I’ve been recording some podcasts for Tourism Queensland, interviewing tour guides around the state about some of the unique Queensland experiences – eg diving off the Great Barrier Reef, catching a “River Train” through the Daintree rainforest, etc. Check out the first shows in iTunes.
From the “Houston We Have A Problem” department… Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on radio today:
“For me, it’s ultimately the order of the cosmos or what I describe as the creation.
“You can’t simply have, in my own judgment, creation simply being a random event because it is so inherently ordered, and the fact that the natural environment is being ordered where it can properly coexist over time.
“If you were simply reducing that to mathematically probabilities I’ve got to say it probably wouldn’t have happened.
“So I think there is an intelligent mind at work.”
So basically we have a Prime Minister who doesn’t understand 5th grade science using the term “mathematical probabilities” to defend his belief in God. I would love to know what he thinks the “mathematical probabilities” are for God? Who designed the designer? Even my kids worked that out independently at about age 6. “But Dad, if God made everything, who made God?” I should put my kids (who are now 7) in front of Rudd for ten minutes. They’d sort him out.
So why is having a creationist Prime Minister a problem?
What mostly concerns me is that someone who cannot or does not accept rudimentary science (in this case, Big Bang theory and the laws of physics) is someone with a major intellectual blind spot. This is someone who refuses to accept evidence and rational thinking and instead prefers a primitive mythology. Can someone like that effectively govern a country in the 21st century? If he doesn’t accept evidence and rational thinking in this instance, how do we know in what other subjects he prefers to ignore evidence? Foreign affairs? The budget? Does he sit in meetings with Treasury, here them say “well if we do x and then y will happen to the economy” and reply “well I don’t believe that, I think it’ll just work because God wants it to”? Is his approach to foreign policy based on logic and reason or his interpretation of God’s will?
It’s profoundly disturbing to me to know that our most senior government official believes in superstition and supernatural causes for the world around him.
I’d be interested to see what the reaction would have been had he said “I believe the Rainbow Serpent created the world”. Why is one primitive mythology superior to another?
As I’m going to be in Melbourne on Monday night, I thought we should have a MODM! Details here.
I’ve been at it again, calling “bullshit!” on Christians in Twitter. My main sparring partner has been this guy Corrie Bergeron aka “Skydaddy” from Ohio. A couple of days ago he made the big claim: “We have at least two eyewitness accounts, plus first-person accounts of other witnesses w/in living memory.”
So I’ve spent the last two days asking him, over and over and over, at least ten times, to provide the names of the alleged “eyewitnesses” and what they wrote. His response is to play a familiar Christian game I like to call “change the subject”. He repeatedly asks questions like “Did Homer exist? Aristotle? Aristophanes? Plato? If yes, on what basis do you say so?” I keep explaining that we aren’t debating other characters from history – I do that on The Biography Show by the way – we’re talking about Jesus and who these alleged eyewitnesses are that he claims to have. Corrie then says “well you didn’t answer my questions so I’m not answering yours”. Of course, I have answered many of his questions, but he always has another question. It’s like talking to a 4 year-old brat who just tries to talk louder and longer than you do until you get tired of the annoyance. And it’s a standard Christian evasion tactic. The other one, which I’ve also got on Twitter recently, is “well I *would* tell you my evidence, but you wouldn’t believe it anyway, because you’re a cynic”.
Finally, Skydaddy manages to say: “I have names, and I have told them to others here.” In other words, “to others… who don’t have the ammunition to call me on my bullshit”.
Here’s the facts – there are NO eyewitness accounts of Jesus. None. Zero. Nothing.
Another Twitterer. Andrew Nicholson aka andrewdotnich, thought he had me with the obvious answer: “the Gospels are eyewitness acccounts – also, one of the requirements for apostleship was that they had to have seen Jesus… ”
So then I asked him to back that up with facts. Surprise – he couldn’t. Why not? Because he’s completely wrong. It’s amusing to me how many Christians seem to think that the New Testament gospels were written by disciples or apostles of Jesus. How can they profess to be Christians while knowing NOTHING about their own religion?? It astounds me.
Here’s the quick summary of the gospels, taken from the notes for the book I’m writing “Debunking Christianity”:
Claim One: The Gospels Were Written By Jesus’ Disciples / Apostles.
There are four “canonical gospels” in the New Testament: They are known colloquially as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The first three of these, Matthew, Mark and Luke, are known as the “synoptic gospels” and share a lot of material. The most commonly held belief in academia today is the “two-source hypothesis” which suggests that Mark was witten first, in the 60s or early 70s, with Luke and Matthew being written 10 – 20 years later. Luke and Matthew seems amalgamations of Mark and another document lost to history which scholars refer to as “The Q Source”. Most scholars believe John was written from 90 – 100 CE.
