Saturday, April 17, 2010

Chapter 27 - When you die, you die

Rather, "Chapter 27 - Why atheism renders life absurd."

Death is a central feature of every human life. As we live, we know that we will die.

For some reason, many people find death terrifying and mystifying. Throughout the ages this terror has been a constant. You can go all the way back to the Neanderthals and find that they buried their dead. They even placed flowers and other artifacts in the grave. This was happening tens of thousands of years ago. Obviously death has been a very big deal for a very long time.

The central feature of the Christian faith, therefore, is "eternal life." In John 3:16 we find the signature verse of Christianity on this topic:

    "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

By believing in Jesus, you can have life everlasting. This is the promise of Christianity.

If you are terrified by the idea of death, you can imagine that the promise of "eternal life" is quite compelling. This is one of the fundamental reasons why so many people turn to religion. However, most people who make educated conversions to Christianity do not do it because of fear of death.

There is only one problem: "eternal life" is a fabrication. The Bible is a fictional book written by primitive men (see section 2), so its promise of eternal life is make-believe. As always, trying to put the Bible into one literary genre (fiction) is misleading, and merely because a document is written by "primitive men" doesn't prohibit it from making truth claims, as you clearly know.

The reality of the human condition is quite simple, and it is this: the time that we have on earth is all the time that we have. Which means that our lives are completely insignificant. You'll see why later. For many people this idea is terrifying, but it is a fact of life:
  1. There is neither heaven nor hell. These two places are fairy tale worlds that spring from the human imagination.
  2. You do not have an "everlasting soul." The concept of a soul is completely imaginary.
  3. People do not have "eternal life" after their deaths. The whole notion of eternal life is a fantasy.
  4. People do not meet back up with dead friends and family members in the afterlife, nor is there any reincarnation.
  5. There are not 72 virgins waiting for you in heaven if you martyr yourself in a suicide bombing.
  6. And so on...
You are right. If atheism is true, all of these statements are also true. Conversely, what is also true is that our lives are but a spark in the span of infinity, lived for a brief moment on an uncaring planet in a random sector of a vast, uncaring universe.

All of it is imaginary. The truth is this simple: When you die, you die. And all meaning and significance you added to the world, whatever you might have deluded yourself into thinking you were adding, dies with you. After a few generations, nobody will remember you anymore, and whatever you did doesn't really make any difference at all.

Some people have a tremendous amount of trouble getting their arms around this fact of life. Chances are that you have heard about "eternal life" and your "everlasting soul" since you were a toddler. Heaven is as deeply ingrained in you as is your native language. Nonetheless, "everlasting life" is imaginary. Let's look at the evidence so that you can better understand this. So we're actually going to use evidence to prove that there is no life after death, or just assert things based on your conclusions about the Bible?

Understanding the chemistry of life

It should be obvious to all of us that "eternal life" is imaginary. Sorry, but it isn't. Simply by understanding the chemistry of life you can see why life after death is impossible.

To understand how death works, we can start with a bacterium cell. A bacterium is a tiny bag (a cell membrane) filled with a variety of molecules. These molecules react together in different ways to create what we call life. Some of the molecules react to build and repair the cell wall. Some of the molecules react in ways that allow the cell to move. Some of the molecules react to provide energy to the cell. And so on. A bacterium cell is a little chemical machine. Yes, we know. What's the point?

One of the molecules inside a bacterium cell is a long DNA strand. There are molecules floating around the DNA strand that are able to copy parts of the DNA to manufacture new molecules that the cell needs.

Although all of these molecules are reacting in fascinating, interlocking ways, they are still nothing more than chemicals reacting. The "miracle of life" is no miracle -- it is a big chemical reaction. Which does not necessarily follow. But we'll get into this.

Let's say that a foreign molecule gets into the bacterium cell and it gums up a part of the DNA chemistry. Or let's say that something damages the DNA strand in the bacterium so the cell can no longer manufacture an important molecule that it needs. Eventually the chemical reactions inside the bacterium will stop. The cell "dies." Its cell wall breaks down and bursts. All of the chemicals inside the cell float away and the bacterium ceases to exist.

A bacterium is nothing but a set of chemical reactions. When those reactions stop, the cell is dead.

Now here is the question: When the bacterium dies, does it go to heaven? I really hope you're not going to work up from the bottom, as if a bacterium is just as significant as a human.

I know what you are thinking: "Does it go to heaven??? Of course not!!!" Actually, what I'm thinking is closer to this: "Saying that a bacterium doesn't have a soul or doesn't go to heaven doesn't say anything about whether we do or not, because were are incredibly more complex as a form of life." It does not matter who you are -- religious or not. There are not many people in the United States who believe that bacteria go to heaven. The Bible does not talk about heaven being filled with all the disease, putrefaction and pestilence that bacteria cause. And what, exactly, would go to heaven? Do all of the bacterium's molecules get transported to heaven so that they can keep reacting? If that were happening, there would be thousands of tons of chemicals leaving earth every day. Obviously bacteria do not go to heaven. "Obviously?" Everything has to be "obvious" with you, even on a topic that we know so little about as Heaven. My guess is that you don't know for sure either, since you've never been to Heaven, and there is very little evidence on the table either way. So why should I merely take your word for it here?

Next let's look at a mosquito. A mosquito is much more complex than a bacterium cell. For one thing, a mosquito is a multi-cellular insect with some amazing (though annoying) capabilities. But if you look at each cell in a mosquito, it is very much like a bacterium in its basic functioning. A cell in a mosquito is a fascinating series of DNA-based chemical reactions -- nothing more. When those chemical reactions cease, the mosquito dies.

Mosquitoes obviously do not go to heaven. Think of how many mosquitoes have lived and died over the course of millions of years. No one imagines heaven being full of septillions of everlasting mosquitoes. You still haven't explained why this is "obvious." You also continue to argue that both mosquitoes and bacterium would be going to the same Heaven that you and I would, but neither you or I have any idea that this is the case. The problem for you, then, is to explain it to be so, because it is a central part of your argument; if Christians can't imagine mosquitoes being in Heaven, it plays into your hand, doesn't it?

What about a mouse? Ditto. Mouse cells are little chemical factories churning away. They are fascinating, but they are soulless and inert. Mice do not go to heaven -- if they did, then heaven would be overrun with quadrillions of mice. So God creates a separate Mouse Heaven. It's certainly within his capacity, as an omnipotent being. So what happens to your argument then?

What about dogs? Lots of vets and pet owners would argue with you here, but dogs do not go to heaven either. When they die, they die.

What about chimps -- the closest living relatives to humans? Ditto.

So what about humans?

The human body is nothing but a set of chemical reactions.
And this does not necessarily follow. The fact that there are "chemicals reacting" in our DNA does NOT mean that all of life can be reducible to chemical reactions. The fact that you argue this based on the complexity of a bacterium is really embarrassing, not logical. The chemical reactions powering a human life are no different from the reactions powering the life of a bacterium, a mosquito, a mouse, a dog or a chimp. I really doubt that this is true. When a human being dies, the chemical reactions stop. There is no "soul" mixed in with the chemicals, just like there is no soul in a bacterium, a mosquito, a mouse, a dog or a chimp. There is no afterlife, no heaven or hell, for the chemicals that make up a human body. Anyone outside the atheist delusion bubble can clearly see the problem in comparing the significance of the life of a bacterium to the significance of the life of a human being.

This concept -- this idea that a human being simply ceases to exist upon death -- drives many people absolutely nuts. They cannot imagine it. I can. It's not difficult. "Me? Die? I am going to totally cease to exist? All my thoughts, all my experiences, all my relationships, all of my ideas and memories... It all simply vanishes and I am gone? Impossible!!!"

Nonetheless, that is the reality of the situation.

You are a collection of chemical reactions. And you have really done nothing to determine that we are only a collection of chemical reactions. I was promised evidence, not bare assertion. When these chemical reactions cease, you die. When you die, "you" cease to exist. Imagining eternal life and creating a fantasy called "heaven" does not change anything. When you die, you are dead. Yes, you've repeated yourself quite enough. I'm still waiting for the evidence.

Talking to Christians

If you talk to a Christian about the reality of death, you can clearly understand that the notion of heaven and everlasting life is imaginary. Yes, please examine this stupid Christian I made up and reaffirm your own delusion because of it. Each conversation will be different, but a typical conversation might go something like this:
    Christian: What you are saying is completely devoid of hope! Jesus transcends death and promises eternal life to all who believe in him! Lift up your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ and he will give you eternal life!

    Bright: Hey guys! It's been a while!

    Norm: OK, how will he do that?

    Christian: Have you ever read the book called "Left Behind?"

    Norm: No.

    Bright: I actually avoid that series. If we're going to be talking about what happens after I die, I'd prefer "Life After Death: The Evidence" by Dinesh D'Souza.

    Christian: You should! They have sold over 20 million copies of the book, because it is the truth! It describes exactly what will happen. One day the Lord Jesus calls his children home, and they are carried straight to heaven! Airplanes crash because their pilots have vanished. Cars run into phone poles. This is exactly what is described in the Bible.

    Bright: Right, Chris, but you're talking about the Rapture, not about basic afterlife principles.

    Norm: The people completely vanish?

    Christian: Yes. All that is left behind is their clothes, their jewelry and their hearing aids! The believers are transported directly to heaven!

    Norm: Their naked bodies are transported to heaven?

    Christian: Yes!

    Norm: There are six billion people on the planet. They each weigh about 150 pounds or so. Are you telling me that God lifts a trillion pounds of human flesh off the planet in an instant?

