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16-08-2015, 02:19 PM (This post was last modified: 16-08-2015 02:36 PM by goodwithoutgod.)
A reader’s brief review of Seth Andrews's book Sacred Cows
A reader’s brief review of Seth Andrews's book Sacred Cows

You can order the book here:

http://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Cows-Lighth...acred+cows

After purchasing and reading Seth Andrews’s recent book Sacred Cows, I have decided to write a brief review of it chapter by chapter. I will write my personal musings, and I will provide a brief excerpt from each chapter that I found humorous or interesting. These small excerpts will be in the ‘spoiler” format so that anyone reading this review will not have their experience ruined when and if they read his book. So let us begin.

Chapter 1: Once Bitten

This chapter provides a humorous inside look at the Pentecostals that are known as “snake handlers.” My(GWG) mother is a Pentecostal minister, so I am familiar with this particular brand of delusion. The ironic part is these “snake handlers” base their belief that God will protect them from the venom of snakes due to Scripture of Mark 16:18, “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” As you all are well aware, Mark 16:8 of Mark is where it ends in the oldest copies. Mark 16:9 – 20 is an interpolation. So here we have a group of Christians who base their belief in this Scripture to dance around while holding venomous snakes, too bad there is only 125 churches that practice this, as more belief in this could accelerate the declining rate of Christianity in this country, one snake bite at a time.

Chapter 1 excerpt…in a section discussing the laughable life of Pastor Jamie Coots, a famous snake handling preacher. “On the night of Saturday, February 15, 2014, Jamie Coots’luck finally ran out, as a rattlesnake bite to his right hand proved fatal. His family refused medical treatment when paramedics arrived…”

Chapter 2: Air Supply

This chapter provides a look at cargo cults. I had heard of these before but had never read much about them. This was an interesting chapter, and I found myself shaking my head with every page. These are religious cults that sprang up, usually post WWII, and some continue to exist to this day. It never ceases to amaze me the epic level of gullibility that human beings can apparently acquire.

Chapter 2 excerpt… “Merriam-Webster defines cargo cult as: any of the various Melanesian religious groups characterized by the belief that material wealth can be obtained through ritual worship. (Material wealth can be obtained through ritual worship? I guess this makes Joe Alstyne’s church a cargo cult, no?)”

Chapter 3: Blowing Smoke

This chapter provides a look at the Roman Catholics Papal conclave and their methods for identifying a new pope. I actually learned a little bit about the insides of this mega religion when I read this chapter. It discusses the process for selection, how they have achieved such a massive financial means, the Pope Mobile, and the bizarre death rituals for popes once they die.

Chapter 3 excerpt… In a section discussing the death of a pope, “… The media will focus its rating starved lens on the Papal Conclave chimney, and another costume ball will commence. A gaudy religious institution will again declare that it has a hotline to the mind of God, and he will announce his perfect will with big money, secret meetings and a billow of smoke”

Chapter 4: Sacred Cows

This chapter provides a look at how the Hindus have come to worship cows. The extremely complex, and overly complicated number of mythical gods and goddesses that make up the religion of Hinduism. It touches on the culture of this phenomenon and points out many humorous aspects of this worldview perspective.

Chapter 4 excerpt… “There are bovine shrines, like the Bull Temple in Bangalore, which honors the demigod, Nandi, servant of Shiva. The ownership of cows is usually considered a sign of affluence or wealth”

Chapter 5: Are you naked under those clothes?

This chapter provides a look at the ridiculousness of the church of Latter Day Saints, also commonly known as the Mormons. It touches on how overwhelmingly rich this religion is, an overview of the religion, discusses the systemic racism developed from the Book of Mormon and, of course, the ‘magic underwear’.

Chapter 5 excerpt… Mormon Temple Garments are worn by Mormon adults who have taken part in a ritual called the Endowment Ceremony, a secret (and seriously creepy) ritual where participants are symbolically washed and anointed, are consecrated to the LDS Church, and are provided symbolic names, passwords, and hand gestures required by the Angels who are guarding heaven.”

Chapter 6: Death becomes you

This chapter provides a look at the Church of Euthanasia. I found this chapter fascinating, as it covers the website and theology of this religion. I had never heard of this religion previously and thought it was an interesting dance down the road of delusion.

Chapter 6 excerpt… “Enter the church of euthanasia, an online political organization that encourages humankind to pursue voluntary population reduction. Its slogan: ‘Save the Planet, Kill Yourself.’

Chapter 7: Die in the sky

This chapter provides a look covers a plethora of unique funeral rituals from around the globe including the Tibetan ritual of sky burial. How our body is allowed to degenerate back to source material can be achieved many ways. I personally prefer cremation, but the ways one can dispose of the body are numerous nowadays.

Chapter 7 excerpt… “As Tibet’s terrain is much too rocky and dense for traditional gravesites, and with wood for coffins in fuel for cremation in short supply, sky burial offers the dead as food to sustain living creatures. The prepared body is simply placed upon a high rock, and the carnivores come a’runnin”

Chapter 8: The fortune tellers

This chapter provides a look at psychics, fortune-telling, famous psychics, foot reading, Uromancy, astrology, and the various techniques they use to fool the public. So far, this is the most informative chapter of the book for me. Seth’s breakdown of the various methods used to fool audiences and the public out of their hard earned cash was very enlightening. I wish I could type up this entire chapter word for word, and post it on every news site in the world. For me personally, this chapter alone made purchasing the book worthwhile.

Chapter 8 excerpt… “What’s happening here is called the Forer Effect (also known as the Barnum Effect). Name for psychologist Bertram R. Forer, it refers to the tendency of people to rate this kind of information as highly accurate for them personally even though it could easily apply to a wide range of people”

Chapter 9: The penis parade

This chapter provides a look at the up session of some religions with the penis. From Japan to you with love. It talks about an ancient tradition that has existed since the 1600s in Kawasaki Japan called the “Kanamara Matsuri” which translates to “Festival of the Steel Penis”… It must be read to be believed.

Chapter 9 excerpt… “An innkeeper’s daughter was about to get married. However, an evil demon heard about the nuptials and, because the woman had previously refused the demons advances and instead married a human male, he decided to ruin the party by finding the bride-to-be in crawling into her vagina…”

Chapter 10: Santa’s little helper

This chapter provides a look at the heavily commercialized story of Santa Claus. It also looks at the Christmas tradition and other countries for a compare and contrast.

Chapter 10 excerpt… “The legend of the Krampus spans thousands of years and, like Santa, also has roots in ancient pagan symbolism in Germanic folklore. He’s a nasty creature, tall and imposing, often covered in dark hair and flicking the air with a large, pointed tongue…”

Chapter 11: Rise up and walk

This chapter provides a look at various faith healers, new age healing practices, and all of the woo-magic it brings with it. I enjoyed this chapter as well, and while I have not delved into new age healing, I found the information intriguing, as well as humorous.

Chapter 11 excerpt… “Astral travel, also known as astral projection, this out of body experience allows you to leave your physical form and travel into higher realms.… These journeys through space and time are occasionally initiated through the use of hallucinogenics…”

Chapter 12: Free long necks for the ladies

This chapter provides a look at body modification, piercings, tattoos, and other more extreme ways in which cultures around the world have endeavored to alter their body.

Chapter 12 excerpt… “The Kayans are a hugely superstitious people, their religion dating back to the bronze age and incorporating icons like dragons and angels. Have you ever joked about someone seeking divination through the examination of chicken bones? The Kayans actually do this.”