So immediately we can see that the texts which claims to be a detailed account of his life were written 40 – 60 years after the date of his supposed death.
Who were the authors?
Let’s start with MARK, as it seems to have been written first.
The gospel itself is anonymous. It doesn’t say who it is written by. As early as the 2nd century, however, it was attributed to Mark, a disciple of Peter. Most scholars do not accept the Papias citation as a reliable representation of the Gospel’s history, pointing out that there is no distinctive Petrine tradition in Mark. Even if the attribution is correct, Mark was a disciple of PETER, not JESUS. So the earliest source was not an eye-witness to the events and is merely passing along heresay. As I like to put it:
“Some guy who MIGHT have been Mark was told a story by another guy who claimed to have seen Jesus.” It’s hardly a historical document. Imagine being in court and the judge says “Sir, did you see the crime happen?” and you reply “No, your honour, but I spoke to another guy who told me it did. Of course, he isn’t around anymore to tell you his own story, so you’ll have to believe me.” Yeah, right.
Most scholars do not consider the apostle Matthew to be the author of this Gospel for a number of reasons, including the text being in Greek, not Aramaic and the Gospel’s heavy reliance on Mark. Scholars believe it is a product of the second or third Christian generation. The traditional name of Matthew is retained in modern discussion only for convenience.
Nowhere in Luke or Acts does it explicitly say that the author is Luke, the companion of Paul, nor does he say he was an eyewitness. In fact, he states the opposite:
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1-4)
Scholars don’t seem to me quite sure who Luke was, but one thing we can be quite sure of is that he wasn’t an eyewitness of the events described. Some scholars believe Luke was written as late as 150 CE, because of the following parable:
But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. (Luke 12:45-46)
Mark and Matthew both contains passages that appear to predict that Jesus would return within the lifetime of his disciples. Luke not only omits these stories, but inserts the one above, where Jesus appears to chastise servants for losing faith in the timing of their master’s return. This makes some scholars believe that Luke was written well after people had given up on his imminent return.
John’s Gospel is widely thought to be the least historical and trustworthy of all the gospels, mainly because John shows a great difference in the sequence and type of his narrative from the Synoptic (Matt, Mark, Luke) Gospels. However, on first sight it looks as though John can claim the highest authority, as it claims to have been written by John, brother of James, an eyewitness, and unlike Matthew (the only other gospel with an ‘author’ who might be an eyewitness) does not depend upon another gospel for its source.
Starting in the 19th century, critical scholarship has further questioned the apostle John’s authorship, arguing that the work was written decades after the events it describes. The critical scholarship argues that there are differences in the composition of the Greek within the Gospel, such as breaks and inconsistencies in sequence, repetitions in the discourse, as well as passages that clearly do not belong to their context, and these suggest redaction. Most scholars agree on a range of c. 90-100 for when the gospel was written, though dates as early as the 60s or as late as the 140s have been advanced by a small number of scholars.
The Jesus Seminar, a collection of 150 biblical scholars and historians who analyzed the scriptures for almost 20 years, concluded that the Gospel of John was the least likely accurate of all the gospels, with almost all of the saying in it attributed to Jesus to be inauthentic. Most of the famous sayings, such as “the Golden Rule”, are plagiarized from earlier sources or later constructs. Certainly some of the sayings attributed to Jesus bear a striking resemblance to earlier philosophers such as Plato or Confucious. The Seminar, which assumed for the purposes of the analysis that Jesus did exist as some sort of wise man who preached a “social gospel”, concluded that of the various statements in the “five gospels” (they included Thomas) attributed to Jesus, only about 18% of them were likely uttered by Jesus himself. The Seminar also concluded that the “acts” of Jesus portrayed in the gospels are equally unreliable.
So, in summary, we can see that the gospels of the New Testament were, according to most scholars, not written by anybody who knew or even saw Jesus firsthand. Even if Jesus is assumed to have existed, the gospels are, according to the experts, highly unreliable source of factual information.
Claim Two: Non-Christian’s Wrote About Jesus
Of the non-Christian writings from that era which have been preserved, very few mention Jesus or Christianity.
Four major non-Christian historians contain passages relevant to Jesus: these are Pliny the Younger, Josephus, Suetonius, and Tacitus. However, these are generally references to early Christians rather than a historical Jesus. Pliny condemned Christians as easily led fools. There is an obscure reference to a Jewish leader called “Chrestus” in Suetonius. Tacitus, in his Annals written c. 115, mentions popular opinion about Christus, without historical details. Of the four, Josephus’ writings, which document John the Baptist, James the Just, and possibly also Jesus, are of the most interest to scholars dealing with the historicity of Jesus.
