Why Do Atheists Bother?

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Joelyn:
Part of the problem with Evangelical religious beliefs is that some want to make parts of it public policy (e.g., eliminate marriage equality, reproductive rights, etc.)

Frankly, I couldn't care less about any one's religious delusion as long as they are law abiding, do no harm to minors (deny health care based on faith healing) and don't want to impose via public policies their religious strictures on my personal life. So as long Christian apologists enter the public square chewing on their religious delusions, I'll be right there chewing back. Why not? If they can compete in the marketplace of ideas, that's their problem not mine. Cheers!
Wayne Thompson:
Well said! It’s not simply because they knock on our doors with an invitation to church. They vote (which is their right as much as ours, of course). But, they also have PACs which pressure elected officials to get their religious-based agendas through Congress, even though the churches are not taxed like the rest of us.

When millions of delusional people think that an imaginary superman in the sky is in charge of everything, how can they be expected to take issues like Climate Change seriously or even try to understand it? After all, Climate Change wasn’t mentioned in their Bronze Age instructional manual, so why should they believe it? The Evangelical vote was largely responsible for why the world is now having to deal with a President Trump. These are the kinds of outcomes you get when people don’t base their beliefs upon evidence and use reason in making their decisions.
Don Camp (a Christian):
So, what has that to do with you?

I honestly don't get the new atheists' anger. So you don't believe. Okay. So you don't like people knocking on your door with an invitation to church. Say no thank you politely. What's the big deal?
Herald Newman:
It has everything to do with [us]. Delusioned people, who believe nonsense, are making the world a worse place because of that nonsense! I have every right to fight nonsense when it spills over into my life!
Found here. Enjoy.

Should We Trust NT Testimony That Jesus Arose from the Dead?

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Here's a Christian named Angie on Facebook about testimonial evidence of the resurrection of Jesus:

Angie: "One method of determining good evidence is the testimony of others. Courts use testimony all the time and consider it in making decisions. We have the testimony of several hundred people who saw Jesus after his death and burial. This must be considered in believing or denying this event. One day there might be an explanation of this, but not yet."

My response:" Would you and others keep your facts straight? We don't have evidence 500 people saw the resurrected Jesus. What we have is someone SAYING 500 people saw the resurrected Jesus."

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Angie: "What's so preposterous about one's testimony? Used all the time in court as respectable evidence."

My answer: "We have no way to cross-examine this testimony. How do we know the results would not be exactly as we found out with Joseph Smith and Mormonism? You're asking us to accept non-cross examined testimony from a couple of different writers in the ancient distant past, and that's not reasonable for extraordinary miraculous claims."

Was Hitchens right: Does religion poison everything?

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No. But it does far more harm than good

Dr. Richard Carrier On Why You Can’t Cite Opinions On Whether Josephus Mentioned Jesus Before 2014

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Carrier presents the latest interesting scholarly findings right here.

Unplugging the Robo-Craig 5000

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One rainy afternoon, Johnny ventured to explore the attic and came across a dusty old bin buried under a mound of discarded boxes. Flashlight in hand, he managed to open the box, discovering a garbled collection of old toys, his father’s childhood companions.

“Daddy, daddy,” Johnny cried, awkwardly making his way down the attic ladder, one toy in hand, “What is this?”

“Why that’s my old Robo-Craig 5000, Johnny. Let’s plug him in and see what happens.”

His father took the toy figure from Johnny’s hand, attempted to dust it off, and plugged in the worn extension cord protruding from his back.

“Jesus under fire! Jesus under fire!” exclaimed Robo-Craig. “Position more radical than Borg!” “Lüdemann, Crossan, Lüdemann . Borg. Borg. Borr rr…” Robo-Craig sputtered to a halt.

“What’s he saying, father?”

“Those were some of his old play-friends, Johnny.”

Johnny shrugged. Disinterested, the boy sped off to program a science brainPop mod on his Android device.

Don Camp Knows His Indoctrinating Catechism Fairly Well. Now He Should Think Through It!

