Christians’ Favourite Delusions 30: The Resurrection means we’re going to Heaven.

Resurrection2According to the Bible, why did the resurrection happen?

To show us that we’re all going to go to Heaven when we die? No, nowhere does the Bible say that.

To demonstrate that Jesus was really God? No, it doesn’t say that either.

To let people know that God was about to resurrect everyone so that the righteous could live on a renewed Earth, while the rest would be sent off to eternal punishment?

Yup, that’s the one. That’s the way Mark, Matthew and Luke tell it and it’s also what Paul believed. He refers to Jesus as the ‘first fruits’, with lots more ‘saints’ being resurrected after him to populate God’s kingdom on Earth:

…in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet (1 Corinthians 15. 20-25).

This is why Matthew has hordes of the dead rising from their tombs (Matthew 27.53) – he sees resurrection as the indisputable proof that the Kingdom has arrived. Matthew is so desperate to show that it’s already started, he has bodies emerging from their graves even before he has Jesus himself come back from the dead.

Of course, all of it’s a fairy story, Matthew’s zombies and Jesus’ resurrection included. As we saw last time, there’s no evidence at all that Jesus rose physically from the grave. Paul’s experience of the resurrected Christ was of a beam of light that appeared in his own head, and from this he concocted his entire theology (Galatians 1.12). When the gospel writers created their resurrection stories much later on, they turned such visions into ‘real’ encounters with a reinvigorated Jesus. They offer stories of his eventual return – after a quick visit to Heaven – as a conquering hero who will kick-start God’s Kingdom on Earth (Matthew 25.31).

So there you are. Jesus’ return from the dead, which didn’t happen anyway, was intended to be the first of many such resurrections, right here on Earth. According to Paul and the later synoptic gospels, it signified that God’s Kingdom was about to be established in this world, not the next. In the first century.

As we know, it all happened just as they said it would.

 

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Christians’ Favourite Delusions 29: The Resurrection Can’t Be Disproved

Or can it?Burial

The resurrection can’t be disproved, or so says a Christian on Bob Seidensticker’s Cross Examined blog. If it could be, the commenter tells us, he would abandon his Christian faith. Of course it isn’t up to sceptics to disprove the resurrection, or any other of religion’s fantastic claims. It’s up to those making them to demonstrate their veracity, just as it would be for me to prove I keep an invisible pink unicorn in my garage. There would be no obligation on anyone else to disprove it.

That being said, the resurrection is rather easy to refute. First, let’s qualify what we mean by the term, or rather what Christians usually mean by it: that Jesus rose from the dead in or as the same body that had, a couple of days earlier, died on the cross. There are, it’s true, some liberal Christians who find this such a preposterous idea that they concede the resurrection happened only in some sort of metaphorical fashion. They’re probably right, so our truck is not with these particular believers, even if their evangelical brethren take them to task for their apostasy. No, we are refuting the idea that Jesus rose physically from the grave, fully alive again, after spending slightly under two days completely and entirely dead.

Here’s how we can know this didn’t happen:
1. There’s only one eye-witness account of the resurrected Jesus, and that’s Paul’s (in Galatians 1.11-12 and 1 Corinthians 9.1 & 15.45; I’ve covered this more fully here.) And what does he ‘see’? Not a resurrected body, just a beam of light and a voice, both in his own head as the text makes clear (the Greek states baldly his experience was ‘within’ him). His resurrected Jesus is therefore a vision or an hallucination or an epileptic event. It is most emphatically not an encounter with an actual man returned from the dead.

So much for our only eye-witness. What about the others?

There are no others:

2. All the other resurrection accounts were written, third, fourth, fifth hand, some 40-70 years after the supposed event, so they’re not exactly reliable. They are, in fact, positively unreliable. In these accounts, Jesus is unrecognisable to those who knew him; he walks through walls; disappears at will and beams up into the sky.

I’m sure it won’t escape your attention that these are not something a flesh-and-blood body can do. They are not, as a result, descriptions of real experiences and belong, like Paul’s inner experience, to the realm of fantasy/visions/hallucination. Paul himself was of the view that others’ experiences of the ‘risen Christ’ were exactly the same as his own (1 Corinthians 15.6-8).

