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.

New Atheism, Meet Existential Risk Studies

This is very important reading, whether you are religious or not. But it’s especially important if you are religious.

From http://thehumanist.com/magazine/march-april-2016/features/new-atheism-meet-existential-risk-studies:

While the New Atheist movement isn’t, and has never been, a monolithic phenomenon, its primary motivating idea can be reduced to a single statement, namely that religion is not merely wrong, but dangerous. In fact, religion is dangerous precisely because it’s wrong: it commands believers to act according to “moral” precepts and guidelines that are ultimately based on private revelations had by ancient prophets claiming special access to the supernatural. Put differently, religion is our very best instance of institutionalized bad epistemology, and this is what makes it unreasonable to accept. And when its doctrinal systems are put into practice, they often compromise our well-being and prosperity.

Copious evidence substantiates this contention. On the one hand, history is overflowing with bloody conflicts driven by antagonistic religious dogmas held by fanatics who cared more about the otherworldly than the worldly. And, as the 2014 Global Terrorism Index affirms, religious extremism constitutes the primary driver of terrorism around the world today. Even more, numerous empirical studies have shown that, to quote the sociologist Phil Zuckerman, secular people are “markedly less nationalistic, less prejudiced, less anti-Semitic, less racist, less dogmatic, less ethnocentric, less close-minded, and less authoritarian” than religious people. And the most secularized countries tend to be the happiest, the most peaceable (according to the Global Peace Index), and, as reported by the Economist’s think tank several years ago, the “best places to be born.” While Christopher Hitchens’ declaration that “religion poisons everything” might be somewhat exaggerated, religious belief is consistently associated with diminished levels of human flourishing.

I’m an ex-Christian, an Atheist, and a Humanist. I believe that we could build a beautiful world right here and right now if we just were willing to put aside our differences and work together. But the most important thing we can do right now is to fight the religious extremism that is threatening our very survival as a species. I’m certainly not one of the biggest atheist names on the Net right now. But even so, the realities in this article are why I speak out against religious belief and why I feel it is so important for us to leave religious belief in the dustbin of history as the bad idea it was and is and move on to much healthier ways of believing and living in this world.

A part of me just doesn’t understand why so many people still cling to religious belief when it is so manifestly ridiculous. I mean, come on, Christianity is based on the belief that the world is as it is because a talking snake convinced two obviously mythical people to eat magic fruit from a magic tree. And the mission of Jesus? He came to earth to magically undo the magical damage that the magic fruit caused (1 John 3:8). And after Jesus magically undoes the damage that the magic fruit from the magic tree caused, He’s gonna kick the Talking Snake’s ass once and for all.

How much more ridiculous can religious belief get? Christianity is absurd and it’s very easy to refute, yet millions of otherwise intelligent people cling to it and believe in it very strongly. In a way, I understand that because I was there too for fifteen years of my younger life. But I realized it was bullshit and I walked away and, of course, I’m much better off for it. I wish for everyone to be FREE! That’s why I speak out, so that hopefully I can leave the world a better place than I found it.

Glory!

Brother Jeff Responds to Brother Derek

I have recently been carrying on an interesting and amusing conversation with a very religious Catholic named Brother Derek. He wants the Lard Jesus to magically do something about my glorious Facebook Page and my glorious website. LOL… 🙂 Here’s the conversation so far, and as far as I am concerned, it has run it’s course…

Brother Derek
May 2nd, 7:38am
Jesus I surrender this to you , please take care of it …

Brother Derek
May 6th, 8:25am
live in your nothing world and have no final eternity which is what we are chosen for

Religion is Bullshit
May 20th, 6:00pm
Are you expecting your Imaginary Friend to magically do something about my glorious Page?

Religion is Bullshit
May 20th, 6:01pm
None of us is going to live forever. When we die, we really die! Enjoy this life while you have it because it’s the only one you are ever going to get!

Brother Derek
May 20th, 6:41pm
another man who has only belief in himself just like SOLOMON or SATAN !!!! It is not your knowledge and NOTHING WORLD but it is by the child within us accepting and believing and following his eternal way that we will be brought into his eternal Kingdom which is more wast and beyond anything inside of your pea brained head !!! In Genesis one of the first things he did was to create light which travels at the distance of which is 299792458 meters per second …. and that is only the beginning … or neglect me !!! Persecute me !! Condemn me !!! Sacrifice me !! And say there is nothing !!!

Religion is Bullshit
May 20th, 9:07pm
I believe in plenty of other things besides myself. You obviously don’t have a clue about what atheism is or what it means. Atheism is, quite simply, a lack of belief in a god or gods. Satan (the Talking Snake) obviously doesn’t exist. Heaven doesn’t exist either. The contradictory and absurd Genesis creation myths are laughably hilarious by today’s standards. But if you read the text, you’ll find that plant life was created before the sun was! LOL. Day and night were also created before the sun was. How, exactly can you have Day without light? LOL. I have no interest in persecuting or condemning you, but I do want to see you FREE! Glory!