Chapter 13: Circus of the stars

This chapter provides a look at celebrities and their newsworthy escapades into bizarre religions, like Tom Cruise and Scientology. This chapter gets into the crazy world of Scientology, and it’s insanely ridiculous religious tenets. I know a fair amount about Scientology and work to educate the public at every opportunity. Good chapter.

Chapter 13 excerpt… “… After which there’thetans’ (alien souls) remained to inhabit the bodies of future earthlings, causing humans today great spiritual harm and unhappiness that can be remedied through special techniques involving an electropsychometer (E-meter) in a process called auditing”

Chapter 14: Sabbath mode

This chapter provides a look at how believers of the Jewish faith workaround the inconvenient Sabbath rule. This chapter made me laugh as I read how they have designed ways to work around the no labor issue.

Chapter 14 excerpt… “Major appliance makers like Electrolux, Maytag, Kenmore, Whirlpool, GE and others now provide a handy-dandy feature called ‘Sabbath Mode.’… Can delay the activation of heat/flame many hours after the actual turning of the stove dial .”

Chapter 15: Can you put me up for the night?

This chapter provides a look at the process of crucifixion and the crazy regressions in the Philippines where they literally, physically, and figuratively have themselves crucified for Christ. Wow, talk about taking your religion a little too far.

Chapter 15 excerpt… “Ruben Enaje of the San Pedro Cutud Village told the Associated Press that his 2014 crucifixion was his 28th.”

Chapter 16: Wag the dog

This chapter provides a look at religious-based abuse of animals and the craziness of religious beliefs and Bulgaria, Spain, India, etc.

Chapter 16 excerpt… “…Still being practiced in rural Bulgaria. It’s called ‘Trichane’ which translates into ‘dog-spinning’ and is just as bad as it sounds”

Chapter 17: The order, the doctrine and the dude

This chapter provides a look at Jediism… That’s right folks, the Temple of the Jedi Order truly exists. I kid you not. I had heard of this long ago, but never looked into it. Jedi ministers are recognized clergy and are licensed in all 50 states. They conduct various religious ceremonies, attend training, and achieve certification from the Jedi Council. It also looks at the Church of the Latter Day Dude. Things that make you just do a triple facepalm.

Chapter 17 excerpt… “I vowed to uphold the principles of dudeism; to just take it easy, to be dude (easy-going) to everyone I meet, and to keep my mind limber.”

Chapter 18: Running with the devil

This chapter provides a look at hell, Satanism, the Church of Satan, its history and beliefs. I have never bothered to look into the religion of Satanism and found this chapter interesting.

Chapter 18 excerpt… “If Jesus was the hand of God, Satan was a middle finger”

Chapter 19: This is the end (beautiful friend)

This chapter provides a look at the apocalyptic focused doomsday types who go from one end of days prophecy to another. It covers a list of idiots going from Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson and D. James Kennedy. He looks at the Y2K bug alarmists. I enjoyed the breakdown of Harold Camping, the infamous pastor who spent a lifetime prophesying failed end times announcements, yet continued to be well-funded by his supporters and admirers.

Chapter 19 excerpt… “After all, even Jesus Christ’s prediction about his own return with an epic fail, as he told his disciples in Matthew 16 that some of them would witness the Son of Man coming in his kingdom before they died”

My conclusion:

This book has spent its time in my “private library” next to the Maxim, Men’s Health, Money, and Flex magazines where I have enjoyed reading it. It is not on any level a deep and insightful research book for those amongst us wanting to sharpen our tools in the never-ending war against religious dogma, and cultural misinformation… Nor is that its apparent intent. Just like the title of the book suggests, it is a lighthearted look at belief and tradition around the world. I couldn’t put it any better. Even though I have been assertive in my anti-theism efforts online and offline for many years, I still found some nuggets of information that I did not previously know. There was some funny bits, some informative bits, and some intriguing bits. Overall I enjoyed this book, and I recommend it for your coffee table as well.


Reference:
Andrews, Seth. Sacred Cows: A lighthearted look at belief and tradition around the world. (2015)Denver. Outskirts Press inc. Print.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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24-08-2015, 06:33 AM (This post was last modified: 17-03-2016 07:50 PM by goodwithoutgod.)
An interview with GWG by a Saint Leo University World Religions class student
An interview with GWG by a Saint Leo University World Religions class student

This is the interview that was conducted with me by a fellow student at Saint Leo University for her World Religions class. The Questions are from her, and the Answers are from me.

World Religions: A Different Perspective
##### ##########
Professor J######
World Religions: East and West
July 31, 2015

World Religions: A Different Perspective (Interview Transcript)
Introduction to Interviewee: 46 yr. [old] active duty military officer, married with 4 children. Holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with spec in Homeland Security and a minor in Religious Studies. Identifies as an atheist.

Q1: What religious/nonreligious group or theology do you identify with?

A1: “I identify with Atheism. My epistemological journey to truth started as a Christian. I was debating some atheists, and they brought up some points that got me to thinking, so I did research and sought academic education in religion in order to be able to defend my faith, and strengthen it through knowledge. The opposite happened, the more I learned, the less I believed. Then I went to "more spiritual then religious", then agnostic, and finally atheism...it is an informed choice. All gods of religion can be traced back to their creator; man. It is a complete fabrication, and this is why it requires faith. Faith is the belief in something without any evidence. If it had evidence, it wouldn't require faith, it would simply be fact. Faith and belief in the transcendental world, magic, and miraculous events even in the face of superior evidence to the contrary, is the definition of delusion. As an intelligent, educated adult, I do not believe in magic, universe creating super deities, or a magical transcendental world. I find that all religion's creation stories are equally ridiculous, and yet.... billions of people purport to believe.

So after a long contemplative and introspective analysis of world history, archaeological evidence and biblical historicity, I have come to the conclusion it is false, and since no evidence of deities exist, and the known universe is the opposite of what one would surmise would exist if an intelligent designer created it, then one must accept no gods exist.”

Q2: You say there is no evidence, historical or otherwise, to support the existence of God or Gods. Yet, the cosmological argument/theory uses science/physics to support the argument that there is a God/Self-Being. Do you believe this argument is flawed? If so, why?

A2: "First let’s look at the Cosmological argument:
Incorporating Aristotle's notion of a "prime mover" into Summa Theological and elsewhere, Thomas Aquinas famously formulated his version of the cosmological or "first cause" argument. According to this argument, the things which we see around us now are the products of a series of previous causes. But that series cannot go back in time forever. Thus there must be some first cause which was not itself caused by anything else. And that first uncaused cause is God.

The argument can be put more formally as follows:

1. Every thing has either been caused to exist by something else or else exists uncaused.
2. Not every thing has been caused to exist by something else.
3. Therefore, at least one thing is itself uncaused.

There are several problems with this argument. The most crucial objection to the argument itself is that unless we know that premise 2 is true, the argument fails. If the universe is infinitely old, for instance, everything could indeed be caused by something else before it; the series of causes could go back forever. But perhaps more importantly, one could hold that the argument succeeds without believing that God exists. There could be multiple uncaused causes—multiple gods, say—or the uncaused cause could be an unintelligent, impersonal force. Finally, the argument holds that God is required to explain the existence of the universe, but offers no explanation for why God exists. If you invoke God to answer the question "Why is there a universe rather than nothing?" you raise the further question "Why is there a God rather than nothing?" The fundamental question—"Why is there something rather than nothing?"—remains unanswered either way; so why invoke a potentially nonexistent God to explain a universe which we know exists? This is the epitome of god-of-the-gaps argument. We don’t know…so….god.

