Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Short Review and Refutation of the Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth

Carl Heinrich Bloch, The Resurrection

Here is the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus that I have seen given by Christians:

1.  Eyewitness testimony in the four Gospels.
2.  Paul saw a walking/talking resurrected Jesus.
3.  The dramatic change in character of the disciples.
4.  The disciples would not have died for a lie.
5.  The rapid spread of Christianity, facing intense persecution, is evidence of the truth of its supernatural claims.

Here is my brief response to each one of these points:

1.  We have no proof that the four Gospels were written by eyewitnesses.  They are anonymous.  The traditional authorship of these books does not appear in Christian history until the end of the second century.  Could a fisherman, a tax collector, and a physician have written these theologically complex texts?  Yes.  The probability that they did?  Very, very low.

2.  In Acts chapter 26 Paul specifically states that his experience on the Damascus Road was a "heavenly vision".  Visions are not reality.  Yes, Paul says in I Corinthians 15 that he has "seen the Christ" but he clarifies in Acts chapter 26 that it was only in a vision.  Seeing someone in a vision is not evidence of a bodily resurrection.

3.  Yes, Christians soon came to earnestly believe in the Resurrection and boldly spread Jesus' teachings.  But there are many natural explanations for this change in behavior than that a dead man actually walked out of his grave.  For instance, a group of the disciples could have seen a man in the distance who looked a lot like Jesus and then suddenly disappears behind a building, hill, etc..  "He's alive!  Jesus is risen!"  And the Resurrection legend begins.  This scenario is much more probable than that Jesus really did rise again.  So no one lied.  No one fabricated the story.  The disciples truly believed that Jesus was alive again.  The "full" story is not written down until 65-75 AD by "Mark".  Legends can easily develop within days, let alone decades as in this case.

4.  We have no historical evidence that even one disciple died refusing to recant seeing a resurrected Jesus.  All the martyr stories about the Eleven are based solely on tradition.

5.  Yes, Christianity spread, but so did Mormonism and Islam.  Christians were not systematically persecuted until after most of the original disciples would have died of old age. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Christian Story Makes No Sense

This blog is primarily devoted to confronting and debunking fundamentalist Christianity.  But the farther away I get from my own involvement in the Christian cult, the more I see the entire Christian belief system, orthodox and liberal, as based on one very ridiculous premise.  Here it is:

Premise:  Jesus is the Creator of the Universe; He is God;  He is eternal; He is the the all-powerful, all-knowing, every-where-present Ruler of Heaven and Earth. 

Liberal Christians separate Jesus from the god of the Old Testament.  This allows Jesus to be the loving Savior of the world, without bearing any guilt for the barbaric real or imaginary behavior of the Old Testament God.  And, the most liberal of Christians, universalists, do not believe in Hell.  Everyone will be saved in the end.

So what could be bad about this liberal Christian worldview?

Here is the problem:  If Jesus is God; if Jesus is all-knowing and eternal; then Jesus knew, when he created the world, that for tens of thousands of years, billions of human men, women, and children would endure lives of horrific suffering from disease, starvation, rape, child abuse, war, natural disasters, and other forms of violence.  Yet the loving Jesus created the world anyway.

Why?

Was he bored? 

What kind of a sick, psychopath tortures helpless little creatures to entertain himself and prevent being bored?  If Jesus were really loving, he would never have created us to begin with.  He would have continued his eternal existence keeping busy with organizing and reorganizing heaven.  He didn't have to create us.

So which is more likely to be true, my friends:  That the kind, gentle, forgiving Jesus of the Gospels is really a sick, psychopath, or, that Jesus was just a man...a man whom his followers turned into a miracle-working god after his death?

Jesus and the Little Children, Vogel von Vogelstein
Jesus and the Little Children, Vogel von Vogelstein
 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pope John XXIII preserved for all Eternity

Pope John XXIII

Embalmed and preserved in a glass coffin for all eternity


Monday, April 20, 2015

If the Gospels are accurate descriptions of Historical Events, why don't we find an entry like this in any Secular History Book?

Jesus of Nazareth (4/5 BC - 33 AD)

Jesus of Nazareth was born in 5 or 4 BC in Bethlehem, Judea, to Mary Ben David, a known virgin, and step-fathered and raised by Joseph of Nazareth, a local carpenter.  His birth created a crises for the ruler of Judea, Herod the Great, who was tipped off to the birth of the "King of the Jews" by a group of scholars traveling from the East, who had been following a star to find the child.  In a fit of rage, Herod ordered the massacre of all Bethlehem children under the age of two.  Jesus escaped with his parents to Egypt where they lived until Herod's death.

Jesus ministry began in the fall of 30 AD when he was baptized in the Jordan River by the prophet John the Baptist.  Numerous Roman and Jewish sources testify that a loud voice came out of the sky which said, "This is my Son in whom I am well pleased".