Brother Derek
May 20th, 9:45pm
and you ain’t seen nothing yet …. the Holy Spirit is within me and is greater and more than each and all of what you demand and need to believe … MIRACLES our what we are !!! We are his light and his way each day to bring in more of his love and friendship FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE … I am not what I was and there is not much I am capable , today , but by him and through him more and more people find him in me and find happiness in there heart from my ability to put myself into burden to help them with their burden which I hope in time they will help me with my burden for it is through his Glory and Power and Kingdom forever and ever Amen Amen …

Religion is Bullshit
May 20th, 9:56pm
Wow. You managed to write an entire paragraph of bullshit! Congratulations! Glory!

The holy spirit doesn’t exist, and you can’t be free and be religious at the same time. It’s impossible. Religion might make people happy temporarily, until they realize that the beliefs are myths and the promises are false.

We are not miracles. There is no such thing as a miracle. Like the rest of the life that exists on this planet, we are the product of millions of years of biological evolution.

Brother Derek
May 20th, 10:05pm
live in your nothing having just it and the HOLY SPIRIT fulfills me helping me to become FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE and I am a KNIGHT OF COLUMBUS and we give $$$1,000 up to $$$$1,000,000,000 saving our world , ending abortions , helping those becoming flooded , tsunami victims , children with disabilities or sicknesses ALL OVER THE WORLD .. for CENTURIES .. Praise GOD Praise his name !!! Praise Jesus !!! Praise Mary !!! Praise Joseph !!! Praise Paul !! Praise Peter !!! Praise Barabus , who , as you , believed he knew all .. and his name is SON OF MAN !!! Praise you !! Celebrate in Thanksgiving for we our a Miracle and a fire for our God .. Amen Amen … Jesus I leave this difficulty up to you .. please take care of it …

Religion is Bullshit
May 21st, 8:24pm
The Holy Spirit doesn’t exist, and you cannot be religious and be FREE at the same time. As I’ve told you before, that is impossible. Praising your Imaginary Friend accomplishes absolutely nothing. Same goes for your other imaginary/dead friends. The Jesus of the Gospels is a myth. The historical Jesus has been dead for a very long time, and he can’t help you do anything about this glorious Page or my glorious website.

Brother Derek
May 21st, 9:04pm
yes he can !! yes he does !! Forever more !! Making me a follower and a Ctholic !!! FREE FREE FREE FREE

Religion is Bullshit
May 21st, 10:26pm
You are not even close to being FREE, Brother Derek. You obviously have religion really bad, but there is hope for you to return to the REAL WORLD! I did it, many others who were trapped in religion have done it, and you can too!

Brother Derek
The real world ?? Lucifer was thrown down from Heaven from being a defiant , prejudice angel , just as a 1/3 of the Angels that disobeyed and were unwilling to follow in GODS way which is what is on Earth and is trying to take from our Eternal GOD , but , sounds like you have nothing , believe in nothing , are nothing and keep living in a negative , SATN consumed fall away position that , as a CAtholic , we ask for you to try and believe in his TRUE way so , you too , may become FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE because either you believe and follow in his way or you are very short in understanding and belief which we are willing to help and expose his true way !!! There are different levels of understanding .. the first .. when you are given something as in food or shelter , that is the first , the second is when you are sending me this insane / backward information because you are taking your time and effort to make an attempt [ WHICH IS WRONG !!! ] to achieve a goal , the third is when you give of yourself entirely for the help of another individual to help them and give to them for their option , and the fourth [ WHICH YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND ] is BELIEF !!!!!!

Brother Derek
May 22nd, 8:08am
I pray for you and beg of the Lords’ mercy to help you and praise you because you are one of his many children !!! Amen Amen !!! Jesus I surrender this to you , please take care of it !!!

Religion is Bullshit
May 25th, 11:50am
Lucifer? Angels? They don’t exist. That’s the stuff of ancient mythology, not reality. As I have told you before, I believe in plenty of things besides myself, and my life is certainly not “nothing’. My life is amazing, and it has great meaning to me. Of course I understand what it means to help others. I do it every chance I get quite happily, and it’s the driving force behind my glorious website. I am passionate about helping others get FREE of religion!