Flavius Josephus was a Jewish Roman citizen who lived c. 37 CE – 100 CE. In 93 CE he published his history “Antiquities of the Jews”. It’s important to recognize here that Josephus was born four years after Jesus supposedly died. So he was certainly not a firsthand witness.
In Antiquities we find this passage:
About this time came Jesus, a wise man, if indeed it is appropriate to call him a man. For he was a performer of paradoxical feats, a teacher of people who accept the unusual with pleasure, and he won over many of the Jews and also many Greeks. He was the Christ. When Pilate, upon the accusation of the first men amongst us, condemned him to be crucified, those who had formerly loved him did not cease [to follow him], for he appeared to them on the third day, living again, as the divine prophets foretold, along with a myriad of other marvellous things concerning him. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day.
Most scholars appear to think that this passage (often referred to as the ‘Testimonium Flavianium’) is inconsistent with the rest of Josphus’ writing, leading them to think that part of all of it may be a later addition. It has also been argued that his book on the Jewish War makes no mention of Jesus. In addition, Christian writers from as late as the third century CE, including Origen (ca. 185â€“ca. 254), who were well aware of Josephus’ writings, make no mention of his passage on Jesus and in fact state that Josephus did not believe Jesus was the messiah. So it seems very unlikely that the above passage existed in the original copies of his Antiquities. It was probably added later as an attempt to strengthen the case for the historicity of Jesus.
Later Josephus also refers to the trial and execution of James, “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ.” This is considered by the majority of scholars to be authentic although the words “who was called Christ” are considered by many to be a later addition by Christian scribes. James and Jesus (Yeshua) were, of course, very common names in ancient Jerusalem.
In â€˜The Jewish Warâ€™ (100AD) Josephus says: â€˜In the days of our pious fathers this curtain was intact but in our own generation it was a sorry sight, for it had been suddenly rent from top to bottom at the time when by bribery they had secured the execution of the benefactor of men â€“ the one who by is actions proved that he was no mere man.â€™
This line is considered by most scholars to be a later Christian insertion, like the Testimonium Flavianium. The early Christian writer Origen claims that Josephus did NOT recognize Jesus as the Messiah, so itâ€™s doubtful he would have written something like this. Also, early Christian writers donâ€™t mention the paragraph (like the TF), which also detracts from itâ€™s credibility.
As we can see, the non-Christian writings about Jesus are brief and highly unreliable and, most importantly, not written by anybody who could be considered an eyewitness to the events described in the gospels. So what evidence do we have that Jesus even existed? None. All we have are some highly unreliable stories which were written many decades later by people who heard myths passed down amongst uneducated people living in the desert. And while I am happy to concede there are some wonderful ideas contained in these myths, such as being kind to each other and trying to understand your enemies, they should be treated like any other primitive mythology, not as “gospel” truth, but as a collection of stories told by ancient tribes.
Anyone who tells you that there is historical evidence for Jesus is either ignorant of the facts or just plain lying their ass off, hoping you won’t catch them out. Of course, I suspect most well-meaning Christians are in the former category. They just regurgitate what they hear from their church leaders and never do the research for themselves to find out the truth because, let’s face it, they aren’t interested in the truth. They are interested in fairy tales.
Saw TROPIC THUNDER tonight! Brilliant. My review is up on THE MOVIE SHOW.
I spotted this on Cryptomundo and got a giggle out of it.
I got into a bit of a debate on Twitter tonight about Christianity (just for a change). My comments here. When I pointed out the long list of genocides committed under Christianity, they asked me where in the New Testament Jesus had preached genocide. So I told them – Matthew 13:50.
13:49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
13:50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Included in “the wicked” are people who don’t believe that Jesus is the Lord. That’s from John 3:18:
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Now – if the Second Coming was tomorrow, the group of “the wicked” would be about 4 BILLION people.
Christians believe that the mass genocide of 4 billion people is entirely okay. Ninety7 said it’s okay because he’s not the one judging them. Apparently it’s okay to support mass genocide as long as you aren’t the one actually pulling the trigger.
That is why I say Christianity is a violent and intolerant philosophy.
How did these folks on Twitter respond?
When I asked Ninety7 how he justified his belief that mass genocide was acceptable, he just shut down and stopped responding.
is there a Christian out there anywhere who can stand up to a rigorous debate about their religion?
In the comments on my post about the Australian pastor who conned thousands of Christians into believing he had cancer, Matt wrote:
I would highly suggest for you, and any one else interested to read the book The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions by self-professed secular Jew and mathematics/philosophies teacher David Berlinski.
This tells the story of a Jew who was forced to dig his own grave prior to being shot by a German soldier. Prior to being shot, the old Jewish man advised the German that “God is watching what you are doing”. The Jewish gentleman pointed what i think is the real problem with atheism. If you have the time please check the book out.
