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No God. Now What

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The truth is that God's (600 ) laws ... is the most perfect being imaginable or even possible. ... Dare we question the veracity of the Genesis ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: No God. Now What


1
No God. Now What?
  • An Introduction to Secular Humanism

2

Session II A Few Reasons Why SH Dont Believe
  • In Session I, we said that there are
    basically ten reasons why Secular Humanists do
    not believe in the supernatural worldview.
  • Among those reasons are four that are
    particularly devastating to faith for anyone who
    has not closed their mind to empirical evidence,
    scientific proof, independent historical
    accounts, and sound logic. 1

3
The 4 Most Devastating Arguments Against The
Existence of God
  • All rational arguments for Gods existence are
    flawed.
  • Faith is illogical.
  • The Problem of Evil
  • The Problem of Scripture

4
Why It Matters Belief in God Has Had Terrible
Consequences
  • Historically, most Americans have relied on
    their superstitions, willful ignorance, and
    wishful, magical thinking to make horrific
    political decisions that have caused everything
    from ridiculous inconvenience to social injustice
    to preventable suffering and death on a massive
    scale.

5
Examples
  • Since the United States was founded, the
    superstitious have managed to pass laws that
    prohibit
  • shopping on the Sundays
  • possessing alcoholic beverages
  • inter-racial marriage
  • women non-whites from voting
  • atheists from holding public office
  • practicing a religion other than Christianity
  • having sex in any position other than
    missionary
  • sale and consumption of marijuana, even for
    prescribed medical purposes
  • sex with someone other than ones own spouse
  • the sale of birth-control devices and medicines

  • physician assisted suicide
  • abortion
  • embryonic stem cell research
  • witchcraft and
  • same-sex marriage.

6
Using sacred scripture to rationalize their
bigotry, superstitious Americans have also
passed laws
  • 1. validating the superiority of the white
    race
  • 2. legalizing indentured servitude and
    slavery and
  • 3. mandating forced re-location of Native
    Americans and destruction of their culture.

7
Despite The Faithfuls Best Efforts To Prove The
Existence Goodness Of God Over Thousands of
Years…
  • All arguments have so far
  • failed.

8
Basically, There Are 10 (or 11) Arguments For
The Existence Of God. All are ancient. All
Are Fatally Flawed.
  • The Argument From First Cause Sometimes called
    the Cosmological Argument originally proposed by
    St. Aquinas in the 13th century.
  • Claim everything had to have a prior cause
    to bring it into existence.
  • Yet, there has to have been a first cause for the
    creation of the universe.
  • This First Cause is called God.
  • Therefore, God exists.

9
Flaws In The First Cause Argument
  • First, if everything has to originate from a
    prior cause, who then created God?
  • ????Second, if God always existed, never needing
    a first cause Itself, this statement would
    invalidate the original hypothesis i.e.,
    everything requires a prior cause to bring it
    into existence.

10
Flaws In The First Cause Argument
  • Third, Aquinas logic proved nothing more
    than that he assumed Gods existence as a matter
    of faith.
  • Fourth, Aquinas ignores the more likely
    possibility that the natural universe itself is
    eternal and no deity is required to explain it.
    2

11
2. The Argument From Design
  • (Sometimes called the Teleological Argument.
    Teleos end or purpose. Teleological
    pertaining to the purpose of design.)
  • Claim complex life could not have occurred
    by random chance.
  • Since we can observe complex design in the
    world, there must be an Intelligent Designer,
    whom people generally refer to as God. 3
  • Theists misunderstanding of evolution.

12
Flaws In The Argument From Design
  • No evolutionary biologist claims that complex
    life evolved by chance. Evolution by natural
    selection is exceedingly purposeful (survival of
    the fittest for the purpose of reproduction to
    perpetuate the species).
  • Complex life developed through gradual (billions
    of years) non-random evolution by natural
    (sexual) selection, a totally natural process.
  • Evolution by natural selection explains a great
    deal about complex life, is easily tested, and is
    as well supported scientifically as the theory of
    gravity, electricity, and relativity.

13
Before After Darwins Origins Of Species
  • Before Darwin, the Argument From Design actually
    made the existence of God seem plausible. 4
  • After Darwin, the unprovable belief in God became
    unnecessary for explaining the design
    complexity of life.
  • This is why religious fundamentalists are trying
    so desperately to downgrade evolution to just
    another theory. 5

14
Flaws In The Argument From Design
  • Finally, even if this Intelligent Design
    argument was provable, which it isnt, it would
    say nothing whatever about the character or
    personality of the Designer. For that, theists
    would have to rely on the veracity of
    scripture.6

15
3. The Argument From Morality
  • Claim without God, everything (every evil)
    is permissible. Civilization, and all of its
    benefits, would be impossible.
  • Without God, we could not know right from wrong.

