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Extra-Biblical, Non-Christian Confirmation of Jesus

My response to a claim from an email exchange that I didn’t get to address during our conversation.

“There are actually lots of extra biblical non Christian sources that wrote about the life of Jesus and wrote them with in 100-150 years of his life. Historians like Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Thallus, Pliny, Trajan, Hadrian, Talmud, Toledoth, and more. What they wrote correlates with the biblical account.”

While I have heard of some of these, a few I’ve never heard of so I just want to go through each and see what claims are made for each. I would like to point out that I don’t think I was ever a mythicist. I see no contradiction is accepting that a preacher called Jesus existed; though, I will make clear that I don’t see any reason to believe the supernatural claims about him. What I know about these sources before this post is that most, if not all, are merely evidence that the Christian sect existed, not that a supernatural, god-man existed.

The first place I went to get information is Wiki, other sources will be linked when used.

After doing the research below, I wonder if those who spout these names, as sources of information that confirm the existence of Jesus, have done the same. A few of these are so sketchy that I wouldn’t use them and would think even a believer could see that they aren’t helpful in their arguments.

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Josephus

A Jewish historian, ~90CE, credited with two mentions of Jesus. Josephus is one of the ones I’ve heard of before but really don’t know what he was supposed to have said.

The first reference in Book 20, a reference to Jesus as the brother of James:

-Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law.

This reference seems okay though it does have some criticism surrounding it.

Critics like to point out that in the same passage Josephus references Jesus Damneus and Jesus son of Gamaliel. Richard Carrier says “who was called Christ” was likely an addition not written by Josephus in the original text. While supporters say it is used to distinguish this Jesus from the other two.

-While the authenticity of some passages in Book 18 of Antiquities of the Jews has been subject to debate, the overwhelming majority of scholars consider the discussion of the death of James in Section 9 of Book 20 to be authentic. –Wiki

I think that by this consensus of people who know better than I, I will agree that this passage is likely talking about the biblical Jesus. That being said, I don’t think there is any reason for me to convert instantly. This is simply a passage that may be used to verify that he actually existed, not the claim that he was more than human, and it was written approximately 60 years after he supposedly died. That seems like plenty of time for stories to spread. Mythicism may be out of the window but post-mortem apotheosis seems more likely.

The second reference, in Book 18, and quite possibly the best a believer could hope for:

-About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Christ. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.   – Flavius Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3

But then there’s this:

-Scholarly opinion varies on the total or partial authenticity of the reference in Book 18, Chapter 3, 3 of the Antiquities, a passage that states that Jesus the Messiah was a wise teacher who was crucified by Pilate, usually called the Testimonium Flavianum. The general scholarly view is that while the Testimonium Flavianum is most likely not authentic in its entirety, it is broadly agreed upon that it originally consisted of an authentic nucleus, which was then subject to Christian expansion/alteration. Although the exact nature and extent of the Christian redaction remains unclear, there is broad consensus as to what the original text of the Testimonium by Josephus would have looked like. – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus

The TF contains some obvious Christian glosses that no Jew would have written; such as “he was the Christ” and “he appeared to them alive again the third day.” – http://www.bede.org.uk/Josephus.htm

If there existed that much doubt about this source I would definitely not be using it to back my claim. That criticism even lends credence to the apotheosis hypothesis (that’s fun to say).

-After reading the rest of the text of this passage we find that the Jews were so angry about the stoning of James that they they demanded that King Agrippa fire Ananus. Why would the Jews be angered over the killing of a Christian, since Christians were seen as heathens by the Jews? After the angry Jews get their way, “Jesus” is put in charge, Jesus son of Damneus and not Jesus son of Joseph. It seems as though “who was called Christ” was simply a margin note that got added to the text. The context would suggest that Jesus and James are brothers and after James is killed his brother is made to be high priest. And therefore the passage has nothing to say about any Christians but rather Jewish infighting. –http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Testimonium_Flavian

In the end, I will accept that the writings of Josephus are possibly factual accounts of the existence of a man named Jesus. They can’t be used as anything more than that and I have already admitted that I am not a mythicist. I would agree that most of his information came from Christian sources but I don’t think that is any reason to disregard all of the information.

