On Prayer

August 30, 2013

 A Theological/Bible Related Commentary

Jesus_Prayer_Hands

     Have you ever asked yourself why Christians feel the need to pray?

The faithful will tell you that they pray for a wide variety of reasons. They may pray to their God to praise Him for being so loving and wonderful, or merely to give “thanks” for the “blessings” He’s bestowed upon them. Some pray to confess their “sins” directly to God and thus make their remorse feel all that more sincere. Many pray to seek God’s Divine help or guidance in some matter. Many Christians even pray on the behalf of others. And many of the faithful pray to their God simply to “commune” with Him. Most Christians, however, pray in hope of receiving material goods of one form or another.

You may wonder how the faithful can come to praise God for being so loving and wonderful, or thank Him for “blessings” received when there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that God even exists. (This parallels Christians telling atheists that we “hate” God. Now how can anyone  be “mad” at or “hate” a God―or any other  imaginary creature for that matter―that we don’t even believe to be real? It is well-nigh impossible to do. Just try it sometime and see.)

The brutal truth is that Christians are actually imagining  that they are communicating with deity. Equally brutal is the fact that they cannot possibly prove otherwise either.

Now isn’t that  a mind-numbing realization we nonbelievers all have to accept!

On Group Prayer

Many non-Christians are troubled by the extent to which Christians will try and impose  Christian prayer on others. If it’s not in the public school classroom, it’s at graduation ceremonies, or during sporting activities and the like. And it is usually Christians using simple peer pressure to coerce others into participating even though genuine sincerity on the part of each participant may be entirely  lacking. Such group prayer ends up being nothing more than an “advertisement” for the Christian religion and a bold-faced attempt to indoctrinate non-Christians into the Christian faith.

Yet Jesus―purported to be none other than God in the flesh himself―absolutely opposed staged prayer and the like in his famed “Sermon on the Mount”:

““Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others” (Matthew 6:1, 6, and 5, in that order; NIV; emphasis mine)

As for what prayer truly  accomplishes―other than fulfill some psychological or emotional need on the part of the worshipper―Christians are at a loss to prove.

And has anyone ever defined what group prayer is supposed to achieve that individual, personal prayer does not?

God Anticipates Your Needs

But there’s more: Jesus goes on further in the Sermon on the Mount to declare that “Your Father knows what you need [even] before you ask him ,” prayer-wise! (Matthew 6:8; NIV)

Well, if an all-knowing God already  knows what you would feel the need to pray for beforehand, what is the need for prayer at all? If it is simply to make make-believe God “happy” and pleased with the level of attention and begging He is receiving, what a hoot! Does it make imaginary God unhappy  to deny prayer requests too?

Havoc-Wreaking God and Misfortune

God gets the credit when things go well for the Christian; so much so that Christians feel themselves individually “blessed” by God in a positive way. But then why is not God given the blame when things go disastrously wrong by these very same worshippers―excepting natural disasters? God, instead, gets to remain utterly immune from reproach―regardless  of how horrific the disaster! Now that’s retarded in my view. It’s just plain goofy.

Look at the number of Christians throughout man’s history that have actually been killed in church or during a religious service of one type or another; killed while praising, adoring, and thanking Almighty God in worship!! Now what on earth did thankful prayer achieve for those  Christians?

Francisco de Curico church

Where was Almighty God to “protect” not only His houses of worship, but too, those worshipping inside  them, from destruction?

* A recent event reported (here).

What a bizarre form of “gratitude” God Almighty chooses to display to the faithful!

Was not going to worship and pray that deadly day utterly tragic, not only for the victims, but for their friends, family members, and fellow worshippers alike? Would not the act of protecting all worshippers from harm in places of worship provide a proof that God actually exists?

So what do the grieving survivors, friends, family members, and fellow worshippers do after church-related deaths? Why, they gather together and pray to make-believe God all the more  fervently! Now how bizarre is that!! It was their own “loving” God calling the victims “home,” so we are told, by murdering them! So what is further prayer supposed to accomplish?

We all know of people of faith who have prayed to God to thank him  for the fact that their hellish existence isn’t even more  hellish. But where was God prior  to these individuals suffering such hellish conditions? How much praying and veneration is required before God does something, anything, to aid his suffering earthly “children”?