    Bright: Are you trying to say that this would be difficult for an omnipotent being that created the entire universe?

    Christian: Absolutely not! Only the believers are transported!

    Norm: OK, half a trillion pounds?

    Christian: Yes!

    Norm: And where does this half a trillion pounds of flesh go?

    Christian: To heaven!

    Norm: To heaven... where is that?

    Christian: It is in another dimension, of course! God lives in heaven!

    Bright: Another dimension? I don't know. Chris, I think you should stick with, "Well, I don't know exactly where it is," because you don't.

    Norm: How do all the bodies get to this "other dimension" called "heaven"? Do they float up into the sky and then travel through the vacuum of space?

    Bright: Regardless of the manner that it occurs, I figure that an omnipotent being would be able to make it happen. But we're still not talking about life after death. We're talking about the end times.

    Christian: No, silly! They are dematerialized and then rematerialize in heaven!

    Norm: So you are saying that half a trillion pounds of naked human flesh are somehow "dematerialized" out of our universe, and then they "rematerialize" in "another dimension" called "heaven?" And the "dematerializing" process somehow distinguishes between natural human flesh and unnatural things like clothing and hearing aids?

    Christian: Yes!

    Norm: So... what if the person has artificial heart valves, a couple of stents and two titanium hip joints? Are those ripped out of his body and left behind with his jewelry?

    Christian: Yes!

    Norm: And what happens to that poor person, whose heart collapses and whose legs are now flopping around detached from his pelvis?

    Bright: Come on, Norm. Use your brain. Do you think that restoring their body would be too hard for an omnipotent being who is said to heal all sorts of ailments in scripture?

    Christian: The book doesn't really talk about that... I imagine God would fix them up!

    Norm: And what about all the people whose bodies are wracked with cancer and AIDS and emphysema?

    Christian: God fixes them all up too!

    Norm: And what about all the decrepit 80-year-old bodies?

    Christian: God gives them new, young, beautiful bodies!

    Bright: Well, we don't really know what happens to 80-year-olds. Maybe they get to choose what age they want to be. I don't know.

    Norm: And what about all the people whose bodies have died and decomposed?

    Christian: God gives them young, new, beautiful bodies too!

    Norm: So why bother transporting the bodies of the believers to heaven? Why not just give everyone a new, young, beautiful body and leave their old bodies on earth?

    Christian: The Bible says that your body is transported to heaven! It is right there in black and white in the "Left Behind" books! That is God's will!

    Norm: OK, so heaven is full of people whose bodies or corpses or whatever have been "dematerialized" from earth, and then "rematerialized" in "heaven." And then the dematerialized/rematerialized bodies are discarded, and they are replaced with new, young, beautiful bodies?

    Christian: Yes! Now you understand the power of the Lord Jesus Christ!

    Norm: What happens next?

    Christian: The believers all live in heaven in peace, harmony and joy for eternity!

    Norm: What is heaven like?

    Christian: We get to reunite with all of our dead friends and family members! We get to meet our ancestors for the first time!

    Norm: Really?

    Christian: Absolutely!

    Norm: What about people like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin?

    Christian: Everyone is there! You can talk to anyone all through history! Plus you get to meet God and Jesus. I can't wait to meet Jesus!

    Norm: That sounds like fun. What else?

    Christian: Well, the streets are paved in gold! It says so in the Bible! And everyone has a big house! And you can eat whatever you want and not get fat! And really, you just do anything that makes you happy! Everyone is always happy!

    Bright: Now we're just getting ridiculous.

And so on.

Simply talk to Christians about heaven. Ask them to describe what heaven is like, and how they will get there. You will be able to feel the absurdity of this notion in two different ways:
  1. There is the direct absurdity as in the dialog above, where the creation of entirely new and completely imaginary "dimensions" and "materialization processes" tells you everything you need to know about how delusional things can get. There might be "direct absurdity," but that's because you wrote it. You are in control of what the Christian says. I don't know any Christian who speaks about "materialization," for example. That's your invention.
  2. There is also the absurdity that comes when you compare any two people's views of heaven. Everyone's fabrication of heaven is different. For some it involves harps and clouds and halos. For others it involves hot and cold running virgins. Hot and cold running virgins? Is this a typo of some sort? For some people, the actual body is transported magically to heaven as described in the "Left Behind" books. For others, your "soul" floats out of the body and makes it way to St. Peter. And so on. People make up anything they like, because heaven is a completely imaginary place. The fact that there are lots of different conceptions about Heaven does not disprove that any of them are true. That sort of logic is extremely fallacious.
After listening to three or four explanations of heaven, the message will come through loud and clear. Heaven is a fairy tale invented by human imagination. And each person's fairy tale is different. Yes, and this is evidence. Please.

We imagine that we have "souls," fabricate the concept of "eternal life" and then fantasize a place called "heaven," complete with streets of gold, calorie-free foods, frolicking virgins and whatever else we can come up with. Christians imagine it so vividly and repeat the fantasy so often that they actually believe it to be reality. Evidence? Please? Just a smidgen?

How bizarre can the fantasies get? Fly to Cairo and take a look at the Great Pyramid. There is the pyramid itself -- still one of the largest man-made objects on earth. In addition there is the whole mummification process, the disassembled boats, the sacred artwork and so on. All of this was designed to help the pharaoh reach the afterlife. We look at it now and we all know, with absolute certainty, that it was a complete and total waste of time. Woah, really? This has been empirically proven? The Egyptian notion of the afterlife was a fantasy.

The Christian notion of the afterlife is a fantasy in exactly the same way.

Right, wonderful use of logic there. Because one concept of A is false, all concepts of A must also be false. Just like when you used a faulty source like The Da Vinci Code, all sources you used must therefore be false.

The fact is that, at a biochemical level, we are no different from mosquitoes. *spits out drink from laughter* The chemical substrate that supports human life is exactly the same as the chemical substrate that supports mosquito life. Neither humans nor mosquitoes go to heaven. Come now, Brain. This isn't an argument.

The big difference between a human and a mosquito is the fact that humans have the brainpower to imagine a place called heaven. The fact that we can imagine heaven, however, does not mean that it exists. If you think about whatever your fantasy world of heaven looks like in your brain, you will realize that it is just as strange and ridiculous as the version of heaven outlined in the dialog above. It is also as ridiculous as the Great Pyramid. None of these heavens exist. Are you going to factually support these claims, or are you just giving us assertions yet again?

See, it's ironic that you set out at the beginning of this by requesting that we look at the evidence. All that you did, however, was use a bunch of broken analogies. That's not being responsible. That isn't considering any of the other legitimate evidences for the afterlife that have been presented.

The fact that death is an uncomfortable notion does not change its reality. If you don't like the idea of dying, you can create whatever fairy tales that you would like. People have been creating all sorts of fairy tales for thousands of years -- This is where religion comes from. But those fairy tales do not change the central reality that surrounds death.

When you die, you die. You do not live on in the "afterlife." Pouting over this fact, or getting depressed, or imagining places like heaven does not change the basic fact that you are big, walking chemical reaction. When the reaction stops, you are completely dead. There is no everlasting soul mixed in with the chemicals. I feel like you're scolding us now. How stupid you are for finding comfort in one of the many doctrinal ideas of Christianity.

The Horror of Death

You can better understand how uncomfortable death is if you look at the reaction of a child. In my household, this discomfort first surfaced with the death of Hamsty. Let me tell you about Hamsty, because his story illustrates a central point about death.

Hamsty, as you might have guessed, was a hamster. I have four children, and at the time of Hamsty's death they were ages 7 (David), 4 (Irena) and 2 (John and Ian). Hamsty was their pet. He lived in a deluxe two-bedroom hamster condominium in the kids' playroom. The kids loved Hamsty -- they would feed him, change his water, watch him, take him out of his cage to play with him and so on.

Hamsty, being a small rodent, had a limited lifespan. One day he got sick. The next day we found him dead. He had died peacefully in his sleep in his upper penthouse sleeping quarters.

The twins were apoplectic once they realized what had happened. This truly surprised me. What were you expecting? Joy? They ran around the house crying "Hamsty died!" over and over again. Every time they were reminded of it, the chorus would start anew. They fell asleep crying about Hamsty's death, but by the next day they had stabilized.

Far more interesting, however, was Irena's response. Irena loves pets and would have hundreds if we let her. She has a video called "Paws, claws, feathers and fins" that she has watched dozens of times. On this video, kids talk about their pets, show what is necessary to properly care for different kinds of pets, and so on.

PCFF happens to have a segment where a small pet dies. The kids in the video put him in a little box and bury him in the backyard. Irena had seen this segment so many times, and she wanted to bury Hamsty in a similar way. I'm surprised at you, Marshall Brain. You didn't inform your child of the delusion that she was buying into, or that this was a bronze age custom that had no place in modern society? Shame on you for perpetuating her delusions.

Irena and I found a small jewelry box. We placed Hamsty gently in the box and put the lid on. She asked if she could pat him, and I took the lid off so she could pat him one last time, which she did very gently. And she seemed fine with it. We found a trowel, and we went out to the backyard and dug a hole. As I was about to put Hamsty in the hole she asked to pat him again. She patted him very gently, and again she seemed fine with it. I put Hamsty in the hole and asked Irena if she wanted to put the dirt back into the hole. She did not, so I did.

Keep in mind that Irena was four years old, and four-year-olds are famous for asking lots of questions. As I was burying Hamsty, she asked me a question: "Can I pat Hamsty tomorrow?"