One cannot state with any degree of validity that the first causal theory doesn't apply to the mythical egocentric Abrahamic god because one has the unique opinion he is the "eternal god", thus wasn't "caused". How does one arrive at that thought? How does one ascertain ones version of "god" is eternal? Which god by the way? There are so many, yet each fan club thinks their god is the only god, the true god and the only true religion. The irony of that kills me. 4500 different religions, all of which claim their god is the one, the truth and the light. Christianity alone has over 40,000 strains of their delusion, and each declares all others are not "true Christians".

The major premise of the argument, ""everything had a cause," is contradicted by the conclusion that "god did not have a cause." You can't have it both ways. If everything had to have had a cause, then there could not be a first cause. If it is possible to think of a god as uncaused, then it is possible to think the same of the universe.

Some theists, observing that all "effects" need a cause, assert that god is a cause but not an effect. But no one has ever observed an uncaused cause and simply inventing one merely assumes what the argument wishes to prove. If a god can be thought eternal, then so can the universe. The word "cause" is a transitive verb. Causality requires temporality. If god exists outside of time, he cannot cause anything.

The latest spin on this position by Christian philosophers like William Lane Craig is that:

1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2) The universe began to exist.
3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.

This may be seductive to those who already believe in a god. To me, it seems awfully suspicious. The clause "Everything that begins to exist" sounds artificial. It is not a phrase we hear outside the context of theistic philosophy. It appears to be an Ad Hoc construction designed to smooth over earlier apologetic efforts.”

Q3: If the arguments for our existence are flawed, what is the purpose of life?

A3: “What makes you think there is a purpose to life? What reasoning do you utilize in your observation of the real world around us that suggests life has a purpose? Purpose suggests a plan, a plan suggests concepts like fate, fate suggests preplanned destiny, which suggests a planner, which points to an intelligent designer. But nothing I have observed suggests our lives have a purpose. For example; What is the purpose for a mosquito…that is life, what is its purpose? What is the purpose for millions of babies born with terminal diseases? Neither reflects purpose, but they both point to the wonders of random mathematics, the roll of the dice, the chance and circumstance that leads to a short, painful life, or a long, healthy life.

As I stated above, purpose implies a plan, which implies a planner….and we know that is a fallacy, as nothing points to a planner. From the perspective of someone observing the finished product around us (well, it isn’t finished, as everything is in some slow state of evolution, but you understand what I mean) it is easy to say, “wow, there is no way all of this could have just…happened”…but actually when you dig into the world at the DNA level, at the molecular level, at the sub-dermal level we see exactly what we would expect to see from an evolving world. In the human body the vast majority of genes are dormant, recessive and no longer used, as we evolved through time, things shut off with non-use, occasionally one of those genes becomes dominant, and we have a baby human born with a coccyx tail for example..our bodies contain vestigial organs and bone formations, which show our evolution from an earlier, different form…if we were created in our current form, we wouldn’t have those things..

We view things that are complex like say….the eye, and exclaim “that just had to have been the work of a god”…no actually, it is anything but a perfect design, it is just the opposite. The anatomy of the human eye, in fact, shows anything but "intelligence" in its design. It is built upside down and backwards, requiring photons of light to travel through the cornea, lens, acquaeous fluid, blood vessels, ganglion cells, amacrine cells, horizontal cells, and bipolar cells before they reach the light sensitive rods and cones that transduce the light signal into neural impulses....which are then sent to the visual cortex at the back of the brain for processing into meaningful patterns. For optimal vision, why would an intelligent designer have built an eye upside down and backwards?

So in summary, no evidence of a planner, means no plan, no plan means no purpose.”

Q4: Do you believe that the discovery of Earth 2.0 supports your views?

*A4: “Yes. However, the discovery of Earth 2.0 should surprise no one. As I have asserted before, it all comes down to numbers. The Hubble telescope can see over 400+ billion stars and planets. A thinking person would surmise that beyond the range and capability of the Hubble telescope, are billions and maybe trillions of stars and planets that are beyond our view. So it would make sense that the perfect conditions to support life, whatever form of life that is, has been achieved elsewhere simply based on the numbers.

Now, if there were only the Earth, the moon, and the sun then perhaps the anthropocentric, Abrahamic faith-based belief in God, as per the fictional document called the Bible, would require closer scrutiny. Oh yeah, and throw a few stars in the heavens to provide light of course. But that isn’t the case is it? We know that there are at least 400+ billion stars and planets. Is one truly to believe that God created at least 400+ billion planets until he got at least one just right, and then grabbing a handful of dirt, blew into it, creating man? Not only is that preposterous, and lacking any supportive evidence, but it doesn’t pass the logic test either.

So yes, I do believe that the discovery of Earth 2.0 supports my views; that the universe is vast, does not indicate an intelligent designer or Creator, and that statistically, life could and most likely has been achieved on another planet. Interesting question. I have never been asked that question before.”

Q5: Is it safe to say Morality and Religion have always been closely entwined? Religion provides a How to be a Decent Person guideline and society enforces it. Yet our world is corrupt and broken. What do you believe is wrong with the human condition?

A5: “Well, we know from Anthropology 101 where human customs come from, and in general why they arise. One of the fallacies religionists claim is that without their deity, morality would not exist. The fact is that EVERY SINGLE commandment, injunction and law in the Bible existed already in ancient Near Eastern culture and was imported into the Bible. Religion took their laws from existing culture, not vice versa.

Religious people and popular culture likes to draw a correlation between morality and religion, but upon close inspection, one has nothing to do with the other. One is not needed for the other.

Lets go back to hunter-gatherer time....it didn't take long to figure out that ones odds for survival were greatly increased if we stick together in groups, hunt in packs, protect each other....it also doesn't take a genius to figure out that as we started to build bigger tribes, groups, villages, towns, etc...that the basis of self-preservation and safety is a tier one concern. It would be frowned upon to put it lightly, if you stole my food, raped my wife or children, or killed one of my family....these type of actions would be considered against everyone's self-preservation and safety...thus banned...thus SOCIETY dictates what is acceptable behavior, and this evolves with time. No,, made up god/s needed at all. No BS "ten commandments" which are so obviously written by a group of empowered, ignorant patriarchal men.....thou shalt not rape? ....nope, not on there, thou shalt not enslave other humans? ...nope, not on there, and surely the all knowing god knew that would be a problem...but no...the MEN that created the ten commandments were more concerned with pressing matters like thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wife.

Religion’s basis is their holy books, and their holy books are filled with horrific threats and deeds. Hardly the go-to reference for how to conduct oneself. The well-known passage from Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, "If God is dead, all is permitted," suggests that non-believers would not hold moral lives without the possibility of punishment by a God. This perspective is absurd as all one has to do is look at Denmark or Sweden to see that these largely atheist areas enjoy being at the top tier of civilization. This is broken down in great detail in a book by Phil Zuckerman, "Society without God".

Phil Zuckerman, associate professor of sociology at Pitzer College in California, in his article, "Is Faith Good For Us" states the following: "A comparison of highly irreligious countries with highly religious countries, however, reveals a very different state of affairs. In reality, the most secular countries (those with the highest proportion of atheists and agnostics) are among the most stable, peaceful, free, wealthy, and healthy societies. And the most religious nations-wherein worship of God is in abundance are among the most unstable, violent, oppressive, poor, and destitute."

A study by Gregory S. Paul, entitled "Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies: A First Look," was done and the study's conclusion was that there was an inverse relationship between religion and poor societal health rates. What that means is that the higher the level of religious belief in a country, the lower the level of societal health (more violent crimes, suicides, teen pregnancies, etc.).