  • But we DO have an innate sense of right and
    wrong.
  • This innate moral sense is universal.
  • Therefore, it could only have come from God, our
    Creator. 7

16
Flaws In The Argument From Morality
  • That moralities are similar across history and
    culture does not prove the existence of God.
  • There are also remarkable differences.
  • Example Nazis vs. Jains 8

17
Examples (cont)
  • The faithful claim that without God, everything
    is permissible. The ugly reality is that, With
    God, everything is permissible.
  • For thousands of years, the faithful have used
    scripture, the so-called Words of God, to justify
    the most horrific injustices and atrocities.
  • It would be more logical to argue that since we
    are not moral beings, God does not exist.

18
Examples (cont)
  • Claim Without God, morality would be
    relative.
  • The faithful argue that without God, there can be
    no absolute rules for determining right from
    wrong. The truth is that Gods (600) laws are
    relative. It has been subject to personal
    preferences cultural biases in scriptural
    interpretations for millennia.
  • For instance, liberal believers argue endlessly
    with conservative believers over the proper
    interpretation of scripture regarding such
    matters as capital punishment, abortion, same-sex
    marriage, and church-state separation.
  • The greater truth is this if you are inclined to
    reason compassion, you can find scripture to
    support loving others in the name of God. And if
    you are inclined to irrational hate fear, you
    can find scripture to support killing others in
    the name of God.

19
4. The Argument From Fear
  • Claim without God, life would be terrifying.

  • If God does not exist, we all are going to suffer
    and die and there is no one to prevent it.
  • This prospect is not only terrifying, but
    unacceptable. We need God to make us feel safe.
  • Therefore, God must exist.

20
Argument From Fear the Corollary
  • Claim if God does exist, and we dont
    acknowledge His existence by slavishly obeying
    His Divine Will, we will all be punished in this
    life and in a hideous afterlife forever.
  • Therefore, we should all act as though God exists
    and obey His moral rules out of fear of
    punishment.

21
Flaws In The Argument From Fear
  • The argument from fear is merely wishful
    thinking.
  • The implications of God not existing are
    frightening.
  • Therefore, (we hope) God exists.

22
5. The Argument From Purpose
  • Claim humans have an innate sense of wonder
    and a basic sense of grand purpose meaning.
    Therefore, God must exists.
  • We look at our lives and up at the stars and
    wonder
  • Is this all there is?
  • Are we merely an accident of nature?
  • Are we just another creature with no more
    inherent worth than a worm?
  • Does my life my suffering and death my moral
    choices mean nothing?
  • Only a being created by God could conceive such
    questions.

23
5. The Argument From Purpose (cont)
  • Corollary claim without God, people would
    have no purpose, no reason to live.
  • To the faithful, these thoughts are too
    depressing.
  • Surely, us humans must be apart of some Grand
    Cosmic Purpose.
  • Human life must mean something in the great
    scheme of things. Otherwise, there would be no
    point to our lives. It would all be meaningless.
  • Therefore, God must exist.

24
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25
Flaws In The Argument From Purpose
  • Just because we want our lives to have some
    cosmic meaning does not make it so.
  • Even young children can figure out this is merely
    wishful thinking as soon as they are old enough
    to figure out that wishing for a new bicycle will
    not automatically make one appear.

26
More Definitions metaphysics
  • The philosophical study of ultimate causes
    and underlying nature of things.
  • meta beyond
  • physics physical or natural
  • metaphysics beyond the natural world
  • Thus, metaphysics is speculation about the
    supernatural.

27
More Definition ontology
  • A branch of metaphysics dealing with theories or
    speculation about the nature of existence.
  • The study of the kinds of beings, such as angels,
    demons, and gods, that exist and their
    characteristics, such as intentions behavior.
  • Remember all metaphysical theories, including
    ontological ones, are unprovable.

28
6. The Ontological Argument
  • Claim logic alone can prove that God must
    exists.
  • First proposed by St. Anselm of Canterbury in the
    11th. century A.D.
  • Claims to derive the existence of God from the
    concept of a being than which no greater can be
    conceived.

29
6. The Ontological Argument (cont)
  • Anselm reasoned that, if such a being fails to
    exist, then a greater being namely, a being
    than which no greater can be conceived, and which
    exists can be conceived.
  • But this would be absurd nothing can be greater
    than a being than which no greater can be
    conceived.
  • Therefore, a being than which no greater can be
    conceived i.e., God exists.

30
6. The Ontological Argument (cont)
  • In other words, God must exist because we
    cannot conceive of anything greater.

31
6. The Ontological Argument (cont)
  • Another way to express the logic of this
    argument.
  • God, by definition, is the most perfect being
    imaginable or even possible.
  • Such a perfect being must possess all of the
    attributes or characteristics of perfection.
  • Since it is better (more perfect) to exist than
    not, existence is an attribute of perfection.
  • Thus, by definition, God exists.

32
Flaws In The Ontological Argument
  • The only conclusion that follows logically from
    the premise is
  • By definition God or gods exist in our
    imagination.
  • If you want to know more, go to
    http//plato.stanford.edu/entries/ontological-argu
    ments/ParOntArg.
  • Thinking deeply about the ontological argument
    will only convince you that God or gods exist if
    you want them to.