You can pray for me all you want and I do appreciate the sentiment, but it won’t do any good, Prayer, quite obviously, does not work. There is no God out there to hear or respond to it, and the only thing it does is make the person doing the praying feel good for accomplishing absolutely nothing! The “Lord” does not exist and he cannot help me or you or anyone else. The Jesus of the Gospels is a myth, and the historical Jesus has been dead for a very long time…

Brother Derek
May 25th, 2:30pm
Baptisms !! First Communions !!! Penance !! Confirmation !!! Marriage !!! Holy Orders !!
Blessing of past individuals !!! The Eucharist !!! His WIne !!! Jesus I surrender this to you please take care of it !!! I have a 4″ hole in my left forehead that the Almighty Lord helped me to recover and spread of his Spirit and Freedom his has given to me !!! Bless you !! Praise you !!! Celebrate in all Thanksgiving as we have always done to be thankful and praise because we our children !!! Amen Amen !!!

Religion is Bullshit
May 25th, 3:14pm
So you have nothing intelligent to say in response? Just religious nonsense?

Brother Derek, I believe our conversation has run it’s course. Take care, and I wish you well. And, of course, I wish for you to someday soon find FREEDOM from religious belief. Glory!

EDIT: Brother Derek failed to comprehend the fact that our conversation was over. I took the time to respond to him one more time, but I’m not likely to do it again.

Brother Derek
May 25th, 10:00pm
Have you not heard of Elijah ?? Elisha ?? Malachi ?? Ezekiel ?? Zechariah ?? Amos ?? Hosea ?? Mathew ? mark ?? luke ?? John ?? Moses ?? Abraham ?? Saul ? David ?? Solomon ?? Yet you defy and ridicule his word in your own defiance and neglect casting vipers and scorpions as if you believe you are true ?? I AM !!! We are eternally saved and free within his kingdom which will only become available when you say that he is the lord God of all eternal Kingdom , my heart is hardened and torn that another individual I do not know is crucifing me .. sacrificing me .. and you do not know who your brother is and what you eternal spirit and freedom has the ability to achieve by GOD’S LOVE !!!! Amen Amen

Religion is Bullshit
May 25th, 10:54pm
What did you not understand about the fact that our conversation has run it’s course?

Sigh… of course I have heard of those people. I am quite familiar with the Bible and its contents, which is one big reason that I don’t believe it and that it it is impossible for me to take it seriously as the “word” of a god.

Moses and Abraham are mythical. It is extremely likely that they never actually existed. If you knew anything at all about modern biblical scholarship, you would know that. If you knew anything about biblical scholarship, you would know that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John did not write the gospels that bear their names. The gospels were written anonymously, and the names we know them by were added much later. It may be church tradition that those men wrote the gospels, but it’s NOT reality.

There is no such thing as salvation, and there is no such thing as “saved” or “unsaved”. Those are false distinctions made by a demonstrably false religion. God does not have a kingdom since God does not exist. I do not have a eternal spirit. There is no such thing as a soul or a spirit. Those are the stuff of myth, not reality.

The Bible God is NOT love. The biblical God is a murderous, genocidal maniac who makes Hitler look like an awesome guy by comparison. READ YOUR OWN DAMN HOLY BOOK! If you had, you would know this!

I am FREE, but you are not! Not even close!

I will mock the Bible as much as I care to as publicly as I care to. It’s ridiculous, and it is a huge amount of fun to mock and ridicule it! Glory!

Now… I am DONE with this discussion. Like most religious people, you have completely lost touch with REALITY and you are impossible to reason with. When was the last time you had a rational thought? Ever?

I am not likely to waste my time responding to you again.

12 Painful Facts about Christianity

From http://michaelsherlockauthor.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/12-painful-facts-about-christianity/:

Fact 1: The earliest gospel, Mark, was written over a generation (40 years) after the alleged death of Jesus, and subsequently fails the historical test of contemporaneity. (1)

Fact 2: Of the 662 verses in the Gospel of Matthew, 612 were plagiarised from the Gospel of Mark (or “Mark’s” source). (2)

Fact 3: None of the gospels were written by the alleged authors and two of which, “John” (See “John” 21:24) and “Luke,” (See “Luke” 1:1-4) specifically state that they were not eyewitnesses to Jesus. (3)

Fact 4: The gospels contain forgeries, contradictions and errors. (4)

Fact 5: The four gospels were not selected as Scripture until 180 CE (approx.) (5)

Fact 6: There are no first century witnesses outside of the corrupt and biased gospels that attest to the earthly existence of Jesus Christ, but for a forged passage in the work of the Jewish Historian, Josephus (Testamoniam Flavium), and a second reference in that work, which is also suspect and in no way represents a specific reference to the Jesus of the gospels. (6)

Fact 7: Almost all of the myths and moral philosophies attributed to Jesus can be found in earlier mythologies, held by people that were proximate to the lands in which the gospels first arose. (7)

Fact 8: Most of the earliest Christians believed that Jesus was either a phantom (non-human apparition) or a completely human Jewish rabbi. (8)