Not only this, the gospel accounts of these visions were embellished between the time they occurred (if they did) and their being recorded many years later by different groups of interested parties. They were also significantly tampered with. For example, Mark’s gospel originally had no resurrection appearances; these were added later – possibly 40 years later – 80 after the events they supposedly describe.

And so we come to the most conclusive of the arguments against the resurrection:

3. The dead stay dead. Always, with no exceptions. Once the brain is dead it cannot be revived – certainly not 40 hours after it is extinguished. “Ah, but wait!” say Christians, “Jesus was (the Son of) God so the normal laws of nature don’t apply. He is the one true exception.” But this is special pleading based on circular reasoning: Jesus rose from the dead because he was (the Son of) God. How do we know he was (the Son of) God? Because he rose from the dead. As such, it’s no proof at all – even if, in Romans 1.14, Paul seems to think it is. The man Jesus died and then… he stayed dead.

There are other reasons that lend support to the fact that the resurrection did not happen (for example, all the noise about an empty tomb, which is nothing more than a distracting sleight of hand. So what? What does an empty tomb prove? Certainly not a resurrection.) These three, however, are sufficient evidence that Jesus didn’t physically rise from the dead – and without the resurrection, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:13-19, Christianity falls apart:

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile…

How right he was.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to take my invisible pink unicorn for a walk.

Christian Homeopathy

Drink2Homeopathy works on the ‘principle’ that in order to cure yourself of an illness or complaint you take natural remedies in a radically diluted form. Like, say, a couple of molecules of arsenic per reservoir of water. And it really works. It says so on the Internet so it must be true.

Biblical morality is a form of homeopathy. At least that’s how most Christians practise it: in miniscule amounts and only to their own taste.

Others remain strongly opposed to homeopathic marriage.

It only encourages them

HealDear Believer,

Let us be direct. We have to tell you, out of love, that we can never serve you in our restaurants, never teach you in our colleges, never supply you with goods we make, never sell you items from our shops. Why? Because of your fake faith.

Your belief in a mythical figure and in eternal life is a sin against the intellect. More than this, it causes you to act in mean-spirited, unloving ways. We cannot endorse such abhorrent, evil practices.

So if you come into our restaurants, classrooms, shops or offices wearing a cross or talking about your faith or praying, you will be turned away. We do this only because it breaks our hearts to see you lost in your delusion and to witness the damage you do to other people as a result of your beliefs.

It is our fervent wish, dear “Christian” friend, that by doing this we can lead you to abandon the illusory path you have chosen so that you may reclaim both your intelligence and humanity.

We hope you understand that all we say and all we intend to do, we do out of love and in the spirit of truth.

faithlessly,

The Freethinkers

What do you think? Too judgemental? Too much of a generalisation? Tars all Christians with the same brush? Unforgiving? Moralistic?

You’re right…

The original version of this letter is a long-winded, sanctimonious diatribe by right-wing Christian, Matt Barber. You can find the full thing at this link, but here are the highlights:

Dear homosexual,

…Let us be direct. According to the unequivocal moral precepts of biblical Christianity, explicit throughout both the Old and New Testaments, your homosexual behavior is sin. Sin is evil. Homosexual behavior is the central, defining characteristic of your counterfeit “gay marriage.” Therefore, “gay marriage” is evil. Christians are obligated to avoid sin – to “do no evil”…

It really is that simple. This is why, as faithful Christians (apostate “Christians” notwithstanding), we will never have anything whatsoever to do with your pagan, sin-based “same-sex wedding” rituals.

We will not bake your fake wedding cake.
We will not arrange your fake wedding flowers.
We will not take your fake wedding pictures.
We will not host your fake wedding reception.

We will not do these things because to do these things is to disobey God. It is to aid you in your sin, to cause you to stumble, which, in and of itself, is to layer sin upon sin…

We’re telling you no because we love you with the love of Christ. But understand this: As we are so commanded, we must, and do, hate the evil conduct by which you define your identity… what you do is wrong. Period. Full stop….

Dear “gay” friend, you will one day realize, hopefully before it becomes too late, that you are not only on the wrong side of history, you are on the wrong side of eternity.

It breaks our hearts to see you there.

And so we refuse to help send you.

Sincerely,

The Christians

Yes, definitely unforgiving and judgemental. Presumptuous too: Matt Barber speaks for all Christians? He writes and signs his letter in your name. Who appointed him to do that?