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Tacitus

A Roman historian, ~100CE, provides an account of the persecution of the early Christians and the crucifixion.

-Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty (i.e., Crucifixion) during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus… -Tacitus, Annals

So, he states that a man called Christ, whom a sect of Jews were named after, was crucified by Pilate. But he calls Pilate a procurator, not a prefect. Tacitus would surely know the difference, even if we don’t.

-Thiessen and Merz, while stating that Tacitus provides few details the source of which is unclear, conclude that there was a Jew named Christus who Pilate had executed, and he began a religious movement which was widespread during Nero’s reign.

I think this next quote is relevant to most of the people/references on this list considering the events were so long ago, so poorly documented, and the claim is so extreme.

-In his book Jesus, Charles Guignebert states that “so long as there is that possibility [that Tacitus was simply repeating the story as it was being told], the passage remains quite worthless.” Without more information, which we don’t currently have, the passage proves nothing (it can’t be used as evidence for or against).

But…

-Scholars generally consider Tacitus’ reference to the execution of Jesus by Pontius Pilate to be both authentic, and of historical value as an independent Roman source. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ

The IronChariots Wiki gives a list of other objections to the claim of relevance of Tacitus. Many of them lead me to believe that Tacitus was merely documenting what the Christians at the time were saying.

-Given that we are lacking key information, and that the passage itself provides very little detail, a determination about Tacitus’ diligence in investigating it cannot be made. Any statement which assumes he did exercise due diligence (i.e. that what he said was based on fact) is speculative.

My final judgement…Confirmation of a man named Jesus, leader of a set of Jews, but nothing about a deity. Even with just these two sources I am confident that the Christ Myth theory is debunked but I won’t go all the way to say that Jesus was the savior the bible bills him as.

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Suetonius

Roman historian, ~115CE, reported to mention Jesus by name.

-“As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he [Claudius] expelled them from Rome” –Suetonius

This one is pretty short and I’ll just copy/paste the whole of the article from the wiki.

-Elsewhere in the same work (The Lives of the Caesars) Suetonius talks about how “Punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition.” under Nero demonstrating that Suetonius knew the difference between Jews and Christians.

Suetonius wrote in the year 115 CE, so this is far from a contemporary account. He doesn’t cite or list sources and Christianity would have been decently established by this time.

The name in the text is not “Christus” but “Chrestus,” which by no means is the usual designation of Jesus. It was a common name, especially among Roman freedman. (Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares, book 2, letter 8, section 1; “What! Do you suppose that I meant you to send me an account of gladiatorial matches, of postponements of trials, of robberies by Chrestus, and such things as, when I am at Rome, nobody ventures to retail to me?”) Hence, the whole passage may have nothing whatever to do with Christianity.

I don’t think that most of the people who parrot the names of these “extra-biblical, non-Christian sources” have actually looked at them, just as I hadn’t. This is not a good example to use in favor of Jesus.

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Thallus

If Suetonius was a sketchy source, this one is worse. This “reference” to Jesus is from a 9th century source working on a manuscript of a 3rd century commentary of Thallus’ writings about the supposed darkness referenced in the Bible after the crucifixion. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion_darkness

“On the whole world there pressed a fearful darkness, and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. Thallos calls this darkness an eclipse of the sun in the third book of histories, without reason it seems to me.” –Africanus, http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Thallus

So, Africanus is commenting on, criticizing really, something supposedly said by Thallus from 200 years prior. Not to mention the name is spelled differently though that is easily explained away I know.

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Pliny

Pliny the younger, I assume, was apparently a Roman lawyer and the only mention relevant seems to be:

“Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshiped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ.” –Pliny, the Younger, http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Pliny_the_Younger

This in no way confirms the existence of Jesus, it only confirms that there were Christians. This couldn’t even be used as evidence against a mythicism view of Jesus. I guess I have to concede that Christians do exist based on this source, but again I’ll say it doesn’t have anything to do with a halfling Jesus.