33
7. The Argument From Consciousness
  • Claim I can think, therefore God must exist.


34
Flaw In The Argument From Consciousness
  • I can think, therefore it is highly unlikely that
    God or gods exist.
  • Nuff said.

35
8. The Argument From Miracles
  • Claim so many people claim to have
    experienced phenomena so amazing and seemingly in
    violation of the laws of nature that such
    happenings can only be explained by the existence
    of God who intervenes in peoples lives.

36
Flaws In The Argument From Miracles
  • A lot of people believe weird things.
  • Some sincerely believe they have been abducted by
    aliens, others say they saw ghosts, and still
    others claim to have communicated with the dead
    through a medium at a séance.
  • Many people have heard a voice coming from
    somewhere inside their head which they assume
    must be the voice of an angel or even God
    Himself. The Prophet Mohammed is a good example.

37
Flaws In The Argument From Miracles (cont)
  • Antidotal evidence for the existence of God is
    hardly persuasive but often amusing.
  • The magicians, Penn Teller, have been
    debunking such claims for decades in the most
    entertaining fashion.
  • Go to www.pennandteller.com.
  • Philosopher, Michael Martin, Since experiences
    of God are good grounds for the existence of God,
    are not experiences of the absence of God good
    grounds for the non-existence of God?

38
9. The Arguments From Scripture
  • Claim scripture is divine revelation.
  • We know scripture is the inerrant Word of God
    because scripture tells us so.
  • Therefore, God exists.

39
Flaws In The Argument From Scripture
  • The argument commits a logical fallacy - Circular
    Argument. The conclusion merely re-states the
    assumption in the premise.
  • Moreover, the claim is a belief unsupported by
    empirical evidence, scientific proof, independent
    historical accounts, or sound logic.

40
10. The Argument From Happiness
  • Claim only a belief in God (or gods, eternal
    paradise, etc.) can make us happy.
  • When I believe in God, etc. I am happy (or at
    least happier than if I doubt).
  • Therefore God must exist.

41
Flaws In The Argument From Happiness
  • This is an argument for the benefits of belief
    (i.e. happiness) not an argument for the
    existence of one or many gods.
  • In effect, it claims that we must believe in
    order to be happy, whether or not god or gods
    actually exist.

42
Three Free Thoughts on Happiness
  • Happiness requires only three ingredients
    (and belief in God is not one of them)
  • Someone to love. (purpose reason to live.)
  • Something to do. (e.g., keeping busy doing
    something we believe is constructive or useful to
    others. Makes life meaningful.)
  • Hope for the future.

43
Two More Free Thoughts on Happiness
  • Success getting what you want.
  • Happiness wanting what you get.10

44
Hope A Secular Humanist Perspective
  • Since we are all sentenced to permanent death
    (annihilation), hope for the future is sometimes
    the most troubling for atheists.
  • But we can hope (and work) for a bright future
    for our children and grandchildren and be just as
    happy as someone who has hope for a pleasant
    eternal life that will never be.

45
11. Pascals Wager
  • Claim Blaise Pascal, a 17th century French
    mathematician and philosopher, said that we
    should believe that God, heaven, and hell exist
    because
  • if we are wrong, we lose little or nothing and
  • if we are right, we gain Eternal Paradise.

46
Flaws In Pascals Wager
  • 1. Not really an argument for the existence of
    God.
  • Only for the benefits of belief in God,
    whether or not God actually exists.

47
Flaws In Pascals Wager (cont)
  • 2. Pascal, a Christian of sorts, was arguing for
    belief in Jesus as the Savior of Mankind.
  • But the same wager can be made with any
    other religion.

48
Flaws In Pascals Wager (cont)
  • 3. Pascals wager assumes that belief has little
    or no cost.
  • If in fact our life in the here and now is all
    there is, as atheists claim based on the lack of
    credible evidence for an afterlife,
  • then sacrificing our lives in servitude to a
    silly superstition would mean that we have lost
    everything.
  • End segment all arguments for God fail.

49
Faith Is Illogical Begin segment
  • Our claim all arguments for the existence of
    an all-powerful, all-knowing, and benevolent
    Supreme Being are illogical.

50
Faith Is Illogical (cont)
  • Fact 1. Each year, billion of believers pray to
    their god or gods to intervene in human affairs
    and protect the innocent and vulnerable from
    suffering and death usually themselves, their
    family, clan, or tribe.
  • Fact 2. Each year, tens of millions of innocent
    and vulnerable people, particularly children,
    suffer horribly and die.
  • Fact 3. Almost everyone at some point in his or
    her life questions why prayers to protect these
    innocent and vulnerable are not answered.

