Where’s Jesus’ birth certificate?! (Photo)

While my wife and I were traveling through Arkansas this weekend, I decided we just had to pull over to take a picture.

I couldn’t help but laugh at this. I’m assuming there were two separate intended messages here:

• I haven’t seen enough proof that Barack Obama was really born in America, and therefore he shouldn’t be President.
• Jesus Christ is my savior, since he definitely died on the cross and rose again for our sins.

My reading of this scene, however, is

• People may say that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, but
• We don’t even have solid historical evidence of his birth, death, or resurrection, so how do we know he even existed?

My wife, who is a Christian, also understood right away why putting these two symbols together was pretty funny, since the result is almost certainly not what was intended in rural, highly Christian Arkansas.

By posting this photo, I am not necessarily claiming myself that Jesus never existed (although many before me have made such claims, understandly given the Bible can’t even get his stepdad Joseph’s ancestory right). It would be nice, though, if people became skeptical in a more productive way than being an Obama birther. They could start by demanding that their god or their church give them better proof of the “greatest story ever told” than a very deeply flawed Bible

Just imagine…

While I’m working on trying to convert my old posts, and a new post that I probably won’t finish tonight, here’s my "Just imagine… " post, my most-viewed post from my Xanga blog. It talks about the Steve Well’s (from Skeptic’s Annotated Bible fame) proposed death total for people God is said to have killed in the Bible. Since it sums up pretty well some of my feelings on God and is also a big reason I decided to expand my website, it’s an appropriate post that I hope you enjoy.

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Imagine for a second that an insane bloodthirsty maniac decides he is going to kill the entire population of the Earth. He’s a whiz at computers and breaks into the US Defense Department’s computers and gains access to the United States’ vast nuclear arsenal (hey, if Matthew Broderick can do it in WarGames, so can he).

To be thorough (and dramatic), our madman decides to start at the bottom of the list of countries in the world and work his way up one-by-one. (He uses Wikipedia’s list of countries and self-governing territories as a source because like many computer-savvy people, he’s a huge fan of Wikipedia.) He is able to launch nuclear weapons against the 41 least populous places in the world before he is found and his killing spree is stopped. The entire populations of these countries and territories either die immediately or in short order due to the nuclear blasts he launched.

Now, who do you think will have killed more people: this crazy mass-murderer, or the God of the Bible? If you said the insane madman, you’d be wrong. According to Wikipedia (as of Jan 5 2009), the 41 least populous countries or self-governed states have a combined population of 2,211,501 people. That’s a lot of people. But according to the Bible, God killed at least 2,301,417 people. Steve Wells, the author of the Skeptics Annotated Bible, did the calculations in his blog Dwindling in Unbelief, but the numbers come directly from the Bible itself. The figure includes people that God killed personally, plus ones he commanded or sanctioned the death of in the Bible. It only includes incidents for which death totals are given in the Bible. So God outdoes our fictional mass-murderer by almost 100,000 people!

But wait, you protest. The nuclear fallout from our imaginary madman would certainly kill millions more, so he still is the top killer. Well, it turns out that God has also killed millions more. The 2,301,417 people Steve Wells includes in his total of God killings are just the ones for which figures are given in the Bible. If we include estimates for all the times God kills or sanctions a killing when the Bible doesn’t even bother to tally the dead, Steve arrives at a much larger figure: 33,280,237. Our fictional madman would have to kill the inhabitants of Wikipedia’s 80 least populous places in the world to match this total (either by nuclear bomb, or some other ingenious scheme).

You may argue with some of the estimates Steve gives (who besides God would know how many people actually died in the Flood, for example), but since the Bible doesn’t think it’s important enough to mention how many people died in these massacres, Steve had to come up with his own estimates. He gives his reasons behind the numbers if you follow the links. Some are more exact estimates than others. But even if he’s a few million off, that’s still an amazing amount of killing for an entity many Christians believe is a loving God who is the source of all morality.

To get an idea of just how many people the Bible says God killed, according to the conservative total (2.3 million), the following 41 countries or self-governing territories could all have their inhabitants wiped off the face of the Earth and still not equal the killings God is credited with in the Bible: São Tomé and Príncipe, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, U.S. Virgin Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Grenada, Aruba, Tonga, Kiribati, Jersey, Seychelles, Antigua and Barbuda, Northern Mariana Islands, Andorra, Isle of Man, Dominica, American Samoa, Guernsey, Bermuda, Marshall Islands, Greenland, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Faroe Islands, Cayman Islands, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino, Gibraltar, Turks and Caicos Islands, British Virgin Islands, Cook Islands, Palau, Anguilla, Tuvalu, Nauru, Saint Helena, Montserrat, Falkland Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Vatican City, Pitcairn Islands.