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Trajan

So, Trajan was the Emperor of Rome from 98-117CE, he is who Pliny the Younger was writing to in the quote passage above so there isn’t much more to say about him that wasn’t said to Pliny. There is a passage of him replying to Pliny but it too is only about the treatment of Christians in legal matters, not about the veracity of their claims about Jesus being a god.

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Hadrian

Emperor from 117-138CE, after Trajan, his secretary happened to be Suetonius. Again, he doesn’t actually say anything to confirm the existence of Jesus. The only account I can find of him that is useful:

“I do not wish, therefore, that the matter should be passed by without examination, so that these men may neither be harassed, nor opportunity of malicious proceedings be offered to informers. If, therefore, the provincials can clearly evince their charges against the Christians, so as to answer before the tribunal, let them pursue this course only, but not by mere petitions, and mere outcries against the Christians. For it is far more proper, if anyone would bring an accusation, that you should examine it.” Hadrian further explained that if Christians were found guilty they should be judged “according to the heinousness of the crime.” If the accusers were only slandering the believers, then those who inaccurately made the charges were to be punished.” http://www.westarkchurchofchrist.org/library/extrabiblical.htm

All he is doing is speaking of the way to treat Christians based on their crimes not based on the fact that they are Christians. A noble quote, for sure, but not evidence for the existence, let alone godhood of Jesus.

A piece of evidence that would make an apologist not bring up Hadrian may be this:

“There those who worship Serapis are, in fact, Christians, and those who call themselves bishops of Christ are, in fact, devotees of Serapis. Even the Patriarch himself, when he comes to Egypt, is forced by some to worship Serapis, by others to worship Christ.“ http://caesarsmessiah.com/blog/2011/11/hadrian-wrote-that-serapis-and-christ-were-the-same-god/

He wrote that Jesus and Serapis were the same god. Strange indeed. If you want Hadrian to be used as evidence that Jesus existed then we would have to also accept that Jesus and Serapis were the same deity.

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Talmud

The Talmud, a collection of Jewish rabbinical teachings, supposedly referencing Jesus’ death, the passage in question:

“On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, ‘He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.’ But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover!” –excerpt from the Talmud, http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Talmud

One criticism states that Jesus was crucified, not hanged as the passage states, but I can explain that away by saying the hung him up on the cross. A better criticism is that the Bible recounts Jesus being tried and then executed the day after his trial which was either on or after Passover; no 40 day waiting period and not on the eve of Passover.

Matt 26:2-5 – Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified… …But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.

The Bible says he was killed after the Passover; it seems more likely that this reference to an unnamed person who was hanged is someone else and the passage is just vague enough to be used for Jesus.

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Toledoth

I’ve never heard of this source before and in asking for clarification I get this response:

Well of course I have never read teledoth just know him as early historian who wrote about the life if Christ. Let me ask around about that pRticular resource though.

You are citing a source you don’t even know about? Please agree with me that this is fallacious thinking. Considering what I’ve come across I would bet that many people who cite these “sources” haven’t done the least bit of research on them either.

I searched for a source by this title and the only thing I could come up with was the Toledot Yeshu.

Ok, so yes you are right I think. That is the one that has been referenced for me. Have you read?

If this is the source you were speaking of I must confess that I am sure that you didn’t actually look at the sources you sent to me. Laughably I read about this so-called source; it is called an “anti-gospel” and a parody of the life of Jesus.

The stories claim that Jesus (Yeshu) was an illegitimate child, and that he practiced magic and heresy, seduced women, and died a shameful death.

Jewish and Christian scholars agree that isn’t worth discussing as fact.

This scurrilous fable of the life of Jesus is a medieval work, probably written down in the tenth century. …. Though its contents enjoyed a certain currency in the oral traditions of the Jewish masses, it was almost totally ignored by official or scholarly Judaism

I hope this isn’t a source that is seriously being sent around but I fear it is still being parroted to extend the list of so-called sources and evidence for the apologist arguments. In stark contrast to giving veracity to the claims of believers, giving sources like this is harmful to the discussion.