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Don Camp has roosted here at DC for some time now. I wonder what his motivation is. I hope he's here to test his faith against the evidence, but of that I can't say. He's a former teacher/professor of literature classes and his comments are respectful and polite. His arguments are always a brand of special pleading though, which he cannot see. What he's doing is spitting out the catechism he was taught at an early age, by mindlessly quote-mining from the Bible and/or the catechism theology built on it. He knows his catechism well even if he has never thought through it. Let's see if an atheist can make him think about it. Take a good look at what he said:
In the end, it is not what you believe that is crucial but who you believe. A person may believe all the doctrine he is taught as a kid in a Christian home and still not be a believer because he is not trusting in the person or the mercy of God.
Surely you have heard this said before. I said it. Every ex-Christian has probably said it. So Camp tells us nothing we haven't considered before. Nothing. Yet he may think it's profound. It's not profound at all. It's a mess of words intended to confuse truly inquiring minds and obfuscate (or hide) the truth from minds like Camp himself--who mindlessly wrote them!

Where do Camp's words come from? Is Camp plagiarizing someone else? No. Yet the exact words he used above are not found in the Bible either. In fact, there isn't a quote that comes close to saying this, nor is this the only thing we find stressed in the New Testament. Oh sure, belief is stressed, but so are two other things. First, in the epistles we find that if anyone teaches false doctrine or believes it, they are doomed to hell. Christians derive their doctrines from the gospels, just as surely as they do the epistles. So doctrine is stressed. Second, in the gospels obedience is stressed by Jesus. In the epistles obedience is stressed too. Paul demands it as an apostle.

So once again, where did Camp get these words? Well, I'm here to tell you it's in the catechisms we all grew up on when being indoctrinated by our parents in Sunday School, and catechism classes. Other than that I don't know where they originated from. Surely not from Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Luther or Zwingli. Do they make sense? No.

"John, which one of your books would you recommend for me to read?

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I was asked this question by a Christian who comments here at DC. I replied as follows:
It depends on your interest, and/or ignorance, so take a look at my book descriptions and see for yourself.

My challenge to you is to pick one, any one, and read through it. If you come to a book that does not tell you something significant you haven't considered before, then stop reading my books. But if each successive book does tell you something significant you haven't considered before, keep reading them until you're done with them all. If cost is a factor then get them at your local library.

Even if you should choose to read my co-written book, "God or Godless," because you want a Christian apologist to help you think through the issues, that won't help you! As Led Zeppelin sang, when the levee breaks "crying won't help you; praying won't do you no good." ;-)

You have no more excuses.

Be well.

Mythbusters Shows Why There's No Contest Between Science and Faith. Science Always Wins!

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Those of us who were fans of the program Mythbusters, hosted by Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, were taught over the course of thirteen years how to think like scientists. In the episode below you'll see how they tested and debunked the moon hoax, the one that claims we never landed on the moon. After the mythbusters finished their tests anyone who continues believing there was a governmental conspiracy to fake a moon landing are nuts. Yep. Nuts. And they even say these people are nuts. That's N-U-T-S!

The same kind of scientific testing can be done to test the claims of Christianity. And the results are the same as the moon hoax theory. Anyone who continues to believe in Christianity despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that debunks it, is nuts too! The only excuse is that most believers are ignorant about this evidence. Be ignorant no more! Try reading just one book about this evidence, if you dare. Take seriously what Donald R. Burleson said when reviewing my recent anthology Christianity in the Light of Science for The American Rationalist.



Burleson talked about each of the chapters in it then concluded by saying:
All in all, this volume is a worthy collection of essays to the effect that science interacts with considerable violence against the claims of the Christian religion and, by extension of some of the arguments, against religion more generally...I would rate this book as a must-read for anyone interested in the matter of religion versus science. After all, it is a fundamental schism in human experience. As Bertrand Russell used to say (I paraphrase): In science there is knowledge, but in religion there is only opinion.

Michael Nugent to Debate William Lane Craig

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Michael Nugent is a writer from Dublin, Ireland, and chairperson of the advocacy group Atheist Ireland. He will debate William Lane Craig on March 21st. I've heard him talk and read some of the things he has written and think he'll do well in this debate. Kudos to him! We'll be watching.

Now I'm interested more than ever in the criteria Dr. Craig looks for in a debate opponent. I guess I still don't meet them. Oh, well!

How One Atheist Group is Using My Books

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Aaron Lietz and Jason Blair recently contacted me on behalf of the San Diego Coalition of Reason (which is under the United Coalition of Reason). They had a unique request concerning my anthology, The Christian Delusion. They contacted me with it, via email:

Is the Church really filled with hypocrites? No.

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But the apostle Paul noticed a few…

Still Another Testimony On "Why I'm an Atheist"

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Here is a link to an intelligent philosophically minded person's story of why s/he's an atheist. See if any of these reasons resonate with you. The site is named, Atheism And The City: Exploring Philosophy, Religion & Atheism In The Context Of Contemporary Urban Life.