Concentration Camp Inmates

“Your [Heavenly] Father knows what you need before you [even] ask him.”

(Jesus in Matthew 6:8)

starving_kids

starving-child-1

Child and Vulture

So what went wrong?

awful1

Starving children just not praying fervently enough these days?

Next Time: Religiosity in the NFL.

A Theological/Bible Related Commentary

Part IV

     When last we left Mary Magdalene, she and “the other Mary” had returned to Jerusalem to inform Jesus’ immediate male disciples that they met the risen Jesus, and that he was to meet them in person in Galilee.

Angel at the Tomb

      In Matthew’s gospel, the two Mary’s first  encounter a lone angel, at dawn, sitting atop the entrance tomb stone who informs the pair that Jesus has risen from the dead. The angel then gets up off the stone and actually directs  the two to the empty tomb―perhaps even having to side-step the “dead-like” Roman guard unit lying incapacitated on the ground to do so (cf. Matthew 28:6). It is only then  that Mary Magdalene becomes aware that Jesus’ body is missing.

     It is vitally  important to realize that Matthew’s account patently  contradicts the Gospel of Johan as to how Mary Magdalene comes to discover the empty tomb.

     In John chapter 20, Mary Magdalene sees that the entrance stone has been rolled back in the pre-dawn; discovers Jesus’ body is missing; then runs to tell Peter and the Beloved Disciple of it. The three then rush to the tomb with the Beloved Disciple arriving first, but with Peter being the first to actually enter the tomb.

The-Empty-Tomb

     Notice that contrary to Matthew’s gospel there is no angel sitting atop the entrance stone outside the tomb, nor a Roman guard unit lying dazed and confused on the ground at any point thus far. Moreover, Mary Magdalene is certainly not “escorted”  to the empty tomb by an angel as in Matthew 28:6, now is she?

     Peter and the Beloved Disciple return to Jerusalem when Mary Magdalene, now standing just outside the tomb entrance, peers into the tomb. It is only now  that any angels appear on scene in John’s gospel. Two suddenly materialize inside  the tomb sitting on the slab where Jesus’ body once lay.Moments later, the risen Jesus appears and asks Mary why she is crying. He then asks who she is looking for. Notice that Jesus does not ask “them,” or who “they” are looking for. John keeps it purely in the singular here. Since this is the case, I will argue that the very questionable “we” passage―used by Christian apologists to maintain that multiple  female disciples accompanied Mary to the tomb―in John 20:2,

“So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we  don’t know where they have put him!’” (emphasis mine),

is either an interpolation inserted by some early Christian attempting to portray at least some  semblance of harmonization with the other three gospels, or else Mary simply chose to use the first person plural for the first person singular in this instance.

     In any event, it is important to note that “we” does not fit the context of what preceded it in any way. And note too that the Oriental, the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions of this text read, “I know not where they have laid him” (emphasis mine), not “we.”

     As stated, John’s gospel reports that both angels and the risen Jesus ask Mary Magdalene who she  is looking for. In Matthew’s gospel, however, the angel seated on the entrance stone already  knows who Mary is looking for and says  so prior  to the two Mary’s discovering that Jesus’ body is missing (cf. Matthew 28:6). So too, the angel inside the tomb in Mark 16:6:

“And he [the angel] saith unto them [Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome], Be not affrighted: ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.” (KJV)

(Memo to Christian fundamentalists: You can’t make a square peg fit this round hole. You simply can’t. There is no way to squirm out of these contradictory accounts and remain intellectually honest in doing so. Your “faith” does not make these contradictory “empty tomb” accounts all magically become literally “true.” And no amount of wishful thinking will do the trick either.)

The Two Mary's and Salome - Mark 16:1

The Two Mary’s and Salome – Mark 16:1

     Yet Christian apologists will argue that the four evangelists have recorded mere snippets of what actually took place at the empty tomb: each from their own, unique perspective; with one gospel author adding some bit of information another evangelist fails to reveal; with one gospel author choosing to cite just part of an angel’s remarks, while another cites them in full; with one evangelist focusing on just the “lead” angel, while another feels they both deserve the spotlight.

     But try as one might, it is still  impossible to mesh all four empty tomb accounts into one flaw-free whole. It’s just not possible.