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Lucian

This is one that wasn’t in the original list given to me but I came across it and wanted to see what it had to say too. Perhaps you know of this one but have decided to leave it out because it isn’t good enough but that would mean you approved of the others that were so bad. The passage in question is:

“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day – the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. . . . You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.” –Lucian, http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Lucian

The sarcasm or vitriol in this passage is thick. This isn’t an eyewitness account of either the “distinguished personage” or the death of the “sage”. The link says it was from ~120 after the death of Jesus. I can accept that this is speaking about Jesus but it doesn’t seem like anything more than someone talking about the Christians, he certainly doesn’t give them any credit in their beliefs by speaking about them as he does.

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I would like to comment that it seems funny that the names of the ‘extra-Biblical, non-Christian sources’ seem to be in the same order everywhere. The list that was given to me in the email exchange is the same order as the list on IronChariots and the same as I’ve heard numerous times, though it could just be me counting the hits.

If we accept most of the above as evidence enough that Jesus existed, the following points are made:

  • There was a Jew named Jesus who founded a religious movement
  • He was ordered executed by a Roman prefect named Pilate
  • His martyrdom is likely what fueled the growth of the movement

However, we have not made the points that:

  • The man had magic powers
  • The Biblical account is factual
  • The Bible is a reliable historical source
  • What people believe today is true
  • Suetonius, Thallus, Pliny the Younger, Emperor Trajan, Emperor Hadrian, and Toledot Yeshu are useful names to drop as extra-Biblical, non-Christian sources of Jesus related factoids.

If you are one of the people who has been giving the above as sources of confirmation of the claims of Jesus…

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This post is not to say that I am smarter than anyone else. I feel like I have openly investigated the sources and criticized them fairly. Please take the sarcasm in this post as friendly. Above all take the information in this post back to your circles and make sure people stop citing some of these sources as confirmation of the life of Jesus. Admitting that some of the sources aren’t useful doesn’t mean you are admitting that Jesus wasn’t god; it means you are intellectually honest with both yourself and others.

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Those Words…They Don’t Mean What You Think They Do

My rebuttal to a viral picture/quote going around Facebook recently. The majority of the text in this post is directed at a single person but if you can read it open minded you shouldn’t have a problem with all the yous.

I apologize in advance for the length of this post and I will offer this TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read): Giving rights to groups that previously were denied doesn’t equal taking rights away from the first/main group, and a penis is just a penis, not a rod of superiority; love and take pride in yourself!

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Ok, you may be offended by my writing this but I really could care less, this is all getting out of hand. I know you didn’t actually write this yourself but you shared it as if you agree with what it says so I will assume you do.

“I find myself again being put in that same category as a second class citizen,”

The civil rights movement did not take rights away from the majority group. The Civil Rights Movement extended rights to groups that previously had none or had less. Some of the white people in the 50s and 60s felt like their rights were being taken and given away, but just like Christians now, they were/are wrong.

Christians are not comparable to the African race in the story of the Civil Rights Movement, they are the white people! Christians are the majority; they had rights that are now being extended to other groups. During the civil rights movement the whites were the majority and had the rights that were being extended to other groups. White people don’t have the right to eat at a restaurant and not have black people around; they don’t have the right to have the front of the bus; they don’t have the right to decide about the nation with no say from other groups of citizens. Christians don’t have the right to proclaim this a “Christian Nation” and forbid other religions from exercising their beliefs during events; Christians don’t have the right to say anyone who doesn’t believe as we do can step outside while we pray to our god; Christians don’t have the right to control the government. This nation is not and was never intended to be a theocracy.

Your church came to the same decision about equal rights eventually (even though it took far too long for that to happen especially in a church that was supposed to have been revealed from an all-knowing creator god).

“Tell a Muslim he can’t pray at school or at the airport or downtown when prayer time is called for, and see what happens.”

Saying someone or some group can’t do something is wrong, saying someone or some group can’t make other people follow their beliefs is NOT. Who has proclaimed that Christians can’t pray? Where has that come from? The only thing that has been said is that you can’t MAKE other people pray with you, for you, or like you against their will, and this is only in matters of the state (government).