My Interview On the Phil Ferguson Show About My Book "Unapologetic"

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Here's an interview on my latest book Unapologetic which I hope you learn from. There's a lot of misunderstanding about it. Phil Ferguson gets it! I don't mind the disagreement. What bothers me is the mischaracterization of it by philosophy of religion students who have a vested interest in disagreeing with it. Help correct the misunderstanding by sharing this if it interests you. Later this year the Free Inquiry magazine will include a major article by me based on it.

Biblical Scholars Denounce Trump's Executive Order

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Alan Kurdi, a child in a refugee family, died on September 2, 2015
The Society of Biblical Literature is the largest organization of academic biblical scholars in the world. It consists of many “units” that address specific topics within biblical studies.  Many of those units have drafted statements opposed to President Donald J.Trump’s Executive Order of January 27. However, some of those units still use the Bible (with actual "prooftexts") as an authority to justify their opposition.  
Our group of biblical scholars, called the Metacriticism of Biblical Scholarship unit, is devoted to a secular approach to the study of Bible, and so we decided to draft a statement that specifically disavows the use of the Bible as an authority to endorse or oppose any government policy.  We focus on humanitarian and legal arguments. Below is our statement.

The Metacriticism of Biblical Scholarship unit in the Society of Biblical Literature expresses its opposition to the Executive Order issued by President Donald J. Trump on January 27, 2017 that immediately suspends entry of citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen into the United States.
We recognize that the Bible bears contradictory views about immigrants, and we do not utilize the Bible as an authority to set any government policy or to oppose any government policy.
Our opposition is firstly based on the detrimental effect that such an order has on the welfare of victims of oppression and violence that will now be trapped within the listed countries. The Order, in effect, is a death sentence for thousands of men, women, and children of many religious backgrounds who are trying to flee violence.
As members of a community of scholars, we also are concerned that the Executive Order adversely affects the ability of scholars from the listed countries to interact with those in the United States. Such interactions are a key component of expanding knowledge and building relationships across the globe.
The Executive Order, along with many related statements made by Mr. Trump, suggest that the basis for this action is partly based on religious discrimination. He declared his intent to ban all Muslims in December of 2015, and he has since stated that he wants priority given to Christian refugees, who are not the majority of those experiencing violence in the listed countries. 
Identifying a religious preference for entry, or for the denial of entry, into the United States is neither consistent with our Constitutional principles nor with the general principles of equality.
We, therefore, denounce in the strongest possible terms the premises and consequences that this Executive Order will have for our fellow human beings and for the entire academic enterprise that is global in scope.
Hector Avalos (Co-Chair), Iowa State University
Rebecca Raphael (Co-Chair), Texas State University
Krista Dalton, Columbia University
André Gagné, Concordia University (Montreal, Canada)
Ed Silver, Wellesley College
Stephen Young, Appalachian State University

Resurrection and Reception Now in Nice Softcover!

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Delighted to announce that Resurrection and Reception in Early Christianity is now available in nice, affordable softcover for pre-order ($46) at Routledge Books! [also available on Amazon]. This book demonstrates that the resurrection tales in the New Testament were originally written and read as fictional, i.e., as non-historical narrative embellishments meant to exalt the significance of the founder of the earliest Christian movement(s), thus effectively dismantling the linchpin claim of modern Christian ideology.

"Early Christianity emerged in a world of intense interaction among the devotees of different cults and religions. Narratives, images, ritual practices, and ideas continually crossed the boundaries of religious groups. With the interdependence of ancient religions as his starting point, Richard Miller shows the close relation of the early narratives of Jesus’ resurrection with pre-existing pagan and Jewish narratives of divine translation. This study makes a significant contribution to the study of Early Christianity and the religious trends of the Roman Empire." Angelos Chaniotis, Professor of Ancient History, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, USA
"Richard Miller's reading of ancient Greco-Roman narratives concerning the disappearance of heroes and demi-gods successfully challenges the traditional reconstructions of the formation of resurrection accounts in the Gospels. Miller moves with theoretical sophistication through an impressive array of ancient texts and shows how early Christian stories about Jesus were developed in the context of literary imitation and emulation that characterized the Mediterranean world in antiquity."―Giovanni Bazzana, Harvard Divinity School, USA

"This is a ground-breaking study of the literary antecedents for the resurrection stories in the Gospels, with wide-ranging implications for Christian history and theology. Never again can the resurrection stories be read and interpreted apart from their ancient literary context." ―Dennis Smith, Phillips Theological Seminary, USA

The 2017 Debunking Christianity Challenge

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In the past few years I've proposed twelve reasonably priced college level books for Christians to read, one per month for the year. My challenge is for Christians to read our books and test their faith. As I've argued, most believers do not seriously question their faith. Christian, do you want to be different than almost all other believers? Do you want to do what only a rare number of them will do? Then take the 2017 DC Challenge. Hey, what do you have to lose? If our books cause you to become stronger in your faith that's good, right? But if your faith cannot survive we've done you a favor, that is, if you're really interested in the truth.