In the spring of 31 AD Jesus performed one of his greatest miracles.  He reanimated the dead body of a Roman centurion's daughter.  The news of her reanimation from death to life was reported in numerous Roman accounts, even reaching the Emperor in Rome himself.

Other well-documented acts of Jesus were the following, all corroborated in Roman and Jewish writings:

-walking on water
-turning water into wine
-healing the blind
-healing lepers
-healing people of seizures (demon possession)
-feeding five thousand people with just a few loaves of bread and some fishes
-reanimating another dead person,  Lazarus of Bethany

However, on Passover eve, April, 33 AD, the Sanhedrin of the Jews arrested Jesus, tried him for blasphemy for claiming to be God, convicted him, and brought him to the Roman prelate, Pontius Pilate, who after much hesitation, agreed to the Jews' demand to crucify him.

On April 14, 33 AD, Jesus, the King of the Jews, was executed by crucifixion and died.  Roman sources state that upon taking his last breath,  three hours of darkness covered the city and the entire empire.  This unprecedented three hour solar eclipse was also recorded in other parts of the world:  in China, Persia, India, and even by the Mayans in Central America. 

However, three days later, his guarded tomb was found empty, a great earthquake shook the city, and scores of dead people roamed the streets of Jerusalem, chatting with old friends and family.

The body of the King of the Jews was missing!  Jerusalem has been devastated by a great earthquake!  The Temple veil, one of the holiest objects in Judaism, was torn down the middle!  The city had been covered in three hours of darkness, an unheard of phenomenon!  Zombies were invading the city!  The city was in a state of hysteria, panic, and unrest!  Pilate was forced to declare a state of emergency.  The Emperor himself was advised of the Judean Crises.  Orders were sent to Syria and Egypt to ready troops to reinforce Pilate's forces in Palestine in the event that a full rebellion broke out.

Numerous Christian, Roman, and Jewish sources then report sightings of the resurrected Jesus all over Palestine, from a second floor headquarters in Jerusalem, to fishing trips in Galilee, to a levitation/ascension in Bethany!

Palestine was rocked with turmoil for months and even years!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Will you be spending Eternity in Hell?

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

                                                                   ---Jesus of Nazareth, Lord God of Heaven and Earth



So...you've died...and during your life you didn't believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  You either heard about him and chose not to believe that a first century Jewish prophet was the Creator of the Universe, or, you had never heard of him...and...didn't "seek" him hard enough...so you too died without believing in him.

Now you are burning in Hell.

And how long are you going to burn in Hell?  Let's take a look at some numbers:

100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years

Are you done? 

Have you burned and suffered enough to satisfy the "just" righteousness of the (Christian) God for your thought crime of unbelief in him and for your ancestors' forbidden fruit eating?  Is the God who "so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son" satisfied with your punishment?

No.

He wants to watch you scream and writhe in horrific agony for another...

100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years

...and then he's still not satisfied.

He wants to watch you burn some more...






Friday, April 17, 2015

Christians explain why I Deconverted

I grew up fundamentalist Baptist. When I was eighteen, I and my parents became evangelicals (less up-tight Baptists, just without the name). I became an orthodox Lutheran only about four years ago.

When I deconverted from Christianity last year, this is what I was told by different groups of Christians:

The orthodox Lutherans said I deconverted because I was still an evangelical/fundamentalist in my thinking. I had never REALLY been a true Lutheran. The evangelicals said I deconverted because I had never really learned to listen to Jesus speak to me in my heart. Catholics blamed my deconversion on Protestant “sola scriptura”, and the fundamentalist Baptists said I had never been a Christian to begin with!

Do Lutherans really reject Reason as the Devil's Whore?

Hogarth



I am convinced that people will not come to Lutheranism via the Whore of Reason. Reason is quite akin to the theology  of  glory  and  law  and  the  hidden  god.  People  love  some  law. It  makes  them  feel  better about themselves. In fact, intellectual argumentation is of course connected to reason and glory. After all, it must inevitably look  at faith as something  we  can   muster up in ourselves or through intellectual arguments.  But Lutheranism confesses total depravity. The Reformed do as well, but from our perspective, and given the above, we believe they confess it in spite of their theology.
 
Lutheranism is for the weak and the doubting. It is for those who are weak in faith. It is contrary to reason.                                                    
                                                                           ---orthodox Lutheran blogger



“Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil’s appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom… Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism… She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets.”


                                                  —Martin Luther, Works, Erlangen Edition v. 16, pp. 142-148.
 


Gary:  In my last post I responded to these Lutheran statements by asking this question:  Why do Lutherans use reason for every other aspect of their lives except when it comes to evaluating the supernatural claims of their Church/the Bible?
 
