Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Should this Blog Shut Down?

My domain carrier is sending me a bill to renew my ownership of "", the web address of this blog. I'm not sure I'm going to renew it.  Maybe this blog has run its course.

Initially, this was a blog to spread the word of confessional Lutheran Christianity.  In June, 2014, the purpose of the blog changed dramatically:  This blog became a medium to spread the word of the falseness of conservative Christianity and the non-reality of all supernatural-based beliefs. 

However, another important purpose of this blog, which began at the same time, was what I call "deprogramming my brain from fundamentalist/conservative Christianity".  If you grew up believing that God will fry your ass, forever, in a Lake of Fire, if you refuse to believe in and obey Jesus, it takes awhile to get over that fear.

I think I'm over it.

But how do you, my readers, feel about this?  Is it time to end?  Let me know.

Proving the Existence of a Creator does little to confirm the Claims of Christianity

Christians spend a lot of time and energy trying to prove the existence of a Creator, but all this effort does nothing to prove the Christian claim that Yahweh-Jesus is that Creator. Most skeptics such as myself agree that there IS evidence suggesting a Creator…or Creators. But many Christians seem to assume that if they can give enough evidence for a Creator, it is just a short hop, skip, and jump from this evidence to claiming that Jesus of Nazareth is the Creator and the all-knowing, all-powerful Ruler of the universe.

When I confront Christians with this reality, their typical response is that the Resurrection of Jesus proves that he is God the Creator. But the evidence for the Resurrection is very, very weak. If the evidence for this alleged event were even mediocre, it would be listed as a “probable” historical event in college world history text books. But it isn’t. If mentioned at all, it is mentioned as an “alleged” event in the theology of one religious group.   The evidence put forward by Christians for the Resurrection is just down right pathetic.  For instance, even if one accepts as historical an empty tomb, there are many more probable explanations for an empty tomb other than a supernatural act of an invisible ancient Hebrew god.

So Christians can continue to expend a lot of energy proving the existence of a Creator/Creators, but they really should be spending their time and energy coming up with better evidence for the Resurrection.

 I would also recommend Christians spend more time and energy finding archeological evidence to support some of the alleged events in history which Jesus himself refers to in the Gospels as if they were real historical events, such as the Exodus, Moses, the Wandering in the Sinai, and the Conquest. All archeologists and historians (other than Christian and Jewish fundamentalists) now say that these stories are fiction. There is no evidence for them. That means Jesus made a mistake. That means Jesus is not Yahweh. That means that Jesus was not the Creator. That means that Christianity is false.

Proving the existence of a Creator does NOT help the Christian case.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Absolute Proof that the Gospel of John was not written by an Eyewitness

Ecce Home (Behold the Man), Antonio Ciseri
Behold the Man
by Antonio Ciseri

Conservative Christians claim that the Gospels are eyewitness accounts, in particular, the gospels of Matthew and John.  However, if one compares the Gospel of John to the Synoptic Gospels there are many, many differences.  In the Synoptics, Jesus seems to want to hide his true identity.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells practically everyone he meets that he is the Son of God.  In the Synoptics, Jesus teaches in parables, in the Gospel of John, there are no parables, only long, rambling sermons.

Was the author of the Gospel of John really an eyewitness as conservative Christians want us to believe?

I don't think so, and here is the proof.  When Jesus is before Pilate and Pilate asks him if he is the King of the Jews, in all three Synoptic gospels Jesus responds with "You have said so" and then is silent.  He makes no further comment.   However, in the Gospel of John, Jesus is a real chatterbox. 

These two men cannot be the same Jesus.  Either Jesus was silent before his "shearers" or he wasn't.  This discrepancy invalidates the claim that the Gospel of John was written by an eyewitness or it does the same for all three Synoptic Gospels.  Someone didn't get the facts straight.

Christ Before Pilate, Mihaly Munkacsy
Christ before Pilate
by Mihaly Mukacsy

The Synoptic Gospels

2 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
And he answered him, “You have said so.”
3 And the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.

                                                                                                  — Mark 15:2-5

11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus said, “You have said so.”
12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

                                                                                              — Matt 27:11-14

Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.”
3 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
And he answered him, “You have said so.”
4 Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” 5 But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

                                                                                               — Luke 23:1-5

The Gospel of John

33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?”
35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?”
36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?”
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”
                                                                                                — John 18:33-38

Ecce Homo (Behold the Man), Hieronymus Bosch, 1490
Behold the Man
by Hieronymus Bosch 1490

How many times did Jesus ascend to Heaven?