Fact 9: Christianity only rose to power due to its blatant disregard for its own Scripture, meaning, it aligned itself with a psychotic “pagan” emperor, Constantine, who boiled his wife in a hot tub, murdered his son and executed his co-emperor, and who, merely used Christianity to solidify his sole emperorship, evidenced by the fact that he continued to practice his pagan faith and mint his coins with Mithras (pagan sun-god), long after his alleged conversion. (9)

Fact 10: The sect of Christians that aligned themselves with Constantine became known as the Catholic (Universal) Church and their chief historian, Eusebius, re-wrote Christian history to present a false picture that favored his sect and made it look like his group’s theology, found in our four gospels, was always the dominant and original form, when such was not likely the case. (10)

Fact 11: For the majority of its history (4th Century ~ 19th Century), Christianity has been a violent religion, which, like a deadly virus, has taken over its hosts and killed in order to spread. (11)

Fact 12: The only reason we see more psychotic behavior from religious nuts in Islamic countries today, versus Western countries, is because the West has become increasingly secular. (12)

From Atheism to Christianity – a Review – Part 4

This glorious post is Part 4 of a glorious review of this article. Parts 1, 2, and 3 can be found here, here, and here.

In addition to convincing me of the inherent reasonableness of the New Testament record of Jesus’ miracles, Lewis’s writings also helped me to understand why the Christian concept of God as a union of three persons within one Godhead (the ‘Trinity’) made sense, and why ‘God the Son’, the second person of that ‘Trinity’, had to come down into our world as Jesus, to ‘die for our sins’ and conquer death on our behalf.

There is nothing reasonable about miracles, whether we are referencing the alleged miracles of Jesus or the alleged miracles of Allah (such as Muhammad’s winged horse flying to the moon), or the alleged miracles performed by Hindu gods (such as Ganesh drinking milk). As I have pointed out in previous posts, the Gospels are not history. They are myth written decades afer the supposed life and death of Jesus, and not much else. There is absolutely nothing sensible about the doctrine of the Trinity! The Trinity is three Gods who are also somehow magically Each Other, yet they are also somehow magically separate and distinct co-eternal Persons who are all equally divine and all God. Please explain to me how this absurd nonsense “makes sense” to you. I would love to know… The concept that God had to sacrifice Himself to Himself to save us from Himself makes no rational sense at all! There is no such thing as sin. Sin is a religious concept with no demonstrable basis in reality. Myths about dying and rising gods have been around for thousands of years, yet not a single one of them is real and not a single one of them has actually conquered death, and that certainly includes Jesus.

As Lewis explains in his most readable book, Mere Christianity, God is Love personified since, as our Creator, He is the divine source and origin of all human (and animal) love. But since love involves relationships between people, we should not be altogether surprised to discover that God in His own Being is a loving union of three distinct persons – described in the New Testament as ‘Father’, ‘Son’, and ‘Holy Spirit’. It is of course true that this revelation may at first appear startling and strange, but it does not seem unreasonable once you think about it. The same thing applies to the apparently perplexing and contradictory notion of unity in diversity. How can God be a union of ‘three-in-one’? Well, says Lewis, what appears to be an impossibility in our dimension of being is not necessarily an impossibility in God’s dimension of Being. To use his very helpful analogy, you can’t picture a union of six separate squares in a two dimensional world, but you can picture a cube in a three dimensional world. So just as a cube is one body made up of six separate squares, so God is one Being made up of three separate persons. Again, this revelation may come as a shock, but it does not seem unreasonable. And this, argues Lewis, is another reason why Christianity has that strange ‘ring of truth’. It gives us information about God which no-one would ever have thought of making up, yet still manages to make some kind of sense. It involves a mystery about God which goes beyond our human understanding but not against it, which is surely what we ought to expect if there is a God.

The God of the Bible is hardly love personified, and he could hardly be said to be the source of all human and animal love. Try actually reading the Old Testament and then try, after reading the numerous accounts of God either ordering or directly committing mass murder and genocide, telling me that this God is loving. Even the New Testament doesn’t cast God in a very good light. In Acts 5, he murders two people simply for lying to him about their finances, and if the book of Revelation were to come true in today’s modern world, billions of non-Christian people would die horribly and then be sent to hell to be tormented endlessly with no hope of reprieve, forever. For a fuller treatment of the character of the Bible God, please see these links:

http://religionisbullshit.me/the-character-of-the-bible-god-2/

http://religionisbullshit.me/character-god-revisited/

The doctrine of the Trinity doesn’t make sense to me no matter how much I think about it. Three Gods who are somehow magically Each Other while at the same time being three separate and distinct Persons does not make rational sense! Every argument I have heard in defense of the Trinity has not made sense or has been absurd, and this one is no exception. That’s always a defense of religious concepts that are irrational, isn’t it? They are a “mystery that is beyond our human understanding.” I think it is much easier and much more honest to simply call it the absurd mythological bullshit that it is! Christianity has no “ring of truth” to it whatsoever, and of course concepts such as the Trinity can be made up by men, and that it obviously the case here! Nonsensical doctrines and obvious myths is not at all what I would expect from a real, existing God who was interested in revealing himself to mankind. If God actually exists, he could easily clear up the religious confusion that exists in the world by making an appearance and letting us know who he is and what he wants of us. Yet, thus far, except in the stuff of ancient myths, he has failed to do so.