     Christian commentators, therefore, have resorted to two alternative means of “resolving’ the matter. The first is to cry that Christians are in a “no-win” situation because we skeptics would cry “foul” if the four gospel accounts actually agreed with each other; citing that we would charge the evangelists with fraudulently “conspiring” to compose a fault-free set of reports.

     But that is sheer poppycock and every atheist knows it. The New Testament has far  greater problems than finding certain accounts suspiciously made to agree with one another. Besides, this “tack” does nothing to explain away the patent contradictions involved, now does it?

     The second approach is to actually agree  that trying to mesh the four empty tomb accounts into one cohesive whole is hopeless! So this  body of Christians argue that the contradictions matter not one whit: that it is far more important that the four accounts agree in general, and that is what makes the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection “true”!

So much for the historical “accuracy” of the gospel accounts!

So much for “God” directing “flawless” scripture.

And so much for bible “inerrancy” too.

THE END

Part I (here)     Part II (here)     Part III (here)

Next Time: I’ll tackle the topic of “Prayer”.

A Theological/Bible Related Commentary

Part III

jesus_stone_tomb_1

     We ended Part II of this series wondering aloud why none of Jesus’ disciples was prepared for his return from the dead. Not a single one! And this, despite having over nine recorded  instances of Jesus attempting to explain the Passion to his disciples alone ! (One can only imagine how many attempts went unrecorded !)

     Christian scholars, nevertheless, have  settled on three possible explanations to account for the disciples’ total lack of understanding:

     a) The first being that the disciples were simply too distressed to fully take-in what Jesus was so desperately trying to convey to them (as in  Matthew 17:22-23):

     “When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief” (NIV; emphasis mine).

     b) The second being that Jesus’ words were simply too incomprehensible to fathom (as in Mark 9:30-32):

     “They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it” (NIV; emphasis mine).

     c) And the third being that “God” deliberately chose to conceal Jesus’ fate from his followers (as in Luke 9:43-45):

     “And they were all amazed by the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said to his disciples, “Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of Man shall be delivered into the hands of men. But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying” (NIV; emphasis mine)

     My response to the first argument is to point out that being “acutely” distressed by Jesus foretelling his imminent death does not necessarily dictate that his disciples would “fail” to comprehend what was told them; rather the reverse  can be argued, that the disciples did  understand Jesus―only too  well―and yet, only up to a point. What is completely overlooked is the “fact” that Jesus was simultaneously  assuring his disciples that he would be raised from the dead and be “glorified” by that “other” God, God the Father, as well. Now, where is the joy and jubilation in that  being displayed anywhere in the gospels?

     And what are we to make of the disciples’ paralyzing fear in asking Jesus to elaborate further in regards to the Passion? Does that make any kind of sense to you ?

disciples-and-jesus

     The second explanation, if fully embraced, means that we have to accept that every one of Jesus’ disciples was actually so  dim-witted that even after the long hours Jesus spent with them trying to clarify precisely  what the Passion would entail, and all that time instructing them as to why  things must progress in the manner they would, that it still  all remained completely incomprehensible to them! If so, what does that tell us about the “intelligence” of “the most supremely intelligent being in all of existence”? He consciously hand-picked complete nincompoops to be his earthly followers rather than more “capable” individuals!

     As for the third argument: Are we really  to believe that God Almighty chose to deliberately  cloud the minds of Jesus’ disciples at the very same time  Jesus―God incarnate Himself―was attempting to instruct his disciples as to what was about to befall him? Really ? Now how retarded would that  be!

     Finally, note Jesus’ words in Luke 9:44, “Let these things [in regards to the Passion] sink down into your ears.” Here, Jesus  is attempting to use sheer force of will to make  his disciples understand him. Are we, then, to accept that an incarnate God has not to ability to convince his own disciples of something so momentous even when employing supernatural power?

What kind of a “God” do Christians have running the Christian Universe anyway? Oh, that’s right: there’s three of them, aren’t there?

Next Time in Part IV: The conclusion. (here)

Part I (here)          Part II (here)

A Theological/Bible Related Commentary

Part II

The Two Mary's - Artist

The Two Mary’s, An Angel, and Jesus

     Mary Magdalene is now breathlessly reporting all that she had seen and heard at Jesus’ tomb to the disciples in Jerusalem (cf. John 20:18). And it is here that she happens upon friend and fellow disciple, “the other Mary.” Together, they decide that yet another  visit to the tomb is in order and quickly prepare for the return trip; this marking the 3rd  visit by Mary Magdalene within the span of, apparently,  a mere hour  or so!