So it seems that a plethora of evidence exists to show that not only do we not need religion in our lives to be good humans but that having it in our lives can be counter-productive and unhealthy. Our world IS corrupt and broken, but only parts of it. Guess what correlation exists in those broken areas? High levels of religious belief. Even within the US, there are a plethora of studies and statistics that show the Bible belt has the lowest average IQ, highest poverty levels, lowest average education levels, poor health, and….you guessed it…high levels of religious beliefs. The areas of the world that have a zealous belief in religion are usually the most violent, and enjoy being at the bottom tier of civilization ranking for quality of life.

Creationists have long been of the opinion that atheists are evil and corrupt. Well, lets take a peek at US prison statistics. US population of Christians is about 70%...and that number is reflected with entrance statistics for US prisons IAW the FBI database for religiosity and prison population. About 70% of US prisoners are of some flavor of Christian delusion. Guess what percentage are non-religious? .07%.....Contemplate on that for a moment.

One would surmise to make the world unbroken and less corrupt, a step in the right direction would be to remove religion from it. The only thing wrong with the human condition is the embracement of religion. People like to say, "why take away faith if it helps people get through the day"...I've never really understood how removing a bad way to reason will make it difficult to get through the day. If anything, it would seem that correcting someone's reasoning would significantly increase their chances of getting through their day.

With reliable forms of reasoning comes the capability of crafting conditions that enable people to navigate life's obstacles. By using a more reliable form of reasoning, people are more capable of bringing about conditions that enable them to flourish.

To argue that people need faith is to abandon hope, and to condescend and accuse the faithful of being incapable of understanding the importance of reason and rationality. There are better and worse ways to come to terms with death, to find strength during times of personal crisis, to make meaning and purpose in our lives, to interpret our sense of awe and wonder, and to contribute to human well-being...and the faithful are completely capable of understanding and achieving this..if they would only try.

Asking “If there is no god, what is the purpose of life?” is like asking, “If there is no master, whose slave will I be?””

Q6: How happy are you? How does your outlook on religion impact your life?

A6: I am extremely happy, and confident on my worldview. It is good to be in a place where I do not have to consider fabricated religion as a crutch to lean on to get through life. What annoys me is the negative impact that religion has on my life, and all American's lives. We aren’t trying to sell anyone anything, we have a close personal relationship with reality, not jesus, or any other mythical religious figure. Religion is the ultimate scam and while some of it is benign in nature, it is the radical "my view of my god is right and all of you heathens who believe otherwise better get on board" mentality that bothers me. It is the sneaky little financing of a politician who they support to get him/her in office so that their crazy agendas can be quietly slid into laws that guide this country.

The aggressive attempts to get pseudo-science creationism into public schools under the guise of "intelligent design", the obsession with who people love, who they marry, and how they have sex, the blocking of vital stem cell research that can save lives, the belief they know what is best for an impregnated rape victim based on biblical interpretation...these are the things that go on daily under the guise of religious freedom...Those are the people I fight. If someone wants to whip a rubber chicken around their head while dancing in a counter clock wise circle quacking like a duck makes them feel closer to their mythical god, then by all means, knock yourself out...in the privacy of their own home or in a private venue with like-minded individuals. Don’t manipulate politicians to modify laws that affect us all, based on their religious views. That is the negative impact on my life religion has.

World Religions: A Different Perspective

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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25-08-2015, 05:20 AM (This post was last modified: 25-08-2015 07:31 AM by goodwithoutgod.)
Evidence of evolution right now
Evidence of evolution right now:

1) As the huge array of drug resistant pathogens grows we are learning that evolution is easiest to observe in species with a quick generation turnover. Since 1988, in the lab of Richard Lenski, the evolution of twelve E. coli populations from a single ancestor strain has been studied. Since then, over 50,000 generations of E. coli have been and gone, and the differences between the populations and each population from the ancestor strain have been documented. With samples of each population taken regularly the accumulated genetic changes can be followed with ease. Over time the bacteria have become far more efficient at growing under the conditions used. This study has provided evidence of how evolution actually occurs. One of the populations developed the ability to utilize citrate as a nutrient, something otherwise unknown in E. coli under similar conditions.

2) Studying evolution can take decades, but occasionally change happens incredibly rapidly. The Blue Moon Butterfly (Hypolimnas bolina) of the Samoan islands was being attacked by a parasite which destroyed male embryos. This led to a gender imbalance whereby males made up only 1% of the butterfly population. However, within ten generations (~1 year) males had returned to 40% of the population. This is not because the parasite has disappeared, it is still present, but it is no longer deadly to male embryos. This case shows how a mutation giving an advantage can rapidly spread throughout a population. Any male with the ability to survive infection would be able to mate with a great many females, due to the paucity of other males, and spread his immunity through the gene pool.

3) The medium ground finch was well established on the isle of Daphne, and had been studied in depth. Its beak was suited perfectly for cracking large nuts. In 1982, the large ground finch from a neighboring island arrived. These larger finches could drive away the native medium ground finches and would eat all the large nuts. Over the period of study, the medium ground finches of Daphne island were found to have developed smaller beaks more suited to the smaller nuts, ignored by the invading larger finches. This is a classic study in evolutionary biology.

4) In 1971, ten Italian wall lizards (Podarcis sicula) were introduced to the island of Pod Mrčaru from a neighboring island. The lizards were left for decades, and compared to the colony from which they were taken. The wall lizards on Pod Mrčaru, having passed through a tiny genetic bottleneck, were found to have thrived and adapted to their new island. They were found to have shifted from a mainly insectivorous diet to one heavy in vegetation. This diet change seems to have driven dramatic changes in the lizards. The head of the Pod Mrčaru lizards is larger, and has a far greater bite force. These are key adaptations for dealing with chewing leaves. The most exciting sign of evolution is the development of cecal valves, muscles used to separate portions of the intestine. These serve to slow the passage of food through the intestine and give time for the bacteria in the gut to breakdown the plant matter for absorption. This is an entirely novel development in the Italian wall lizard, and a major adaptation.

5) The example of the peppered moth is a nice one for textbooks because it uses a single trait. Speciation involves many mutations leading to significant changes. The yellow bellied three-toed skink (Saiphos equalis) is a lizard of New South Wales, in Australia, that appears to be undergoing the change from laying eggs to live birth. Since these skinks can either lay eggs or give birth, it gives scientists the chance to study the adaptations necessary for live birth. Skink embryos encased in an egg have an extra source of calcium that the live born skinks lack. It turns out that this nutritional difference is made up by the mother secreting extra calcium for the young held inside her. This looks like the first step on the road to developing a system like the mammalian placenta. Skinks living on the coast tend to lay eggs, probably because the warm weather is predictable and sufficient for embryonic development. Those skinks living in the cooler mountains tend to give birth to live young, the mother’s body providing a more stable temperature. It is to be predicted that these two populations will at some point separate into different species as each population becomes fixed in its reproductive strategy. This brings up a common question in creationists – If man evolved from apes, why are there still apes? Well, with the skinks we would see two species formed, an egg laying and a live birthing species. Each would be best suited for their habitat. If live birthing skinks evolved from egg layers, why are there still egg layers? Because each is adapted for its niche.

The eye is always a fun topic, The anatomy of the human eye, in fact, shows anything but "intelligence" in its design. it is built upside down and backwards, requiring photons of light to travel through the cornea, lens, acquaeous fluid, blood vessels, ganglion cells, amacrine cells, horizontal cells, and bipolar cells before they reach the light sensitive rods and cones that transduce the light signal into neural impulses....which are then sent to the visual cortex at the back of the brain for processing into meaningful patterns. For optimal vision, why would an intelligent designer have built an eye upside down and backwards?