I must emphasise, at this point, that the Christian concept of the Trinitarian nature of God is not something that Christian theologians simply invented many decades after Jesus’ death and resurrection. It emerged quickly and naturally as Jesus’ first disciples and followers came to understand the logical implications of His life and teachings, and reflected on what He Himself had said about His relationship and union with His ‘Father’. And since love was and is at the heart of that relationship, and explains why God created the universe and gave us the gift of life, it also tells us why His rescue plan for the human race necessitated His arrival in our world as a human being, and His cruel death under Pontius Pilate.

The alleged resurrection (Magical Undeadening) of Jesus is an obvious myth, and not a real historical event. Of course Christian theologians invented the Trinity just as they invented everything else about the religion. Religion is entirely man-made and that is a glaringly obvious fact to everyone except the religious, of course. The doctrine of the Trinity was not made official in Christian thought until the Council of Nicea in the year 325 AD. Relevant link:

http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/beliefs/trinity.htm

God’s “rescue plan” is absurd! God had to brutally torture Himself and sacrifice Himself to Himself to save us from Himself? Or, in more humorous terms, Jesus (the Magic Sky Man) had to be brutally tortured by the Sky Him version of Himself and then He had to sacrifice Himself to Himself to save us from the Holy Farter version of Himself? Just how, exactly, does this absurd nonsense make rational sense to you?

As I have already pointed out, the God of the Bible is not loving, and he did not create the universe. I will not get into a deep discussion of cosmology because it’s not my field of expertise at all, but the universe was created approximately 13.7 billion years ago by the process known as the Big Bang. It had absolutely nothing to do with a god speaking a powerful magical spell from Nowhere, presumably in Hebrew, as the Bible absurdly asserts. It is absurd to think that a God would create this enormous universe, which consists of billions of galaxies, with mankind in mind. As Carl Sagan so beautifully put it in his Pale Blue Dot:

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

This concludes Part 4 of this glorious series. Part 5 is coming soon! Glory!

The Doctrine of Substitutionary Atonement

This article is on the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, which of course, is absolutely crucial to the Christian religion. In simple terms, it is the claim that one man’s sacrifice paid the price for the sins of many and satisfied the judgment and justice of God. But, is this doctrine actually true, does it make sense and, separated from its religious context, how should it be viewed by modern 21st Century people?

I firmly believed for 15 years of my life that Jesus Christ had paid the penalty for my sins against God when he died on the cross some 2000 year ago. And, of course, I believed that his resurrection assured me of an eternal life in Heaven with him. I accepted this Christian “history” as factual for many years, but by the time I reached the age of 34 in late 1999, I had many doubts and many questions about my faith that I could no longer conveniently write off as coming from the devil. I got on the Net as it was in early 2000 and went looking for information critical of the Bible and the Christian religion. I was on an honest search for answers, since what I was hearing from the popular Christian apologists of the day wasn’t satisfying me at all. I came across sites such as http://www.infidels.org and http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net/ and, of course, http://www.exchristian.net. The rest, as they say, is history. It wasn’t long before I was free of the fundamentalist Christian cult, but I was left with psychological and emotional baggage that would take years to process and work through.

I have had fourteen years to think about and learn about the Christian religion and Christian doctrine from a non-believing atheist perspective, but it has only been recently that I have really seriously thought about the central Christian doctrine of substitutionary atonement. My conclusions are that it is a barbaric doctrine by today’s moral standards, and that in addition to that, it doesn’t make logical, rational sense.

Christians believe that there is one God who expresses himself in three separate but equally divine Persons — the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. This attribute of God is commonly known as the doctrine of the Trinity, but even it doesn’t make rational sense and is difficult for Christians to explain, except through bad and very loose analogies such as the three physical states of water. As they explain it liquid water, steam, and ice are all water though they exist as water in different forms. In the same way, the three members of the Trinity are all God, in different forms.

But, at any rate, the reasons that the doctrine of substitutionary atonement no longer makes sense to me are that is barbaric, it doesn’t make sense that the death of one man can pay the penalty for the wrongdoing (sin) of another, and the doctrine of the Trinity — which is absurd in and of itself — makes the doctrine of substitutionary atonement absurd.