“We refuse to sit by and let you or anyone else mock, attack, demean, or laugh at our beliefs,”

Unfortunately for all groups we have this little thing called the Constitution. It states that just because there is a majority who wants one way they don’t get it just because they are the majority. The minority has a voice too. The establishment clause of the Constitution guarantees the separation of Church and State, and good ole amendment one allows me to “mock, demean, or laugh” at your religion and any idea I see fit.

Another analog to the above story seems to be the plight of women in the “Church.” I recently read an article about the church coming to terms with equal rights for all, View it here. This article is based on the April General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which would be a pivotal moment in the history of the church as it would be the first time a female member would be allowed to pray at General Conference. Of course I was glad to hear this news and I did watch a clip of the conference but didn’t get to see the prayer.

Back to the analog: The males in the church don’t think their rights (to prayer and leadership) are being taken away and given to the female members, do they? Unfortunately, I found this rebuttal to the article, found here. This guy’s response is based on unchanging scripture and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. This is probably one of those verses that is supposed to be taken figuratively or has been “misinterpreted.” Its pretty clear what this verse says and its not an isolated event, check 1 Tim. 2:12.

I don’t know how widespread the belief of female subservience is in the church, but it seems like some do feel their rights are being taken away and unjustly given to the female membership. It doesn’t mean he is right; Just as some whites thought their rights were being taken and given to the inferiors; Just as some Christians think their rights are being taken away and given to non/other-believers. I hope against all hope that you do not believe that an eternal being would condemn half of his creation to be subservient. If you do believe this I feel sorry for you. YOU ARE NOT A LESSER BEING THAN ANY MAN! YOU ARE A MASTERPIECE OF EVOLUTION (or creation if you must) NO ONE SHOULD BE GIVEN ANY MORE OR LESS RIGHTS THAN YOU. I LOVE YOU BUT IF YOU CANT ACCEPT THIS AS TRUTH I WILL HAVE TO BREAK TIES. CRYSTAL MAY CHOOSE TO STAY IN CONTACT BUT YOU WILL NOT TEACH THAT RUBBISH TO MY DAUGHTER.

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To my dear wife, daughter, mother, sister, and all females in my life (and around the world, too): I apologize for the caps lock but the emphasis was needed. I love you all, you are all of equal value to the human condition as any other person including myself. I see no reason why an extra appendage should give me rights over and above what you have. A penis does not give me superiority, it gives no one superiority. You are not a second class citizen and I will do anything in my power to help you not feel like one.

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Thank you for reading.

YEC v Me

I found out that a coworker of mine is a Young Earth Creationist and I expressed my feelings of wanting to discuss some of the claims she holds. She said that she would love to as she was once a scientific person who went to a meeting of Creationists with her science notes as to refute some of their claims but was unable, and she may be able to turn me to the truth. This, she claims, is her basis for believing the claims of Ken Ham and the Answers in Genesis group. I have ordered the book and plan to do a read through and blog about my progress.

I sincerely doubt that my position will be swayed by the likes of Ken Ham and his pseudoscience but I said I would read and discuss it with her. Below is the first of our encounters and is the story of my relationship with religion growing up. If she agrees to continue I will try to blog about our discussions (possibly posting the transcripts).

 

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            You already know that we are on opposing sides of this argument but I would like to have a back and forth with you about it. I do not want anything we talk about to interfere with work, as such, I think we will have to not talk about it when we are at work, unless it is a claim we can both agree on. If you are willing, I would like to possibly have an email back and forth about the claims of Intelligent Design and Young Earth Creationism in particular.  If you feel like we shouldn’t do this as it may disturb work I will let it go and we will go our separate ways and continue as we were before. Either way, I will give you the story of how I got to where I am on religion. I would very much like to hear your story even if you don’t want to continue our debate.

 

I was raised in a Christian home; my mom took my sister and I to church as often as possible but at least once a month we had to miss because of her work schedule. In high school I took control and would go to church on my own most of the time, as my mom was working every weekend. It was easy to miss going when I was on my own and could come up with a million reasons to not go. I continued in my off and on attendance, all the while holding the belief in my head/heart though I never held the bible to be a completely literal account of what happened.