Hox genes: Embryos temporarily take on the characteristics of their ancestral species, such as human embryos having gill arches, a tail, eyes on the sides of the head, a tube-shaped heart, and ear-bones in the jaw during development, all of which vanish in later development. Just as Hox Genes make it possible for species to easily change forms and configurations, the stages of fetal development can change to produce very different characteristics in an organism.

Here let’s take it back to evolution, take it up a notch, and look at the next deeper level of evolution. The human ABO blood group system is controlled by alleles at a single locus on chromosome 9. The alleles encode glycosyltransferases, which add different sugar residues to the terminal part of the oligosaccharide core, thus generating the A or B antigens; an allele encoding enzymatically inactive protein is responsible for the blood group O. The A and B antigens are present not only in humans, but also in many other primate species and it has been proposed that the AB polymorphism was established long before these species diverged. Here we provide molecular evidence for the trans-species evolution of the AB polymorphism. Polymerase-chain reaction (PCR) amplification and sequencing has revealed that the critical substitutions differentiating the A and B genes occurred before the divergence of the lineages leading to humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. This polymorphism is therefore at least 13 million years old and is most likely maintained by selection. Comparison of the sequences derived from different species indicates that the difference in enzymatic activities between the A and B transferases is caused by two single nucleotide substitutions responsible for Leu-Met and Gly-Ala replacement at positions 265 and 267 in the polypeptide chains, respectively.

The three living monophyletic divisions of Class Mammalia are the Prototheria (monotremes), Metatheria (marsupials), and Eutheria (`placental' mammals). Determining the sister relationships among these three groups is the most fundamental question in mammalian evolution. Phylogenetic comparison of these mammals by either anatomy or mitochondrial DNA has resulted in two conflicting hypotheses, Theria and Marsupionta, and has fueled a ``genes versus morphology'' controversy. We have cloned and analyzed a large nuclear gene, the mannose 6-phosphate/insulin-like growth factor II receptor (M6P/IGF2R), from representatives of all three mammalian groups, including platypus, echidna, opossum, wallaby, hedgehog, mouse, rat, rabbit, cow, pig, bat, tree shrew, colugo, ringtail lemur, and human. Statistical analysis of this nuclear gene unambiguously supports the morphology-based Theria hypothesis that excludes monotremes from a clade of marsupials and eutherians. The M6P/IGF2R was also able to resolve the finer structure of the eutherian mammalian family tree. In particular, our analyses support sister group relationships between lagomorphs and rodents, and between the primates and Dermoptera. Statistical support for the grouping of the hedgehog with Feruungulata and Chiroptera was also strong.

The genetic code, formerly thought to be frozen, is now known to be in a state of evolution. This was first shown in 1979 by Barrell et al. (G. Barrell, A. T. Bankier, and J. Drouin, Nature [London] 282:189-194, 1979), who found that the universal codons AUA (isoleucine) and UGA (stop) coded for methionine and tryptophan, respectively, in human mitochondria. Subsequent studies have shown that UGA codes for tryptophan in Mycoplasma spp. and in all nonplant mitochondria that have been examined. Universal stop codons UAA and UAG code for glutamine in ciliated protozoa (except Euplotes octacarinatus) and in a green alga, Acetabularia. E. octacarinatus uses UAA for stop and UGA for cysteine. Candida species, which are yeasts, use CUG (leucine) for serine. Other departures from the universal code, all in nonplant mitochondria, are CUN (leucine) for threonine (in yeasts), AAA (lysine) for asparagine (in platyhelminths and echinoderms), UAA (stop) for tyrosine (in planaria), and AGR (arginine) for serine (in several animal orders) and for stop (in vertebrates). We propose that the changes are typically preceded by loss of a codon from all coding sequences in an organism or organelle, often as a result of directional mutation pressure, accompanied by loss of the tRNA that translates the codon. The codon reappears later by conversion of another codon and emergence of a tRNA that translates the reappeared codon with a different assignment. Changes in release factors also contribute to these revised assignments.

Evidence of evolution is all around us, ongoing....to refute evolution is to refute sunlight.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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03-09-2015, 05:19 PM (This post was last modified: 20-10-2015 05:06 PM by goodwithoutgod.)
Radiometric Dating methods accuracy
There is a lot of misinformation out there assimilated by creationists of the alleged huge inaccuracy of dating methods. This sounds compelling to believers who have no background in science, or have not bothered to even simply google it. There are different methods best used for different age ranges, but all do have a small errancy rate as any test does. It is a small percentage point, usually less than 5% at most for the least accurate methods, and less then 1% for the most accurate methods. So if we are discussing for example, the age of earth, and the tests show 4.54 billion years...what is a errancy rate? insignificant...especially since YEC usually posit the earth is 6,000-10,000 years old.

For example:

Roger Wiens, a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, asks those who are skeptical of radiometric dating to consider the following (quoted in several cases from [Wiens2002]):

There are well over forty different radiometric dating methods, and scores of other methods such as tree rings and ice cores.

All of the different dating methods agree--they agree a great majority of the time over millions of years of time. Some [skeptics] make it sound like there is a lot of disagreement, but this is not the case. The disagreement in values needed to support the position of young-Earth proponents would require differences in age measured by orders of magnitude (e.g., factors of 10,000, 100,000, a million, or more). The differences actually found in the scientific literature are usually close to the margin of error, usually a few percent, not orders of magnitude.

Vast amounts of data overwhelmingly favor an old Earth. Several hundred laboratories around the world are active in radiometric dating. Their results consistently agree with an old Earth. Over a thousand papers on radiometric dating were published in scientifically recognized journals in the last year, and hundreds of thousands of dates have been published in the last 50 years. Essentially all of these strongly favor an old Earth.

Radioactive decay rates have been measured for over sixty years now for many of the decay clocks without any observed changes. And it has been close to a hundred years since the uranium-238 decay rate was first determined.

A recent survey of the rubidium-strontium method found only about 30 cases, out of tens of thousands of published results, where a date determined using the proper procedures was subsequently found to be in error.

Both long-range and short-range dating methods have been successfully verified by dating lavas of historically known ages over a range of several thousand years.
The mathematics for determining the ages from the observations is relatively simple.

Radiometric dating, like any other experimental discipline, is subject to a variety of errors, ranging from human errors to rare anomalies resulting from highly unusual natural circumstances. But while errors and anomalies can occur, the burden of proof is not on scientists to fully explain each and every error. Instead, the burden of proof is on skeptics of old-earth geology to explain why tens of thousands of other carefully measured ages are all internally and externally consistent. Indeed, there is no known physical phenomenon that can yield consistent results in many thousands of measurements, year after year, except one: that these specimens really are as old as the data shows them to be. As biologist Kenneth Miller has observed, "The consistency of [radiometric] data ... is nothing short of stunning."

http://www.sciencemeetsreligion.org/evol...bility.php

There are several dating methods. There is relative dating and absolute dating methods. Scientists can use different chemicals for absolute dating:

The best-known absolute dating technique is carbon-14 dating, which archaeologists prefer to use. However, the half-life of carbon-14 is only 5730 years, so the method cannot be used for materials older than about 70,000 years.