     It is finally dawn when the two Mary’s arrive (Matthew 28:1), but a violent earthquake has just erupted. An angel has come down from heaven and has rolled back the entrance stone to Jesus’ tomb (which had somehow  been rolled back  into place)! That missing Roman guard has now finally materialized and stationed at the tomb entrance―though shocked out of their senses as a result of witnessing a “real” angel roll back the entrance stone; so much so that they have become like “dead men” (Matthew 28:4).

Angel at the Tomb

     “And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat upon it.  (Matthew 28:2; RSV; emphasis mine)

     This now third  angel knows that the two Mary’s are looking for Jesus. Yet, in spite of all that has already transpired, proceeds to tell them precisely what they already  know: that Jesus has risen from the dead!

(Clearly, the telepathic communication system employed by imaginary God and His imaginary angels back in the “day” was simply not as “reliable” as it is today.)

     But what happens next is simply astounding. The angel gets up off the stone and escorts the two Mary’s to Jesus’ tomb. It is only now that Mary Magdalene is made aware that Jesus’ body is missing! Contrast this with John’s account (20:1-18), and the Christian fundamentalist has problems.

     By now, it should be rather obvious that the author of “Matthew’s” Gospel knew nothing  of Mary Magdalene’s pre-dawn visit to the tomb as recorded in the Gospel of John. But, more striking is the fact that Jesus’ imminent death and resurrection was a “talking point” Jesus himself repeatedly  stressed to his disciples (cf. Matthew 16:21-28; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:21-22; and parallels). Therefore, is it not incredibly  odd, that not one disciple is depicted as anticipating Jesus’ imminent return from the dead? Not a single one!

How is one to explain this?

     Moreover, it is only now  dawn Sunday. Jesus underwent the resurrection quite some time earlier. Ergo, we have Jesus’ “rising’ actually occurring on the second “day,” not the third  as in Luke 24:6-7, or as the apostle Paul claims in I Corinthians 15:3-5 …

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen by Cephas, then of the twelve.”

. . . nor, on the fourth day as “prophesied” by Jesus himself in Mark 8:31;

“He [Jesus] then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again,”

and, by inference, Jesus again in Matthew 12:40 where Jesus God declares he will remain in the heart of the earth for “three days AND three nights,” thus equaling the fourth  day. (See also Matthew 27:63.) This being the case, one would think  that the disciples were already  fully prepared for Jesus’ return from the dead.

What happened?

Should we assume that the disciples were truly dim-witted beyond all belief? Or, could it be that the disciples never really  believed Jesus after all, even after  witnessing the multitude of “miracles” he is said to have performed right before their very eyes?

End of Part II

 Part I (here )

Next Time in Part III: The Christian response.     Part III (here)

A Theological/Bible Related Commentary

Part I

     Picture the scene: Mary Magdalene has just arrived at the tomb of Jesus on “the first day of the week”―but while it is still  dark (John 20:1). Mary is stunned to find the entrance tomb stone rolled back and the tomb itself empty. She is further stunned to find that not a single angel (or two) is to be found either inside or  outside the tomb as reported in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke!

Mary-Magdalene-Jesus-at-the-Tomb-Alexander-Ivanov

     But what Mary is really  taken aback by is the fact that there is no Roman guard lying dazed on the ground as reported by the gospel author “Matthew.” How could that  be, she wonders? The gospels are supposed  to be error-free!

Roman Guard at the Tomb

     So what to do? Why, Mary decides to return to Jerusalem and tell the apostle Peter and Jesus’ most beloved disciple that the tomb is empty, that there is no Roman guard posted, and that she has no idea where Jesus’ body is. Both apostles then race to the tomb with Mary in tow and discover she was telling the truth. The beloved disciple actually comes to “believe” (verse 18), but exactly what  is unclear. Meanwhile, time moves on. Peter and the beloved disciple return to Jerusalem. Mary Magdalene, however, chooses to remain; perhaps to ascertain what happened to Jesus’ body.