Why didn't Jesus let Mary Magdalene embrace him when she encountered him at the empty tomb?  Answer:  He had not yet ascended to the Father.  However, why then did Jesus allow the Eleven to embrace him just a short time later on the same day?  Here is one "harmonization" for this alleged biblical discrepancy:

There is nowhere in the Bible that says that Jesus only ascended once. And where was Jesus’ (spirit) during the three days his body was decomposing in the tomb: in Hell, bringing the saints with him to heaven. So here is the scenario:

1. Jesus body dies on the cross.

 2. Jesus’ spirit immediately goes to Hell to take the righteous in Paradise to their new home in heaven. Jesus presents the occupants of Paradise to the Father.

 3. On the third day, his spirit returns to the tomb to be reunited with his reanimated-but-supercharged body, which levitates out of the tomb and makes a quick trip to heaven to check on the new occupants of heaven to make sure that everyone has moved into their personal, custom-designed mansions and that everyone is happy.

 4. Jesus then beams back to the Garden where he meets the women leaving the empty tomb. He allows the women to touch his feet but denies Mary’s request to embrace him, as he needs to make one more trip to heaven before his body as a whole can be embraced (feet embracing was ok). He beams himself to heaven to see his Father for a few hours, and then beams back to the Upper Room to be embraced bodily (not just his feet) by the Eleven.

 5. Sometime in between beaming down to the Upper Room, Jesus teleports over to Emmaus to freak out two of the disciples.

 6. Jesus ascends forty days later.

 7. Jesus descends at least once more to appear as a talking, bright light to Paul, the thirteenth apostle, and according to Paul, the greatest apostle of all.

 8. And then Jesus teleports himself/ascends again to sit at the right hand of the Father (although if you are a Calvinist, only Jesus' spirit could have appeared to Paul, as Calvinism does not allow for Jesus body to move one inch from the right hand of the Father until the Second Coming).

The Problem with Jesus' Genealogies

Copied by permission from Nate, of Finding Truth blog:

Monday, October 5, 2015

Reviewing James Hoffmeier's "Israel in Egypt": Part 3

My review of the first chapter:

In his opening chapter, Dr. Hoffmeier marvels (and mourns) that just within the span of a couple of decades biblical archeology went from assumed fact to suspect fiction.  Hoffmeier quotes scholar John Bright who in 1981 said that no scholar at that time questioned that the ancestors of Israel were slaves in Egypt who were delivered in a miraculous manner.  However, within that very decade, "faith" in the historicity of the Exodus and Conquest of Canaan collapsed.

Hoffmeier gives four reasons for this new found skepticism in the historicity of the biblical stories found in the Pentateuch:

1.  The collapse of the Albright-Wright Synthesis of the "conquest" of Canaan by Joshua and the Israelites.

2.  The demise of the traditional-source critical certainties regarding the composition of the Pentateuch and the traditional dating of those sources.

3.  The redefining of the historiography of the Bible resulting in the spurning of biblical writings for reconstructing Israel's early history.

4.  The emergence of a new skepticism towards the historical reliability of the biblical text, what might be called a hermeneutic of suspicion.

Gary:  Hoffmeier goes on to explain each of these four points.  He starts off with Dame Kenyon's revision of the dates of the fire at Jericho, calling into question any possible link to Joshua.  This discovery seriously damaged the credibility of earlier maximalist archeologists such as Albright. The same is true for later excavations at Ai.  Whereas archeologists such as Albright were certain that the excavations at both Jericho and Ai confirmed the biblical accounts, newer excavations cast serious doubt on the maximalist's datings. 

How does Dr. Hoffmeier deal with this devastating loss of credibility for the Bible's historical accuracy?  Answer:  He states that there are some archeologists today who are beginning to question the dating of Kenyon and others, suggesting that the dating of Albright and other earlier maximalists were possibly correct, thereby making it plausible for the evidence at both Jericho and Ai to be consistent with the biblical account.

However, Hoffmeier never states that the tide of scholarly opinion has returned to the maximalist position of the days of Albright.   By naming a few modern Near East archeologists who hold his shared maximalist view, Hoffmeier seems to suggest that the plausibility of the maximalist position is at least tenable (and therefore, respectable scholarship).

He then makes a statement that I find shocking:  "Many historians and biblical scholars now maintain that a text's claims must be corroborated before they can be considered historical.  This expectation is the opposite of the Western legal tradition of "innocent until proven guilty"


So we are to accept the claims of any ancient text as historically accurate until we find evidence that proves it false??  If that is the case, then I guess we must assume as fact that Mohammad really did fly on a winged horse to Jerusalem.  Good luck finding evidence that proves that claim false.

Hoffmeier closes the chapter with this statement:  "Simply put, the widespread skepticism of the 80's and 90's reflects the ideology of the modern historian."  In other words, Dr. Hoffmeier believes that all scholars who disagree with his position (which would be the majority of scholars) are biased.  So if the majority of Near East scholars and archeologists are biased, doesn't that infer that their research is not to be trusted??