I believed that most of the events did, in some fashion, happen even if they had been exaggerated or elaborated them, as people do to their stories. When I met my wife I was introduced to a new religion (denomination/sect whatever you want to call it) in the Latter-day Saints. I fell for my wife and for her religion, both maybe quicker than is advisable. My wife got me going to church much more than I had been and I was learning about something completely new to me, I had never thought about or, perhaps, even encountered a Mormon before, now I was one. Looking back now, I don’t see how I could have overlooked so many apparent flaws in the doctrine and foundation of the LDS church. As I started actually studying about the church and its claims, I found more and more blatant fraud and problems with it. I know now that I should have done this investigation at the onset but I learned and have moved on.

The problems I discovered about the claims of the LDS church led me to immediately disavow my relationship with the church and its teachings, but as I learned more and more about why the LDS church is not true I also came on to atheist information. I easily debunked the LDS, but the more I read the more I blossomed all of the doubts I have ever had about God and religion.

As I grew up I could never understand why an all-powerful being couldn’t or wouldn’t help the people in Africa living in conditions that I wouldn’t let my worst enemy live in. I couldn’t believe that a loving family could live eternally and be in paradise/heaven if one of its members didn’t proclaim the same belief and spent their eternity in Hell. I couldn’t fathom how an all-knowing could have this one book that he gave to this one set of people in this one part of the world and they have the only means of being saved, but the worst part of it all is that one book can/could/would/have been translated and interpreted so many times that by now who knows what the true version and meaning is.

I have always been a school person. I mean that I loved learning; I loved reading about the ancient mythos surrounding the Romans, the Greeks, and the Vikings. I could easily understand why in their ignorance (the true meaning of the word not the demeaning one) they attributed natural phenomena to the “Gods.” As a kid I could easily draw a line between their “gods” and my God, but as I read more and more about atheism and freethought I came to realize that the Abrahamic god is just the same; We attribute anything we haven’t described scientifically to god. The best quote for this enlightenment was “Once you realize why you don’t believe in the gods of ancient Greece and Rome, the Vikings, Hindu, Islam, etc. You will realize why I don’t accept yours.” Probably not an exact quote but the bones are there and you can understand it. Another is, “I contend we are both atheists, I only believe in one less god than you do.”

When I found out about Young Earth Creationists I was confused, in my mind they attributed things that we had explained scientifically back to god and said that science was flawed or misguided. I was excited to learn that you claimed the belief because I really wanted to meet and talk to someone so that not all of my information came from the internet; the land of the extremists.

I am sure you have heard of and been warned about atheists, but I am not the hardened anti-theist you have heard of. I am not the staunch “god cannot exist” atheist from the internet. In fact, my position is actually that of a completely neutral person, I am the Switzerland of god claims. I have learned that I require evidence that is more than a personal revelation or a collection of stories written decades or more after the events.

Monopoly vs. The Bible

While browsing the stories on the Yahoo news page one caught my attention. Click Here to read. Basically, it says there are a few rules that players have changed and/or forgotten about over the years and some people don’t even know they’re doing it wrong. This instantly clicked into my head as the same way most people have gone about learning about the Bible. My favorite sentence in the article,

“Perhaps because so many people learn the game from their parents, siblings and friends,

no one has bothered to read the actual rules for a while.”

Doesn’t that just ring true for the Bible and Christianity, and all religions at that.

We’ve almost all taken the knowledge of the Bible from our parents/friends and few have read the “rule book” for themselves. I actually have started to study the Bible so I can say I am one of those few, it really does change your perception of the religion and the stories if you read it yourself. Its easy to see that some or most of the stories in the Bible could possibly have gotten changed centuries ago over the years of verbal communication especially if the rules of a game were changed in today’s world. In addition, we haven’t got anything to gain by tweaking the rules to the game but back then if they could have their “Messiah” be better than the other messiahs they would have exaggerated some of the stories. Don’t even get me started on the changes that have been made to the Book of Mormon.