If we take Steve Well’s estimated total of over 33 million, here’s the list of places that could all have their entire populations slaughtered without reaching God’s glorious total: Slovenia, Lesotho, Botswana, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Estonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Gabon, Mauritius, East Timor, Swaziland, Qatar, Djibouti, Fiji, Cyprus, Bahrain, Guyana, Comoros, Bhutan, Montenegro, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Solomon Islands, Luxembourg, Western Sahara, Suriname, Malta, Brunei, Bahamas, Iceland, Maldives, Barbados, Belize, Vanuatu, Netherlands Antilles, Samoa, Guam, Saint Lucia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, U.S. Virgin Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Grenada, Aruba, Tonga, Kiribati, Jersey, Seychelles, Antigua and Barbuda, Northern Mariana Islands, Andorra, Isle of Man, Dominica, American Samoa, Guernsey, Bermuda, Marshall Islands, Greenland, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Faroe Islands, Cayman Islands, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino, Gibraltar, Turks and Caicos Islands, British Virgin Islands, Cook Islands, Palau, Anguilla, Tuvalu, Nauru, Saint Helena, Montserrat, Falkland Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Vatican City, Pitcairn Islands

Sure, if you’re like me and most people, you probably don’t recognize or know a lot about some of these places, but certainly you recognize a good number of them. But in case a list of random countries don’t hit home, maybe a few other examples might help:

• The entire region/continent of Oceania has around 30 million people, according to Wikipedia. If our crazy murderer could just make Australia, New Zealand, and the population of most of the Pacific Islands die overnight, that would still be less than how many lives God took in the Bible.

• The top 20 cities in the US could have their entire population croak on the spot (32.4 million people in all), and God’s total would still be almost 1 million more.

• According to Wikipedia, 185 countries/territories out of the 221 (about 4 out of 5) in the world have a population of less than 33 million people. If our madman could randomly take any one of these countries and just kill all of its inhabitants with a snap, he would likely have killed less people than the biblical God killed.

• With those odds, he could even just pick to destroy any one country in the world at random and he’d have about a 4 out of 5 chance of killing less people than God did in the Bible.

• The Bible was written (primarily) in Hebrew and Greek. God has killed more than the current populations of Israel and Greece combined (plus you can easily throw a country like Cuba or Belgium in for good measure).

• The Beach Boys (or what’s left of them) could go butcher all the inhabitants of the places they mention in the song Kokomo, and it would only add up to around 4.7 million people. They could also go ahead and easily bump off any tourists who might be there at the time, too, and still fall far shy of God’s 33+ million estimated deaths.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. The Bible depicts a God with the blood of millions of people on his hands. Is this a good model for us or our children?

Fortunately, I have good news. Besides being mass-murders, our insane bloodthirsty maniac and our insane bloodthirsty God have one other thing in common: they’re both fictional. Unfortunately, at least some of the people in the Bible probably did die because people thought God wanted them to do it. Not to mention the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch-burning, and countless other cases where people have killed in the name of God. Or other deaths some people have recently attributed to God (Katrina, etc.). Or all the future deaths certainly still to committed in God’s name.

Couldn’t an all-powerful, all-knowing God and his followers think of a better way to get things done than death? Instead of thinking of all this senseless killing, wouldn’t it be nice to imagine a world without God? Just imagine…

Posted 1/5/2009 10:12 AM
– 419 Views

Genesis 19 — The Bible should be rated NC-17

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

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Two Virgins
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Genesis 19 — The Bible should be rated NC-17

I was aware of the two stories in this chapter, but it was still somewhat shocking and sickening reading them. It’s hard to keep this blog family-friendly with a book like the Bible, so be forewarned that what follows is just plain sick and shouldn’t be read or believed by anyone, much less children.

God sends two angels to prepare for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot insists that these angels of death stay over at his place. But the angels are so irresistible, the crowd wants to have sex with them. Lot is against this, as he should be. But his solution is to offer up his two daughter to the crowd instead. I quote Lot, from the NIV (Gen 19:8),

"Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof."

