well have been a historical Jesus who was an itinerant apocalyptic Jewish preacher. But the only accounts that we have of his alleged life are the four canonical Gospels, and they are so loaded down with myth and legendary development that little, if anything, remains that can be known of the historical man. Stories of dying and rising gods were around thousands of years before Jesus allegedly lived, and several events in the alleged life of Jesus are closely and strikingly similar (see http://www.pocm.info/ for more info on this fact). Jesus as depicted in the Gospels (though he is presented very differently in each gospel) also ranks very high on Lord Raglan’s Hero scale, which is a huge clue that the Gospel stories about him are myth rather than history.

Two books that I highly recommend that make a very good case for the “Jesus Myth” theory are:

Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All
http://www.amazon.com/Nailed-Christian-Myths-Jesus-Existed-ebook/dp/B007GPG290/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411345656&sr=1-1

The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ?
http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Puzzle-Christianity-Challenging-Historical/dp/096892591X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411345764&sr=1-1

This is my review of “Nailed”: http://religionisbullshit.me/nailed/. I was quite impressed with the book. For a much more critical review of it, please see http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/2011/05/nailed-ten-christian-myths-that-show.html?m=1.

Jesus as he is depicted in the Gospels quite clearly was not and is not real. If the historical man did indeed exist, he most certainly was not divine and not God in the flesh. Most major world religions may indeed agree that Jesus lived in history, but they do not “testify to his power.” Orthodox Jews, in fact, maintain several well known “anti-missionary” sites that thoroughly debunk Christian claims about what they call the Old Testament (Jews call it the Torah or Tanakh) and they make it quite clear that Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah. Here is just one example of what Jews have to say about Jesus.

You are free to make public any observation you wish to about your imaginary god or your mythical Jesus. Just don’t expect those of us who know better to remain silent on the issue. 😉 For the record, I saw your post the other day claiming that the name of Jesus is powerful and that it is the name above every name. I’m here to tell you that the name of Jesus has no power whatsoever in the real world, magical or otherwise. The Jesus of the Bible is a myth, and there is nothing that you can say or do to change that fact. Glory!

From Atheism to Christianity – A Review – Part 3

This glorious post is Part 3 of a series, which is my response to this article. Parts 1 and 2 can be found here and here.

In any case, argues Lewis, the whole idea that it is somehow unscientific to believe in God and therefore in the possibility of miracles, is both historically and philosophically mistaken. Modern science owes its very origin to monotheistic religion. To quote Lewis: “Men became scientific because they expected law in nature and they expected law in nature because they believed in a lawgiver.” (Miracles). That is why most of the great founding fathers of modern science believed in God and were Christians who took the Bible seriously. To mention just a few of them and the scientific disciplines they helped to establish, they include: Galileo and Kepler (astronomy), Pascal (hydrostatics), Boyle (chemistry), Newton (calculus), Linnaeus (systematic biology), Faraday (electromagnetics), Cuvier (comparative anatomy), Kelvin (thermodynamics), Lister (antiseptic surgery), and Mendel (genetics). All these men believed in an ordered universe and in the possibility of discovering how it functioned because they were convinced that the evidence of intelligent design in Nature indicated the existence of an Intelligent Creator. As Kepler put it, writing in the 17th century: “The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order which has been imposed on it by God, and which he revealed to us in the language of mathematics.”

It is not necessarily unscientific to believe in God, but the fact remains that there is not the slightest shred of evidence that a god of any kind actually exists. There are plenty of scientists in the world who are theists, but they are very much in the minority. A miracle, by definition, is a violation of known and tested natural law, which under normal circumstances either cannot happen, or is very unlikely to happen. If God exists, then miracles are certainly possible, but in the entire history of mankind on this planet, there has never been a single verifiable case of an event taking place which could be classified as a genuine miracle. Throughout human history, mankind has dreamed up many thousands of gods, all of which have turned out to be false. Not a single one of them has ever turned out to actually be real. Theistic philosophers have been trying for centuries to justify belief in God as rational, but thus far they have utterly failed to do so. So, while belief in God may not necessarily be unscientific or “historically or philosophically mistaken”, it is not warranted rationally, given the complete and total lack of evidence for God’s actual existence.

Every single one of those men made their contributions to science completely apart from their belief in God. They made their contributions as all scientists do — by observation of the natural world and by careful and thoughtful testing of their theories about the natural world through experimentation.

Modern science owes its very origin to monotheistic religion. To quote Lewis: “Men became scientific because they expected law in nature and they expected law in nature because they believed in a lawgiver.” (Miracles).