Contradictions of Biblical Proportions

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Prompted by the list of biblical contradictions on The Thinking Atheist, I want to start a series of posts to confront the issue of contradictions in the bible. I have seen many verses posted by hard core atheists (and by unlearned/uninformed ones) that claim the bible is wrought with conflicts and contradictions. In looking at some of these they do not actually seem to be contradictions at all. I plan to go through some of the supposed contradictions and work it out. I do not believe that all of the reported ones are actually contradictions, but are preyed upon by militant atheists. I urge everyone to read the verses around the contradictory ones, put it in context. Anything can be take from the middle of a conversation or sentence and be made to be contradictory, especially in our world of half-truths. Another big part of determining if something should be considered a contradiction is the version of the text you are reading.

I will be as middle-of-the-road as I can be because I really just want truth out there, not the utter destruction of religion. If you attack a religion its people will harden and not listen to anything but being fair to both sides I hope to bring us together to agree on some and (of course) disagree on others.

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Answer the Fool or Not?

Proverbs 26:4-5

“4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.”

 

This is hard to read. Are we to answer the fool, or not? This is the best example of reading the surrounding verses to put the questionable section in context in order to determine if it is correct to consider this a contradiction. My verdict….NOT A CONTRADICTION, just a poorly worded couple of sentences, but we are in proverbs so they are hard to read even on a good day.

In examining this verse, it states to not be like the fool who questions you. Don’t stoop to their level, but to answer them in kind. I can think of a great example of this but it turns the tables 180 degrees. A christian thinks to stop an atheist they need only ask the atheist where the original matter from the big bang came (this is not a hard question for most atheists, I’ll just let you know). The atheist can rant and rave about it being eternal and having always been there in one form or another (answering the fool according to his folly – verse 4), OR they can simply ask where god came from (answer the fool as his folly deserves – verse 5).

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Where did Aaron die? Mt. Hor vs. Moserah

Numbers 33:38 – Aaron died on Mt. Hor

Deuteronomy 10:6 – Aaron died in Moserah

 

This discrepancy will be much harder to iron out. Mt. Hor and Moserah are biblical locations that are not widely agreed on in current geography. Many sympathist would say that Moserah is a region and Mt. Hor was located within that area. The authors of the stories (and the verbal story tellers before that) chose to record the location of his death in different ways.

Much like if I was to talk to someone from Tennessee I would say I am from Clarksville, but if I was talking to someone in Europe I would say I was from Middle Tennessee. I actually had this happen to me when I was on vacation in 2008 atop a mountain in Switzerland. Some people came up to our group and asked us where we were from, we responded the US, they said “yes, what part?” “Tennessee” “We have family in Tennessee, where are you from?” “The Nashville area.”

Likely a contradiction but unable to conclusively say on this one.

 

I hope this is informative to everyone. I want to make sure that everyone follows the same logic when looking at claims of fellow atheists as when we reject the claims of theists. Don’t just believe it because they say it (or me even), look for yourself. I have provided the links for you to be able to see the context of all the verses. I may be wrong too, let me know if you think i am.

Removal of Aversions

As a part of my apostasy I am removing some of my aversions that I had before, the first is to drinking alcohol. I am not going on a drinking spree, I am going to familiarize myself with the different categories of drinks and the specific brands. I know some of these will take a couple of tries to make them palatable, I’ve already started and I can confirm some of these are horrible.

So far I have tried a few beers, a few whiskeys, and some vodka. I am sure I will mislabel some of these, let me know so I can fix it. I have gone to the liquor store and not wanting to spend hundreds of dollars, I bought a couple of the mini drinks. I am sure that this is what these were made for because who would want to spend $50 on a jar of drink that you might not like? Good idea companies!

I will try to put my thoughts to pen but I am having a hard time wording my thoughts to make sense to anyone else, so I’m sorry if you can’t understand my writings. I did not drink all of these on the same night (Usually just one/two a night, and I didn’t drink more than a sip of some of them)…I want to go about this as scientifically as I can and I thought the tastes and types would not mix well with each other. I am going to score each drink that I try using a 5 point scale:

1 – Something I’d never try again.

2 – I might try it again if someone vouched for the drink.

3 – So/So.

4 – Pretty good, but I will probably just stick to the minis

5 – I like this very much. Would potentially drink this often.