There is no way to misinterpret this: Lot offers his own daughters to a sex-crazed crowd and tells them to have at them. There is no excuse for this. Even the author of the Annotated Skeptic’s Annotated Bible says

"There are a few things that can be said in his defense, but in the end, this is one of those things I have to admit I just can’t quite comprehend. […] Apparently just leaving the door locked wouldn’t be enough, as after he spoke with them, they tried to break his door down. In my opinion, that doesn’t justify him, but I’d take a plea of "temporary insanity" on his part, so to speak."

In any case, the crowd doesn’t take him up on his offer to gang-rape his virgin daughters though because the angels are just too sexy apparently. The angels work some hocus-pocus and the crowd is dazzled long enough for Lot, his wife, and his daughters to escape.

Now here’s something that I don’t remember being mentioned, although I’m sure I’m not the first to notice it. The next morning, Lot and family are to leave, but in verse 16, it says Lot "hesitated" (NIV) (ASV) or "lingered" (KJV), so the angels have to convince him again to skedaddle. Lot talks them into saving a nearby town for them to escape to. As you probably know, Lot does eventually leave, and God rains fire and brimstone to kill everyone who’s left in town, but his wife looks behind and is punished by turning into a pillar of salt. The Bible doesn’t say much at all, just matter-of-factly says that she’s turned into salt and then goes on with the story.

This is simply not fair. Lot not only hesitated, he actually argued with the angels until he got something out of them. Lot’s wife merely looks back for a moment and is turned into a pillar of salt. What’s the moral of this: it’s fine to argue with angels to get them to change God’s plans, but if you look back, you’re dead? Do Lot and his daughters even mourn the death? The Bible doesn’t tell us.

Later on, Lot and his daughters are living in a cave (he was too afraid to stay in the town God had spared him) and they both decide to get him drunk and have sex with him. Not one night, but two nights in a row. (Don’t you think after the first night, Lot might have been suspicious that something was up?!?) They say that it’s to keep up the family line. Mission accomplished: they both have sons.

Besides saying that Lot was unaware of what was going on, the Bible doesn’t offer any other condemnation (we’ll see if there’s one later on, but based on the SAB and a couple other sites I quickly looked at, it doesn’t look like it).

So we have, in one chapter
* a sex-crazed mob that wants to rape two angels
* a father who offers his virgin daughters to a sex-crazed mob
* a God who completely destroys an entire city, humans, plants, presumably animals, and all
* a God who turns a woman to salt for daring to look back at the city she’s being kicked out of
* two daughters who get their dad drunk
* a father who has sex with both of his incestuous daughters
* two children born of incest

Julia Sweeney, of SNL fame, thought this story was disturbing enough to mention as part of her "Letting Go of God " one-person-show-turned-book-turned-audiobook-turned-movie. I listened to her audiobook, and she somehow manages to make telling her deconversion from being a Christian into an inspiring and laugh-out-loud story. Otherwise, this would have been an even more depressing chapter to cover.

If there is any book that should be banned from libraries, it should be the Bible with stories like this. But I don’t believe in censorship, and maybe it’s better the book isn’t banned anyway. I don’t know how my deconversion would have went, if at all, if I hadn’t have had access to the Bible (and the SAB’s comments in a number of cases) to look at and actually think about. If someone reads the Bible from a library and it opens their eyes a little, that would be a good things.

Why would these stories be in the Holy Word of God? I would like to see how my soon-to-be-ordained relative, that I mentioned in a previous post, would wiggle out of this story.  I honestly don’t see how.

PS Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. All rights reserved.

Just imagine… (a world without God)

Monday, January 05, 2009

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Sounds Of Summer – The Very Best Of The Beach Boys
By The Beach Boys
Kokomo
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Just imagine…

Imagine for a second that an insane bloodthirsty maniac decides he is going to kill the entire population of the Earth. He’s a whiz at computers and breaks into the US Defense Department’s computers and gains access to the United States’ vast nuclear arsenal (hey, if Matthew Broderick can do it in WarGames , so can he).

To be thorough (and dramatic), our madman decides to start at the bottom of the list of countries in the world and work his way up one-by-one. (He uses Wikipedia’s list of countries and self-governing territories as a source because like many computer-savvy people, he’s a huge fan of Wikipedia.) He is able to launch nuclear weapons against the 41 least populous places in the world before he is found and his killing spree is stopped. The entire populations of these countries and territories either die immediately or in short order due to the nuclear blasts he launched.