Let’s consider the sacrifice Jesus supposedly made in light of modern standards of morality. According to the Christian story, Jesus was God in the flesh (John 1:1, 1:14), and he came to this earth to teach us who God is and then, as Christians believe was prophesied centuries earlier in the Old Testament starting with Genesis 3:15, he was beaten and died an excruciatingly painful death on a Roman cross. This act, supposedly, was to pay the penalty for the sins of all of mankind and to satisfy the judgment and justice of God. This all sounded wonderful beyond measure to me for many years. I was awed that Jesus loved me so much that he was willing to go through the kind of pain and suffering that he is depicted as enduring in the Gospels and to die for me. The thought that “I am so bad and so evil and so depraved that I killed Jesus” never once crossed my mind. I was just awed by what I saw at the time as an incredibly amazing act of divine love. But now… I see it as simply barbaric. Consider the flogging and crucifixion of Jesus as it is so graphically depicted in Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie The Passion of the Christ.

According to the Christian story, Jesus was beaten and crucified to pay the penalty for our sins, and at least in churches that I attended, we were made to believe that Jesus had us personally in mind when he endured this brutal suffering and death 2000 years ago. But… it is an act of brutal barbarism that no longer makes sense to me. Supposedly, Jesus was God in the flesh, so God was sacrificing Himself to Himself to save us from Himself. The absurdity of that reality aside for the moment, how does the brutal beating and death of one man, Jesus Christ, 2000 years ago have any bearing on any of us living today? What meaning did it really have for those living even at that time? It no longer makes sense to me that one man can pay the penalty for the wrongdoing (sin) of another. And really, for an all-loving and all-knowing God, is the brutal beating and crucifixion and sacrifice of Himself to Himself as his one and only begotten Son the best way he could think of to deal with the problem of sin and to absolve us of them? This doctrine may have made perfect sense to the Bronze Age minds of men living 2000 years ago in a world much more brutal than our own, but to the modern 21st Century mind, when it is stripped of its religious context, it is simply brutal, and it makes no rational sense.

When I hear the story of the brutal beating and crucifixion of Jesus now, I no longer feel awe or thankfulness or even guilt or shame. All I feel, quite honestly, is horror and disgust that such a brutal and barbaric doctrine is at the heart of an ancient religion that still dominates Western thought and culture in our modern 21st Century world.

Relevant resources:

Christopher Hitchens on the subject of Vicarious Redemption

My friend Richard shares his thoughts on the subject of the sacrifice Jesus supposedly made:

http://reckersworld.jimdo.com/religion/christ-s-death-redundant/

Why Jesus Was Not the Messiah – The Jewish Perspective

I always find the Jewish perspective on Christianity and Christian beliefs interesting and informative. I found a great site recently on what Jews believe. On that site, there is a discussion of why Jesus was not the Messiah and what the role of the Messiah will be according to the Jewish scriptures. This is the role of the Messiah according to Judaism:

1. The Messiah is born of two human parents, as we said. But Jesus, according to Christian theology, was born of the union between a human woman and Gd (as were many other pagan deities, see above) rather than two human parents.

2. The Messiah can trace his lineage through his human biological father, back to King David (Isaiah 11:1,10; Jeremiah 23:5; Ezekiel 34:23-24; 37:21-28; Jeremiah 30:7-10; 33:14-16; Hosea 3:4-5). According to Christian theology, Jesus’s father was Gd. Therefore, Jesus’ lineage does not go through his human ‘father’ — Joseph, the husband of Mary.

3. The Messiah traces his lineage only through King Solomon (II Samuel 7:12-17; I Chronicles 22:9-10). But according to Luke 3:31, Jesus was not a descendant of Solomon, but of Solomon’s half-brother Nathan. Therefore Jesus was not a descendant of King David through King Solomon, and fails this test as well.

4. The Messiah may not be a descendant of Jehoiakim, Jeconiah, or Shealtiel, because this royal line was cursed. (I Chronicles 3:15-17; Jeremiah 22:18,30). But according to Matthew 1:11-12 and Luke 3:27, Jesus was a descendant of Shealtiel.

5. The Messiah is preceded by Elijah the prophet who, together with the Messiah, unifies the family (Malachi 4:5-6). This is contradicted by Jesus himself (Matthew 10:34-37).

According to the traditional Jewish definition of the term, the Messiah will make changes in the real world, changes that one can see and perceive and be able to prove, precisely because they take place in the real world. It is for this task that the Messiah has been anointed in the first place, hence the term, messiah — one who is anointed. These perceptible changes include: 6. The Messiah reestablishes the Davidic dynasty through his own children (Daniel 7:13-14).
But Jesus had no children.