The fact that Christians won't do so is because their culturally indoctrinated and/or brainwashed brain has convinced them that their search for truth ended sometime before they ever became adults. So they won't read our books because they don't want to know if their faith is false. That's right, they don't want to know the truth. That's the number one indicator one's faith is false, or perhaps rather, that deep inside them believers fear it's false. Mormons, Muslims, Orthodox Jews and others would react exactly the same way. They don't want to know if their childhood faiths are false either. In any case, no more soundbites. No more reading one blog post at a time. Sit down for yourselves and read through whole books written by atheists who were former believers.

I've had 9 books published in 8 years (effectively 10 books with the revision of my magnum opus WIBA). You'll have to forgive me if I cannot resist the supposition that my books are among the best. Wouldn't you? Especially when they receive such high praise as my magnum opus has. Every one of my books is unique, doing what few other atheist books have done, if any of them. To understand what I mean consider this. While all my books were listed in previous DC Challenges I'll not list them this time. I'll list others instead. I'll start my list with this month (since I'm late this year). Keep in mind my recommendations are only as good as my knowledge of the available books goes.

Here then without adieu are the 12 books for the 2017 DC Challenge:

Christians: Why should we agree with you….

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…when you can’t agree with each other?


The Hoosier Methodism in which I was raised favored sentimental hymns, including this cherished gem written by John Oxenham’s in 1908, “In Christ there is no east or west, in him no south or north, but one great fellowship of love, throughout the whole wide earth.”


Seriously? This is more delusional than the belief in God itself that we also cherished. Christians have loved one another since…never. Hey, I was pastor of two churches, and it didn’t take long to figure out the factions, the parishioners who couldn’t stand each other. Doesn’t this go back to the beginning? In Mark 10 we read that James and John asked Jesus for favored seating in the kingdom of heaven, and “when the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John” (v 41). Maybe this was when the ‘one great fellowship of love’ began to fall apart, and in Paul’s letters we see plenty of evidence of Christian bickering.

All this was but a hint of what was to come. In making the case that Christianity is a sham, it’s tempting to urge folks to read Dawkins, Hitches, Harris and Loftus, but it might be even more helpful to have them to take a glance at church history. Truly, it’s one bloodbath after another, persecutions, wars, inquisitions, tortures, executions—all because Christians can’t agree on Jesus and God. Never have, never will.

Maybe reading the history of the church sounds too grim—which it is—so let me suggest a painless shortcut: David Eller’s first essay, ”Christianity Evolving; On the Origin of Christian Species,” in The End of Christianity, John Loftus’ second anthology (2011). Eller points out that the religion of Jesus—whatever that may have been—was lost forever as Christianity has morphed endlessly, changing, adjusting to the cultures it has moved into. At the end of his opening section Eller states, “Christianity will be exposed as a thicket of bickering religions, absorbing local influences and reinventing themselves over and over again—which does undermine any possible claim of uniqueness or truth in Christianity.”

The 2017 Debunking Christianity Challenge

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This is the DC Challenge of 2015. I'm planning to update it. Do you know any books I should add? Which books would you replace with them, and why?
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Seven years ago I challenged Christians to take the Debunking Christianity Challenge and I've been doing so ever since. Just like previous years I'm proposing twelve reasonably priced college level books to read, one per month. You can read them in any order you like but read them!

My challenge is for Christians to read our books and test their faith to see if it can withstand our arguments. As I have argued most believers do not seriously question their faith. Do you want to be different than other believers? Do you want to do what most of them don't do? Then take the 2013 DC Challenge. I challenge you! Hey, what do you have to lose? If the books cause you to become stronger in your faith that's good, right? But if your faith cannot survive our assault then we've done you a favor. No more soundbites. No more reading one blog post at a time. Sit down for yourselves and read through whole books written by the skeptics.

