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No God. Now What?. An Introduction to Secular Humanism Session II. Session II A Few Reasons Why SH Don’t Believe.

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no god now what
No God. Now What?

An Introduction to Secular Humanism

Session II

session ii a few reasons why sh don t believe
Session IIA Few Reasons Why SH Don’t 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

the 4 most devastating arguments against the existence of god
The 4 Most Devastating Arguments Against The Existence of God
  • All rational arguments for God’s existence are flawed.
  • Faith is illogical.
  • The Problem of Evil
  • The Problem of Scripture
why it matters belief in god has had terrible consequences
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.


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 one’s own spouse;
  • the sale of birth-control devices and medicines;
  • physician assisted suicide;
  • abortion;
  • embryonic stem cell research;
  • witchcraft and
  • same-sex marriage.
using sacred scripture to rationalize their bigotry superstitious americans have also passed laws
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.

despite the faithful s best efforts to prove the existence goodness of god over thousands of years
Despite The Faithful’s Best Efforts To Prove The Existence & Goodness Of God Over Thousands of Years…

All arguments have so far


Basically, There Are 10 (or 11) Arguments For The Existence Of God. All are ancient.All Are Fatally Flawed.
  • The Argument From First CauseSometimes called the Cosmological Argumentoriginally proposed by St. Thomas 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.
flaws in the first cause argument
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.

flaws in the first cause argument11
Flaws In The First Cause Argument

Third, Aquinas’ “logic” proved nothing more than that he assumed God’s 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

2 the argument from design
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

* Theist’s misunderstanding of evolution.

flaws in the argument from design
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 theories of gravity, electricity, and relativity.
flaws in the argument from design14
Flaws In The Argument From Design

4. Fundamentalists argue that complex design requires an Intelligent Designer. They conveniently ignore this little problem:

  • They claim that their god is the all-powerful, all-knowing Creator-of-the-Universe.
  • Nothing could be more complex than an all-powerful, all-knowing Creator-of-the-Universe.
  • Who, then, designed their god?
before after darwin s origins of species
Before & After Darwin’s 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
flaws in the argument from design16
Flaws In The Argument From Design

Finally, even if this Intelligent Design argument was provable, which it isn’t, 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

3 the argument from morality
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
flaws in the argument from morality
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
examples con t
Examples (con’t)
  • 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.
examples con t20
Examples (con’t)

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 God’s (600+) laws are relative. They have 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.
4 the argument from fear
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.
argument from fear the corollary
Argument From Fear: the Corollary:

Claim: if God does exist, and we don’t 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.
flaws in the argument from fear
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. 9


5 the argument from purpose
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.
5 the argument from purpose con t
5. The Argument From Purpose (con’t)

Corollary claim: without God, people would have no purpose, no reason to live.

To the faithful, these thoughts are too depressing.

Surely, we humans must be a part 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.

flaws in the argument from purpose
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.
more definitions metaphysics
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.
more definition ontology
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.
6 the ontological argument
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.”
6 the ontological argument con t
6. The Ontological Argument (con’t)
  • 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.
6 the ontological argument con t32
6. The Ontological Argument (con’t)

In other words, God must exist because we cannot conceive of anything greater.

6 the ontological argument con t33
6. The Ontological Argument (con’t)

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.
flaws in the ontological argument
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:
  • Thinking deeply about the ontological argument will only convince you that God or gods exist if you want them to.
7 the argument from consciousness
7. The Argument From Consciousness

Claim: I can think, therefore God must exist.

flaw in the argument from consciousness
Flaw In The Argument From Consciousness
  • I can think, therefore it is highly unlikely that God or gods exist.
  • ‘Nuff said.
8 the argument from miracles
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 people’s lives.

flaws in the argument from miracles
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.
flaws in the argument from miracles con t
Flaws In The Argument From Miracles (con’t)
  • Anecdotal 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
  • 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?”
9 the arguments from scripture
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.
flaws in the argument from scripture
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.
10 the argument from happiness
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.
flaws in the argument from happiness
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.
three free thoughts on happiness
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.
two more free thoughts on happiness
Two More Free Thoughts on Happiness
  • Success: getting what you want.
  • Happiness: wanting what you get.11
hope a secular humanist perspective
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.
11 pascal s wager
11. “Pascal’s 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.
flaws in pascal s wager
Flaws In “Pascal’s 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.

flaws in pascal s wager con t
Flaws In “Pascal’s Wager” (con’t)

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.

flaws in pascal s wager con t50
Flaws In “Pascal’s Wager” (con’t)

3. Pascal’s 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.

faith is illogical begin segment
Faith Is IllogicalBegin segment

Our claim: all arguments for the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, and benevolent Supreme Being are illogical.

faith is illogical con t
Faith Is Illogical (con’t)

Fact #1. Each year, billions 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.

faith is illogical con t53
Faith Is Illogical (con’t)

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.
faith is illogical con t54
Faith Is Illogical (con’t)

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. 12

End segment: faith is illogical.