    Me: Well, no, probably not.

    Irena: Why not?

    Me: Well, usually, once you bury someone you don't dig them back up. We call it respecting the dead.

    Irena: Why?

    Me: Well, for one thing, a dead body turns back to dust, so there really isn't much to dig back up. Hamsty will turn to dust.

    Irena: Why will he turn to dust?

    Me: Everything living turns to dust when it dies. Worms will eat him, bacteria will eat him. He will decompose and turn to dust.

    Irena: Will it hurt? Won't that hurt?

    Me: Well, no, Hamsty is dead, so he won't feel anything.

Irena looked at me for a long time, and you could see the little wheels in her head turning. The next question she asked sort of surprised me though.
    Irena: Is grandpa going to die?

    Me: Yes, he is. Everyone dies eventually.

    Irena: Will worms eat him?

    Me: Yes, Grandpa's body will turn to dust.

She paused as the wheels in her head turned some more.
    Irena: Are you going to die?

    Me: Yes, I will die. But it won't be for a lot of years.

    Irena: Will worms eat you?

    Me: Yes, they will.

Irena paused for a long time and then asked the obvious next question:
    Irena: Will I die?

    Me: Yes. Everyone dies.

    Irena: And worms will eat me? I don't want to be eaten by worms! I don't want to be buried in the ground!

We talked about it for a long time. We eventually ended up getting in the car and driving to a nearby cemetery so that she could see what happens to people when they die. We looked at many grave markers and tombs, and talked about the different stories that lay before us. For example, we found Hilda Sesom's grave marker. Hilda had lived for just a month before she died in 1928. We talked about what might have happened to Hilda, and how sad her parents would have been. I instructed her that Hilda is dead, and that no religious idea of her having an afterlife was true. I instructed her to never listen to religious people.

What you can see here is important. The thought of dying is a remarkably troubling concept. How can it be that a person like Grandpa, who has decades of memories, hundreds of close friends, a large, happy family and seven grandkids who love him dearly -- how can it be that in a moment, all of that is gone? One minute Grandpa is alive. The next minute he is gone, and everything stored in his brain is lost. We are never going to see him again.
Seems to me that it's only troubling if you're an atheist. I will see my grandparents again when they die.

That is troubling enough, but it is when Irena turned that logic on herself and realized her own mortality that it became truly uncomfortable for her. What went through her little head is simple. How can it be that I will die? How can it be that my body will turn to dust?

Even at age four she was able to put the pieces together, and she found that thought to be uncomfortable. For many people, the thought is so uncomfortable that it is impossible to imagine.

Many adults never outgrow their childhood fear of death. Because the thought of death is so distressing to some people, it is not surprising that they try to invent a way out. The fairy tale that Christians have invented is called heaven, and they have also formulated the concept of eternal life. And of course, if you are going to be transported to an eternal spa/resort in the sky, there needs to be someone to manage the place and keep the peace. That is where God comes in.
I don't know a single Christian that actually found their way to faith in this way. Not even one. But even if there were, it would still be the genetic fallacy to try and argue that the notion of Heaven is invalid because of the way they came to believe it. This is a basic rule of logic, Mr. Brain.

Think about it. Who wants to have eternal life if it is just like life here on earth? In no one's conception of heaven is there murder, rape, incest, burglary, muggings, political backstabbing, office politics, gossip, rumor, PMS, arguments, anger, discontent or disease. Heaven is free of bacterium and mosquitoes and rapists. Somehow, in heaven, everyone is beautiful and everyone is always happy. God is there to cast the bad apples into hell (another invention), and he is also there to keep the peace.

Christians fabricate all of this out of thin air. What if I told you that your own conception of the afterlife was fabricated out of thin air as well? We have about the same to go on. Their heaven and their hell and their God are completely imaginary. The Christian fabrications are, of course, entirely different from the heaven and God of all other religions, because all of them are imaginary. Egyptians believed something silly involving pyramids and sun gods and so on. Greeks believed in the river Styx and Hades and so on. Muslims believe in their 72 virgins and so on [ref]. It is all gibberish, but people believe in their fantasies quite passionately.

Even grown adults who should know better believe in these fantasies, and will go to incredible lengths to rationalize them. Yep, you're scolding again. In his book "The Case for Faith," Lee Strobel interviews Norman Geisler, Ph.D. During the interview Dr. Geisler states the following:
    "In sum, everything that God created was good. What changed things was the Fall [Adam and Eve eating the apple]. When God was told, in effect, to shove off, he partially did. Romans 8 says all creation was affected -- that includes plant life, human beings, animals, everything. There were fundamental genetic changes; we see, for instance, how life spans rapidly decreased after the Fall. God's plan was not designed to be this way; it's only this way because of sin."
This is the concept of "original sin." The idea is that, by eating the apple, Adam and Eve infuriated God so much that, as punishment, God changed all living things and made them mortal. For some Christians, this is the explanation of why we die rather than living forever.

Why would an adult with a Ph.D. believe such a silly story? A rather rude way of asking, "Why are so many intelligent people Christians?" Why do Christians and Jews cling to this concept of original sin? Why don't people read the story of Adam and Eve and have a good chuckle, like we do when we read stories about Santa as adults?

It is because original sin tries to explain death, and many adults are incredibly afraid of death. Original sin is one of the Bible's explanations for the fact of life called death. So Christians -- even Christians with Ph.D.s -- cling to it like little children.
The arrogance here really stinks. I mean, I can actually smell it.

We do not die because of Adam and Eve and an apple. We die because we are big, walking chemical reactions. When the chemical reactions cease, we cease. There is no human "soul" mixed in with the chemicals, just like there is no mosquito "soul." When we die, we die. Blah, blah, blah.

Understanding death

From the story in the previous section you can see that the idea of death is disturbing to children. Many adults never outgrow it, so death can also be disturbing to adults -- even to adults with Ph.D.s. These adults, of course, are acting like children. I would know. I'm a "normal, intelligent person."

You are not a child. Imagining a place called "heaven" does not change the central fact about the chemical reactions that drive your cells. You simply need to grow up and face death like an adult, in the same way that you face other childhood traumas.
Stop scolding me. Good grief.

It is quite beneficial to see your mortality for what it is. A week or two from now, when you are thinking like an adult about death, the truth about death will begin to change your self-image and the way that you imagine the future. Religion and its concept of an afterlife skew your thinking by making you believe that you will live forever. You will not. You've got 70 or 80 years if you are lucky, and then you are gone forever.
Christians know this basic fact as well as you do. We know we've only got "70 or 80 years" on this planet, and so we better make the best of it. The afterlife is a fundamentally different sort of existence.

At the simplest level, an understanding of your permanent mortality should help you to realize more clearly how precious your life is. If you live to be 82 years old, what you have is approximately 30,000 days of existence. You are not going to then commute to "heaven" to live for eternity. 30,000 days is all that you've got.

Here are some of the things in your thinking that will change once you understand and accept this simple fact:
  1. Your time on earth becomes much more precious to you. At least until you die. Then, it doesn't matter how precious it was to you, or anyone else after they die. You won't matter anymore.
  2. You begin to realize that everyone else's life is just as precious, and you start looking at them differently. At least until they die. Then they don't matter, and you forget about them.
  3. You think more about what you are leaving behind when you die. Which is basically nothing. After a few generations, all of your stuff will be given away, and everyone will have forgotten about you.
  4. You think more about the human species as a continuum, with yourself as a part of that continuum, and you start thinking about the future of our species and the planet. Yep. Your existence is for one brief moment in the span of human history, and ultimately, your life is incredibly insignificant.
Like it or not, your total experience is here on earth. That realization should make you see a day wasted in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles, or a week wasted preparing your taxes for the IRS, a little differently. All that you have is 30,000 days. Everyone who wastes your time -- every bureaucracy, every long line at the store -- should give you pause. Right. You better hurry and experience all of the things you can, because after you die, nothing will matter.

Act however you want. Burst to the front of the line at the DMV and demand to be served first. After all, after you die, nothing is going to matter. You aren't accountable to anyone who isn't going to die too.

When you die, what is your legacy? What do you leave behind?
  1. Whatever material objects you own, to be given to whomever you like in your will. No one will remember that they are yours after a few years.
  2. Whatever contributions you have made to society as a whole. If you have done research into the cure for cancer, you leave that. If you have written books or made movies, you leave them. If you funded a building at your university, you leave that. And then, after a few generations, you are merely a name written down on a record. Someone might read a Wikipedia article about you out of mind-numbing boredom, but as far as emotional significance, no one will care about you.
  3. Images of you in photographs and video, as well as any letters, writings or recordings. They will all fade and deteriorate so as to be unviewable within a few short generations.
  4. Your children and their memories of you. Your children will soon die as well, and all of your memories will be gone.
  5. The memories you leave with your friends and family. Your family will soon die as well. And then you'll really be gone.
That's it. Now that you understand that your death is final, you may look at those things in a different light.

Right. Death, to the atheist, is merely succuming to natural law. Death is the consequence of existence. Everything you ever did is completely and utterly pointless. After a time, no one will remember anything you did, and none of it matter. Any significance you invented for yourself is gone as quickly as your life ended. It doesn't matter if you live your life as terribly as possible, cheating out others for your own gain, knee-deep in debauchery. There is no God. There is no accountability. All things are permissible, ultimately. You may have to deal with legal consequences, but hey, those people are going to die too.