As she peers into the empty tomb crying, she is startled to find not one but two  angels occupying the space above and below where Jesus’ body had once lain (and not  the single angel sitting atop the entrance stone as reported in Matthew’s gospel). In unison, they ask Mary why she is crying. She replies that someone  must have moved Jesus’ body but she has no idea as to where. (And all said without the slightest  trace of the shock, fear, and trembling that she is to later  display upon encountering “angels” in the gospels of Mark and Luke.)

     Suddenly, Mary is made aware that a figure is standing behind her. She turns toward the figure who too asks Mary why she is crying, but then questions who is it she is looking for. She mistakes the figure for a tomb area gardener who has undergone crucifixion (She must  have, for Jesus arose bodily, and not in “spirit” form, according to Church doctrine.) But once the figure says the name “Mary,” she realizes that the individual is not a previously crucified area tomb gardener after all, but dead Jesus brought back to life―and now in full-deity  mode! (He must  have been, for “Doubting Thomas” actually calls Jesus “God” after seeing him in this precise state later in John 20:28.)

Correggio(Antonio Allegri) (1489-1534)

      As a joyful Mary starts to embrace Jesus God, he admonishes her not  to because he has not yet ascended to God the Father, who, incidentally,  is not only Mary’s God, but his  God as well (verse 17). Never mind that Jesus is also  Godaccording to the countless Christians who believe in the so-called “Trinity” (but see my “Jesus God versus God the Father.”) And never mind that Jesus God, in a turn-around, does  later decide to get touchy-feely with Mary Magdalene, plus “the other Mary” (in Matt. 28:9), and  “Doubting Thomas” (in John 20:27), all before his ascension!

     Mary then returns to Jerusalem for the 3rd time and reveals to Jesus’ disciples all  that had transpired at the tomb.

     Now where in blazes do you think that Roman guard disappeared to? They’re said to have been on station the entire night―if  we are to believe Matthew 28:13, that is.

End Of Part I

Next Time: The Roman guard finally surfaces!

A Theological/Bible Related Commentary

An Encounter with Gods

A Journey into the Hypothetical

Jesus_of_Nazareth 2

      And now, a thought experiment: Imagine that you have found yourself standing near the entrance to a long, sumptuous, palatial corridor. At the far end of this long corridor you spy none other than God the Father seated upon a spectacularly  majestic throne. At the very entrance to this eerie passageway, you behold Jesus God, seated atop a gloriously splendid throne of his own, still sporting his wounds from the crucifixion.

You start to head towards God the Father bent on asking Him every single profound question that has puzzled you about His Almightiness since childhood. But after taking just a few short steps, you are abruptly stopped dead in your tracks by Jesus God, who, in loud voice, and in no small measure, first admonishes you, and then utters the words made famous in John 14:6.

Jesus God:   Halt! You are to go NO further! For “No one comes to the Father except through Me!” (NIV; emphasis mine)

Now, focus on precisely what the God Jesus has just said here and you will quickly realize that there are not one, but two  Gods on scene in this scenario: one of which you have no  access to initially, and the other  one of which you do. Moreover, it is Jesus God  who permits access to God the Father rather  than God the Father himself ! Without Jesus God’s exclusive approval, it is impossible  for anyone  to access God Almighty. And God Almighty is in no position to do anything about it either, for it is the God Jesus and not God the Father who is calling all the “shots.’

f&hs

And so now the obvious question: How can any truly rational  individual still cling to the belief that Jesus God and God the Father are actually  one and the same God? We clearly see one God blocking access to a second, yet both  Gods continue to be emphatically proclaimed by Christians who believe in the so-called “Trinity,” “the One true God.”

Remember: If the God Jesus and God the Father are both one and the same being, it would be utterly nonsensical for there to be another being sitting on a throne at the far end of that mysterious corridor opposite Jesus-God who is God the Father AND the God Jesus―who just told you that you cannot come to the God the Father except through him―who is fully God the Father too! And don’t forget that Jesus God is also God the Holy Spirit too, according to Trinitarian believers.

Got a headache yet?

And note what the “Lord” Jesus tells Mary Magdalene in John’s gospel after rising from the dead:

“Go … to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:17; NIV; emphasis mine)

Whose  God was that?! A God who is not the risen God Jesus?