 
An anonymous Lutheran reader of this blog left this response:

Gary, it is apparent that you have not grasped the Lutheran teaching that in matters from "above" that is heavenly matters, reason is limited and quite fallible. However regarding matters "below", earthly matters, we are capable to fully exercise our reason.


Gary:  I'm not sure if this anonymous reader is going to continue on in this discussion, so I am going to post an imaginary conversation with him below:

G:  Why is reason limited to only those things that are "below"?

Lutheran:  The Bible says so.

G:  How do you know that the Bible is true?

Lutheran:  Faith.

G:  But how did you receive this faith; a faith that confirms to you that the Bible is true and that you should suspend the use of reason when evaluating the claims of the Bible?

Lutheran:  I received it in my Baptism.

G:  How do you know that you received this supernatural power you call "faith" when a pastor poured water over your head when you were a baby?  Did angels appear?  Did God appear to everyone in the church that day and say, "This is now my child"?

Lutheran:  The Bible, God's Word, says that the words of Jesus have power, and when I was baptized, the pastor spoke the words of Jesus, and those words had the power to save my soul and gift me faith to believe.

G:  But how do you know that the Bible is true?

Lutheran:  I already told you that.

G:  Yes, you did, but you said that your belief that the Bible is true is based on faith, which you received as a gift in your baptism, which you know you received because the Bible says so, and the Bible is true. 

That's a circular argument.

Lutheran:  I believe the Bible is true because Jesus says it is true, and I know that what Jesus says is true because Jesus is God.

G:  But how do you know Jesus is God...and please don't say because the Bible says he is.  That would be another circular argument.

Lutheran:  I know that Jesus is God because he rose from the dead.

G:  Ok.  Now we are getting somewhere.  And how do you know that Jesus rose from the dead?  Did God reveal the historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus to you simply by faith?  Did you have a vision of the Resurrection?  Did God come and tell you in visible form, in an audible voice, that Jesus rose from the dead?

Or, do you believe that Jesus rose from the dead simply because the Bible says so...and then we are back to the circular argument again?

Lutheran:  I believe that Jesus rose from the dead because there were eyewitnesses; because Paul says he saw the resurrected Jesus; because the disciples would not have died for a lie; the fact that Christianity grew like wildfire is proof that it was true; if the Gospels were not true, the eyewitnesses would have spoken out against them; and, finally, Paul says that 500 people saw the resurrected Jesus at once!

G:  So...you admit then that your supernatural beliefs (faith) is not based on God's gift of faith, but on using your brain to reason the probability that four anonymous first century writers (of the gospels) wrote down true historical events, and, upon the testimony of one vision-prone Jewish rabbi (Paul) who saw a talking bright light while traveling on a deserted road??

Lutheran:  Well...its not all based on faith...there is some reason involved.

G:  So Lutherans do use Reason to evaluate things "from above", my Lutheran friend!  In fact, Lutherans use Reason like one would use a "whore":
                             
                                           Lutherans use reason when they really need it!



 
 
 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Why do Lutherans use Reason in every aspect of Life except for Supernatural Religious Claims?

Below is an excerpt from an article which appeared this month in the online newsletter of my former orthodox Lutheran church:

I am convinced that people will not come to Lutheranism via the Whore of Reason. Reason is quite akin to the theology  of  glory  and  law  and  the  hidden  god.  People  love  some  law. It  makes  them  feel  better about themselves. In fact, intellectual argumentation is of course connected to reason and glory. After all, it must inevitably look  at faith as something  we  can   muster up in ourselves or through intellectual arguments.  But Lutheranism confesses total depravity. The Reformed do as well, but from our perspective, and given the above, we believe they confess it in spite of their theology.

Lutheranism is for the weak and the doubting. It is for those who are weak in faith. It is contrary to reason. The law must do its killing work for people to come to Lutheranism. God kills first before He makes alive. As one brother said, no one likes to be weak or to see themselves as weak. The mask would must be ripped off, and people don't like that. Reason is a theology of glory and for the "strong." The Gospel is for the weak. For the doubting. For the wretched.

The  weak  know  they  need  the  pure  Gospel  of  the  Sacraments.  Christ  *for  them*  in  Word  and  Sacrament. Those who come to Lutheranism because of intellectual arguments will probably go to Rome or Eastern Orthodoxy, where the sacraments are perverted into something we do for God, or simply aids in helping us climb our way to God.

Lutheranism sees the Sacraments for what they are: pure grace, pure Christ, pure forgiveness of sins and mercy for the weak.
 