For a Christian, of course, every action you take is extremely important. Why? Because you are eternally accountable to everything you have ever done. Because there is a just God who wants the best for his children. There is more to existence then the brief spark of life on this planet, and what you do and who you are matters.

© P-Dunn's Apologetics. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Chapter 26 - What does it all mean?

Rather, "Chapter 26 - It means that we must continue doing research."

Let us pause for a moment and review the evidence that we have seen in the prior 25 chapters. I feel like this is what we've already been doing. If God exists, how do we explain all of the different things that we have seen? By realizing that, if God exists, none of these things would disprove God's existence. There is enough independent evidence that suggests that he does to make this meaningless.
  1. How do we explain the death of Neva Rogers? (see Chapter 1) Human negligence, violence, and sin.
  2. How do we explain the 39 houses that were destroyed on Pinecastle Street? (see Chapter 2) Natural disaster.
  3. How do we explain the death of Ranika? (see Chapter 4) Human incompetence.
  4. How do we explain the way that God ignores amputees? (see Chapter 5) God doesn't "ignore" amputees anymore than he ignores anyone whose prayers he refuses to answer positively.
  5. How do we explain the fact that Christians need health insurance? (see Chapter 6) Because Christians want to be able to productively function in society too.
  6. How do we explain the fact that you cannot move a mountain? (see Chapter 7) Because the verses in question are likely not literal, showing clear evidence of hyperbolic language.
  7. How do we explain the fact that bad things consistently happen to good people? (see Chapter 8) Because of human will, and therefore the tendency to sin. That's merely the way things are.
  8. How do we explain God's plan? (see Chapter 8) God's plan is not, and has never been, literally planning out every action that will take place, which would completely remove free will.
  9. How do we explain the fact that Christians who pray have exactly the same odds of winning in Las Vegas as people who don't pray? (see Chapter 9) Because God probably doesn't want to encourage and enable greed, or gambling.
  10. How do we explain the fact that so many people die on battlefields when all of them are praying? (see Chapter 10) Because people die in war. This shouldn't be incredibly surprising.
  11. How do we explain the fact that God is a huge proponent of slavery? (see Chapter 13) By pointing out that the type of slavery in the Old Testament is quite different from the concept of "slavery" that we are more familiar with in the Ancient Near East.
  12. How do we explain God's statement in Exodus 21:20 where he says, "If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod... he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property." How can God encourage humans to beat other humans? (see Chapter 13) Because beating was a form of punishment in the ANE for both slaves and free people.
  13. How do we explain the fact that Exodus 21, where God is telling us it is OK to beat our slaves as long as we do not kill them, is the chapter that immediately follows Exodus 20, where God enumerates the Ten Commandments? Why would we hold up the Ten Commandments as the immutable and sacred word of God, while at the same time knowing that Exodus 21 is ridiculous? (see Chapter 13) Well, because we don't hold up Exodus 21 as ridiculous. We understand it by researching the historical context.
  14. How do we explain the fact that God demands animal and human sacrifice? (see Chapter 14) By pointing out that animal sacrifice has been observed in literally every culture, and by saying that God never "demanded" a human sacrifice.
  15. How do we explain God's hatred of women? (see Chapter 15) By pointing out that his "hatred of women" is imaginary, and that you're poorly interpreting scripture.
  16. How do we explain the fact that God massacres so many children in the Bible? (see Chapter 16) By pointing out the context of each event, showing the true motive and legitimate reason behind the actions, and recognizing when the Bible merely records something as having happened rather than God commanding it.
  17. How do we explain the fact that the Bible is so full of irrelevant, incorrect and useless material? (see Chapter 17) By pointing out that you are a decontextualized bigot who can't understand why if the meaning of something isn't immediately apparent, it it still isn't "irrelevant," etc.
  18. How do we explain the fact that the Bible tells us to kill all homosexuals? (see Chapter 17) By pointing out that this commandment was not given to "us," but to the people who signed on to the covenant, in order to keep the society from dying out, and by also explaining how it's not "homosexuals" who were ordered to be killed, but people who practiced homosexual activity. And believe me, there's a huge difference.
  19. How do we explain the fact that the Bible is supposedly inspired by an all-knowing being, yet the author of the Bible knows no more than the primitive men who wrote it? (see Chapter 17) Well, we would articulate that there's a great deal that appears to be prophetic knowledge in the Bible, but qualify that by saying that the Bible was still written by men.
  20. How do we explain the fact that Jesus never proved that he is God? (see Chapter 19) By asking you to define what you mean by "prove," since apparently walking on water, feeding five thousand or more people with a scrap lunch, and resurrecting from the dead after telling people it would happen wasn't enough.
  21. How do we explain the fact that Jesus has never appeared to anyone after his death? (see Chapter 20) By telling you about the five hundred people who are said to have seen Jesus after his death.
  22. How do we explain the fact that we have to eat Jesus' body and drink his blood? (see Chapter 21) By explaining the difference between literal cannibalism and ritualistic communion.
  23. How do we explain the fact that 10 million children die every year of simple things like starvation? (see Chapter 22) Human greed and apathy.
  24. How do we explain the fact that Jesus -- the all-powerful, prayer-answering creator of the universe -- needs your money? (see Chapter 24) By clearly postulating that God doesn't need a cent, but churches need money to pay the bills.
  25. How do we explain the fact that there are a billion Muslims who think that all the Christians are delusional, and there are two billion Christians who think all the Muslims are delusional? (see Chapter 25) By explaining that we don't actually think anyone is "delusional;" we merely believe that they are mistaken.
How do we answer all of these questions? With careful consideration and evidence.

Here is the thing that I would like to help you understand. If we assume that God exists, then each of these questions presents us with its own individual mystery. I don't see that as being true. None of these have been all that mysterious. I fairly easily answered every one of them. Each question creates a paradox that requires excuses, rationalizations and convoluted explanations. But none of my explanations were any of those. If you think they are, you must demonstrate it to be true rather than merely assert. These paradoxes and rationalizations are extremely uncomfortable because they make no sense. You're not thinking hard enough, then. If we assume that God exists, then God is ridiculous. Because you're not trying even remotely hard enough to understand God.

On the other hand, if we assume that God is imaginary, then all of these questions are very easy to answer. Our world makes complete sense. Actually, these questions may often become more difficult to understand, and the entire rest of the world becomes a huge absurdity.

What you realize, if you take the time to probe into your religion and think about it deeply, is that all of this evidence is telling you something important. It is telling you, clearly and concisely, that God is imaginary.
False, false, a hundred times false. There is so much more evidence outside of this essay here that demonstrates the existence of God.

If you are a Christian, I realize that your immediate reaction may be to completely ignore what you have read here and turn away from it. Rather than turning away, however, I would ask you to examine all of the evidence that you have seen in this book. I have, and you have come up empty. Think about the questions at the top of this page. Give your mind permission to understand what the evidence actually means. I urge you to do the same, then, and allow yourself to admit that you may be making a terrible mistake. Allow your brain to analyze your religion rationally. What you will find is that all of this evidence points in the same direction: God is imaginary. Most of it points in the direction of you being in huge error.

Reviewing the evidence

In this book we have looked at God from many different angles. What we have found is that there is no evidence for God's existence, except the creation of the universe out of nothing, the fine-tuning of the universe, the objective moral values we see in the world, the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, the personal experience of literally billions of people, the logical absolutes that we use to even make these arguments, and the very ontology of God. God does not answer prayers except for the thousands upon thousands of prayers that even people within my inner circle of friends have uttered that have gone radically answered. God did not write the Bible except by inspiring it, which is different from dictation. God has not incarnated himself except in Christ Jesus, and the Holy Spirit which dwells within us. In other words, God is imaginary only if you don't really look around you.

How do we know, for sure, that God does not answer prayers? As described in section 1, we simply pray and watch what happens. Odd. I tried that, and prayer worked. What we find is that nothing happens. No matter how many people pray, no matter how often they pray, no matter how sincerely they pray, no matter how worthy the prayer, nothing ever happens. Except for yesterday, when I prayed for something, and it happened. If we pray for anything that is impossible -- for example, regenerating an amputated limb or moving Mt. Everest to Newark, NJ -- it never happens. Except when people I know prayed for a blind person to receive sight, and they immediately were able to see. We all know that. The idea that "praying for impossible things means they won't happen" should theoretically be a no-brainer, if you think about it. If they're impossible, they are not possible to answer. If we pray for anything that is possible, the results of the prayer will unfold in exact accord with the normal laws of probability. Except the situation above, right? It is easy to demonstrate this fact. For example, if we ask 1,000 devout Christians to pray that a coin toss come up heads, and we then have all one thousand of the Christians flip a coin one time, about 500 of them will see their coins land tails. Have you tried this experiment, or are you merely assuming? If we repeat the experiment, the same thing will happen. Has this been proved, or are you making a guess? In every situation where we statistically analyze the effects of prayers, looking at both the success AND the failure of prayer, we find that prayer has zero effect. Not the case, as there are actual scientific studies that have determined that prayer has had a positive effect. That happens, always, because God is imaginary. Every time a Christian says, "The Lord answered my prayer," what we are seeing instead is a simple coincidence. Somehow I doubt that praying for a girl who is mute and deaf to receive her hearing and speech and having them both suddenly happen is "simple coincidence." Christians never talk about failed prayers, but if we look at all the prayers that fail as well as the prayers that work, a statistical analysis proves that God does not answer prayers. Christians do talk about "failed" prayers. I've heard stories of them all over. But it's usually to demonstrate how what we see as a "failure" ultimately worked out for good. See section 1 for details.