This complete and utter bullshit! Men became scientific as they threw off the shackles of religion and began to investigate the real, natural world and discover how it really works, apart from the ignorant writings of scientifically ignorant men in ancient holy books. Scientific men absolutely did not “expect law in nature because they believed in a lawgiver”. Scientific men discovered what they call natural laws through observation and experimentation. In science, a theory attains the status of a “law” when it appears to be unbreakable by any natural means. Gravity, for example, as it was defined by Sir Isaac Newton, is considered a scientific law because it always works in the same way everywhere (under similar conditions) and it appears to be impossible to alter the way in which gravity works by any known natural means. Modern scientists know that the world and the universe do not work the way they do because a divine lawgiver has decreed that it should be so. Modern scientists (and that includes theistic scientists) know that the world and the universe work by entirely natural processes that can be known and understood through entirely natural means. Our current scientific method, in use now for several centuries, has worked marvelously, and in that time it has worked to greatly increase our scientific knowledge and our understanding of our world and our universe.

Jesus’ contemporaries in first century Palestine may have lacked the knowledge of modern physicists, but they were perfectly well aware that His virgin birth or His instantaneous healing of lepers were events which went against the normal course of nature, otherwise they would never have regarded them as miracles. Joseph, as we are told in Matthew’s Gospel, was resolved to break off his engagement to Mary precisely because he knew as well as you and I do that women don’t usually become pregnant without first having had sex with a man! Similarly, as we are told in John’s Gospel, ‘Doubting Thomas’ refused at first to believe the report of the other disciples that Jesus had risen from the grave, since he knew as well as any modern atheist that the victims of a Roman crucifixion did not normally return from the dead. It is therefore irrational to dismiss all reports of miracles as the unreliable testimony of credulous witnesses. You must examine the evidence for them with an open mind.

The ancient world was full of myths about virgin births and miraculous healings, so the alleged virgin birth of Jesus was certainly not a unique story, and neither were the stories relating his supposed healing miracles.

The supposed virgin birth of Jesus is problematical at best, however, because the verse used from the Old Testament that allegedly prophesied it speaks of a young woman, not necessarily a virgin. In Isaiah 7:14, the Hebrew work “almah” is used, which simply means a young woman of child-bearing age. If the author really wanted to specify that the woman was a virgin, he would have used the word “betulah”. And anyway, when read in context, the verse says nothing about an event which is supposed to occur centuries later. The entire story is about events taking place at that time, hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus.

Matthew’s Gospel, as is true of the others, is myth. It is not history! The story of Doubting Thomas from the Gospel of John also, obviously, is just a story and a literary device used to make a point, and not literal history. ALL miracle claims are anecdotal in nature, and not a single one of them has ever survived critical scrutiny and turned out to be for real. It is irrational to believe in miracles, when by definition they violate the normal manner in which the universe operates, they all are anecdotal claims made by credulous religious believers who want it to be true, and not a single miracle claim in the history of mankind has turned out to actually be for real.

If real, credible evidence that a genuine miracle has actually occurred is ever presented, then I will be happy to examine the said evidence with an open mind. Until then, I will remain very skeptical of miracle claims.

If, responding to this challenge, we look with an open mind at the accounts in the New Testament of the miracles of Jesus, Lewis argues, we are brought face to face with an interesting and significant fact. Instead of finding there the stuff of fairy tales – talking animals or frogs turning into princes – we are confronted with something much more rational and believable. What we see in most of Jesus’ miracles is what God does in the natural world, as its Creator, but localised and speeded up. Thus every year, for example, tiny seedlings of grain created by God grow into vast harvest fields of wheat and thousands of loaves of bread. The same process of multiplication took place in Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand, but localised and speeded up. Similarly, God is always turning water into wine by the action of sunlight and rain on the fruit of the vine, and by the involvement of human beings in all the stages of winemaking. At the wedding feast in Cana (recorded in John’s Gospel), Jesus, as God the Creator Incarnate, also turns water into wine, but here again the conversion process is localised and speeded up. Exactly the same parallels apply to Jesus’ miracles of healing. Human beings created by God are constantly recovering from illnesses and diseases through the medical stimulation of their bodies’ God-given immune systems. So when Jesus healed lepers with a touch of His hand or a word of command, we again see God the Healer at work, but localised and speeded up, as man to man in ancient Palestine. In other words, says Lewis, the purpose of Jesus’ miracles was not just to show God’s love for humanity but to reveal to the people around Him (and to us) the presence among them of their Creator and Saviour.

Wow, an entire long paragraph of nonsense and wishful thinking! Glory!

I love how miracles are conveniently re-defined as “natural processes localized and speeded up”, rather than them being what they normally are — violations of the way the universe/world normally works. Again the Gospels are myth, not literal history, as this glorious video from Dr. Richard Carrier makes plain.

Our immune systems were not given to us by a god. Our immune system evolved into its present form over a very long period of time, just as the rest of our physical bodies did. Why are believers always so impressed with the alleged healing miracles of Jesus? I would be MUCH more impressed if a real, existing God intervened in our world in an unmistakable way and miraculously cured ALL diseases, which would certainly be within his power to do as God. Hell, I would be quite impressed if he wiped out ONE serious disease, such as cancer or AIDS.

This concludes Part 3 of this glorious series. Part 4 will be coming soon! Glory!