Now, who do you think will have killed more people: this crazy mass-murderer, or the God of the Bible? If you said the insane madman, you’d be wrong. According to Wikipedia (as of Jan 5 2009), the 41 least populous countries or self-governed states have a combined population of 2,211,501 people. That’s a lot of people. But according to the Bible, God killed at least 2,301,417 people . Steve Wells, the author of the Skeptics Annotated Bible , did the calculations in his blog Dwindling in Unbelief , but the numbers come directly from the Bible itself. The figure includes people that God killed personally, plus ones he commanded or sanctioned the death of in the Bible. It only includes incidents for which death totals are given in the Bible. So God outdoes our fictional mass-murderer by almost 100,000 people!

But wait, you protest. The nuclear fallout from our imaginary madman would certainly kill millions more, so he still is the top killer. Well, it turns out that God has also killed millions more. The 2,301,417 people Steve Wells includes in his total of God killings are just the ones for which figures are given in the Bible. If we include estimates for all the times God kills or sanctions a killing when the Bible doesn’t even bother to tally the dead, Steve arrives at a much larger figure : 33,280,237 . Our fictional madman would have to kill the inhabitants of Wikipedia ‘s 80 least populous places in the world to match this total (either by nuclear bomb, or some other ingenious scheme).

You may argue with some of the estimates Steve gives (who besides God would know how many people actually died in the Flood, for example), but since the Bible doesn’t think it’s important enough to mention how many people died in these massacres, Steve had to come up with his own estimates. He gives his reasons behind the numbers if you follow the links. Some are more exact estimates than others. But even if he’s a few million off, that’s still an amazing amount of killing for an entity many Christians believe is a loving God who is the source of all morality.

To get an idea of just how many people the Bible says God killed, according to the conservative total (2.3 million), the following 41 countries or self-governing territories could all have their inhabitants wiped off the face of the Earth and still not equal the killings God is credited with in the Bible : São Tomé and Príncipe, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, U.S. Virgin Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Grenada, Aruba, Tonga, Kiribati, Jersey, Seychelles, Antigua and Barbuda, Northern Mariana Islands, Andorra, Isle of Man, Dominica, American Samoa, Guernsey, Bermuda, Marshall Islands, Greenland, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Faroe Islands, Cayman Islands, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino, Gibraltar, Turks and Caicos Islands, British Virgin Islands, Cook Islands, Palau, Anguilla, Tuvalu, Nauru, Saint Helena, Montserrat, Falkland Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Vatican City, Pitcairn Islands.

If we take Steve Well’s estimated total of over 33 million, here’s the list of places that could all have their entire populations slaughtered without reaching God’s glorious total : Slovenia, Lesotho, Botswana, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Estonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Gabon, Mauritius, East Timor, Swaziland, Qatar, Djibouti, Fiji, Cyprus, Bahrain, Guyana, Comoros, Bhutan, Montenegro, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Solomon Islands, Luxembourg, Western Sahara, Suriname, Malta, Brunei, Bahamas, Iceland, Maldives, Barbados, Belize, Vanuatu, Netherlands Antilles, Samoa, Guam, Saint Lucia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, U.S. Virgin Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Grenada, Aruba, Tonga, Kiribati, Jersey, Seychelles, Antigua and Barbuda, Northern Mariana Islands, Andorra, Isle of Man, Dominica, American Samoa, Guernsey, Bermuda, Marshall Islands, Greenland, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Faroe Islands, Cayman Islands, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino, Gibraltar, Turks and Caicos Islands, British Virgin Islands, Cook Islands, Palau, Anguilla, Tuvalu, Nauru, Saint Helena, Montserrat, Falkland Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Vatican City, Pitcairn Islands

Sure, if you’re like me and most people, you probably don’t recognize or know a lot about some of these places, but certainly you recognize a good number of them. But in case a list of random countries don’t hit home, maybe a few other examples might help:

• The entire region/continent of Oceania has around 30 million people, according to Wikipedia. If our crazy murderer could just make Australia, New Zealand, and the population of most of the Pacific Islands die overnight, that would still be less than how many lives God took in the Bible.