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Beer

Rolling Rock

Blah. Not good for me. I couldn’t finish it. I tried this one b/c it was a light ale and I thought the taste would be milder, it was but it wasn’t good. 2/5

Blue Moon-Belgian White

My favorite so far, but I don’t think I’d drink it often. I am just not a fan of the “beer” flavor. 4/5

Blue Moon-Agave Nectar Ale

Pretty good, pretty much the “beer” flavor that I had in my mind. I couldn’t detect the Agave Nectar addition I use this in my tea and I know it is a subtle taste on its own and can easily be overpowered. 3/5

Smirnoff Ice-Green Apple

Pretty good, not much to say really. This is a true starter drink. Not much alcohol, nice taste with the green apple (look forward to the other flavors). 5/5

Whiskey

Crown Royal

My mouth is numb. Wow, I’ve never had anything like this…I’ve never thought about something being like that. I can perfectly understand now why people shake their heads in movies/tv when they take a drink of whiskey. Pretty good and it soothed my sore throat, keep this one in the medicine cabinet i think. 3/5

Jameson

Whats up with the Irish and green bottles? Whew, strong. Good job Irish. Def. too strong for a newbie like myself. I’ll keep the little bottle around and retry it in the future. 2/5

Jack Daniels

I actually didn’t know what to expect when I bought this one. I’ve grown up in TN and heard about Jack all my life, never tried it. My grandfather even has a good story about someone in his family selling the recipe for Ole’ Number 7. I might go for the big bottle on this one. 5/5

Vodka

Smirnoff-Green Apple

Wow, not at all like the other Smirnoff I had. This one is hard to drink, apparently it is completely different than the beer-like one I had earlier. A lot, A LOT, more alcohol and green apple taste in this one. 2/5

Hpnotiq

This one is pretty good, not very harsh, nice fruit flavor apparently mixed with Congac (will try that soon). 4/5

A Spoonfull of Sugar

An inspiring view of the calm after the storm of leaving the church. I don’t know if I am to the point of not wanting to show everyone my evidence yet but I will get there eventually. I am not on a crusade and I will not jam it in anyone’s face but if they ask me I am ready and willing to provide it.

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via A Spoonfull of Sugar.

and a big Thank You to the Man Upstairs

So, the MTV Movie Awards are wrapping up and I just realized that through every speech I don’t think I heard anyone thank god, they all thanked actual people who had a hand in helping them get to where they are. I was excited to come to this realization, there is hope.

Morals

What are morals? Where do we get our morals? I have been debated saying that morals come from the bible. I say what about before the bible? What about the bad decisions that were made in the bible?

Morals – of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior : ethical

I claim, like many others, that we have evolved our moral code from decisions that affect our life, the lives of our family, the lives and workings of our community, the animals around us, and the world itself. Right and wrong have evolved, they are not concrete standards. The link below shows a moral ring and shows how our decisions and standards have expanded to include more variables over time. Including the variables changing are the specifics to individual situations: is it right to kill a person? What if they killed a person? What if they killed many people?

Killing is wrong, but for the benefit of society that person who is murdering individuals needs to be stopped. That is moral decision and it can have different answers from different people. There is no code that has an answer for every situation that can occur. There are no absolutes, we make our own right and wrong.

click here

Eternal Unchanging Doctrine

“The lord’s truth is not altered by fads, trends, or public pinion.”
-David A Bednar, Apr. 2013 General Conference

Yeah ok, we just won’t talk about the “truths” of:

Well, lets we, I think I can come up with at least one, right?

Oh, I know:

Polygamy

Blacks in the priesthood

Black/Indians being cursed with their skin color

The cursed being able to become “white and delightsome”

The ancestry of the American Indians

“Hot drinks” …. Caffeine

Blood atonement

Adam-god

The stance of the church on these truths has never changed. Oh wait yes it has. Th church has a great and well documented history of doing exactly the opposite of Mr. Bednar’s statement. All of the changes mentioned above and some of the “prophecies” made by the prophets came in the light of public opinion or pressure. (Check out my post, My Coming Out pt5, to see some failed prophecies)

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