Case Studies In What It Takes To Believe: Don Camp

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Don Camp has roosted here at DC, making unsubstantiated faith-based claims. He tried making the case that faith is trust, then he provided an historical example by asking why we should not trust William Bradford's journal. Even if we're not familiar with his example, anyone can apprehend his point. He wrote:
My point about William Bradford was that we have reports of the history of Plymouth Plantation from only a few people, the primary one being William Bradford. Can we actually know anything without trusting Bradford's account - having faith in his report?

My second question is whether that is real knowledge since the basic evidence would be the journal of William Bradford.

Final question is how we might test the reliability of Bradford's account.
I ask my readers to answer his questions since they are so easy to do with reference to the Gospels and Camp's god. Have at it. I see he's respectful but there are major differences between these two cases, something he just cannot see because faith blinds him. School him but try being respectful if you can. For my part it's simply unbelievable that this is what it takes to believe in the gospels and/or in Camp's god.

"Faith is Pretending to Know Things You Don't Know" Just Like the Sophists in the Days of Socrates, Who Was Wise Because He Knew He Didn't Know.

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I consider Peter Boghossian's stipulative definition of faith to be a sound one from all I know about how apologists defend their faith (above). I documented this in my somewhat sarcastic book, How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist. Check it out. It'll surely surprise most of you. Take a look at the blurbs.

The problem is faith. Faith is the mother of all cognitive biases. Faith leads believers to play the childish pretend game of religion. To have faith is to have a misplaced childish trust in non-existent deities. Faith is the entrance ticket to the fantasy-land of religion. Faith is a virus of the mind that stunts the growth of a person. It keeps people childish in their thinking.

In response, the brain of the believer will lie to its host. It will make shit up to hide the fact that its host believes in fairy tales. The host will be told lies that the overwhelming consensus of scientists is based on faith, that people need their particular parochial modern deity in order to live good moral lives, that atheism is a religion even though atheists do not believe in supernatural forces and/or beings, the list go on. Believer, you must bring your brain to heel by demanding objective evidence before concluding something, by proportioning your assent to the strength of the evidence, and by denying your brain the natural tendency to prefer wish-fulfillment over the cold hard truth. You say you really want to know the truth? Okay then. Force your brain to read this book: Christianity in the Light of Science: Critically Examining the World's Largest Religion. Check it out. It'll surely surprise most of you. Take a look at the blurbs.

Since faith is indeed pretending to know things you don't know, then faith does not deserve a whole sub-discipline known as Philosophy of Religion in our secular universities either, as I argued Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End. For readers not studying or teaching philosophy of religion classes, the book is a manifesto against faith itself. I argue against pretending to know things we don't know. So I'm not only calling for the end of the philosophy of religion sub-discipline, but also an end to philosophy of religion itself, at least, how it's currently being practiced by almost everyone. I think the book could revolutionize what readers think of religion. In it you'll learn how to effectively deal with faith-based claims and how to spot them. Check it out. It'll surely surprise most of you. Take a look at the blurbs.

Agnotology and Christian Apologetics

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In the following link we learn of agnotology:
The cigarette industry did not want consumers to know the harms of its product, and it spent billions obscuring the facts of the health effects of smoking. This search led Robert Proctor to create a word for the study of deliberate propagation of ignorance: agnotology.

It comes from agnosis, the neoclassical Greek word for ignorance or ‘not knowing’, and ontology, the branch of metaphysics which deals with the nature of being. Agnotology is the study of wilful acts to spread confusion and deceit, usually to sell a product or win favour. LINK.
Let me put it to you, my readers. Are Christian apologists purveyors in agnotology? Are they deceivers or the deceived? How many of them aim to deceive, if so? How do we know they aim to deceive, if so? What kind of mental gymnastics do they use in justifying their deceit, if so? If instead they are merely deceived, who or what is deceiving them? Since they're deceived what are the best ways to convince the brainwashed, the deluded and the indoctrinated that they are in fact deceived? Can this be done at all? I'll be testing ideas for my next book/anthology in the coming month or so. Please chime in. Ask others to chime in. The assumption is that Christianity is false to the point of a delusion. Since this is the case what then of Christian apologists?

Maybe It’s Not the Worst Book in the Bible…

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…But It’s a Contender

It would be such a relief—such a gift to the cause of compassionate religion—if Christians (especially of the paid-apologist variety, e.g., theologians, priests, ministers) could get over Paul’s Letter to the Romans. In my post on this blog 14 October 2016, I characterized this 16-chapter patch of scripture as a ‘toxic brew of bad theology,’ and stated my reasons for doing so. I also announced my plan to write analyses of each the 16 chapters, my atheist critique to be wrapped by January. I fell short of that goal: here I am starting in January. So, here goes, my take on Romans 1.