51
Faith Is Illogical (cont)
  • Fact 4. There are only three possible logical
    explanations for why God does not protect the
    innocent and vulnerable.
  • There is no all-powerful, all-knowing
    benevolent God.
  • There is a benevolent God, but It does not have
    the power or knowledge to protect the innocent
    and vulnerable.
  • There is a God with the power knowledge to
    protect the innocent and vulnerable, but It
    chooses not to - so It is not benevolent.

52
Faith Is Illogical (cont)
  • In other words
  • Either (1) God is omnipotent, but not
    benevolent (2) benevolent, but not omnipotent
    or (3) an omnipotent, benevolent God does not
    exist.
  • Thus, belief in an all-powerful, all-knowing,
    and benevolent God is illogical. 11
  • End segment faith is illogical.

53
Five Biblical Reasons Why People Suffer
Die Begin Segment on Problem of Evil
  • Suffering is punishment for sin (teach
    misbehaving people a lesson they wont soon
    forget - God is just being a good parent).
  • Suffering builds character. (That which doesnt
    kill you makes you stronger. Nietzsche). 12
  • Suffering is test of faith (God needs to know
    that your professed love for Him is authentic).
  • Evil spirits cause bad things to happen to good
    people (i.e. not Gods fault).
  • God created people with free will. Thus, people
    are free to ignore Gods will and harm the
    innocent vulnerable for personal gain (again,
    not Gods fault).

54
The Problem Of Evil
  • The problem of evil simply stated…
  • The horrific suffering and miserable deaths of
    billions of innocent people cannot be reconciled
    with the concept of an all-powerful, all-knowing,
    benevolent God.
  • But the faithful try to rationalize the
    problem away…as we shall now see.

55
The Problem Of Evil Why good people suffer die
according to the Bible.
  • Claim 1. Suffering is punishment for
    sins.
  • So claimed many Hebrew prophets Isaiah,
    Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc.
  • This theory speculates that some people have not
    pleased God. Thus, they are not innocent and He
    punishes them for their sins. Pain is punishment
    for disobedience.
  • Flaw this explanation does not explain why the
    innocent suffer and die by the billions.

56
Problem Of Evil (cont)
  • Claim 2 suffering builds character.
  • So claimed St. Paul. Also Nietzsche That
    which does not kill you makes you stronger.
  • According to this theory, suffering is actually a
    blessing from God. It is as if we need to suffer
    in order to exercise our spiritual muscles.
  • Flaw the problem of course is that much
    suffering kills innocent people by the billions.
    Apparently, God the all-knowing, does not know
    when enough is enough.

57
Problem Of Evil (cont)
  • Claim 3 suffering is a test of faith.
  • So claimed the author of the Book of Job.
  • This theory speculates that God allows innocent
    believers to suffer as a test of faith.
  • Flaw this God is so insecure that He needs
    reassurance that the believers faith is strong
    and will withstand adversity. But how can an
    all-powerful Deity be insecure?

58
Problem Of Evil (cont)
  • Claim 4 suffering is caused by evil
    spirits.
  • So claimed St. Paul and other apocalyptics,
    such as NT Jesus and OT Daniel.
  • This theory fantasizes about a cosmic war going
    on between God and Satan good vs. evil.
  • Good people suffer and die because Satan and his
    minions hate those who try to follow Gods ways
    and these evil forces cause Gods followers pain
    and death.

59
Problem Of Evil (cont)
  • Jesus claimed that suffering death is caused
    by evil spirits.
  • Obviously, this explanation does not explain why
    an all-powerful, all-knowing, benevolent deity
    would allow this to happen. The Jesus of the
    gospels claims that the final battle, Armageddon,
    will take place very soon (within a few years)
    and God will defeat the powers of evil (Satan),
    re-take charge of this world, and inaugurate the
    Kingdom of Heaven an eternity of sublime Peace
    on Earth. 12

60
Problem Of Evil (cont)
  • Claim 5 suffering is a result of mankinds
    free will.
  • This theory is a favorite of Christian
    fundamentalists today. It attempts to explain
    mans inhumanity to man.
  • Good people suffer and die because we are free to
    disobey Gods commandments (to love one another)
    and inflict terrible suffering upon the innocent
    and ignore their desperate needs.

61
Problem Of Evil (cont)
  • Christians think of God as a good father
    figure. The basic problem with the free will
    argument is it paints God, at the very least, as
    a grossly irresponsible parent. 13

62
Problem Of Evil (cont)
  • Why does God allow earthquakes to kill
    thousands and leave 10s of thousands of innocent
    people homeless every year? Are they being
    punished or just tested?
  • Afghan earthquake.

63
The Problem Of Evil (cont)
  • Why doesnt God intervene to help the
    millions of refugees around the world?
  • Does God ignore this desperate woman because
    she is not a Christian or Muslim?
  • Darfur refugee.

64
The Problem Of Evil (cont)
  • Why doesnt God prevent cyclones that kill
    thousands of innocent people and leave millions
    homeless?
  • Is God trying to build their character make
    their faith stronger?
  • Burma cyclone victim.