7. The Messiah brings an eternal peace between all nations, all peoples, and all people (Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-4; Ezekiel 39:9). Obviously there is no peace. Furthermore, Jesus said that his purpose in coming was to bring a sword, and not peace (see Matthew 10:34, as referenced above).

8. The Messiah brings about the world-wide conversion of all peoples to Ethical Monotheism (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Zechariah 8:23; Isaiah 11:9; Zechariah 14:9,16).
But the world remains steeped in idolatry.

9. The Messiah brings about an end to all forms of idolatry (Zechariah 13:2).
But the world remains steeped in idolatry.

10. The Messiah brings about a universal recognition that the Jewish idea of Gd is Gd (Isaiah 11:9).
But the world remains steeped in idolatry.

11. The Messiah leads the world to become vegetarian (Isaiah 11:6-9).

12. The Messiah gathers to Israel all of the twelve tribes (Ezekiel 36:24).

13. The Messiah rebuilds the Temple (Isaiah 2:2; Ezekiel 37:26-28).

14. After the Messiah comes, there will be no more famine (Ezekiel 36:29-30).

15. After the Messiah comes, death will eventually cease (Isaiah 25:8).

16. Eventually the dead will be resurrected (Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2; Ezekiel 37:12-13; Isaiah 43:5-6).

17. The nations of the earth will help the Jews materially (Isaiah 60:5-6; 60:10-12).

18. The Jews will be sought out for spiritual guidance (Zechariah 8:23).

19. All weapons will be destroyed (Ezekiel 39:9,12).

20. The Nile will run dry (Isaiah 11:15).

21. Monthly, the trees of Israel will yield their fruit (Ezekiel 47:12).

22. Each tribe of Israel will receive and settle their inherited land (Ezekiel 47:13-13).

23. The nations of the earth will recognize that they have been in error, that the Jews had it right all along, and that the sins of the Gentile nations – their persecutions and the murders they committed – have been borne by the Jewish people (Isaiah 53).

Doesn’t sound much like Jesus qualifies as the Messiah, does it? And, of course, I don’t think Jesus ever actually existed.

Please Forgive Me?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Please Forgive Me?

This heartfelt letter to God, posted here with permission, was written by an ex-Christian who posts as “Margee” on the Ex-Christian.net forums. In expressing her struggles with faith, I believe Margee speaks for many — if not most — of us who consider ourselves to be ex-Christians.

It has been my experience that fundamentalist Christians do not treat those who leave the faith with much love, compassion, understanding or kindness. Instead, those of us who have left the faith are conveniently marginalized as having been “false converts” who never really possessed “saving faith” or as the unfortunate victims of the Devil‘s deceptions and lies. This arrogant, condescending attitude toward former Christian believers affords those who are still within the fold (cult) the ability to callously brush aside the deep emotions and careful reasoning of the “backslider” or “apostate”. This unfortunately prevalent attitude displayed by professing Christians also has the no doubt unintended effect of confirming for those of us who have left the faith the wisdom and correctness of having done so.

If you happen to be a Christian believer, I strongly urge you to put aside your preconceived ideas and beliefs about former Christians and hear the sincere, heartfelt cries of a woman who once wholeheartedly shared your faith, but who came up empty-handed when she searched for God with her whole heart while in the agonizing throes of a crisis of faith. Don’t just read the word. Feel the emotions behind the words and try to put yourself in Margee’s shoes, and by extension, the shoes of all of us who consider ourselves to be ex-Christians. Isn’t that what Jesus would do?

Dearest Heavenly Bible God, Father, Jehovah, Jesus, Holy Spirit, The Creator of the Universe,

I come to you with the utmost sincerity of my heart, to talk with you. I have wanted to please you all my life. I have searched for you all my life. I have wanted to be one of your chosen. I never wanted to even worry on this earth about going to your hell. So I tried to be good. Yes, I screwed up quite a few times, made quite a few mistakes, but they told me it was because I was ‘blood and ‘flesh’ and that you were like the potter, taking this ‘blob’ of sinful clay and turning me into a diamond. I have always asked for your forgiveness and to give me another chance to prove myself unto you. I always wanted to strengthen and prove myself for you – but you did not want to prove yourself for me, no matter how much I prayed.

Please forgive me for missing any signs that you did try to give me.

I have also, throughout the last 30 years, asked for more faith because I always felt as if I didn’t have enough. I was honest with you about this. I told you everything. I confessed everything. I was told by many, that the ‘mustard seed’ was good enough and that’s all I had to have. But I wanted more than a seed of faith. I wanted big faith; enough to convince my mind of you, enough to stop the questions that I continued to drive you crazy with. Enough to move all the mountains in my life.

Please forgive me for this lack of faith that I had during all the past years.