five biblical reasons why people suffer die 13 begin segment on problem of evil
Five Biblical Reasons Why People Suffer & Die 13Begin Segment on Problem of Evil
  • Suffering is punishment for sin (teach misbehaving people a lesson they won’t soon forget - God is just being a “good” parent).
  • Suffering builds character. 14
  • 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 God’s fault).
  • God created people with free will. Thus, people are free to ignore God’s will and harm the innocent & vulnerable for personal gain (again, not God’s fault).
the problem of evil
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.

the problem of evil why good people suffer die according to the bible
The Problem Of EvilWhy 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.
problem of evil con t
Problem Of Evil (con’t)

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 many kinds of suffering kill innocent people by the billions. Apparently, God the all-knowing, does not know when enough is enough.
problem of evil con t59
Problem Of Evil (con’t)

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 believer’s faith is strong and will withstand adversity. But how can an all-powerful Deity be insecure?
problem of evil con t60
Problem Of Evil (con’t)

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 God’s ways and these evil forces cause God’s followers pain and death.
problem of evil con t61
Problem Of Evil (con’t)

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. 15
problem of evil con t62
Problem Of Evil (con’t)

Claim # 5: suffering is a result of mankind’s free will.

  • This theory is a favorite of Christian fundamentalists today. It attempts to explain man’s inhumanity to man.
  • Good people suffer and die because we are free to disobey God’s commandments (to love one another) and inflict terrible suffering upon the innocent and ignore their desperate needs.
problem of evil con t63
Problem Of Evil (con’t)
  • 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. 16
  • Imagine a father who watches and does nothing as his 10 year old son tortures his infant daughter to death. Based on the free will argument, Christians call that father “good.” Secular Humanists consider such a father “evil.”
  • If the Christians “father-god” really exists, He should be charged with with crimes against humanity and summarily executed.
problem of evil con t64
Problem Of Evil (con’t)

Why does God allow earthquakes to kill thousands and leave 10’s of thousands of innocent people homeless every year? Are they being punished or just tested?

Afghan earthquake.

the problem of evil con t
The Problem Of Evil (con’t)

Why doesn’t 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.

the problem of evil con t66
The Problem Of Evil (con’t)

Why doesn’t 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.

the problem of evil con t67
The Problem Of Evil (con’t)

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? Uninterested? Non-existent?

the problem of evil con t68
The Problem Of Evil (con’t)

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?


the problem of evil con t69
The Problem Of Evil (con’t)

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.

the problem of evil con t70
The Problem Of Evil (con’t)
  • 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 didn’t intervene because…?

AIDS victim - India

the problem of evil con t71
The Problem Of Evil (con’t)

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

maybe the reason good people suffer and die is unanswerable perhaps it s just a mystery
Maybe the reason good people suffer and die is unanswerable. Perhaps It’s Just A Mystery

Did 10’s 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 it’s all a mystery. So we might as well eat, drink & be merry as best we can. 17

the problem of scripture begin segment
The Problem Of ScriptureBegin 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 don’t 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.
the problem of scripture con t
The Problem Of Scripture (con’t)

Secular Humanists believe the stories of scripture (Torah, Bible, Qur’an, 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 Qur’an or any other “holy” book.

the problem of scripture con t75
The Problem Of Scripture (con’t)

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 gospel’s Jesus.
  • the wisdom of Jesus for what it really is.
  • the real ethics of Jesus.
  • books and websites that make scriptural scholarship easier.
the problem of scripture con t76
The Problem Of Scripture (con’t)

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. 20:13

1b. “Slay every man, his brother, companion, & neighbor.” Ex. 32:27 (also: 1 Sam. 6:19; Num. 15.36.

Is it right to steal?

2a. “Do not steal.” Ex. 20:15; Lev. 19:13.

2b. “…you shall (are to) spoil (pillage) the Egyptians.”

the problem of scripture con t77
The Problem Of Scripture (con’t)

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. 3:20; Gal. 2:16.

3b. “…by works (good deeds) a man is justified (saved), and not by faith only.” Matt. 19:16-21.

the problem of scripture con t78
The Problem Of Scripture (con’t)

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. 21:2-7; Luke 12:47; Col. 3:22.

4b. “Undo the heavy burdens…let the oppressed go free.” Is. 58:6; Matt. 23:10.

the problem of scripture con t79
The Problem Of Scripture (con’t)

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. 20:5 & 34:7.

5b. “The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father.” Ezek. 18:20.

the problem of scripture con t80
The Problem Of Scripture (con’t)

Was Jesus a man (or man-god) of peace?

6a. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.” John14:27; Luke 2:14; Acts 10:36.

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).” Matt 10:34.

the problem of scripture con t81
The Problem Of Scripture (con’t)

Dare we question the veracity of the Genesis creation story?

7a. God made all the animals before he created Adam (first man). Gen. 1:25-27.

7b. God created Adam first. Gen 2:18-20.

the problem of scripture con t82
The Problem Of Scripture (con’t)

Can the rich get into heaven?