65
The Problem Of Evil (cont)
  • What kind of god would not intervene to
    prevent the horrors of the Cambodian killing
    fields in which 2 million people were tortured,
    slaughtered, or starved to death?
  • Is God impotent? Malevolent? Disinterested?
    Non-existent?

66
The Problem Of Evil (cont)
  • Why should anyone put their trust in a god
    who would not or could not
  • intervene to prevent the horrors of the slave
    labor camps and gas chambers?
  • Auschwitz

67
The Problem Of Evil (cont)
  • According to the Bible, on some occasions
    God intervened to save his loyal followers from
    suffering and death resulting from free will,
    such as when God intervened to help the
    Israelites escape their enslavement by the
    Egyptians or to help the Israelites destroy their
    enemies, such as the heathen Canaanites.
  • But it does not explain why God does not
    intervene on so many other desperate occasions,
    such as the Jewish holocaust or the Rwandan
    genocide.

68
The Problem Of Evil (cont)
  • In 1918, the flu virus killed 50 million people.
  • Since 1981, the virus that causes AIDS has killed
    over 25 million people.
  • Were these people really killed by evil spirits?
    And God the Father didnt intervene because…?
  • AIDS victim - India

69
The Problem Of Evil (cont)
  • Ultimately, the argument from free will
    leads to the conclusion that either (1) God is
    fickle or (2) suffering is an unsolvable
    mystery.
  • For Secular Humanists, the problem of evil
    is insurmountable. If God will not or cannot stop
    the preventable suffering death, then He, She,
    or It is not worthy of worship.
  • Famine - Africa

70
Maybe the reason good people suffer and die is
unanswerable. Suffering Is A Mystery
  • Did 10s of thousands of Chinese children
    die in the 2008 earthquake because their parents
    were godless communists?
  • In contradiction to most of the prophets of
    the OT, Jesus Paul of the NT, the prophet of
    Ecclesiastes tells us its all a mystery. So we
    might as well eat, drink be merry as best we
    can. 13

71
The Problem Of Scripture Begin segment.
  • More people abandon their faith because of the
    problem of evil, rather than because they figured
    out that their scriptures have this one little
    problem they are not credible.
  • Why dont more people abandon their faith based
    on scriptural scholarship? Because…
  • Scriptural criticism requires serious
    intellectual effort. Scriptural scholarship
    requires years of intense study in ancient
    cultures and languages.
  • Most people are intellectually lazy.

72
The Problem Of Scripture (cont)
  • Secular Humanists believe the stories of
    scripture (Torah, Bible, Quran, etc.) are mere
    legends, not historical facts. As you will soon
    learn, our beliefs are well-founded.
  • As most class participants will be most
    familiar with the Bible, we will use it to
    illustrate why we doubt the veracity of
    scripture. But we could just as easily
    deconstruct the Quran or any other holy book.

73
The Problem Of Scripture (cont)
  • We will show examples of
  • a Bible riddled with inconsistencies,
    contradictions, absurdities, and falsehoods.
  • who the earliest gospel writers thought Jesus
    was.
  • the thousands of alterations made to the New
    Testament over the past two thousand years.
  • what is known of the earliest gospel manuscripts
    in existence.
  • the real message of the gospels Jesus.
  • the wisdom of Jesus for what it really is.
  • the real ethics of Jesus.
  • books and websites that make scriptural
    scholarship easier.

74
The Problem Of Scripture (cont)
  • SH Claim there are over 600 logical
    inconsistencies and contradictions in the Bible.
    Examples
  • Is it right to kill?
  • 1a. Do not kill (murder other humans). Ex.
    2013
  • 1b. Slay every man, his brother, companion,
    neighbor. Ex. 3227 (also 1 Sam. 619 Num.
    15.36.
  • Is it right to steal?
  • 2a. Do not steal. Ex. 2015 Lev. 1913.
  • 2b. …you shall (are to) spoil (pillage) the
    Egyptians.

75
The Problem Of Scripture (cont)
  • Can we get into heaven by good works or only
    by the grace of god?
  • 3a. For by grace (unmerited help) are you saved
    through faith…not of works. Rom. 320 Gal.
    216.
  • 3b. …by works (good deeds) a man is justified
    (saved), and not by faith only. Matt. 1916-21.

76
The Problem Of Scripture (cont)
  • Is it OK to own slaves?
  • 4a. Moreover of the children of the strangers
    (non-Jews) that do sojourn among you, of them
    shall you buy…and they shall be your
    possession…your bondsmen forever. Ex. 212-7
    Luke 1247 Col. 322.
  • 4b. Undo the heavy burdens…let the oppressed go
    free. Is. 586 Matt. 2310.

77
The Problem Of Scripture (cont)
  • Is it right to punish children for the
    transgressions of their parents?
  • 5a. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,
    visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the
    children unto the third fourth generation. Ex.
    205 347.
  • 5b. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the
    father. Ezek. 1820.