Radiometric dating involves the use of isotope series, such as rubidium/strontium, thorium/lead, potassium/argon, argon/argon, or uranium/lead, all of which have very long half-lives, ranging from 0.7 to 48.6 billion years. Subtle differences in the relative proportions of the two isotopes can give good dates for rocks of any age.

For example: The uranium-lead radiometric dating scheme has been refined to the point that the error margin in dates of rocks can be as low as less than two million years in two-and-a-half billion years....that is 1% errancy.

Another couple of good sites for fossil dating information, even wiki has a decent basic breakdown:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiometric_dating

http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/dating

http://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge...-107924044

The probability that all the dating systems are not only wrong, but wrong and yet they all produce the same *wrong* result is so infinitesimally low, it's not even quantifiable. One would presume the newly popular creationists attempt to wave aside empirical evidence such as radiometric dating as inaccurate is simply an exercise in futility and willful ignorance.


Ref:

Dalrymple, G. B. (1991). The Age of the Earth. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. Print.

Oberthür, T, Davis, DW, Blenkinsop, TG, Hoehndorf, A (2002). "Precise U–Pb mineral ages, Rb–Sr and Sm–Nd systematics for the Great Dyke, Zimbabwe—constraints on late Archean events in the Zimbabwe craton and Limpopo belt". Precambrian Research 113 (3-4): 293–306. Print.

White, W. M. (2003). "Basics of Radioactive Isotope Geochemistry". Cornell University.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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10-10-2015, 06:02 PM (This post was last modified: 30-10-2015 11:28 AM by goodwithoutgod.)
The best fiction contains facts
The best fiction, the most engaging fabrications use actual people, places and things. It gives the story pop, it makes it sound more plausible, visual, relevant, and believable. The fact that there are real people, places and events sporadically scattered amongst the fiction, fantasy, forgery, pseudepigrapha, parables and allegorical writings that makeup the bible shouldn't surprise anyone. Mentioning these things does not make the bible real. The fact that actual people, places and things are in the bible in no way makes the rest of the bible true.

For example, The Twilight series takes place in Forks, Washington...which actually exists. That does not mean vampires and werewolves also exist just because the story contained a real location....they even celebrate Bella's birthday there each year....that doesn't mean "Bella" ...a fabricated character, is/was a real person....like Moses, she is simply a character in a story.

http://forkswa.com/2014/11/24/stephenie-...ashington/


Smartass

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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20-10-2015, 04:55 PM (This post was last modified: 06-11-2015 10:06 AM by goodwithoutgod.)
More evidence for Bigfoot, than Jesus
It has long amused me that Christians have no qualms admitting that they believe in Jesus, even though there is zero evidence for the magical, miracle-performing, zombie invasion causing, son of a mythical god Jesus, but don't believe in Bigfoot. Perhaps a physical man named Jesus existed, in fact, many men named Jesus existed, and maybe even one of them was a self-professed messiah, who claimed to be the son of god….many people over time have claimed that very same thing…all discredited.

Know what doesn’t exist? Evidence that a single person who ever wrote about Jesus, actually knew him, met him, or witnessed his miracles. ZERO. Contemplate on that for a moment. I have asserted that fact for quite awhile now, as most of you know, and proven it to an exhaustive degree. Now, the question I have is why can people easily believe the Jesus fairy tale, yet dismiss stories of aliens, fairies, or even bigfoot? I wonder if they understand that there is far more evidence for Bigfoot than Jesus. In fact, since there exists no credible eyewitness testimony or contemporary evidence for the magical Jesus, by anyone who knew him, one would assume Bigfoot wins the compare and contrast hands down. (Jesus – 0.)

How about Bigfoot? Unlike the resurrection, which violates absolutely everything we know about almost every branch of science, the existence of Bigfoot doesn't violate the laws of physics, doesn't violate the laws of chemistry, it just seems to violate some of what we know about biology. Why is it that Christians believe claims that have overwhelming, almost conclusive evidence against them, and very weak circumstantial historical evidence for them, but they don't believe claims that at least have physical evidence at hand for contemplation….like Bigfoot?

Furthermore, unlike the resurrection, which is thinly supported by the copy of the translation of the copy of the translation of multiple layers of verbal hearsay by anonymous sources, and zero eyewitnesses, the existence of Bigfoot is supported by direct eyewitnesses alive today, with names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. (Bigfoot – 1)There are pictures and even fuzzy videos to analyze of Bigfoot loping through the forest. (Bigfoot – 2) In fact, since 70% of Americans are infected with some strain of Christian delusion, odds are the majority of these witnesses would be Christians….are you going to tell me one Christian would disbelieve another Christian who would vow they have seen, heard, and smelled bigfoot? You can go and interview a Bigfoot expert who has seen Bigfoot multiple times, and he will share the first-hand eyewitness testimony with you directly. (Bigfoot – 3) Ah, let me guess, they aren’t “true Christians” right?

It would seem like if you were in the business of believing in magic, supernatural, transcendental theory beings, and other unlikely stuff, and you were going to be consistent rather than biased, there are loads of claims that, though unlikely, are several orders of magnitude more probable than a 30AD flying corpse, zombie invasion and the entire world going dark upon his death…like Bigfoot. (Bigfoot – 4)

Bigfoot/Sasquatch/Yeti/Yowie/Almas/skunk Ape/Grassman/Wendigo/Orange Pendeck/Mapingauri/Yeren has been written about, and witnessed for many years WORLDWIDE. It MUST exist then right?

2,000 years from now whatever form of human exists then will inevitably find all of these mentions of bigfoot worldwide, and will certainly exclaim "Bigfoot" existed! He must have, look at the copious amount of worldwide documentation of him.

So let’s tally it up: Jesus – 0, bigfoot – 4. So inductive and deductive reasoning would establish that there is far more evidence for Bigfoot, than Jesus.

Disclaimer: I um...don't believe in Bigfoot either.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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30-10-2015, 08:22 PM (This post was last modified: 03-06-2016 06:51 AM by goodwithoutgod.)
Who is your daddy jesus?
The genealogies of Jesus present a particularly embarrassing example of why the gospel writers are not reliable historians. Matthew gives a genealogy of Jesus consisting of 28 names from David down to Joseph. Luke gives a reverse genealogy of Jesus consisting of 43 names from Joseph back to David. They each purport to prove that Jesus is of royal blood, though neither of them explains why Joseph genealogy is even relevant if he was not Jesus' father: remember, according to the story Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and the Holy Ghost. Matthew's line goes from David's son Solomon, while Luke's goes from David's son Nathan. The two genealogies could not have been the same person.

Another problem is that Luke's genealogy of Jesus goes through Nathan, which was not the royal line. Nor could Matthew's genealogy be the Royal line after Jeconiah because the divine prophecy says of Jeconiah that "no man of his seed shall prosper sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Judah." (Jeremiah 22:30)

Even if Luke's line is truly through Mary, Luke reports that Mary was a cousin to Elizabeth, who was of the tribe of Levi, not the royal line. All of which is irrelevant as according to the fable; god was the father, not Joseph. The anonymous authors were desperate to establish a royal line to fulfill the “prophesy”…it seems making it up as you go was a popular concept back then.

According to Christian teachings, Jesus had only a human Jewish mother, and was not related to Joseph. A human Jewish father, however is essential for anyone to be a legitimate heir to the throne of David, which the real messiah will be.