  • In the Old Testament, Psalms 112:1-3 says, “Blessed (happy) is the person who honors the Lord, who takes pleasure in obeying his commandments. The good man’s 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, “It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven.” (Matt 19:24; Mark 10:25; and Luke 18:25)
  • 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?
the problem of scripture con t83
The Problem Of Scripture (con’t)

For a long list of irreconcilable biblical contradictions, start with and do your own research.

To see why the Bible is such a terrible guide to moral behavior, check out:

more problems of scripture
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.
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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.
  • Mark’s 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.
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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 has survived only mentions some petty miracles, but says nothing about a virgin birth or resurrection. Those fantasies were added later to compete for converts with the other religions in the region.

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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?
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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.
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The Problem Of Scripture (con’t)

Example #1. This first example of gospel alterations comes from early copies of Mark. Mark 1:41 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.
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The Problem Of Scripture (con’t)

Example #2. The authors of the gospels that followed Mark’s changed the oral and written accounts they inherited. For example, in writing his gospel, Luke drew on Mark’s earlier account, but changed it radically in places. For instance, Mark portrays a Jesus who anguishes over his impending death on the cross. Mark’s crucified Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

  • By contrast, Luke’s 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.” Luke’s 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.
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The Problem Of Scripture (con’t)
  • That is the lesson Luke wants to convey to his readers, even if he has to make it up. Luke says, in effect, don’t despair over your suffering and impending death. Jesus didn’t. 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.
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The Problem Of Scripture (con’t)

Example #3

Many familiar NT passages are not in earliest codices, but added a century or more later:

  • The last 12 verses of Mark: resurrection & ascension.
  • The Woman Accused of Adultery: John 7:53-8:12.
  • The Doctrine of Trinity: I John 5:7-8 added 9th century.
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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.
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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.

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The Problem Of Scripture #6 (con’t)

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 Lord’s Prayer, and the parable of the lost sheep.

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The Problem Of Scripture #6 (con’t)
  • 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.
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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.

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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.
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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.

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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 god’s 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.
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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 didn’t he alleviate preventable suffering and death by explaining germ theory or unlocking the mysteries of DNA?
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The Problem Of Scripture #11 (con’t)

What good did the Jesus of the gospels do?

  • If Jesus was divine, you’d 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.18
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The Problem Of Scripture #11 (con’t)
  • 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.
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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 God’s 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.
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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. 25:1-9 & 2 Sam. 21:1 & 24:10-15). He kills little children (2 Kings 2:23-24) for the most ridiculous reasons. He wants men banished for having sex with their own wives during menstruation (Lev. 20:18). Blasphemers he wants stoned (Lev. 24:16) and if a prostitute is the daughter of a priest, she must be burned alive (Lev. 21:9).
  • The Hebrew & Christian god commanded the Israelites to commit ethnic cleansing (Ex. 34:11-14) and genocide in which millions of innocent people were slaughtered (Num. 21:2-3; 21:33-35; Deut. 7:2; Josh; 1-12; Judg. 20:21, 25, 35; 2 Chron. 13:15-20; 14:8-13).
  • Children may be sacrificed as a “Thank you” to the Hebrew & Christian god for his help in battle (2 King. 3:26-27) or to persuade him to end a famine (2 Sam. 21).
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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. 10:35-37) and he promises everlasting paradise to men who leave their wives and children and follow him (Matt. 19:29; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 18:29-30).
  • Jesus wants children who disrespect (curse) their parents to be killed (Matt. 15:4-7; Mark 7:9-10).
  • The New Testament promises that when Jesus returns, the unbelievers will be tortured and killed by the billions, even little children (Matt. 10:14-15; Luke 10:12; Matt. 24:37; and Revelations through and through).
  • Following Battle at Armageddon, all non-Christians will be set on fire for eternity (Matt. 13:42; 25:41; Luke 3:17; John 3:15-16 , 18, 36; 6:47; 11:25-26). If “God is love,” as Christians claim, he certainly has a funny way of showing it.
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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.
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The Problem Of Scripture #15 (con’t)
  • The books of today’s New Testament are accepted orthodoxy, not because they were credible independent historical accounts, but only because the Roman church authorities said so. 19
  • 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.
the response of faith
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 hundreds of internal contradictions, inconsistencies, & absurdities that cannot easily be explain away.
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The Response Of Faith
  • It does not matter that we do not know what the original gospels said.
  • It does not matter that the New Testament we read today is much different than the oldest Greek manuscripts in existence.
  • It does not matter that we cannot know what Jesus said or did.
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The Response Of Faith
  • All that matters is that we have a “relationship with God.” (or Jesus)
  • We know God exists because we can feel His Presence.
  • We know He loves us because we can feel His love.
response of secular humanists
Response Of Secular Humanists
  • We don’t “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 dramatically.
the only viable argument for faith
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.

Session IIIGod, Faith and Religion: Houses Of Cards Built On Quicksand...hoping to restore reason to minds run amok.Presented by: Gil Shapiro

suggested useful sources
Suggested Useful Sources
  • Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament. Bart Erhman
  • Misquoting Jesus. Bart Erhman
  • God’s Problem. Bart Erhman

End Session II.