How do we know, for sure, that God did not write the Bible? As discussed in section 2, we simply read the Bible and note how uncomfortable it is in so many places. Being uncomfortable with it makes no logical claim on who the author is. We note that God is a huge proponent of slavery in the Bible, despite our absolute certainty as normal human beings that slavery is a moral abomination. The fact that we can be "absolutely certain" about a moral judgment implies that there are moral absolutes, and therefore that God exists. We note that God is a huge misogynist in the Bible, despite our certainty that misogyny is a moral abomination as well. How do we know this apart from a transcendent moral standard, Mr. Brain? We note that God kills huge numbers of babies and small children in the Bible, and we know that this is both an atrocity and horrifically disgusting. Etc. We note that God, who is supposed to be all-knowing, knows no more than the primitive men who actually wrote the Bible. And so on. Yes, merely repeating yourself ought to make it sink in. Anyone who takes the time to actually read the Bible rapidly reaches the conclusion that the Bible was written by primitive men, not by an all-knowing God. See section 2 for details.

How do we know, for sure, that Jesus was a normal human being? As described in section 3, we can ask this simple question: If a man were to proclaim himself to be the son of God today, what would we do? We would want to see incontrovertible proof. Jesus does not get a pass because he lived 2,000 years ago. We note the fact that none of Jesus' miracles left any lasting evidence. But what does that even mean? For example, even though Jesus proclaimed that anyone can move a mountain, we note that no one -- not even Jesus -- has moved a mountain. Likely because it was a hyperbolic statement, which would be quite clear if anyone else had said it. All of Jesus' miracles are either faith healings or magic tricks, and we all know that faith healers and magicians are frauds. Of course, that statement is so broad and vague, and unsupported, that we can dismiss it immediately. We also note that there is no evidence that Jesus is resurrected except for four early accounts, some by eyewitnesses of the event, a variety of creeds which can be dated back to within a few years of the event, and an unexplainable belief in a resurrection. Jesus could easily appear to each of us in the flesh to prove that he is resurrected, just as he did with Paul the mass murderer who ultimately went on to be responsible for spreading Christianity enough that it still exists today. Yet Jesus never does that because it is completely unnecessary. If he did, there would be thousands of videos floating around on the Web showing Jesus' appearances. There are thousands of videos floating around of miracles happening. Do you believe any of them? We note that Jesus says dozens of things in the Bible that are plainly wrong. Like? We note that even though Jesus is the all-powerful creator of the universe and promises to answer prayers, all of his churches depend on the money of mere mortals to support themselves, which is perfectly understandable given that Christians are not above the law. And so on. It is obvious that Jesus was a man like any other. See section 3 for details.

It is also interesting to note that, by proving any one of these things, we have automatically proven the other two. Are you serious? Do you really believe that by proving Jesus was just a man, we have proved that atheism is true? For example, once we know that the Bible was written by primitive men rather than God, then it is automatic that God does not answer prayers and that Jesus was a completely normal human being. Complete hogwash. Even if the Bible was indeed written by men, that says nothing about the reality of God. That is such a non sequitur. The Bible is the book that tells us about prayer and Jesus, so if the Bible is meaningless then prayer and Jesus are meaningless as well. I honestly don't see how someone could make such a grievous logical fallacy and not realize it. The fact is that we have proven all three things separately. Jesus is not God, the Bible is not the word of God, and God never answers prayers. These three things are true, therefore, both directly and by association. One hundred percent false. There is absolutely no logical connection between them.

Understanding your delusion

In this book there is a tremendous amount of evidence showing us that God is imaginary. You have just seen 25 chapters of good, solid, easily-digested evidence. It is good evidence, it is, it is, it IS good evidence! I'm going to keep saying it until you believe it. It's good evidence! It would be easy to present a hundred more chapters just like them. You tried to make fifty other proofs, but most of them are repeats of this website. The evidence is all around us, so why don't you believe in God?

On the other hand, there is no evidence showing that God is real. Broken record. Broken record. Broken record. A Christian can point to prayer, but it is easy to disprove the efficacy of prayer with statistical analysis (see Section 1). A Christian can point to the Bible, but it is easy to show the myriad problems with the Bible (see Section 2). There is no verifiable evidence for Christians to present. What about philosophical arguments, like the Kalam Cosmological Argument? You never address that here.

Is God real, or is he imaginary? At this point, we have our answer. We can look at all of this evidence and we can see that God is imaginary. Christianity is a delusion. Religion in general is a delusion. Sigh.

I understand that the word "delusion" is uncomfortable because it has strong connotations of mental illness. However, it is the correct word in the English language to use. No, it isn't. The dictionary defines "delusion" in the following way:

    A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence. [ref] But you left out the second half of the definition! What about the part that says, "especially as a symptom of mental illness?" You wouldn't want to insinuate that all Christians are mentally ill, would you?

    Would you?

When I say that religion is a delusion, I am not intending that in an insulting way or a derogatory way. Given the rest of the writing, you are. Instead, I am speaking to you as a friend would. I don't know about your social circle, but most of my friends wouldn't call me "delusional," or insinuate I have mental illness for holding a particular belief. My goal here is not to criticize you for your religious beliefs, but instead to help you to recover from your delusion. Yes, because I'm sick.

I know what you are thinking. If you are a Christian, you are thinking, "I am not delusional. Christ is the way, the truth and the life." What if I could show you your delusion? Haven't you been trying? What if I could hold up a mirror that would allow you to see your own delusion in the reflection? If you would like to clearly see how the delusion of Christianity works, please read Understanding Delusion. Basically, this essay says that because we apparently look at Muslims and think they're delusional, Christians are also delusional because we're just as wrong. But as usual, that isn't demonstrated.

All religion is delusion. With any luck you can see that now, and you can start down the road to recovery -- you can begin the process of healing that will free you from your own personal delusions. Stop calling me mentally ill.

What does it mean?

There are three reasons why it is important for us to speak honestly and openly about the delusion of religion:

  1. Religion truly is a delusion. That's not a reason to speak about it. You told me that there were three reasons for why we should speak about why religion is a delusion. One reason can't be "Because it's a delusion." That's the equivalent of me saying, "We should talk about the stupidity of socialists because they're stupid." By allowing this delusional behavior to persist unchallenged, we do ourselves damage. What damage?
  2. We currently have significant free-speech and free-thinking issues around religion, which means religious people have just as much free speech as you.
  3. It is time for us, as an intelligent species, to understand the reasons why human beings invent religions, and to begin addressing those reasons rationally rather than delusionally. Yes, we must remove religion so we can progress as a species. Because religion is holding us back. Pardon my skepticism.
Each of these points is important. Let's look at them one by one so that we can understand what they mean.

Reason #1: Religion truly is delusional
[It's important to speak about religion being a delusion because it's a delusion.]

Let's start by asking a question: Does it matter? In this book we have proven, conclusively, that God does not answer prayers, that God did not write the Bible and that Jesus is not God. I don't even have to say anything here. In other words, the God of popular religion is imaginary. But does it really matter? What difference does it make if half of the people in the United States want to believe in an imaginary being? What does it hurt?

Let's ignore the danger that can be found in the ashes of 9/11/2001, and the subsequent events in Afghanistan, Iraq, Madrid and London. There are many zealous and misguided Muslims who believe that, through Jihad, they must kill non-Muslims -- Christians and Jews in particular. Let's ignore that.
So now we're talking about Islam, not Christianity, or Jesus, or the Bible.

Let's ignore the ill effects of religion around the world over the last several decades. We have Muslims killing Christians (and vice versa) (vice versa? Not nearly as many, certainly), Jews killing Muslims (and vice versa), Protestants killing Catholics (and vice versa), Shiites killing Sunnis (and vice versa), white people killing black people (and vice versa), Republicans killing Democrats (and vice versa), National Socialists killing Jews (and not vice versa), Communists killing Christians (and not vice versa), etc., etc. All of it is completely pointless, because all human gods are imaginary. But let's ignore all of that killing and destruction. People will kill regardless of the motive, Mr. Brain.

Let's also ignore all of the insanity that religion has brought us through the ages -- the crusades, the witch hunts and all the rest, which has killed maybe a couple million people in the last two thousand years. Kind of like the atomic bomb, which killed a quarter of a million people in a single day. Let's ignore it because it's all water under the bridge.

Even in the United States -- a modern, advanced nation -- religion creates problems. The delusion created by Christianity is so extreme and so pervasive at the moment that we have Supreme Court justices and politicians who publicly claim that God handed down the Ten Commandments to us in the Bible (see chapter 13). These justices and politicians are speaking about a book that openly advocates slavery and misogyny along with many other notions that are beyond absurd. Yet no one can question their claims in public because it is far too dangerous (see next section for details).
Oh, please. You are questioning their claims in public.

To have otherwise intelligent Americans babbling on about an imaginary God like this is dangerous, if for no other reason than this one: If so many people are this delusional in the area of religion, it makes you wonder where else they harbor equally significant delusions in their thinking. He who asserts must prove. Demonstrate your case. In addition, religion in America is now actively restraining scientific research and social progress. If that's the most you can cry about, then religion can hardly be called "dangerous." The problem that American scientists are having with stem cells is just one of the many manifestations of the problem today. Well, if they really wanted to, they could go somewhere else to do their research.