Arrogant in deciding we’re all sinners, gay people more than any. The whole sin thing is a specifically Christian mindset which – surprise, surprise – not all of us subscribe to, not least because it has little purchase in the real world.

Hypocritical that he condemns everyone, gay people more than any, but conveniently ignores the parts of his saviour’s teaching that says ‘don’t judge unless you want to be judged’ (Matthew 7.1). What does it feel like, Christians, when the tables are turned? Those of you, like Barber, who sit in judgement of others merit judgement in return. This is a sound Biblical principle, every bit as much as, or even more than, the ‘principles’ you use to condemn your ‘gay friends’ as ‘evil’. JC himself said so.

Ignorant too, of the scriptures that say ‘give to all who ask’ (JC again, in Luke 6.30-36). They don’t say, anywhere, ‘refuse to do anything for a group of people you don’t approve of.’ As Christians you’re not given that option, no matter how much you twist unrelated verses to endorse the position you’ve already chosen to take.

No, Christians like Barber who stand on ‘principles’ like these, who think they know the mind of Jesus while ignoring the very words he said are unchristian, unforgiving, unbiblical, arrogant and, whatever they may claim to the contrary, unloving. How attractive they make their faith seem.

There Is No God. And Here’s Why

adamSometimes I wonder why I continue writing this blog. There seems to be little that can shake believers from their delusions; what I write here doesn’t appear to be it. When they do respond it’s to tell me that I’m in for a shock when, after my death, I stand in front of the the throne of God and have to give an account of myself. I’ll not be smiling then, they tell me. They’re right, I won’t be. Not because of any ‘judgement’, but because dead people don’t smile. Not of their own volition anyway.

Christians can’t seem to see the ludicrousness of their post-mortem proposals. Religion, all religion, is wrong about most things at most levels; it denies death, which does exist, and replaces it with fantasies about supernatural beings, eternal life and judgements, none of which does. Christianity offers false promises, failed prophecies and an impossible morality, which Christians themselves can’t even manage. By and large they don’t even try to (see previous posts on all of this) yet they stick uncritically, unthinkingly, blindly to the fantasy elements of their ‘faith’ because they’re frightened of their own extinction and want to live forever. Christianity deceitfully promises them that they will – the ultimate false promise.

So let’s cut to the chase. There is no God. This is an indisputable fact, though believers will dispute it anyway. Even now, any Christians who are reading this will be muttering something about the fool saying in his heart there is no God; another tired, cliched response, which I’ve already considered here. But there is no God, not because of any foolishness on my part but because of the evidence. Or rather the absence of it. There is no evidence there is anything other than the physical universe or that life came about as the result of anything other than physical processes (it is not the case that scientists do not know how life emerged from non-life; they do and it did) or that humans evolved by any means other than blind, mindless natural selection. God is not required to explain any of this; not necessary to explain anything at all to do with life, the universe and ‘why there is something rather than nothing’. That being the case, we can know for certainty that he wasn’t in any way involved.

Let’s take a more down-to-Earth parallel to illustrate the point: we do not need to resort to stories of the tooth fairy to explain dentistry. I’m guessing that even Christians would agree with this; the tooth fairy has no part in matters of dental hygiene, orthodontist training or even the payment sometimes made by indulgent parents when their child’s tooth falls out. Trying to force the tooth fairy into any of these scenarios is not only entirely unnecessary, it’s erroneous and unhelpful. Dentistry is far better explained without reference to a mythical sprite. The tooth fairy not being needed, we can safely conclude that she doesn’t actually exist; she is a figment invented for children intended to take the away the pain of tooth loss, nothing more.

So it is with God in explanations into which he too is shoe-horned. He’s not needed, he’s superfluous to requirements. That being so, we can similarly conclude that he isn’t real either. A being that isn’t needed to explain anything is one that doesn’t exist.

This is not, note, a rejection of a figure who, even now, is sitting up in the sky somewhere feeling sad or angry because we’re ‘shaking our fist’ at him. If that’s what you’re seeing, you’re still believing in God, even if it is one you might be in the process of rejecting. It’s worse than that, Jim (or better): there is no super-being in the sky, or anywhere else. The universe is devoid of gods and of God; it always has been and always will be. There are none to be found because there are none there; not your pet god, nor those of other faiths, ancient or modern. None. There is only the physical universe itself and for the brief time we are here in it, we are lucky to be here in it. Which is more than any god has ever managed.