Matt, I just read the review you linked to but obviously not the book yet. For the benefits of others, the end of that story about the Nazi and the Jew is:
“If there is no God to watch what you are doing, then why should you be circumspect in your behavior? Certainly the Germans at Auschwitz, who gassed Samuel Goldfein, did not believe that God was watching them. As Berlinski points out, that is the real problem with atheism.”
I’m going to point out a couple of flaws in that quote.
First of all – the Nazi regime was Christian! Adolf Hitler was a Christian. In Mein Kampf he wrote:
“Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”
In a speech in 1922, he said:
“My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.”
Hitler could not have come into power without the support of the Protestant and Catholic churches in Germany at the time. So, for a start, the reviewer of the book is ignorant.
Read more about Hitler and his Christianity here.
Now, let’s address the other suggestion from the reviewer which, I assume comes from the book.
Personally, I find the concept that humans who don’t believe in imaginary beings will become murderers to be completely asinine and offensive to the extreme.
Perhaps religious people believe that they personally would become murderers without their imaginary god keeping them in check. Many of us, however, are quite comfortable trying hard to be decent human beings without having to imagine some kind of sky bully keeping an eye on us. We try to do good things because being good is a end in itself. It doesn’t require some kind of supernatural pay-off. Now, I’m certainly not perfect. I’m made lots of mistakes in my life and hurt people, but never intentionally. I’ve been an atheist since I was 8 years old and I have no desire to kill or rape or steal.
I will also point out that in the history of the human race over the last 2000 years, Christians have been responsible for way more violence than atheists. I wrote a post about this some time ago.
So this sky bully concept doesn’t seem to keep Christians from committing regular atrocities. I’ll point out that the USA seems to consider itself a Christian nation (at least that’s what I hear from time to time) and they are the most violent country on the planet at the moment, actively invading other countries and waging economic warfare on many others.
I would go so far as to say that, not only does religion not curb violence, it BREEDS violence. The core tenant of all religious belief is “those that don’t believe what we believe deserve eternity in hell”. That is the most intolerant and violent philosophy I can imagine.
Atheism, on the other hand, doesn’t have a code that preaches violence.
So… what say you to that?
I don’t know how many of you listen to my Biography podcast, but the episode we recorded today is, I think, pretty interesting, so i hope you don’t mind me throwing it into this feed.
Today we tackle two subjects – Egyptian Pharoah Akhenaten (aka Amenhotep IV) and Moses. Originally we were going to do Moses but as he is (according to the majority of secular scholars) a mythological figure and not historical, I didnâ€™t want to get into the same trouble we did when we talked about Helen of Troy.
And then I remembered Akhenaten. Like Moses, Akhenaten was the founder of a monotheistic religion. In fact, he is considered the first person to conceive of monotheism or, at least, to put it into practice on a wide scale. He pre-dated Moses (or at least when Moses would have lived had he actually existed) by 300 – 900 years, depending on where you posit the Moses stories. And, unlike Moses, we have proof Akhenaten lived. However, we only discovered his story in the 19th century, as the record of his reign and the reign of his successors, his wife Nefertiti and his son/step-son Tutenkhamen, were eradicted from the official records, possibly because of his attempts to usher in monotheism into Egypt.
You can read the rest of the shownotes here.
The Australian Christian Churches told The Advertiser yesterday that it was auditing Mr Guglielmucci’s bank accounts, which included money donated from people touched by his hit song Healer.
Mr Guglielmucci confessed his two-year fraudulent cancer battle at a national executive meeting of the ACC on Saturday, and was stripped of his credentials.
The problem with this story, though, is it pretends that Guglielmucci is alone in being a fraud, when the entire Christian religion is based on lies, deception and fraud. As I’ve said many times before – there is ZERO evidence that Jesus even existed, let alone said or did the things that are attributed to him. There isn’t a single contemporary eyewitness account, Christian or non-Christian. He’s a myth, pure and simple.
None of this, however, has stopped a bunch of people over on the “Still Praying For Ps Mike Guglielmucci’s Wall” on Facebook to say things like
whether it is healing from cancer or healing from a mental illness, God is still the healer and Mike is still claiming that God is his healer…
He is still a wonderful guy, and an amazing person and we should continue to pray for him for healing now, just as we would have if he had cancer. He still is ill and still can and will be healed by our most loving Heavenly father. we cannot and will not condemn him, we have no right cos God never will condemn him either.
Which just goes to show that it doesn’t matter what evidence they are presented with, many Christians are just determined to believe in their fairy tales no matter what.
By the way, “Australian Christian Churches“, the collection of Pentecostal evangelical churches, is lead by Brian Houston, the founder of Hillsong, that scary bunch who also are behind Gloria Jean’s Coffee and Mercy Ministries.