I even joked with you, so many times that YOU were the one who gave me this inquisitive personality. You are supposed to be all powerful and therefore you could have changed me. I asked you to change me. Why didn’t you? Why did you hesitate? Were you testing me all along like you did your servant, Job? I was even straightforward about that and told you that I would not pass that kind of test. Then I asked you why you would even want to test us? Why would you – a loving, kind father, even allow this devil you allowed to fall from grace, sit by our side and watch as we suffered through many horrific things in life? We are your children. You made us. You created us. You didn’t answer.

Please forgive me for my reservations with this issue.

Now I am learning that you might not be there at all. You have watched me at my computer. You have seen the research I’ve been doing in the past 5 years. You have seen and hear me questioning the bible since the night I was ‘saved’. I have asked you a hundred times in the last year to show yourself to me. I have screamed in agony. I have told you that are about to lose me. I have asked you if you care that I am falling away from the faith. And still you do nothing. You don’t even kill me. I was honest before you concerning this ‘doubting Thomas’ syndrome.

Can you really see what’s in my heart? If you can, and you are truly a loving entity – will you please forgive me?

You give me no clues whatsoever. The world is falling apart. We are killing each other. There are murders, rapes, poverty, and slavery. There are people fighting over whose land is whose and bombings everywhere. Do you see this? There is torture, starvation, cancer, drowning, dismemberment, and very painful diseases. You are supposed to be ‘all knowing.’ You could give us the cure for cancer and yet you remain silent. There is an epidemic of depression and suicide and thus far – you do nothing. How could a good and powerful God who loves you stand aside, unmoved to action, while such things happen?

Please forgive me for being angry at you.

My biggest problem with you is you are supposed to be all powerful, you are supposed to be all good and yet all this evil exists. They have reassured me that when I get to heaven, you will explain all these mysteries to me. Why wait? Why not explain them to me now? Why not appear at the bottom of my bed in the late of night to have a talk? Why not appear in the sky (or wherever), even one community at a time and tell us that ‘’you will bring all things together for good’’ as you promised in your bible. So many unanswered prayers.

Please forgive me for questioning your invisibility and indistinguishable lack of presence.

You are hiding from me so effectively, that the world looks just as I would expect it to look, and be, without a God running the show. It doesn’t have any of the characteristics I would be anticipating to find, if there was a caring, intervening, superseding God. All of my attempts to confirm your existence have come up empty handed. You are hiding so successfully. I have to admit that in order to believe like I did for years, I must do it by ignoring the contrary evidence. I must resolve to this concept called ‘faith’. You are hiding so stubbornly, I must conclude, among other things, that you do not want or care if I believe anymore. If you wanted me to believe, you think would show me evidence in a thousand obvious ways, because my heart has yearned for the proof.

Please forgive me for giving up the search.

One last quick discussion. Why didn’t you make us the way you wanted us to be in the first place? It could have been so simple – you are god! Why tempt us in the garden? Why make hell? Why scare people? Why would you do this to us? I have been taught that all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour will go to heaven, but the amount of reward in heaven will be directly related to how closely each one followed God’s will in his life. I really tried to do this. Likewise, all those who reject Jesus Christ will go to hell and will be punished to the degree of how much evil they committed in their life.

Why did you need to resort to human sacrifices to ‘satisfy’ the sin disease – which you created and tempted us with in the first place? Why be so cruel? Obviously, I will go to this hell you created for people who reject. It’s not that I want to reject you – I just don’t trust you anymore. Trust is reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, of a person or thing; confidence. It is the confident expectation of hope that someone really cares for your well-being. It gives you confidence in the certainty of the future. It is a loving person on whom one relies. It is the condition of one, to whom something has been entrusted with, like custody or care. It is a commitment of love, and that love would not hurt you.

Please forgive me for not trusting you anymore.

I loved you for a long time and yet, you scare me with hell? And then you tell me that you are a loving God. Would you be affectionate and forgiving enough to take my hand and walk in hell with me?

I really wanted to believe in your existence, but you have gone to extraordinary lengths to make that difficult for me. The world looks just like there is no Bible God to me and I am heartbroken. It saddens me from the bottom of my heart to admit that I do not believe that the Holy Christian Bible is the ‘Word of God’ anymore. It grieves me very much to say goodbye to the God of the bible. It is your ‘Holy Scriptures’ taken literally from all over the world has made the planet into the mess it’s in today. Please forgive me for saying this.

One last prayer of forgiveness:

I pray that you will understand all my questions and forgive me for not believing the ‘Holy Bible’ that I was brought up to believe in. I am asking for your forgiveness for my doubting. I am asking for forgiveness for not really believing in you – but please – before I end this letter – would you always try to remember the heart that searched long and hard for you?

I will forgive you – if you will forgive me.

Sincerely, from the bottom of my heart – Your Child, Margee

LINK: http://www.ex-christian.net/topic/44259-please-forgive-me/