There is also growing evidence that the delusion of religion may cause significant social dysfunction. Statistical research is revealing the problems that go with religious delusion. For example, a recent article in the Journal of Religion and Society points out that religion is correlated to the significant social difficulties that we can see in America:
    In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies (Figures 1-9). The most theistic prosperous democracy, the U.S., is exceptional, but not in the manner Franklin predicted. The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developed democracies, sometimes spectacularly so, and almost always scores poorly. The view of the U.S. as a "shining city on the hill" to the rest of the world is falsified when it comes to basic measures of societal health. [ref]

    Yet even the Journal of Religion and Society admits that this correlation does not equal causation, and they still don't know if society is dysfunctional because of religion, or the society turns to religion because it is dysfunctional. Most studies that have this sort of conclusion opt for the latter option.

    Of course, you'd likely say that's only because of their fear of religious backlash.

The prevailing view is that religion is harmless even if it is delusional. Actually, the "prevailing view" is that religion is not a delusion. You're still a minority view, remember. That turns out not to be the case. America is the most religious country of those studied in the developed world. America also has the biggest problems in terms of things like homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion.

How ridiculous. What's so interesting about this study is that it ignores any evidence to the contrary. It puts America up as the Christian nation and compares it to "secular" nations like those in Europe, but of course ignores the "secular" nations that have incredibly high rates of abortion, STD rates, etc. New Zealand, for example, is 40% non-religious, and has one abortion for every two live births.

Religion is delusion. A planet full of delusional people is not healthy. And yet,
this is exactly what we have, and most religious people aren't murderous, or even remotely dangerous.

Reason #2: We must freely discuss the delusion of religion [It's important to speak about religion being a delusion because we must freely discuss the delusion of religion.]

Religion creates significant free-speech and free-thinking issues both here in the United States and around the world. Let me help you to understand what I mean when I say that, and offer a solution to the problem.

Let's imagine that any normal, intelligent American were to stand up in public today and say something like this: "I do not believe that an all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing God wrote the Bible or the Ten Commandments. The reason why I don't believe it is because the Bible openly advocates slavery and misogyny in both the Old and New Testaments. God could not love slavery or hate women." See section 2 for details on his statement.

Within seconds of making this honest, completely rational statement, that American will be branded as an atheist. Likely because most people don't make statements like that unless they're atheists.

In today's America, being branded as an atheist is poisonous. It is as poisonous as being branded during the McCarthy era in the 1950s. So people are being tried for being atheists? Imagine someone who has been branded as an atheist trying to run for public office in America today.
Like Pete Stark, the atheist congressman. I'm sure he's being routed out and tried for being an atheist, and I'm sure his constituency would never let him into office because of their bigoted ways. Oh wait. Many christians are so polarized and so sensitive right now that they will crush anyone with an opinion contrary to their own. Once branded as an atheist, the candidate is attacked in the public forum. Just like candidates are attacked for openly expressing views based on the Bible. Right? Just like people who are against gay marriage, irrespective of their actual views, are immediately branded religious fanatics or Christian fundamentalists.

Then look at the rest of the world. In many Islamic countries, women cannot freely choose how they dress, much less what they do, where they work or how they behave. They often cannot even drive a car. The repression of women's freedom in Islamic countries is well known, and ridiculous.
Okay, so make a website specifically addressing the problems of Islam. Don't blame "religion" for something that is the fault of "Islam."

There really is only one solution. It is time for Americans, both religious and non, to openly discuss the evidence showing that God is imaginary. Which we've been doing for a very long time. Let's stop hiding the discussion, or attacking it. Let's talk openly. Let us have an honest, open, rational, civil conversation about all of the evidence that we have seen in this book.
Okay. Let's have a public debate, just like hundreds upon hundreds of philosophers, authors, speakers, and other professionals are doing in front of audiences of thousands of people. Let's make documentaries that lampoon religion and show them in theaters and make millions of dollars, like Bill Maher. Let's be like George Carlin and be one of the most renowned comedians of all time, all the while belittling religion.

If we have that debate in an open forum, the majority of us will reach agreement that God is imaginary. Really? Does that line up with the actual post-debate surveys taken? Because you can go find the statistics of how many people thought the Christian won or the atheist won on almost every debate held on the subject. The reason why we will come to that conclusion is because the evidence, as presented in this book, overwhelmingly favors it.
Then why aren't thousands of people deconverting after attending debates about the existence of God? Why, for example, did Christopher Hitchens get absolutely spanked in his debate with William Lane Craig?

We must also recognize as a society that there is no such thing as an atheist. Funny, that's what Ray Comfort believes too. We must end the branding and the name-calling. Click here for details.
Because calling yourself a "Rational" is not branding or name-calling Christians as immediately irrational or insane.

Reason #3: Understanding why people create religions [This is the only one that remotely makes sense as a reason.]

What I am proposing to you in this book is both quite profound and quite baffling. It is this: Everything that we associate with religion is imaginary. God, the Bible, Jesus, the resurrection, prayer, the Ten Commandments, the creation story, your soul, everlasting life, heaven... every bit of it is the product of human imagination. The same goes for Allah, the Koran and so on. As a species we have believed all of this religious dogma for centuries, and most of us believe it today to some degree. And yet... it is all fiction. It is just as fictional as were the gods of the Egyptians, the Romans and the Aztecs. We have seen 25 chapters of clear, unambiguous evidence and all of it supports this conclusion. Clear and unambiguous...Broken record, broken record.

If it is so obvious that God is imaginary, then why might half of the American population profess belief in God? Interesting question. If the evidence is actually all around us, how is that millions of people aren't becoming atheists daily? We have asked this question throughout the book because the whole situation is profoundly strange. Why would we, as a species, create all of this mythology and nonsense over and over again through the millennia? We must do it for a reason.
Perhaps because there seems to be a lot of evidence of the supernatural, and humanity attempts to relate to it in some way through religion.

If we can understand the reasons and deal with them rationally rather than through the silliness and mythology that is religion, we actually can do ourselves a great deal of good.

There are two important reasons why humans fabricate all of our religions:
  1. People invent God as a way to cope with death. Many humans are terrified by death for some reason. They invent religion as a way to deal with their terror. How could this be true of Judaism, a religion that had no concrete afterlife concept?
  2. People invent God as a proxy for goodness. People want a way to promote "goodness" and eliminate "evil" in their societies. It's interesting that now you're putting "goodness" and "evil" in quotes, as if they're not legitimately real things, and yet when it suits your interest, you treat things as "moral abominations." In the past, inventing an imaginary God has been perceived to be one way to facilitate that process. Of course, this has nothing to do with Christianity, or at least why it was founded.
Death and goodness are important to people. They touch on fundamental human emotions. If we can separate death and goodness from the mythology of God so that we can understand them and work with them in a positive way, we can actually do something very helpful. We can create a rational world for ourselves that is focused on benefiting mankind. A utopia, if you will. Right? Except all of the attempts to create a secular, "rational" utopia have ended in the genocide of millions of people.

In chapter 27 and chapter 28, we will talk about death and goodness. We need to understand the reasons why we fabricate our gods and then act on these reasons rationally.
I look forward to your attempts to grapple with explaining them in a naturalistic way.

Once we understand why we create religion, we can begin creating the social structures that will replace religion. The remainder of the book discusses this process.
Oh, joy.

© P-Dunn's Apologetics 2009. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Chapter 25 - Reviewing the evidence about Jesus

Rather, "Chapter 25 - Trying and failing to redeem myself."

If we were to talk to a Christian about Jesus, the conversation might go something like this:

    Chris: You are completely wrong about Jesus. Jesus is Lord! Jesus is resurrected and Jesus sits on the right hand of God the father almighty!

    Bright: Oh, hey guys! Good to see you two again.

    Norm: Why do you believe that?

    Chris: I know it in my heart. I talk to Jesus every day. I have a loving, living relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ!

    Bright: What about the fact that there's a great deal of evidence to support it, Chris? I think we should stop pretending that Norm isn't aware of these things.

    Norm: How do you know that Jesus is resurrected?

    Chris: It says so right in the Bible. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were real people. So was Paul. They have no reason to lie. They saw the resurrected Jesus.

    Norm: I understand what you are saying. The thing I would like to help you understand is that the Bible is full of problems. There is no reason why we should believe the Bible when it talks about the resurrection.

    Chris: The Bible is not full of problems!

    Norm: That is what we saw in Section 2. The Bible thinks that slavery is great, that women are to be hated, that people should be sacrificing animals and that God loved killing children. We can open the Bible to nearly any page and find nonsense. We know that the story of Noah is nothing but a story. And so on. There are problems with the Bible everywhere we look. Given all of these problems, there is no reason to trust anything the Bible says.

    Bright: Rather, it regulated a process far different from what you would call "slavery," it values women as precious children of God, and features God enacting judgment on individuals (saying nothing about God "loving" anything). Of course, you're right on one thing...It does say we should practice sacrifice. Just like every single other culture on the planet at one point.

    But even if all of those were true and espoused by the Bible, that still would not prove that Jesus did not rise from the dead, or that Jesus isn't God. You're viewing the Bible as one monolithic source, which is an invalid way of viewing it. An apparent contradiction in Genesis and Second Kings doesn't discount that...

    Chris: Jesus is resurrected! Jesus is Lord!

    Bright: Thanks, Chris.

    Norm: Let's pray to Jesus and ask that he appear to us right now to settle this.

    Chris: He can't do that! Jesus can't appear to us!

    Norm: Why not?

    Chris: He cannot!

    Bright: Hold on now, Chris. Nobody said anything about "can't" here. After all, I have a friend that claims he did directly appear to her. My grandfather, in another case, says that God appeared to him in the form of an external, audible voice. What about them?