So what does the poor layperson do when he has both sides of the argument doing biased research; the majority of scholars on the subject being biased liberals, if Dr. Hoffmeier and conservative Christians are correct in their accusations of a liberal/secular bias, and too Dr. Hoffmeier, who admits in the preface of his book and in interviews available on the internet, that he too has an agenda:  to prove the Biblical account historical.  How do we laypersons sift through the propaganda of both sides and find the historical evidence?  Here's my suggestion:  look for actual evidence for each side's claims!  (Hint:  Dr. Hoffmeier has already admitted in the preface to "Israel in Egypt" that there is no direct historical or archeological evidence for the Exodus, the Forty Years in the Sinai, nor the Conquest of Canaan, which so happens to be exactly the position of the minimalist scholars whom Dr. Hoffmeier labels as biased!!)

Reviewing James Hoffmeier's, "Israel in Egypt": Part 2

A review of the preface of the book:

Here are the statements by Dr. Hoffmeier in the preface of "Israel in Egypt" that stood out to me:

"I will challenge the premise that the absence of archaeological evidence can prove what did and did not happen in Bible history."

"One of the glaring weaknesses of much of the recent literature that has questioned the historicity of the biblical records is that it has lacked serious investigation of Egyptian historical and archaeological material."

"It goes without saying, as Gamel has reminded us, that there is no known direct evidence for Israel's presence in the Nile Delta during the second millennium.  It is my contention and the purpose of this book, that in the absence of direct archaeological or historical evidence, one can make a case for the plausibility of the Biblical reports based on the supporting evidence."

Gary:  Wow!  Dr. Hoffmeier admits that there is zero archeological and historical evidence for the Biblical Exodus story, and goes on to state that the purpose of his research is to prove to us that the Exodus story is "plausible"!


So Dr. Hoffmeier is going to prove to us that the biblical story of a large group of Hebrew slaves making a mad dash out of Egypt, defeating the Egyptian army at the Red or Reed Sea, and then wandering for forty years in the Sinai is plausible?? 

I would be a rich man if I had a dollar for every time that a Christian apologist has told me that there is evidence for this supernatural-based biblical story, and that if I want to see this evidence, I should read the books of Dr. James Hoffmeier, a respected Egyptologist, who has that evidence.  However, the fact is, that Dr. Hoffmeier emphatically states in the preface of his book, that no such evidence exists

Shocking.  Absolutely shocking.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Reviewing James Hoffmeier's, "Israel in Egypt": Part 1

My Christian critics complain that I have not read enough "scholarship" to credibly criticize the Christian supernatural claims, specifically in this case, the supernatural claims made in the Exodus story of the Bible.  I have therefore decided to demonstrate my willingness to read "both sides" of scholarship on this issue.  I have previously read the premier work from the "minimalist" camp (the position held by most liberal Jews, liberal Christians, and secular scholars) on the Exodus, Finkelstein and Silberman's work, "The Bible Unearthed".  I now intend to read the premier work on this issue from the "maximalist" camp (the position supported by most fundamentalist Jews and Christians), by evangelical Christian and Egyptologist, James Hoffmeier's, "Israel in Egypt".

I will review Dr. Hoffmeier's book chapter by chapter, even reviewing the Preface.  However, I first want to offer my readers this lecture video by Dr. Hoffmeier.  In it, Dr. Hoffmeier makes this shocking admission:  He has an agenda.  His research has an agenda---to prove the story of the Exodus of the ancient Hebrews from Egypt, as told in the Bible, as historical fact.  To me, this is a shocking admission for someone who claims to be a professional researcher.  Most researchers follow the evidence to then form a conclusion.  Dr. Hoffmeier, it seems, has started with a conclusion, and has gone in search of evidence to support it.

Dr. Hoffmeier goes on to say that the minimalists (Finkelstein, Silberman, et. al) also have an agenda:  to destroy the credibility of the Bible.  To me, this rings of fundamentalist Christian paranoia and the fundamentalist propensity for conspiracy theories.  To hear Dr. Hoffmeier's statements regarding an "agenda" in this video, advance to time mark:  one hour, seventeen minutes.

Noah's Flood: The Most Immoral Story Ever Told

Dear Christian,

I challenge you to watch this short but very provocative video clip regarding the morality of your God's act of killing millions of little children in the Great Flood.  After watching this film, if you can still claim that your God and your belief system are moral and good I will strongly and sincerely encourage you to seek help from a mental health professional.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Reviewing Egyptologist James Hoffmeier's "Israel in Egypt"

The Israelites leaving Egypt
by David Roberts

Dear Readers of Escaping Christian Fundamentalism blog:  It is my contention that one can prove the supernatural claims of Christianity as false simply by demonstrating that the stories told in the first five books of the Bible are pure fiction.