78
The Problem Of Scripture (cont)
  • Was Jesus a man (or man-god) of peace?
  • 6a. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto
    you. John 1427 Luke 214 Acts 1036.
  • 6b. Think not that I am (have) come to send
    peace on earth I came not to send peace, but a
    sword (violence against the enemies of God).

79
The Problem Of Scripture (cont)
  • Dare we question the veracity of the Genesis
    creation story?
  • 7a. God made all the animals before he created
    Adam (first man). Gen. 125-27.
  • 7b. God created Adam first. Gen 218-20.

80
The Problem Of Scripture (cont)
  • Can the rich get into heaven?
  • In the Old Testament, Psalms 1121-3 says,
    Blessed (happy) is the person who honors the
    Lord, who takes pleasure in obeying his
    commandments. The good mans children will be
    powerful in the land his descendants will be
    blessed, his family will be wealthy and rich, and
    he will be prosperous forever.
  • Then the Jesus of the New Testament contradicts
    the authors of the richly poetic Psalms. The
    Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke all have Jesus
    saying, Its easier for a camel to go through
    the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get
    into heaven. (Matt 1924 Mark 1025 and Luke
    1825)
  • Why do you suppose this Judeo-Christian deity
    would bless his faithful followers with riches
    when it is impossible for the rich to get into
    heaven?

81
The Problem Of Scripture (cont)
  • For a long list of irreconcilable biblical
    contradictions, start with http//www.biblicalnons
    ense.com/ chapter13.html and do your own
    research.

82
More Problems Of Scripture
  • Christians say they base their faith on the life
    of Jesus as portrayed in the New Testament in
    general and the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark,
    Luke, and John) in particular.
  • But if you really read these books with an
    understanding of the period in which they were
    written and understand the historical development
    of the New Testament, there is little support for
    faith.
  • Here are a few facts that lead to serious doubt.

83
The Problem Of Scripture 1
  • Question what can we tell from the gospels
    about Jesus divinity, wisdom, and ethic?
  • 1. None of the Gospels were written by
    eye-witnesses to the life and teachings of
    Jesus.
  • The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are the
    earliest accounts we have of the life and
    teachings of Jesus all written decades after
    the death of Jesus.
  • Marks gospel is the earliest and it was written
    decades after the alleged crucifixion of Jesus.
  • The authors simply wrote down oral traditions
    that had been circulating for a generation among
    a small, ignorant, superstitious, frightened, and
    unpopular Middle Eastern Jewish cult.

84
The Problem Of Scripture 2
  • Biblical Claim the modern-day gospels tell
    us, not only did Jesus do miracles, but also that
    his was a virgin birth and after he died he came
    back to life.
  • Consider these claims
  • 2. The earliest copy of Mark that have
    survived only mentions some petty miracles, but
    said nothing about a virgin birth or
    resurrection. Those fantasies were added later to
    compete for converts with the other religions in
    the region.

85
The Problem Of Scripture 3
  • 3. We do not have the original gospel
    manuscripts. We do not know what the originals
    said.
  • One might wonder, if God the all-powerful was so
    anxious to communicate with us, why did He not
    preserve His Words in the original manuscript so
    we could read them?

86
The Problem Of Scripture 4
  • 4. To make matters worse, we only have very poor
    copies.
  • New Testament has been altered over 200,000 times
    in the past 2,000 years
  • Sometimes by accident
  • Sometimes intentionally to change the meaning of
    a passage.

87
The Problem Of Scripture (cont)
  • Example 1. This first example of gospel
    alterations comes from early copies of Mark. Mark
    141 tell us that when Jesus met a leper who
    wanted to be healed, Jesus became angry. Later
    copies were changed.
  • To quote Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman, scribes
    found it difficult to ascribe the emotion of
    anger to Jesus in this context, and so modified
    the text to say, instead, that Jesus felt
    compassion for the man. Was Jesus angry or
    compassionate? No one today knows.

88
The Problem Of Scripture (cont)
  • Example 2. The authors of the gospels that
    followed Marks changed the oral and written
    accounts they inherited. For example, in writing
    his gospel, Luke drew on Marks earlier account,
    but changed it radically in places. For instance,
    Mark portrays a Jesus who anguishes over his
    impending death on the cross. Marks crucified
    Jesus cries out, My God, my God, why have you
    forsaken me?
  • By contrast, Lukes crucified Jesus is not in
    deep despair, but is rather sanguine someone who
    is in the mood to forgive those responsible for
    his horrific torture and eminent death. Father,
    forgive them for they do not know what they are
    doing. Lukes Jesus is calm because he has
    certain knowledge that his death has a cosmic
    purpose and that he will soon be in Paradise with
    his Father, the one and only God.

89
The Problem Of Scripture (cont)
  • That is the lesson Luke wants to convey to his
    readers, even if he has to make it up. Luke says,
    in effect, dont despair over your suffering and
    impending death. Jesus didnt. A better life
    awaits those of you who believe that the
    crucified Jesus is the Son of God and He will
    come back soon to establish justice and peace on
    earth.
  • What a nice resurrection myth. It is not unlike
    the many other resurrection myths anthropologists
    have found in primitive cultures around the
    world, such as New Guinea, that faced extreme
    deprivation or repression like the Christians in
    Roman times.