Finally, who  is Jesus God plaintively lamenting being “forsaken” by in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 when He was God incarnate? Oh, that’s right, a second  God.

Ahhh, isn’t intellectual (dis) honesty in religion just wonderful?

A Bible-Related Commentary

One of the most peculiar episodes one encounters in the gospel chronicles centers on Apostle Thomas Didymus’ startling unwillingness to believe Jesus actually arose from the dead.

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them, Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”

Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

Doubting Thomas - Caravaggio - 450 x 325

Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” [John 20:24-29: NASB]

Thomas’ incredulity would be perfectly understandable under normal circumstances; after all, no one truly  dead for “three days AND three nights” is magically restored to life in reality. But incredulity would hardly be a normal reaction to the news of Jesus’ bodily return to life if what Thomas Didymus is said to have seen, heard, and experienced in the gospel narratives is accepted as the “gospel truth.”

To begin with, Jesus is reported to have foretold his death and resurrection in the presence of his immediate disciples on at least three  separate occasions. We cite here Mark 8:31 as an illustrative example:

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man [Jesus here referring to himself] must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days be raised from the dead. [Cf. Matt. 16:21; 20:17-19; Luke 9:43:45; and par.: NASB]

Then there is the matter of Thomas purportedly being an eye-witness to the raising of the widow of Nain’s only son from the dead depicted in Luke 7:11-17—in addition  to the raising of Lazarus portrayed earlier in John (11:1-44).

But more astounding yet is Matthew’s clear inference that Thomas himself  had been endowed with the ability to “raise the dead” —and through Jesus, no less! (Or so the natural reading of Matthew 10:8.)  Proof positive, one would think, that Jesus’ return to life would have come as no real surprise to Thomas.

So why did “Doubting Thomas” ever “doubt” the reports of Jesus’ resurrection?

It is all but certain the episode in John’s narrative–as reported–never happened. The psychological implausibility of it occurring in light of what Thomas Didymus is said to have witnessed, experienced, and been taught as a member of Jesus’ immediate inner circle is just too great to accept at face value.

To accept John 20:24-29 as historically accurate one is compelled to discount the accounts where Thomas witnessed the widow of Nain’s son and Lazarus brought miraculously back to life, as well  as Matthew’s inference that all twelve apostles were endowed with the power to raise the dead prior to their being sent on the missionary journey discussed in Matthew, chapter ten. Accounts, we hasten to add, that should  be discounted as unhistorical in the eyes of more than a few “realists.”

The doubting Thomas story probably arose out of a need to help combat early “Gnostic” Christian belief that Jesus was not truly human but a ‘spirit,’ and as such, not possessed of a real human body. To many Christians the “risen Jesus” of the resurrection stories was no more than an apparition, a “ghost.” Something was needed to bolster a proto-orthodox belief in a bodily  risen Jesus. What better way to bolster that belief than to circulate a story wherein one of the twelve apostles, one harboring rigid disbelief in the appearance of a bodily risen Jesus, is converted to belief by a visit from an unmistakably bodily risen Jesus?

And is not the “Doubting Thomas” story used for this express purpose unto this very day?

A Theological/Bible Related Commentary

Part V

It’s a “Mystery”

Why Are People of Faith Made to Suffer?

Why Are People of Faith Made to Suffer?

     Rather than provide a blow-by-blow account of what Christian commentators have had to say elsewhere in respect to the issues covered in this series, I will simply focus on the two most resilient “defenses” apologists have had to offer when caught in a particularly difficult exegetical bind.

     The first of these I find inherently dishonest and intellectually bankrupt. It is completely devoid of any real  quantitative substance. Yet, it is, without a doubt, one of the most frequently used defensive rebuttals atheists have encountered in debate with believers, and the one which usually puts an end to any further discussion. It is the tried-and-true “It’s a Mystery” defense; favored most by Catholic apologists.

     What the It’s-a-Mystery defense purports  to maintain as fact is that we humans are so stupid (in relation to God) that we cannot even hope  to fathom the reason why God did this or God did that―that “something” being anything one finds theologically perplexing to the point of being left wholly baffled by it; such as the question: Why are people of faith made to suffer so? Another one being: Why do we find real  contradictions in God’s sacred word? (Such as: Did Jesus actually rise on the 3rd day as per I Cor. 15:4, or on the 4th  day as per Mark 8:31?; to cite just one example.)