Here is my line of thinking:

If the Exodus story can be demonstrated to be outright fabrication, or even, highly embellished, then what does that say about the reliability of other stories in the first five books of the Old Testament?  If the Exodus is a fabrication or even a highly embellished story, then why should we trust the Bible's stories of the Creation, the Great Flood, the Tower of Babel, or of Abraham and the other Patriarchs?  And if it can be demonstrated that the Old Testament is untrustworthy, why then should anyone believe that the New Testament is trustworthy, when Jesus and the authors of the New Testament believed that the first five books of the Old Testament, the Torah, had been dictated by God himself to Moses...a man who if minimalist scholars are correct...never existed!

If a person named Abraham is only a nationalistic invention of a sect of ancient Canaanites,  a people living in ancient Palestine for thousands of years prior to the alleged Exodus; a sect of Canaanites who eventually came to refer to themselves as Hebrews/Israelites, as many modern archeologists suggest is the case, what does that say about Jesus and Paul?

Jesus and Paul both believed that Adam, Abraham, the other Patriarchs, Moses, the Exodus, the Passover were all real people and real events!  And if Jesus and Paul believed fictitious people and fictitious events were real historical figures and real historical events, then this is proof positive that Paul was not guided in his writings by an all-knowing (holy) spirit and Jesus was not the all-knowing Creator of the universe.  It proves that both Paul and Jesus were fallible men; men who were very, very mistaken.

My Christian opponents over on Theology Web are highly critical of me because they do not believe that I have read enough "scholarship" to discount their supernatural-based ancient superstition.  To demonstrate my willingness to look at both sides, I intend to read evangelical Christian scholar and Egyptologist James Hoffmeier's (a "maximalist") book Israel in Egypt and compare it to Finkelstein and Silberman's ("minimalists") The Bible Unearthed.  I will then do a series of reviews here on this blog. 

Today I looked at some of the reader reviews on Amazon about Hoffmeier's book.  Here is one that I found very interesting:

I picked up a copy of Hoffmeier's extremely well researched work directly after I finished reading Finkelstein and Silberman's: The Bible Unearthed. What a contrast!!! In The Bible Unearthed, the authors flatly refute the Exodus tradition with one fell swoop. Their knowledge of archaeology is very impressive and they convincingly show that there is no physical evidence for an Exodus.

Enter James K. Hoffmeier. Prof. Hoffmeier states from the very beginning of his book that there is in fact no archaeological or physical evidence to prove that the Exodus tradition is true. However, he continues to say that he is able to provide indirect evidence that is indeed convincing. Hoffmeier begins his book by first explaining to the reader the types of Biblical Scholars/Archaeologists that exist. Firstly there is the "maximalist" camp. This group ascribes a high level of confidence to the biblical narrative and hence is convinced that much of its content is historical. Conversely, the "minimalist" camp treat the bible as a collection of stories with little or no hitorical significance.

Hoffmeier claims that the "minimalist" camp has been destructive and has introduced far too much skepticism into the area of Biblical Archaeology and Scholarship. Hoffmeier then contends that his book is a beacon amongst the sea of skepticism with particular focus on the Exodus tradition.

Although Hoffmeier's research contains hundreds of references, it seems that his position is not a scientific one. At no point does he criticise or point out the short-comings of the biblical stories but rather he assumes that they are accurate and hence he builds a fortress of speculation around them. His indirect evidence includes Egyptian writings and inscriptions. He asserts that Joseph could have existed and risen to power in Egypt based on the fact that there are a number of Egyptian writings that confirm foreign leadership in Egypt. He claims that most plagues expressed in Exodus may have occured "naturally" as a result of the periodic flooding of the nile. He claims that the inundation could have easily explained the first five plagues reported in Exodus. This is wild speculation and has never been reported elsewhere in history or to this very day. Hoffmeier also conveniently skips over the problem of Moses leading 600,000 men plus an inordinate number of women and children through the wilderness undetected by the enemy and able to sustain themselves for forty years. Finally, Hoffmeier doesn't even dare go into detail about the parting of the Red (Reed) sea and the many problems surrounding this event.

Overall, I believe that Hoffmeier is gravely concerned about the amount of evidence that is currently being accumulated which discredits the historicity of the Bible. His attempt at presenting convincing evidence for the Exodus tradition is weak at best. There is no doubt that his book is well researched, however it fails to deal with many issues that are very problematic with respect to the wanderings of the Israelites. As far as readability is concerned, Hoffmeier's book is very dry and I would be hesitant to recommend it to a lay person with little experience in the areas of Biblical Archaeology and Scholarship. I believe that the true value of this book is in its presentation of the "other side of the coin" when dealing with the Exodus tradition. I would therefore recommend that enthusiasts read it along side The Bible Unearthed and reach their own conclusions with respect to this contentious topic.