Mary’s genealogy is completely irrelevant to Jesus’ supposed lineage to King David. For good reason, nowhere in the New Testament is Mary’s genealogy recorded. As mentioned above, matrilineal ancestry is irrelevant to tribe identification. Both the first chapter of Matthew and in the third chapter of Luke contain a putative genealogy of Joseph alone. Although these two genealogies completely contradict each other, neither suggests that Mary was a descendant of king of David. Joseph’s genealogy is irrelevant to Jesus because according to two out of four Gospels claim that Joseph was not Jesus’ father. The author of the Book of Mark, the earliest of the four Gospels, knows nothing of a virgin birth, and accordingly, begins his book with the baptism of Jesus. The Book of John contains no infancy narrative.

It should be noted that both Catholic and Protestant traditions hold that whereas Matthew’s genealogy is that of Joseph, Luke’s genealogy is of Mary. Although this tradition is nowhere to be found in the New Testament, it was a necessary doctrine for the Church to adopt.

Nowhere in the third Gospel, or in the entire New Testament, for that matter, is there a claim that Mary was a descendant of the House of David. On the contrary, Luke plainly asserts that it is Joseph who was from the House of David, not Mary.

"To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary." (Luke 1:27)

In fact, Luke claims that Mary was the cousin of Elizabeth, who he says was a descendant of Aaron the high priest, placing her in the tribe of Levi, not David’s tribe of Judah. Moreover, in Luke 2:4, the author writes that the reason it was necessary for Joseph and Mary to return to Bethlehem was because it was Joseph, not Mary, who was from the House of David. uhoh.

"And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David." (Luke 2:4)

There are a number of reasons why the Church sought to claim that Luke’s genealogy of Jesus is traced through Mary’s line. To begin with, Paul claims in Romans 1:3 that Jesus was from the seed of David after the flesh. This has always been understood to mean that Paul was claiming that King David was the biological ancestor of Jesus. At the time when Paul penned the Book of Romans, he was completely unaware that Christendom would eventually claim that Jesus was born of a virgin. Consequently, the Church desperately needed Paul’s statement to correlate with the virgin-birth story.

This dilemma was solved by the assertion that whereas Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus was traced through Joseph’s line, Luke’s genealogy of Jesus was through Mary’s lineage. In this way, Jesus could now be from the seed of David after the flesh through Luke’s genealogy. Likewise, establishing Mary’s lineage to King David, Luke’s genealogy ostensibly solves the problem of what to do with Romans 1:3 (Paul), and enables the Church to claim a physical link between Jesus and King David.

Finally, it seeks to resolve an awkward discrepancy between the conflicting genealogies contained in the books of Matthew and Luke. Whereas in Matthew’s genealogy, Joseph’s father is Jacob, in Luke’s genealogy it is Heli. By claiming that Luke’s genealogy is of Mary, Heli becomes Mary’s father and Joseph’s father-in-law.

Sadly, Christendom’s far-fetched resolution to the Gospel’s conflicting genealogies has satisfied the unlettered minds of billions of parishioners worldwide.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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14-11-2015, 08:16 PM
Anonymously written gospels
I have long posited the fact that the gospels were not written by their namesakes. This has been proven to exhaustive detail by evidence I have previously provided. But lets look at more information which continues to support these facts...

The Catholic Encyclopedia (1909) says about the four gospels. "The first four historical books of the New Testament are supplied with titles (Euaggelion kata Matthaion, Euaggelion kata Markon, etc.), which, however ancient, do not go back to the respective authors of those sacred writings. It thus appears that the present titles of the Gospels are not traceable to the Evangelists themselves.”

"These Gospels are anonymous. They do not purport to have been written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Their titles do not affirm it. They appeared anonymously. The titles placed above them in our Bibles owe their origin to a later ecclesiastical tradition which deserves no confidence whatever." -Rev. Dr. Hooykaas (Bible for Learners, Vol. III, p. 24).

"There have been a number of theories put forth over the years. Possibly the most popular one (at least it’s the one I’ve heard most often) is that the Gospel writers thought that what was most important was the message they wanted to convey about the life, teachings, deeds, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The authors did not want their own persons to “get in the way” of the message, and so they wrote their Gospels anonymously." - Bart D. Ehrman - American New Testament scholar, currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"All four Gospels are anonymous. The traditional names - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - did not become associated with these writings until the second century. In the early centuries of Christianity, our four Gospels coexisted with a number of other Christian writings, many of which have not been preserved. Finally, the Synod of Carthage adopted the present twenty-seven New Testament books, including the four Gospels, as the canon of the New Testament in the year 397." - Christian Bible Reference Site

“Neither the evangelists nor their first readers engaged in historical analysis. Their aim was to confirm Christian faith (Lk 1.4; Jn 20.31). Scholars generally agree that the Gospels were written forty to sixty years after the death of Jesus. They thus do not present eyewitness or contemporary accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings.” - Oxford Annotated Bible

“Because our surviving Greek manuscripts provide such a wide variety of (different) titles for the Gospels, textual scholars have long realized that their familiar names do no go back to a single ‘original’ title, but were added by later scribes.” - Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium

"Even though the Gospels go under the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, they were, in fact, written anonymously. These names first appeared in the second century and were assigned to the anonymous writings to give the writings apostolic authority. The Gospel of Mark was written before any of the other canonical gospels and was written after the fall of the second temple which occurred in 70 CE."

"The canonical gospels upon which the Christian faith is built, the ones which present the words of Jesus are writings by unknown authors writing to buttress the particular points they wished to make. The quotations allegedly from Jesus were most likely, made up by the authors to support their positions.

1. The titles in our English Bibles are later additions; they are not original to the Gospels themselves.
2. The Gospel narratives are always written in the third person.
3. The tradition that they were written by two disciples (Matthew and John) and by two companions of the apostles (Mark and Luke) is first attested in the 2nd century!
4. What we can say for certain about the authors is that they were all highly educated, literate, Greek-speaking Christians of at least the second generation, contrast this with the apostles of Jesus, who were uneducated, lower class, illiterate, Aramaic-speaking peasants."

“One of the most amazing and perplexing features of mainstream Christianity is that seminarians who learn the historical-critical method in their Bible classes appear to forget all about it when it comes time for them to be pastors. They are taught critical approaches to Scripture, they learn about the discrepancies and contradictions, they discover all sorts of historical errors and mistakes, they come to realize that it is difficult to know whether Moses existed or what Jesus actually said and did, they find that there are other books that were at one time considered canonical but that ultimately did not become part of Scripture for example, other Gospels and Apocalypses, they come to recognize that a good number of the books of the Bible are pseudonymous for example, written in the name of an apostle by someone else, like the four gospels, that in fact we don't have the original copies of any of the biblical books but only copies made centuries later, all of which have been altered. They learn all of this, and yet when they enter church ministry they appear to put it back on the shelf. Pastors are, as a rule, reluctant to teach what they learned about the Bible in seminary.” ― Bart D. Ehrman - American New Testament scholar, currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Joke amongst seminary students: "If you still belief in god after you graduate, you haven't been listening."

Food for thought.... Smartass

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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20-02-2016, 10:32 AM (This post was last modified: 20-02-2016 11:40 AM by goodwithoutgod.)
Faith Virus
Faith Virus

Richard Dawkins has written several times about the Virus of Faith. I have always thought this was an accurate analogy, and a brilliant assertion. I have based my version of his "Virus of faith" with a few additions of my own thoughts interwoven. For those that have seen this before, here it is again for your enjoyment. For those of you that haven't, give it a read:

Issue:

Religious people are infected with the self-inflicted mental disease called faith. Faith is a group VI reverse transcribing DNA virus that is responsible for the human mental disorder called religion, which is the chronic form of the lesser affliction called gullibility. Symptoms range widely among the diseased and can include headaches, nausea, suggestibility, lack of reason, hallucinations, paranoia, euphoria, depression, and genocidal tendencies. Humans are the only known host of the virus. Other animals may not have the necessary brain capacity for self-delusion.