     Therefore, the faithful must accept that any “perceived” theological conundrum; any inexplicable problem dealing with biblical inerrancy issues; or any apparent “ungodly” acts of behavior on the part of God, are “mysteries” only God  holds the answers to. In spite of the  obvious staring the believer right in the face, the believer is to believe, no matter what!

     But what about the skeptic who finds such “blind” faith utterly revolting, even dangerous? Where is the “truth” of the Christian faith supposed to exist if it is entirely  unprovable? And why on earth should children be made to pray to, and then worship and adore the actual Creator of everything evil? Out of “love,” or because of the fear that if one doesn’t, one will be made to suffer horribly?

     (I would just point out that a real  God could just poke his head through the clouds and at least attempt to explain himself in terms we humans could understand; but that it would be just plain knock-down impossible for an imaginary  God to do, now wouldn’t it? I would further point out that God would rather an atheist suffer indescribably brutal torment, agony, and anguish for all of eternity (!) for simple nonbelief than truly reveal himself as He did to Doubting Thomas and Paul on the way to Damascus, and thus save their “soul.” (Makes you wonder how much “God” really  wants to save souls, doesn’t it?)

Either it is beyond His “limitless” powers to reveal Himself to us moderns, or else He’s really  a Supernatural Sadist simply having his way with hapless man. But most obvious is the fact  that He’s simply flat-out imaginary!)

     The question now becomes, does the It’s a Mystery  defense truly  provide any real kind of a substantive rebuttal to the skeptic, or is it merely an evasive “cop-out”? We atheists believe it the latter. The statement, “It’s a Mystery,’ for all it’s worth, answers absolutely nothing.

     The second, and the most  intellectually bankrupt “defense” imaginable for an “out-debated” Christian apologist to resort to, is to simply blurt out: I don’t care what  you say! I’m going to believe anyway !! (Followed by a parting, exceedingly pious, “I’ll pray for you” directed towards the skeptic.)

      Now how many times has the atheist heard that retort (or some variation of it) at the end of a hotly contested theological debate? And the “clincher” for the apologist? Why Paul’s words in I Corinthians 1:20:

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? (NIV)

     In other words, a God who has an absolutely astounding inability to prove to skeptics he truly exists, has decided to reinforce that inability by counseling believers to treat logic and reason―in other words, “God-given” intellect―as so much used toilet paper when it comes to matters of personal faith.

     And what other  passage of scripture do apologists gleefully point to in defense of such irrational belief? Why I Corinthians 1:19, where God says, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

     Some  kind of “Super Intellect,” that “God,”isn’t He?

      We have focused on the decidedly evil nature of God in this series. But not to despair, for God does not really exist. He is purely the invention of man. Nonetheless, it is astonishing to see that Christians worship and adore the true Creator of evil (within the scope of their faith) instead of despise Him. But that’s blind faith for you. It is as irrational as it gets.

Part I (here)         Part IV (here)

Next Time: Jesus God versus God the Father     (here)

A Theological/Bible Related Commentary

Part IV

On God’s Evil Power

The Imposter

     Have you ever wondered where Satan gets his extraordinary powers from? (Pssst, that’s him in the painting above disguised as Jesus! Damn  decent impersonation of him, wouldn’t you agree?)

Okay, enough silliness. Back to the serious stuff.

     It is certainly obvious that Satan couldn’t have created his evil powers himself. The Bible clearly demonstrates that it is God  who created every single thing in existence: God and God alone.

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him. (Colossians 1:16; AKJV bible; see also John 1:3; emphasis mine)

Therefore, there could be no  other possible source for Satan’s evil powers other  than Almighty God. But there’s one more odious “fact” to ponder: God is continually  providing the Evil One with His powers! Think about that. Absorb it. God―if you believe the God of the Bible to be “real”―is actually supplying  Satan with the power to lead man into sin. Now why on earth, would the very personification of love; of all that is good, just, moral, and righteous want to do anything like that?!

     It wouldn’t be because God is . . . ahem . . . truly evil, now would  it?