90
The Problem Of Scripture 5
  • 5. We do not know of any contemporary independent
    historical accounts of the life of Jesus (i.e.
    no independent validation no credibility).
  • All of the so-called contemporary accounts of
    the life of Jesus, such as the histories written
    by Josephus, were written decades after the
    alleged crucifixion of Jesus and only mentioned a
    minor Jewish cult that called themselves
    Christian. These few independent accounts did not
    validate the stories recounted in the gospels.

91
The Problem Of Scripture 6
  • 6. The earliest gospel pages that have survived
    do not mention anything about Jesus as the
    Messiah, Christ, or Savior of Mankind who
    died for our sins, as the church claims today.

92
The Problem Of Scripture 6 (cont)
  • The earliest gospel writings that survive are
    from codices (earliest form of books that
    replaced scrolls) by an unknown author or authors
    that scholars call Q. These writings predate the
    Gospel of Mark by decades and are a collection of
    sayings attributed to Jesus that were compiled
    from oral traditions. For example, the Q books
    contain the earliest known form of the Sermon on
    the Mount, the Lords Prayer, and the parable of
    the lost sheep.

93
The Problem Of Scripture 6 (cont)
  • Moreover, Q does not mention Jesus birth, death,
    or resurrection. Why? To his earliest followers,
    all of whom were Jews, Jesus was a wise teacher,
    but not the Messiah (or Christ in Greek) they
    longed for.
  • To Jesus earliest followers, his crucifixion was
    not seen as a world-shattering, cosmic event.
    There is no evidence that the earliest Christians
    had any idea that Jesus had died for their sins
    or was resurrected three days after dying on the
    cross.
  • These myths were added by the early Christian
    Church many decades after Jesus died.

94
The Problem Of Scripture 7
  • 7. Nor does Q mention the resurrection, which
    seems odd, since one would think that overcoming
    death would have been a big story even back then.

95
The Problem Of Scripture 8
  • 8. Jesus was an apocalyptic, not a social
    reformer.
  • Contrary to what the liberal Christian churches
    preach today, peace and love was not what Jesus
    was selling.
  • Jesus was not much concerned with the suffering
    he witnessed.
  • Jesus was not a proponent of social justice. He
    never challenged the injustices of the status
    quo, except to whine about the hypocrisy of the
    priests temple money-changers.
  • Jesus never advocated liberal democracy or
    universal human rights.
  • Jesus never explicitly condemned slavery, the
    treatment of women as second class citizens,
    abortion, capital punishment, or environmental
    destruction.

96
The Problem Of Scripture 9
  • What was the Jesus of the earliest Gospels
    selling?
  • 9. The Jesus of the gospels was really only
    concerned about one thing that everyone should
    repent (ask God to forgive their sins) because
    the final battle between God and Satan good and
    evil was about to take place at Armageddon
    after which God would establish the Kingdom of
    Heaven on earth and those who kept the faith
    would reign supreme.

97
The Problem Of Scripture 10
  • 10. Moreover, those who did not repent, God would
    torture for eternity.
  • So much for that God is love nonsense preached
    from liberal church pulpits. Throughout the
    Bible, the Hebrew god was shown to be a
    capricious, insecure, petulant deity with serious
    anger management issues. He was unimaginably
    cruel and unjust. Kindness and justice was never
    the Hebrew gods priority. Nor was it Jesus
    central message.
  • In short, the Jesus of the gospels did not bring
    us a new ethic as claimed by Christians.

98
The Problem Of Scripture 11
  • 11. Contrary to popular belief, the gospels do
    not portray a compassionate Jesus who uses his
    divine power to alleviate suffering, impart
    wisdom, or teach a new ethic of brotherhood.
  • If Jesus was divine, wise, compassionate, and a
    moral genius as Christians claim, why didnt he
    alleviate preventable suffering and death by
    explaining germ theory or unlocking the mysteries
    of DNA?

99
The Problem Of Scripture 11 (cont)
  • What good did the Jesus of the gospels do?
  • If Jesus was divine, youd think He could have
    casually mentioned something about antibiotics so
    that the billions of people who suffered horribly
    and died from infection over the past 2000 years
    could instead have been cured to live a long and
    happy life.

100
The Problem Of Scripture 11 (cont)
  • Jesus is said to have cured a leper, but did he
    give us the knowledge to cure leprosy? No, he did
    not. Jesus followers hardly knew enough to keep
    their own excrement separate from their drinking
    water, let alone how to cure disease. They all
    thought disease was caused by evil spirits. 14
  • Did Jesus instruct his followers to value reason
    and evidence. To the contrary, Jesus was selling
    childish emotionalism. He actually said that to
    enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we would have to
    think like a little child and believe in magic.
  • Pardon us if Secular Humanists are not impressed
    by Jesus wisdom or ethic.