Common symptoms:

Paranoia - Sufferers are often convinced someone is watching them.

Delusion/Hallucination - In many instances, delusions start out fairly innocuously, such as attributing a common occurrence to the will of a divine benevolent invisible overlord. Throughout history these attributions have included such things as the rising of the sun, the setting of the sun, the resurrection of his son and the headlines of 'The Sun'. These delusions can quickly progress to the point where people believe they have actually seen this overlord, heard his voice and even drunk the blood of his only child - Jesus. These delusions require steadfast belief in a magical super sky genie that dwells in a transcendental world who is obsessed with his little creations, and is intrusively involved in each one's thoughts, actions, and level of belief in him. Fear of the unknown is often a necessary contributing factor for the host to become fully infected.

Lack of reason - Often one of the saddest parts of the Religion disease is the inability of the infected to form simple logical conclusions from everyday data. Examples include the belief of sufferers that they survived, got helped, got maimed, or won an Oscar because an external overlord was watching. Often they point to their debilitating infection as a direct help, saying that to succeed they had to have "Faith" in themselves.

Genocidal tendencies - While not common in itself, in recent years this symptom appears to be on the rise in certain "Faith" sufferers. This has been traced to an increase in the type "fi" form of the virus, "Faith fi" being Fundamentalis islamica. Paradoxically, this has also caused an increase in type "fc" (Fundamentalis christianica). Research shows that these virus types can work together in a positive feedback loop which is as self-sustaining as it is mutually destructive.

Cure:

Consistent inoculation by copious application of reason, logic, and education have had some success. Unfortunately the cure rate is low as the patient must have the desire to learn, a level of moderate intelligence, and the innate ability to comprehend, compare and contrast evidence versus magic, reality versus transcendental, and fact versus fiction. If the patient is able to do this, and are able to minimize repeated exposure to others infected with faith, then they have a good chance to be cured.

Let's work together to spread the cure.

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"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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02-06-2016, 09:52 PM (This post was last modified: 03-06-2016 08:33 PM by goodwithoutgod.)
Tower of Babel Myth
Tower of Babel Myth

In the fictional book called the Bible is the parable about the building of a tower in Genesis 11:1 –8 (KJV):

1.Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

2.They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.

3 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

4 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.

5 And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.

6 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”

7 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city.

8 Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.


The purpose of this parable was to make an attempt to explain the origins of the world’s distinctly different languages. Before we go forward, reread those eight passages from Genesis. It seems that the universe, and life creating Christian God was worried that the people could work together and achieve anything (Gen 11:5), and so God said, “let US…..” Now wait a minute, what us? Anyway, let “us” go confuse their language so they cannot communicate, and then he scattered them all over the globe. Allow me to pause while I roll my eyes. So the omniscient God was concerned that his human playthings would become Omnipotent as well because they were building a tower into the sky in a Hubris attempt to defy god…

However, let us remember that the purpose of god creating different languages was so that they could not communicate with each other. One small problem dear readers; the Tower of Babel was built approximately 106 years after the flood. According to biblical tradition, the global flood occurred 2349 BCE. So that puts the Tower of Babel being built about 2243 BCE. Unfortunately, multiple languages existed around 3000 BCE, which kind of creates a problem for the story. I find it amusing that even the Bible admits there are multiple languages before the Tower of Babel parable. Genesis 10:5, 20, and 31 all mention different languages (Wells, 2013, p.15).

Another small problem, of course, is one that I pointed out during my flood debunking post; the re-population problem. According to the Bible, in 2349 BCE the entire world was flooded, with the exception of eight people in the ark. It is mathematically impossible for eight people to repopulate the earth in 106 years to have enough people to embark on such an architectural endeavor. It is estimated that it took 30,000 people to build a pyramid, surely it would take that many to build the tower of Babel. That small issue is the least of the concerns for those who believe the story is true. Of course, biblical tradition also says that the Pentateuch was authored by Moses. I will do a deep crawl into the myth of Moses later in another post. Examination of the Pentateuch reflects at least four sources. These sources are called: J, E, P and D.

The J source is also referred to as the Yahwist or Jahwist. The term Yahwist refers to the anonymous author’s usage of the word Yahweh or Hebrew YHWH to describe God. In-depth analysis of the linguistic evidence reflects that the author was not aware of the fall of the kingdom of Israel, nor of the dispersion of northern tribes, which suggests that J was written about 760- 800 BCE.

The E source gets its name from Elohim, which is a Hebrew and Canaanite term for the gods. The E source was a compilation of various stories and traditions about biblical Israel written after the fall of the northern kingdom in 722 BCE.

The P source gets its name from its characteristic priestly elements. This source was mostly concerned with priestly matters; ritual law, origins of shrines, genealogies, etc. Composition analysis has led to the conclusion that it was constructed between 571-486 BCE.

The D source, or Deuteronomist, has elements which reflect that it was a written compilation of a school of thought, rather than the work of a single author. This source was the product of a convoluted and complex process from multiple sources, spanning from the seventh century BCE to the early fifth century BCE.

Now where did the authors come up with the Tower of Babel parable? Like most stories of the Bible: from earlier fabricated myths from older civilizations. The Sumerian myth Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta is a 21st century BCE story written in the Neo-Sumerian period that describes the confusion of languages and constructing of tall temples. “Enki, the lord of abundance and steadfast decisions, the wise and knowing Lord of the Land, the expert of the gods, chosen for wisdom, the lord of Eridug, shall change the speech in their mouths” (Kramer, 1986). In many other ancient cultural myths, wicked men building a tower to pursue the creator-God was a popular story.

Literal belief that the Tower of Babel was the source of the world’s linguistic variety is considered pseudo-linguistics, as that belief is contrary to known facts and evidence about the origin and history of languages (Pennock, 2000). Languages did not pop into existence all at once all over the earth. There is an evidentiary trail that shows the evolution of language through time. Furthermore, recent discoveries through the excavation of sites of Egyptian and Levantine peoples have unearthed thousands of texts. From these discoveries, we now know that many of the stories in the Pentateuch represent not actual history, but mythology found in older cultures. The biblical myths that have counterparts in these earlier cultures include the Creation story, the Garden of Eden, the Tower of Babel, Noah’s Ark, Abraham’s Trial, Jacob’s Ladder, the Exodus, Job’s Trial, and Samson and Delilah (Doane, 1882).

So in summary, yet another magic story of the Bible is found to be based on popular cultural stories and myths passed down from other ancient civilizations. Again, I remind the reader that in ancient times storytelling was the most popular source of entertainment. The charismatic storyteller who weaves a tale of gods and men, magic and fear, embellished with a sprinkling of people, places, and events of ancient lore are sure to draw a crowd. Upon each retelling, the story grows and becomes a life of its own. People love to tell stories, and retell them and embellish them. Such is the historicity of the Tower of Babel. Myth.

References:
Bible. (2011). Bible. King James Version. Oxford: Oxford University press, Inc.

Doane, T. (1882). Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions. Montana: Kessinger Publishing Company.

Kramer, S. (1986). The Babel of Tongues: A Sumerian Version. Journal of the American Oriental Society. 88 (1) pp. 108-111.

Pennock, R. (2000). Tower of Babel: The Evidence against the New Creationism. New York, NY: Bradford Books.

Wells, S. (2013). The skeptics annotated Bible. New York. SAB Books, LLC.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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