• The top 20 cities in the US could have their entire population croak on the spot (32.4 million people in all), and God’s total would still be almost 1 million more.

• According to Wikipedia , 185 countries/territories out of the 221 (about 4 out of 5) in the world have a population of less than 33 million people. If our madman could randomly take any one of these countries and just kill all of its inhabitants with a snap, he would likely have killed less people than the biblical God killed.

• With those odds, he could even just pick to destroy any one country in the world at random and he’d have about a 4 out of 5 chance of killing less people than God did in the Bible.

• The Bible was written (primarily) in Hebrew and Greek. God has killed more than the current populations of Israel and Greece combined (plus you can easily throw a country like Cuba or Belgium in for good measure).

• The Beach Boys (or what’s left of them) could go butcher all the inhabitants of the places they mention in the song Kokomo , and it would only add up to around 4.7 million people. They could also go ahead and easily bump off any tourists who might be there at the time, too, and still fall far shy of God’s 33+ million estimated deaths.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. The Bible depicts a God with the blood of millions of people on his hands. Is this a good model for us or our children?

Fortunately, I have good news. Besides being mass-murders, our insane bloodthirsty maniac and our insane bloodthirsty God have one other thing in common: they’re both fictional. Unfortunately, at least some of the people in the Bible probably did die because people thought God wanted them to do it. Not to mention the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch-burning, and countless other cases where people have killed in the name of God. Or other deaths some people have recently attributed to God (Katrina, etc.). Or all the future deaths certainly still to committed in God’s name.

Couldn’t an all-powerful, all-knowing God and his followers think of a better way to get things done than death? Instead of thinking of all this senseless killing, wouldn’t it be nice to imagine a world without God? Just imagine…

10:12 AM 422 views

Genesis 6 — Sons of god, weird His floody word

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Genesis 6 — Sons of god, weird His floody word

The "perfect" Bible in Genesis 6 starts out with a bunch of nonsense that still hasn’t been completely deciphered by anyone. I’ll cite the NIV this time, so its language is an easier read for modern English speakers:

"When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. […] The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when
the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them.
They were the heroes of old, men of renown."
(Genesis 6:1-2, 4)

So what’s going on here? The Bible does not tell us who the "sons of God" are (some say angels, though the Bible doesn’t support this), who the "daughters of men" are (human women?), or who these "Nephilim" are (the KJV calls them "giants"; are they tell humans or a different race?), or what their offspring were (half-angel-half-humans and half-giant-half-humans; were they demigods???)

Most translations also hide the fact that there is strong evidence for Hebrew polytheism in the Bible: the word "Elohim" is being used here for God. This is a word that is contrasted with the word "Yahweh" in Job. Many Christians are aware of the quote "Let us make man in our image "
(Genesis 1:26, KJV). Well, Elohim is used there and here in the original Hebrew. It’s a plural and is distinct from Yahweh in other parts of the Bible (e.g. Job 1).

In any case, no one knows for sure what on Earth (or heaven) Genesis is talking about in these verses. An informal discussion of these beings (also in relation to God and Satan talking in Job) can be found here in the SAB blog, Dwindling in Unbelief. My comment goes into more detail about what I’ve been able to figure out about these beings from among this biblical nonsense.

Maybe this is why God decided to order a flood, he/they just had too hard a time keeping all these crazy different beings straight and decided to start over?!?

But the reason given is that man was just too evil, and there was too much violence on the planet. God’s solution to this problem, like many others in the Bible, involves…violence. Fight fire with fire, I guess. Or in this case, water. God wants to start off with a clean slate, and decides to kill offf humanity. Nothing solves a problem like a good mass murder. He chooses though to save one family: Noah’s. Noah apparently was "perfect" (KJV) or "blameless" (NIV) and the best human God could find at the time — so good, that God "walked" with him. So we are all directly descended from the late, great Noah, according to the Bible.

God commands Noah to put his and his children’s families in a big wooden boat, and to bring two of every animal as well as all food. Reasonable people realize it would be impossible to put two of every animal and all their food into one boat for a number of reasons (space, weight, etc .). There are some people though who are too endoctrinated and honestly believe it must be true somehow, despite explanations.

I guess if you believe the rest of the Bible, this isn’t too hard to accept. With God, all things are possible, including a physics-defying boat and viciously killing nearly all humans, animals, and other life on Earth in a flood.

PS Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. All rights reserved.