     As I’ve stated elsewhere (see here): “There can be no greater Evil in all of existence than the Creator of Evil”.  Here, we are talking about the very inventor  of evil, the Lord Almighty himself (accepting He exists purely  for the sake of discussion); this, a rather stinging rebuke to Christians everywhere, to be sure. But am I wrong? Go ahead. Try and think of something more evil. I’ll wait.

     A further thought; and one which I’ve also stated elsewhere (see here) “If it happened, God wanted  it to happen. If He didn’t, it would never  have happened.” Every plague, “natural” disaster, the Holocaust, and every other “evil” to befall man has either been created by, or permitted by God to afflict mankind. Now what does that  have to say about the moral character of a “loving” God?

God could have easily uttered three simple words to Adam & Eve after they were tricked  into partaking of the forbidden fruit. Just three words would have prevented the fall of man and all the horrific suffering and misery accompanying it. Those three words being a simple: “I forgive you.” And guess what? There would be no need whatever for Jesus-God to pretend to die on the cross for the “sins” of mankind! (Now, you don’t really  believe that you can actually “kill” a “God,” do you?)

Think about it: God would have absolutely no need to have Himself murdered at all! Hmmm. Or was that God-man, Jesus-God simply a “clone” of the Almighty? (I keep losing track of which God is supposed to be which these days.)

Food for thought: God could have easily “forgiven” Adam & Eve and thus ensure man’s continued sublime happiness. God could have also chosen not  to plant that “tree of knowledge” in the Garden, or have simply barred Satan from entering it at all (as we have already pointed out). But even with his supernatural omniscience, and knowing  the disastrous outcome for us humans, God went ahead and did what he did anyway. So does this not make for a hideously evil and sinful  God? Or would “heartless boob” be a more apt byword to describe this entity?

Let’s face facts: If God really wanted to create that perfect world he so (supposedly) wanted for mankind, there wouldn’t be anything  to prevent Him from doing so―except Himself! After all, He’s “God.”

Next in Part V: Christian apologists play “defense”; the conclusion; Part III (here)

A Theological/Bible Related Commentary

Part III

What “Sinless” God?

     There is a deeply-held religious conviction that God is utterly  incapable of doing anything evil, of being wicked, or of behaving “sinfully”; that He is simply unable to exhibit anything other than pure “holiness.” Evil is altogether absent from God’s heart, insist Christian commentators. God is all that is Good. He is without blemish. Sin is an anathema to God’s very being!

     Really.

     Well, if God actually thought-up  the concept of evil, brought it into existence, and then deliberately  unleashed it on both angels and man through the guise of “free-will,” how could this possibly  be true?

     God, incapable  of doing evil? For real? Then, what was the murder of every  infant baby, every  young child, and every  pregnant woman on planet earth during Noah’s Flood, a love  fest?

     It was “justified” in God’s eyes does not  suffice as an answer for what was done. We still call what God did, “murder.” Murdering babies is a “sin” in Christian theology, is it not? Furthermore, God did not have to actually drown  babies. He could have just wiggled his nose and made them “disappear” with just a simple “poof  and they’re gone.” What He did instead is just plain cruel beyond measure. (Just picture what it must have felt like for those infants frantically fighting to stay alive amid the torrents of water!) Where did God’s vaunted love, mercy, and compassion disappear to at the time? (Too busy gettin’ Jesus-God ready for the big show, was He?) To simply argue that because God  did it, it could not possibly  be evil or sinful makes a complete mockery of what it means to be evil and sinful.

     The creation of evil, by the very act itself, reveals God’s sinful nature. The creation of the very impulse  to disobey His Almightiness was surely wickedin light of the consequences. To deliberately  create evilbased on simple common sense and logicwould just be impossible  for a being perfect in love, mercy, and goodness to undertake. Would it not?

     Allowing Eve to be sinfully beguiled by an evil being of God’s very own creation was certainly immoral. And having that heavy hand in the brutal “torture” of faithful Job (cf. Job 2:7), the suffering of Job’s wife, and the needless murder of his seven sons, his three daughters (cf. Job 1:2; 18-19), and nearly every single one of Job’s numerous servants, (cf. Job 1:3; 15-17) was absolutely beyond the pale. In fact, it was evil personified. And who  explicitly sanctioned the murders? Oh, that’s right: “Sinless God,” of course!

Job 1

Next in part IV: On God’s Evil Power (here)     Part II (here)

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