What Jesus should have said…

KnockLists are the thing, aren’t they. It’s time we had some on this here blog thingy.

List 1. 10 things Christians pretend Jesus didn’t say:

1. Treat others as you like to be treated (Matthew 7.12)

2. Forgive so that you’ll be forgiven (Matthew 6.14)

3. Don’t judge unless you want to be judged (Matthew 7.1)

4. Sell all you have and give it to the poor (Mark 10.21)

5. Turn the other cheek (Luke 6.29)

6. Go the extra mile (Matthew 5.41)

7. Give to all who ask and lend without expecting anything back (Luke 6.30 & 35)

8. Love your neighbour as much as yourself (Matthew 22.39)

9. Love your enemies (Luke 6.27)

10. Don’t worry about the future (Matthew 6.34)

If Christians followed these injunctions, what a very different world it would be. Instead, what do we get..?

List 2. 10 things Christians think Jesus should have said, but didn’t (with a few examples):

1. Show love for others by telling them what sinners they are (1, 2)

2. Stand on principle as much as you can (1, 2, 3).

3. Take easy offence (1, 2)

4. See persecution everywhere (1, 2, 3, 4)

5. Sue those who upset you (1, 2)

6. Demonise those who don’t share your world view (1, 2, 3, 4)

7. Hate homosexuals and oppose same-sex marriage (1, 2, 3)

8. Set yourself up as defender of God’s standards (1, 2)

9. Argue endlessly about points of doctrine (1, 2)

10. Obsess about the future and the state of the world (1, 2, 3)

This is the Christianity we’ve got. Well done, o righteous ones, for perverting Jesus’ radical (and yes, ridiculously impossible) message into this unsavoury concoction of mean-spirited self-centredness. It’s what he wouldn’t have wanted.

 

Why_Christians_Don't_Cover_for_KindleMy book Why Christians Don’t do What Jesus Tells Them To …And What They Believe Instead looks at how Christians ignore most of what Jesus says in favour of a Christianity of their own making. You can find it here in the UK, here in the US and on Kindle. Go on. You know you want it.

 

Idiotic Stuff Jesus Said 10: How to Entertain

Last supper 2Here’s something you don’t see every day.

When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.
Luke 14.12-14

In fact, you don’t see it at all, because Christians feel free to flout this command of their Lord’s. I mean, he couldn’t speak any more plainly than he does here, could he? And yet, Christians, you don’t invite the poor, the dispossessed and the disabled to your luncheons and dinner parties. Like the rest of us – that’s the unsaved and sinners in Christian-speak – you only invite your friends, family and fellow-believers. If you’re well-placed, maybe as an official of the established church or as an obscenely wealthy evangelist, you invite those who are similarly rich and famous. As far as you’re concerned Jesus and his ridiculous ideas can just f**k off.

What? You object? You don’t say this, Christians? It would be blasphemous? But of course you say it, when you spiritualise his point, explain it away (‘what he really means is…’), claim the context excuses you or just plain ignore him.

Please don’t misunderstand me; I don’t blame you. Jesus’ expectations are totally unreasonable – idiotic even. But I’m not a Christian; I don’t pretend to follow him and don’t have to do as he says. You, on the other hand claim him as your saviour, your God, and profess to live your life in obedience to him. Except you don’t, do you; you wilfully disregard the clear, direct instructions, like this one, that he gives you.

You much prefer setting your own agenda, whether that’s ‘defending God’s standards’ (your God is incapable of defending his own standards?), bashing the gay or making sure you yourself are ‘blessed’. But these are not part of Jesus’ agenda; his good news (mad as it is), is much more concerned with elevating the lowest of the low, including inviting them into your homes and feeding and entertaining them.

So how about it Christians? How about it all you outspoken men of God – Stephen Green, Steven Anderson, Scott Lively, Matt Barber, Franklin Graham – and all you other Christians; isn’t it time you got down off your soap-box of whatever it is you’re opposing this week and made a start doing what your saviour commands you to do?

Well, isn’t it?