Gary:  Martin Luther is credited with originally saying that "Reason is the whore of the Devil".  Orthodox (confessional) Lutherans seem to still believe that.  But have orthodox Lutherans ever thought about this:  What if we approached everything in life viewing "reason" as evil, as something to be despised; as something despicable as, as...a whore?
 
Imagine if doctors despised reason (therefore despising research) and still treated people with seizure disorders by attempting to perform an exorcism on them...as Jesus did!  Imagine if scientists still perceived lightning, droughts, and storms as the expressions of a displeased God and not the natural results of particular atmospheric phenomena?  Imagine if instead of vaccinating children based on reason, we simply prayed to God to heal them after they have become sick with a preventable, and potentially fatal, disease?
 
Imagine a world based on Lutheran faith...and not on reason!
 
What chaos!  What suffering!  Do we really want to return to the mentality and superstitions (faith) of the Dark Ages?
 
If you agree with me that such a faith-based world view would be a disaster in matters related to science, medicine, the weather, and many other areas of your life, then why do you reject reason when it comes to determining the reality of supernatural religious claims?

The Creator (whoever or whatever he/she/it is) gave us a brain.  Let's use it!  Let's use reason in every aspect of our lives.  Let's NOT despise it as Luther and other Lutherans tells us we should.


The Lutheran Church is in Decline. Why?


Last I checked, all major Christian Churches in the United States, Canada, and Europe are in decline.  The Lutheran Church is no exception.  And for the following discussion, my former Church, the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, is in decline.

The question is, why?

One explanation is that as western society has become more prosperous, people have become more materialistic and more self-absorbed.  They don't need the Church.  They don't need God.  But other studies show a more disturbing trend for Christianity:  in the last few decades,  the Internet is responsible for a significant increase in the number of people becoming less religious and even non-religious, by exposing believers to evidence that counters the supernatural claims of their Church.  I am one of those people.

Below are a few excerpts from the most recent online newsletter from my former Lutheran Church, written by my former Lutheran pastor.  He gives his theory as to why the Lutheran Church is in decline:


The Lutheran Church has witnessed the free-fall of infant baptisms and confirmations since the 1960s. Confirmations have become almost extinct. They have virtually no cultural role within families. They are not anticipated, rarely discussed and quickly fade as a distant, never-to-be-spoken-of-again occasion. And when confirmations do happen, like several I attended before arriving at Grace Lutheran,  its  hardly  a  big  deal  for  the  parents.  Likewise  with  the  church celebrations of confirmation (indeed, if the church even celebrates the confirmations that take place in their midst).   At the same time that there are fewer baptisms and confirmations, Sunday School has collapsed. Outside of parochial schools, the Church has lost almost all contact with children and teenagers. But then again, parochial schools are frequently chosen simply for the usually outstanding education they offer, not necessarily for the Christian worldview they purport to inculcate.
 

Gary:  So who or what does my former pastor blame for the decline of the Lutheran Church?


---With the collapse of church culture for children, the Church takes the blame  for  being  irrelevant.  Rightly so. The Church has, in large part, brought this dilemma upon herself. Rather  than maintaining and extolling the  features that distinguish the Church from everything elsespecifically, celebrating the sacramentsthe Church has been monkeying the entertainment culture of a consumerist society.  Amuse kids, has been the response.  After all, education can be fun. Why not take up your cross and follow Christ Jesus?   Youth groups bear all the markings of entertainment culture.  Hardly could the typical youth group be characterized as a serious study session or as fortifying a gospel culture. Instead, it’s a crazy-best-friend youth pastor cracking eggs on his head, throwing pizza parties, and giving kids the times of their lives until that time of their life is over and out the door they go, at a rate of 90% to never come back.


--- Meanwhile the polling data has evidenced the fact that throwing programs at youth is utterly ineffective. There’s no indication that the decline in baptisms,  church  attendance  and  confirmations has  abated  in  recent  years  even  with a  gush of youth pastors running around hosting pizza parties and pumping the pipeline with programs galore. This model doesn’t work and it cant work because there’s nothing substantive there. Simply put, the Lord has made no promises regarding pilgrimages to Six Flags® in the way he has done so with the sacraments.



---What’s the answer?  Forging, once again, a sacramental culture.  


Gary:  So what is my former pastor's solution to the steady decline of the Lutheran Church?

Answer:  More superstition!  Teach children, over and over and over, that an invisible ghost god endowed them with supernatural powers in their baptism, and, that the same ghost god demands they eat him every Sunday to re-energize those supernatural powers, immediately after a Lutheran pastor has muttered some magic words---over a glass of chardonnay and a tiny cracker.

How sad that such an intelligent, good man is filling the impressionable young minds of children with this ancient, superstitious hocus pocus!

This is why every ex-Christian who has been freed from the brain-washing power of this religion must speak out---so that fewer and fewer children are exposed to these nonsensical superstitions.