Scholars suspect that Paul’s opening paragraph was based on a liturgical formula current at the time (1:2-5), more or less summing up basic Christian thought, one key point being that Jesus Christ was a descendant of King David. So I begin with a digression: There is little doubt that Paul belonged to the school of thought that Jesus had been conceived/born the same way everyone else is. We search in vain throughout his letters for any mention of the virgin birth (which would have canceled “descended from David”). Matthew’s famous proof text, Isaiah 7:14, “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son” was the furthest thing from his mind. He would have laughed it off.

Notice how explicit he is in 1:4: Jesus was declared son of God by his resurrection. That is Paul’s obsession; virgin birth would have diluted resurrection as the only credential that mattered. The birth narratives in Matthew and Luke (representing the minority school of thought in the New Testament) indulged this fantasy that seeped into Christian thought decades after Paul wrote; some of the pious assumed it would be cool to graft the pagan his-mother-was-a-virgin idea onto the Jesus story. Those who want to adore Mary will not find an ally in Paul—who never so much as mentions her.

Matthew, by the way, insults our intelligence in the first chapter of his gospel. He begins by tediously listing Jesus’ ancestors back to King David (gotta have that pedigree!) then drops the story of the virgin birth on us: Nope, Jesus didn’t have a father. How come the original readers didn’t catch this glaring non sequitur? And how come this is not the point that Christians today realize that Matthew was a fraud and toss the New Testament into the trash?

End of digression.

If I ever get around to writing a secular commentary on this dreadful epistle, I have the title ready: Paul’s Letter to the Romans: God Is Wrath. After his unctuous flattery of the Roman congregation (1:8-15), he gets down to business, to his flawed, ugly theology.

I want to mention four points.

No, God is not obvious by looking around at nature

In verse 20, Paul lays the groundwork for condemning unbelievers: “Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse.” So God’s power and nature can be “understood” through what he has made? Actually, precisely because God’s nature and power are invisible, they are not understood. Presumably Paul had the natural world in mind, but theologians with a couple thousand years of practice know that this is feeble: indifferent nature shows no mercy to humans. I suspect Paul didn’t give enough thought to this, because in his letters he explains endlessly what God expects and demands. So rules of conduct to convict sinners aren’t at all so obvious from the “things that God has made.”

God can’t wait to get even

Because people resorted to other gods, especially idol worship, God kicks them to the curb. In verses 24, 26 and 28 Paul states explicitly that God “gave them up”—and we get insights into Paul’s tormented personality by his list of things that God gave people up to: (1) the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies; (2) to degrading passions; (3) to a debased mind and things that should not be done. Hmmmm…obsessed about sex much? More about that on the next point. Suffice it to say here that Paul’s concept of God is weighted heavily toward revenge and punishment: God himself gives people up to sin. All this because people did not see fit to “acknowledge God.” No slack given here to folks who didn’t see eye-to-eye with Paul on religion, those who—and this was the big no-no for Paul—cheerfully embraced lust (we’d all be better off if Paul had given it a try). Paul doesn’t seem to have heard the stories about Jesus hanging out with sinners.

Knee-jerk disgust about women loving women, men loving me

Now, full disclosure before I get into this one: I am gay, so it’s no surprise that I have no patience with Paul’s rant against same-sex love. Sure, we can cut him some slack since his thinking was influenced by severe teaching in the Old Testament—and he lived centuries before human sexuality had been studied. What would we expect? But the folks who want to point to these verses in Romans 1 (vv. 26-27) as binding “word of God”—because “saint” Paul said them—are blind to their own hypocrisy: they don’t notice that Paul shuddered at heterosexuality as well! Everything in his writings about sexuality screams dysfunction! And we have the impulse to scream at Paul, “Get a life!”

Paul disdained men loving women: “It is well for a man not to touch a woman. But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:1-2) You read that right: marriage is okay because liability to immortality should drive you to it. Or how about this gem: “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). And this: To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am” (I Corinthians 7:8). True enough, Paul’s delusions about Jesus returning soon warped his thinking: “…the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none” (I Corinthians. 7:29).

Outside of the most pathetic cults, you will never find a marriage counselor who urges couples to follow Paul’s advice. So please don’t quote him as an expert on love, marriage or sexuality—hetero or homo. And since he was so wrong about so many things (see my 14 October 2016 post), don’t credit him with being tuned into God’s thoughts—about anything. Yet Paul remains the default authority on homosexuality for so many today. No doubt with Romans 1 in mind, the Catholic Church cannot budge from its official position that gay people are “disordered.”