101
The Problem Of Scripture 12
  • 12. As to Jesus alleged benevolence, we are
    not impressed. Jesus was not exactly Mr.
    Tolerant.
  • According to the later gospels, he made it clear
    either you believe that He (Jesus) is God (or at
    least Gods little helper, depending on your
    interpretation) or else His Father in Heaven will
    poor gasoline on you, set you on fire, and let
    you burn alive for eternity.
  • How benevolent is that? If you actually read the
    damn thing, the Bible is its own best argument
    for atheism.

102
The Problem Of Scripture 13
  • Consider the god Jesus his followers think
    is good and who Secular Humanists think is a
    monster.
  • The Hebrew Christian god sends plagues and
    famines to wipe out thousands of innocent people
    (Num. 251-9 2 Sam. 211 2410-15). He kills
    little children (2 Kings 223-24) for the most
    ridiculous reasons. He wants men banished for
    having sex with their own wives during
    menstruation (Lev. 2018). Blasphemers he wants
    stoned (Lev. 2416) and if a prostitute is the
    daughter of a priest, she must be burned alive
    (Lev. 219).
  • The Hebrew Christian god commanded the
    Israelites to commit ethnic cleansing (Ex.
    3411-14) and genocide in which millions of
    innocent people were slaughtered (Num. 212-3
    2133-35 Deut. 72 Josh 1-12 Judg. 2021, 25,
    35 2 Chron. 1315-20 148-13).
  • Children may be sacrificed as a Thank you to
    the Hebrew Christian god for his help in battle
    (2 King. 326-27) or to persuade him to end a
    famine (2 Sam. 21).

103
The Problem Of Scripture 14
  • 14. And what about Jesus family values?
  • The gospels have Jesus saying he wants people to
    hate their relatives so they will love him more
    (Matt. 1035-37) and he promises everlasting
    paradise to men who leave their wives and
    children and follow him (Matt. 1929 Mark
    1029-30 Luke 1829-30).
  • Jesus wants children who disrespect (curse) their
    parents to be killed (Matt. 154-7 Mark 79-10).

  • The New Testament promises that when Jesus
    returns, the unbelievers will be tortured and
    killed by the billions, even little children
    (Matt. 1014-15 Luke 1012 Matt. 2437 and
    Revelations through and through).
  • Following Battle at Armageddon, all
    non-Christians will be set on fire for eternity
    (Matt. 1342 2541 Luke 317 John 315-16 ,
    18, 36 647 1125-26). If God is love, as
    Christians claim, he certainly has a funny way of
    showing it.

104
The Problem Of Scripture 15
  • 15. Finally, one more fact that casts doubt
    on the veracity of scripture.
  • The books that form the New Testament are only
    some of the books written by early Christians
    about the life and teachings of Jesus. Many other
    books, such as the Gnostic Gospels of Mary
    Magdalene and Judas, were written and
    disseminated by Christians whose sincere beliefs
    about Jesus differed from the accounts that
    became the officially approved, orthodox version
    of the four gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and
    John.

105
The Problem Of Scripture 15 (cont)
  • The books of todays New Testament are accepted
    orthodoxy, not because they were credible
    independent historical accounts, but only because
    the Roman church authorities said so. 15
  • By official decree, the other books were banned
    and their versions of the Jesus story became
    heresy.
  • It could just as well have been otherwise.
    Perhaps the heretical accounts were more
    historically accurate than the orthodox versions.
  • Today, no one can possibly know.

106
The Response Of Faith
  • According to the faithful
  • The Secular Humanists arguments are irrelevant.

  • It does not matter that the intellectual
    arguments for faith are flawed or that faith is
    illogical or that scriptures have some internal
    contradictions we cannot easily explain away.
  • All that matters is that we have a relationship
    with God.
  • We know God exists because we can feel His
    Presence. We know He loves us because we can feel
    His love.

107
Response Of Secular Humanists
  • We dont feel the presence of God, so all we
    have to go on to form our worldview is our
    capacity for reason compassion.
  • What we do know is this where reason
    compassion have prevailed over superstition,
    willful ignorance, wishful, magical thinking,
    people have benefited measurably dramatically.

108
The Only Viable Argument For Faith
  • There is only one intellectually honest argument
    for belief
  • I believe because I want to.
  • I have a compelling emotional need to believe in
    the supernatural.
  • This worldview makes me feel good.
  • I do not wish to think too hard about the
    arguments that would destroy my self-delusion.
    Doing so would make me exceedingly anxious and
    depressed.

109
Suggested Useful Sources
  • http//www.infidels.org
  • http//skepticsannotatedbible.com
  • http//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_and_the_Bible

  • Lost Scriptures Books that Did Not Make It into
    the New Testament. Bart Erhman
  • Misquoting Jesus. Bart Erhman
  • Gods Problem. Bart Erhman
  • End Session II.
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