    Norm: But why?

    Chris: He's so busy doing everything God needs him to do! Plus, if he just appeared right here out of thin air, it would take away our free will. We would both KNOW that he exists. He can't do that!

    Norm: Then how was Jesus able to appear to Paul? How was Jesus able to appear to the 500 brethren? Why was it OK for them to KNOW that Jesus exists?

    Chris: That was different.

    Norm: Why?

    Bright: Because Paul was a mass murderer who was killing Christians, and if it weren't for Paul and that initial five hundred brethren, Christianity would have been relegated to the status of a cult religion that lasted maybe a few years and then died off forever.

    Chris: Jesus had only been dead a couple of days.

    Bright: Correct. And God doesn't need to do anything more than what he's already done for us, in actuality.

    Norm: Why does that matter to a timeless, omnipotent being?

    Chris: You are so wrong about this!

    Norm: OK, then let's pray to Jesus about anything. Let's ask Jesus to do anything for us right now. What we saw in Section 1 is that Jesus does not answer any prayers. Why don't we ask him to move a mountain for us?

    Bright: What's all this "Section" business? Are you quoting a book or something?

    Chris: You are so wrong.

    Norm: Why can't we pray to him right now? In Mark 11:24 Jesus' message is crystal clear: "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." He says, "Ask, and you shall receive." In Luke 1:37: "For with God nothing will be impossible." Nothing is impossible through prayer. Why won't he respond to us if we pray to him right now?

    Chris: You are completely wrong. That is not how prayer works!

    Bright: Right. Prayer was never intended to be a gumball machine. There are a litany of valid reasons for why prayers are not answered by God.

    Norm: Here's another way to look at it. Why don't we take a vote? We take all six billion people on the planet and we ask them to vote on whether Jesus is God or not. Only two billion people on the planet are Christian, so the other four billion are going to vote against Jesus. For every Christian, there are two non-Christians who think you are delusional.

    Bright: What's your point, Norm?

    Chris: They are all wrong! If only they knew the Lord Jesus like I do!

    Norm: You are telling me that all one billion Muslims are wrong? They believe that Jesus was a man, not God. It says so right in the Koran [Koran 5:75].

    Chris: The Muslims are delusional!

    Norm: Those are fightin' words.

    Bright: ...Coming from a guy that believes 90% of the world's population is COMPLETELY wrong about something as fundamental as the existence of God, or the validity of spiritual experience.

    Chris: They are delusional! Everyone knows it! Jesus is Lord!

    Norm: So there are a billion Muslims who think that all the Christians are delusional. And there are two billion Christians who think all the Muslims are delusional. Would you consider, at least for a moment, the possibility that all three billion of you are delusional?

    Bright: But there are a billion people who describe themselves as non-religious. What if they are delusional?

    Chris: I am not delusional! Jesus Christ is our resurrected Lord! I talk to him every single day and he talks to me! And he answers my prayers!

    Norm: OK, then give me anything -- give me any evidence at all that shows me that Jesus exists.

    Chris: The Bible talks all about Jesus!

    Norm: So you think we should reinstate the slave trade? You think that Christians should hate women?

    Bright: You're ridiculous, Norm. Give up your childish reasoning and act like the adult you are.

    Chris: NO!

    Norm: Give me anything.

    Chris: I cannot. Jesus must remain hidden! If he were not hidden, we would all know that he exists. It would destroy faith.

    Norm: If Jesus must remain hidden, then how do you know that he exists?

The conversation can go on and on like this. See, not if you were actually talking to a theist. It's easy to make a conversation circular if you're the one talking on both sides.

To anyone who stands outside the Christian faith and looks at Jesus rationally, it is obvious that Jesus either was a complete myth who never existed at all, or was a normal human being who was turned into a myth after-the-fact. Only someone as arrogant as you would claim that such a thing is "obvious." I don't think it's "obviously" true that Muhammed was not a legitimate prophet. That takes serious argument to demonstrate. Yet, despite all the problems, contradictions and lack of evidence, a Christian will cling to Jesus. You will begin to understand why Christians do that in Chapter 27, but for now let's simply review the evidence that we have seen. Exactly what we need: psychoanalysis.

In this section of the book we have looked at Jesus from a number of different angles. False. You have looked at Jesus from a single angle: the atheistic view. What we have found is that Jesus was a human being just like you and me. Of course, this was determined merely by asking why he doesn't do miracles for every person ever. This is clearly not a valid way of finding anything out. We simply ask the questions that any normal person would ask of someone who claims to be God. For example:
  1. If Jesus is God, why did he never prove it in a meaningful way? Overturning the laws of nature and rising from the dead isn't "meaningful?" Why are none of his miracles visible today? How could any of them possibly be? We examined this question in chapter 19. And my response is here. Of the questions asked in this section of the book, this one is the most important. And when it's thrown out, so is the rest of your argument against Christ. It is important for this simple reason: If a man were to walk up to you today and state that he is God, you would want to see proof. Name one instance where Jesus "walked up to" someone, out of the blue, and said he was God. The proof would have to be obvious to everyone and scientifically irrefutable. Jesus is no different. Which is why he did such things as feed 5,000 people using a single lunch. Obvious, and scientifically irrefutable.

  2. If Jesus is God, and Jesus is resurrected, then why hasn't he appeared to you in the flesh to prove that he is resurrected? Because most of us really do not need him to. We examined this question in chapter 20. Click here. In order for the Apostles to believe in the resurrection, Jesus appeared to them. Because without a knowledge of the resurrected savior, Christianity would not exist today. In order for Paul to believe in the resurrection, Jesus appeared to him. Because without him, Christianity would not exist today, and there would have been a lot more Christians murdered by the terrorist himself. Why would Jesus, who is all-loving and timeless, think of you as any less important than Paul? It's not that we're less important. It's just that God doesn't need us to create a religion. The reason is because Jesus did not appear to anyone. Your conclusion does not logically follow.

  3. Why do we need to eat Jesus? We don't. It's a symbolic ritual that isn't required for anything. We examined this question in chapter 21. My response is here. We have Jesus -- the all-loving creator of the universe -- demanding that we ceremonially cannibalize his body and satanically drink his blood if we want to have "eternal life." No, communion is not required for any inheritance of eternal life. It's a reminder of his sacrifice, and nothing more. The source of this bizarre ritual is not Jesus. The ritual comes from primitive pagan religions that were common at the time. His source for this is The Da Vinci Code, interestingly enough.

  4. Why do so many children live in poverty, and why does Jesus misspeak so many times in the New Testament? In chapter 22 we examined a number of statements where Jesus is wrong. And in my response, we examined why you were mistaken, and why the amount of children in poverty do not effect the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. Why would a perfect God write things in the Bible that are incorrect? A loaded question, isn't it?

  5. Why does Jesus need money from you every Sunday morning? In chapter 24 we examined this interesting paradox. There is absolutely nothing paradoxical about it. To call it a paradox is a grievous misstatement.

There are broader pieces of evidence as well. Like what? As pointed out in Section 1, Jesus does not answer prayers. As pointed out in Section 2, the Bible is provably the work of primitive men. And so on. If you've read anything up to this point on this blog, you'll know that neither of them are the case.

We can look at Jesus from several other angles and reach the same conclusion.

The biggest problem with Jesus

The biggest problem with Jesus is his incredible myopia. We can see that now looking back at him 2,000 years later. Why didn't Jesus use his omnipotence to actually do something magnificent and beautiful on earth rather than squandering his "power" as he does in the Bible? Again, how is
walking on water, feeding a huge crowd with virtually nothing, healing crippled people and curing disease by touching them, or rising from the dead, not magnificent or beautiful?

At the very least, Jesus could have transcribed passages into the Bible that would have ended sexism, racism and slavery forever. Hello: Jesus didn't "transcribe" anything in Scripture. We've been over this before. As the simplest example, think of all of the suffering that slavery has caused. As described in chapter 13, millions upon millions of people have suffered through the bondage and the remarkable brutality of slavery because Jesus and his Bible fully endorse slavery. "Fully endorse" is a meaningless concept given what Jesus actually says about slavery, and what kind of slavery it actually was back then. If Jesus had simply made a clear statement -- "Slavery is forbidden, free all the slaves" -- he could have prevented much of that suffering. Is it his job to prevent suffering, or ours? Yet he did nothing of the sort. He also never spoke about marijuana, or pedophilia, or lots and lots and lots of things. That doesn't make him evil. In the same way, Jesus could have chosen women to be six of his apostles and made several speeches on the topic of women's equality and he would have put a huge dent in sexism (see chapter 15).
Notice that the witnessess to Jesus's resurrection were women, and their testimony was not valid in court. The very fact that Mary Magdelene was considered a disciple, and that women could prophecy in church, should illustrate the point that Christianity was leaps and bounds ahead in terms of gender equality than its neighbors. Still today we see the effects of Jesus' shortsightedness in this area. Ironic, considering that most people regard Jesus's morality as far ahead of even contemporary models of morality.