Paul’s long list of those who “deserve to die”

Full stop, Christians. How can anyone read the ending of Romans 1 and say, with a straight face, that Paul should be called a saint? Or that this text merits inclusion in “the good book”? Here he shows us his full venom: “… they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die…”

It’s a common Christian dodge that the nasty god of the Old Testament gave way to the loving God of the New Testament. But Paul does his best to keep the wrathful god alive and hovering over hapless humans. He includes gossips and rebellious children among those who deserve to die—according to God’s own decree. I guess it’s actually a good thing that—apart from obsessive scholars—the Letter to the Romans is pretty much ignored by the faithful, for whom The Man Upstairs is a benevolent figure, a cosmic buddy. Hildegard of Bingen is a saint with far more appeal than Paul: “”God hugs you. You are encircled by the arms of the mystery of God.”

One of those obsessive scholars was C. H. Dodd, who wrote in 1939 that The Letter to the Romans is “the first great work of Christian theology.” Please, say it ain’t so.


David Madison was a pastor in the Methodist Church for nine years. He has a PhD in Biblical Studies from Boston University. His book, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: a Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith, was published last year by Tellectual Press.




Why Have I Been Unusually Quiet Lately?

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Three things happened in my life about the same time that explain why I've been unusually quiet these last few months. The first was Trump being elected as my President. Ugh! What a setback that was for the United States and world at large. All of our/my efforts as a liberal active Democrat in my state of Indiana were dashed for the foreseeable future (perhaps eight years?), with the potential rise of my former governor Mike Pence as the next President. Double Ugh! A certain amount of fatigue set in. Was the work worth it? Why bother?

The second was the publication of my book Unapologetic. This book is my tenth one. This meme to the right, was made by Dr. David Madison from that book. I may write/edit other books, but I have no strong desire to do so right now, and to be frank, I don't think this will change anytime soon. For the first time in ten years I have no book in the works, and it feels good! Because of this I write less here at DC, since I used this blog as a way of testing ideas. I feel it's time to relax and enjoy life much more. I have a body of work out there, and it's pretty good. It has lasting value for which I am very happy.

The third thing is a person. Her name is Sheila. I am captivated by her, photos below. I'm not so superficial as to think looks are all that matter, but she's a good looking woman. She's also a witty smart successful professional and mother who loves me more than I deserve. I'm going to do everything I can to keep her, and I think I can. She's also a Christian (of sorts) who goes to an evangelical church. I've attended three times so far, where I hear pop-psychology as if it's something to be found in the Bible, which it isn't. So for anyone out there who thinks I treat Christians badly realize that the most significant person in my life is a Christian (of sorts). In fact, almost all of my friends are Christians.

Faith and the Demise of the Human Mind

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Consider the human mind, our one most precious faculty as a species. As rational, thinking mammals, we humans achieve the privilege (not a right) to comprehend reality.
Truth is the prize of the daring, disciplined mind, not for those who indulge in unwarranted inferences about reality. [Resurrection and Reception, 182]
From its inception, the Christian religion has divided humanity into the faithful and the damned. “Faith” (Gk., pistis) became the liminal conversion rite, the pass for admittance into Christian society. Both the Pauline and the Johannine traditions in the New Testament describe faith as the single requirement for divine acceptance, salvation, and eternal life. What is faith, however? A critical look at this principal tenet of the Christian religion reveals a quite disturbing circumstance. By humanistic definition, to have faith is “to indulge the mind in unwarranted inferences about reality in the face of inadequate or contrary data.” In other words, to become a Christian is willfully to violate and to vandalize the integrity of your own most precious faculty, your very mind, resulting in a volitional onset of psychosis, that is, to make public and private claims about reality that lack rational justification.

Once a Christian, Always a Christian?

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No. But there are many ties that bind….

Dennis R. Trumble Favorably Reviews "Christianity in the Light of Science"

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LINK. Here is a link to something about Dr. Trumble. His review is below. Enjoy

Shallow Theology from the Cheerful Pope

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Com’on, Your Holiness, You Sound Like a C – Student at a Second-Rate Bible College

In August 2016 an earthquake struck central Italy, killing 297 people and injuring more than 300. I’m sure at least some believers—especially those wandering in the rubble—were brought to the brink of cynicism in the face of such horrors: What can God be up to? In the Earthquake Control Department, isn’t now the time for almighty to mean something?