At a larger level, if Jesus were God, he could have performed so many real miracles. You haven't even really diagnosed any of the real miracles he did perform. What business is it of yours to suggest something like this? He could have, for example, eliminated smallpox and a host of other diseases that science is busy eliminating today. And the fact that he did not proves absolutely nothing. Jesus could have given the people of Israel the knowledge that they would need to start a technological society and raise themselves above the primitive living conditions of the day. As mentioned in Chapter 17, Jesus could have taught the Israelites about metallurgy, chemistry, biology, physics, manufacturing, mathematics, medicine, engineering, etc., etc., etc.
And all of it would have been meaningless and ineffective to the homeless peasant people he was talking to. He could have also taught them how to responsibly use these technologies to solve the problems of pollution and habitat destruction that so often accompany them today. He could have made clear statements to deter nuclear proliferation. Because "nuclear proliferation" means a heck of a lot to a first century Isrealite, and they totally would have considered that to be relevant enough to record in Scripture. He could have taught mankind to share wealth so that the immense problem of global poverty that we see today would have been solved long ago. He could have laid down a template for governance that would have ended monarchies, dictatorial regimes and warlords forever. Yes, we all know that governments specifically model their ideas after the Bible. He could have made his message so clear, and the proof of his godliness so obvious, that all six billion people on the planet would have aligned with him rather than fragmenting into dozens of bizarre and often warring factions. The problem is not that the message is unclear. The problem, as usual, is with you.

Jesus, if he actually were God, could have done so much. He could have prevented massive amounts of human suffering with his words and deeds. Instead, he did none of this. To any rational person, these problems make it painfully obvious that Jesus was a normal human being. No. Normal, rational people don't demand such actions out of Jesus, because he already did so much for us.

Jesus, the eternal torturer

Simply take a moment to think about the following statement:

    "Hello, my name is Jesus. I love you deeply. I have loved you since you were conceived in the womb and I will love you for all eternity. I died for you on the cross because I love you so much. I long to have a loving personal relationship with you. I will answer all of your prayers through my love. But if you do not get down on your knees and worship me, and if you do not EAT MY BODY and DRINK MY BLOOD, then I WILL INCINERATE YOU WITH UNIMAGINABLY TORTUOUS PAIN IN THE FIRES OF HELL FOR ALL ETERNITY BWAH HA HA HA HA HA!"

Yes, this is the central message of Christianity. My foot.

Think about this message. We have a being who, according to the Standard Model of God, embodies love. Yet, if you do not get down on your knees and worship him, you will be physically tortured for all eternity. No, not physical torture. Not even emotional "torture." The usage of terms like "fire" are clearly metaphors. What sort of love is that?

Imagine a human being who acted this way. Imagine that a human being for some reason "falls in love with you." This person sets up hidden cameras and begins tracking you everywhere you go every minute of every day. This person leaves a book on your doorstep that professes how much he loves you. But this person gives you a deadline and says, "If you do not begin to love me by my deadline, I will capture you and physically torture you in the most hideous ways." How would you describe such a person? We would call such a person a lunatic, and we would put such a person in prison for life. On a basic level, because no human has the right to demand love.

Asking Jesus to appear

Here is another way to prove it to yourself. Simply get down on your knees and pray to Jesus. Ask him to appear to you, in the flesh, just like he did to Paul (see chapter 20). Paul's vision was auditory, not visual. Ask Jesus to demonstrate to you, personally, that he is resurrected. When he appears, take your family camcorder and record the event for posterity. Frankly, if we're talking about "just like Paul," then I know someone who had a similar experience: my grandfather. But of course, you would dismiss this out of hand.

Of course, Jesus will not appear.

What Jesus says in John 14:12 is so clear:

    "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.

You have asked for something in his name. You have even asked him to do something that he is clearly able to do. The Bible says that Jesus appeared to hundreds of people, so it should be no problem for him to appear to you.

Yet, predictably, Jesus will not appear. I don't really need Jesus to appear, though. Most people who you would want to pray this prayer do not.

Now I would ask you to examine it at a deeper level. Look at what is happening inside your mind right now. You have read the Bible and seen Jesus' clear statement: "If you ask anything in my name, I will do it." It's also clear that there are a great number of things that have to happen before you can get to that place. He does not say, "I might do it." You have prayed for Jesus to appear and Jesus has ignored you.There are probably a thousand good reasons for why this occurs.

Even though Jesus did not appear, and even though Jesus says to you quite clearly in the Bible that he will, look at how you deal with this setback. Do you draw the obvious conclusion from the evidence? Yes, because the evidence is not contingent on whether or not Jesus appears to me. Even if he doesn't, the rest of the evidence is still there. If you are a Christian, then probably not. Wrong. Instead, in your mind, you are coming up with a thousand rationalizations to explain why Jesus did not appear:
  1. It is not his will - Which is not a rationalization, but a valid reason.
  2. He doesn't have time
  3. He may appear, but it will be in the afterlife
  4. I didn't pray the right way - You're right, we probably don't.
  5. I am not worthy - You're right. We are not.
  6. I do not have enough faith - You're right. We don't.
  7. I cannot test the Lord- Etc.
  8. Jesus only appeared to the apostles
  9. Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God, and is no longer appearing on earth
  10. Jesus is actually all around me, but I cannot see him
  11. It is not part of Jesus' plan for me
  12. Jesus will not appear in the flesh, but instead will appear by rearranging the dust motes in the air. But it is not dusty enough here.
  13. Jesus will appear in my dreams
  14. Jesus is here -- I can feel him in my heart
  15. And on and on and on...
You are an expert at creating rationalizations like these. It is not your place to say that any of those are "rationalizations." You, who deliberately distorts Scripture to make your convoluted arguments; you, who refuses to adequately examine any of Jesus's miracles directly; you, who does not even consider the possibility of God having a legitimate reason for not appearing. You have to be, because Jesus constantly lets you down. The reason why you are an expert is because you have been creating rationalizations like this for Jesus your entire life. Jesus has disappointed you so many times that you expect to be disappointed. That is why creating this list of rationalizations is so easy and so natural for you. If you were raised like this, then I feel for you, man. Most Christians would never say anything like this.

But here is the more interesting thing. Let's say that there is some legitimate reason that Jesus did not appear to you. Ooh, finally trying to consider the opposition. For example, it turns out that you happened to be wearing blue jeans as you prayed, and Jesus does not like the color blue. I guess we're not actually going to try, then. The fact is that the resurrected Jesus has not ever appeared to anyone. Unproven assumption that goes contrary to the evidence. Zero people are worthy, or we would see the video clips for sale at Christian book stores. There are hundreds of videos of miracles on YouTube. Do you believe any of them?

It is easy to imagine how a Christian would respond to this experiment:

    Chris: Of course Jesus would not appear to you -- that would take away your free will. And if you video taped it, it would take away the free wills of everyone else.

    Norm: So Jesus can appear to no one, is that correct?

    Chris: Yes, that is correct. That is why the resurrected Jesus does not appear today.

    Bright: This is where your argument falls, Chris. It's not that he "can't" appear to anyone. It's that he has valid reasons for not doing so, and it is not needed anymore.

    Norm: Then how did Jesus prove that he was resurrected?

    Chris: By appearing to people, of course. How else would we know that Jesus was resurrected?

It is a circle of absurdity. The only way for Jesus to prove that he was resurrected was to appear to people, and that was OK, but for Jesus to appear to you is impossible.

The reason why Jesus does not appear to you has nothing to do with your free will. It has to do with the fact that Jesus appeared to no one.

The evidence of Jesus

Another way to prove to yourself that Jesus does not exist is to ask yourself this simple question:

    Is there any evidence that Jesus exists today?

As you think about this simple question, you will realize that there is not. Hmm. Strange, I came to the opposite conclusion. Everything else that you believe in has left behind some sort of evidence that proves its existence. But with Jesus there is nothing except five hundred witnesses who claim to have seen him alive after he was crucified, a long trail of disciples that were willing to die for what would have been a lie otherwise, a religion that has withstood the test of time, and billions of people who claim to experience Jesus as a reality in their lives. There is no physical evidence of his existence. There is also no physical evidence of the laws of logic or mathematics. There is no miraculous evidence -- it is very strange, but not a single one of Jesus' miracles left behind any physical evidence for us to see today. You still have not really specified how this would be possible with the miracles Jesus performed. There is no prayer evidence. Except for that time when a close friend of mine prayed in Jesus's name for a deaf and mute woman to receive her sight and power of speech, and immediately afterwards, she heard and spoke for the first time in twenty years. No matter how much we pray to Jesus, nothing ever happens (see section 1). Eh? There is, quite simply, zero evidence to prove that Jesus exists today. Hold your ears if you want. Suit yourself.

A devout Christian would point out that there is the Bible -- God's perfect word. Yes, there is the Bible. The Bible talks all about Jesus. It predicts Jesus' coming (see chapter 23) and then tells us about Jesus' time on earth.

But this same Bible also tells us that slavery is great, that women should be hated, that animal and human sacrifice is necessary, and that massacring babies and small children is one of God's favorite pastimes (see Section 2 for details). We don't believe the Bible when it talks about slavery, misogyny, etc. Why would we believe the Bible when it talks about Jesus? Because the logic that one morally objectionable passage proves the entire book is morally objectionable is completely, 100% flawed.

Understanding the evidence

There are two options with Jesus. Either Jesus is God, or Jesus was a regular human being. Or, that Jesus was insane. You would have to be to carry on such a ministry and really believe you were God. When you look at all of the evidence, which of these two options seems more likely to you?

If you are a Christian, and if you have believed all your life that Jesus is resurrected and Jesus is God, all that I would ask you to do is take a few moments to look at all of this evidence.

I have. It conclusively shows that Jesus was God, and he rose from the dead. All the attempts you have made to show otherwise have failed.

See also chapter 27 to understand where your beliefs about Jesus may be coming from. I look forward to this.

© P-Dunn's Apologetics 2009. All rights reserved.