Mourners might not know of H. L. Mencken’s declaration, “The whole Christian system, like every other similar system, goes to pieces upon the problem of evil,” but looking at crushed babies, they might give Mencken a thumbs-up. If someone dared to pat me on the back at that moment and whisper, “God is here to comfort you”—my response would be an obscene version of get-out-of-my-face.

In fact Christian posturing about a benevolent Cosmos—engineered and supervised by a loving deity—is shown to be nonsense in the face of earthquakes and tsunamis, hurricanes and tornadoes (among many other things that nature throws at us).

Christian apologists have written endless streams of theobabble for centuries trying to square this theological circle. But Catholic theologian Uta Ranke-Heinemann is candid: ““The question of the origin of evil, of what causes the tears and deviltries of the world, the question that no theologian has so far managed to answer, is one that humans have always posed.” (Putting Away Childish Things, p. 62).

But Popes are in charge of the brand—they’ve got a big business to protect and defend—so pushing theobabble that supposedly sounds good is what they do best. So Francis rushed in to play the comfort card. His meaningless words qualify superbly as diversionary fluff:

“I cannot fail to express my heartfelt sorrow and spiritual closeness to all those present in the zones afflicted. I ask you to join me in praying to the Lord Jesus, who is always moved by compassion before the reality of human suffering, that he may console the broken hearted, and through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, bring them peace.”

How pathetic. Especially for those who are skepical about long-dead heroes who supposedly live in the sky (or in our hearts?). Is that the best he can do? This is theology distilled into sentimentality, something I might expect from a mediocre Bible college graduate assigned to a backwoods pulpit. I suspect that many among the devout, through their tears, give a shrug to this theological white noise.

They want to know why. People in the deepest pain imaginable have looked their pastors in the eye, pleading for answers that make sense. The answers aren’t there. In Chris Chibnall’s superb BBC drama, Broadchurch, about the murder of an 11-year old boy in a small English coastal town, the parents sit with a young parish priest out of his depth trying to ease their anguish. The father stammers a few words: “Just need some answers, don’t we? We need some help. You have a line to the Big Man, why don’t you ask him? We’re drowning down here.”

Well, if there’s anyone with a line to the Big Man, isn’t it the Vicar of Christ on Earth? Who else might have the Red Phone on his desk? “Jesus will console and Mary will bring you peace” just doesn’t cut it. If that’s the best the Pope can do, he simply demonstrates, once again, that Mencken was right.


David Madison was a pastor in the Methodist Church for nine years, and has a PhD in Biblical Studies from Boston University. His book, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: a Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith, was published by Tellectual Press in August 2016.






Was Jesus Born of a Virgin?, Part 3

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Part 2 can be found here. Realist1234 responded. My introductory remarks: 'Q' is a hypothetical document that most NT scholars think best explain the synoptic gospels. Yes, there is a minority view. Do you want to hang your belief in the resurrection on a minority view? And if your god desires belief unto salvation why did he allow the evidence to lead most scholars to think Q exists?

Paul may not have needed to talk about the virgin birth, or indeed of many realities about Jesus' life. But why not? You assume he believed what we find in the canonical Gospels even though he doesn't mention the virgin birth. Can you establish that? He and Peter disagreed on circumcision. What else did they disagree about? Surely there were other things. Nonetheless, there was a need to discuss the virgin birth. His discussion of original sin in Rom. 5-8 (according to most theologians) demands it. Had he done so he would've disarmed critics who would say Jesus suffered from original sin if he was born the natural way. So why didn't he?

What Is Bad Theology?

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Hint: John 3:16 Is Pretty Bad

On Reviews of My Book Unapologetic

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According to this review my book Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End is an "mandatory/essential read for people interested in the issues it addresses! I've copied it below for your convenience. There's more to my book than merely calling for atheist philosophers to end their own discipline. It's also a manual for teaching readers how to effectively deal with religion and other faith-based paranormal claims.

I expected some bad book reviews since my target is the philosophy of religion. What I didn't expect are utterly unfair reviews by people who should know better, who are destroying their own credibility in writing them. So far they nitpick at it rather than deal with its focus--one reviewer doesn't even tell readers what I'm doing in it, basically leaving them clueless. In any case, these two posts of mine effectively answer the bad reviews I've seen so far: 1) On The Value of Philosophy and Definitional Apologetics; 2) Isn't it inconsistent to criticize the legitimacy of Philosophy of Religion?