virus: A few difficulties with the Christian religion - was Try 2 - Religion vs Faith

TheHermit (
Sun, 28 Mar 1999 00:35:54 -0600

Based on the number of requests to copy this document, I have now proofed and corrected this version. Please use this in place of the original version.
This document was written as a response to a particularly naive but apparently sincere Christian's (SnowLeopard) assertations on the maillist for the Church of Virus which can be found at

The author can be contacted at


I have stayed relatively quiet while you preached, due to lack of time and inclination, together with a firm belief that we should all be free to choose our own vices. That your vice happenes to be a blind devotion to a particularly nasty god did not really offend me, at least until you began attempting to propagate your favorite lies about it on this list. Before you continuing doing so, please consider a few minor points.

In the following I have tried not to quote verses from the bible, only references, that way you can look them up for yourself (in context and your favorite translation) and hopefully nobody will become unhappy; certainly there will be no grounds to accuse me of quoting out of context.

Most available evidence indicates that "Jesus Christ" simply did not exist. Ever. There is no believable contemporary support for the idea of this mythical creature. He seems to be a composite of a number of earlier resurrection/redeemer gods smeared over the persona of a rabid fundamentalist zealot sometime during the mid first century. The New Testament was only glued together out of documents dated after 60 CE (After 73CE for the Gospels) and arbitrary decisions were made as to what should be included and what should be edited out between 325CE and, some would argue, as late as 550 CE. For a reasonably competent view of this, I strongly recommend that you read "James The Brother of Jesus" by Robert Eisenman. Let me quote from a review of this book from

The New Testament contains strong indications that that the most basic doctrines of modern Christianity were promulgated by the evangelist Paul, over the strenuous objections of Jesus’ original followers. In this book, Robert Eisenman looks closely at this struggle. His work dissolves away the comforting features of modern Christianity and uncovers a skeleton: James "the Just", brother of Jesus, and an apocalyptic, xenophobic, fundamentalist agitator. The unstated but overwhelming implication is that Jesus was not the inoffensive love-preacher of subsequent tradition. That figure is a creation of the dominant Graeco-Roman culture of the time. Jesus, it seems, was Ayatollah Khomeni not Ghandi; Elijah Muhammed not Martin Luther King. In essence, Jesus was the brother of James. (...) Eisenman peels back the layers of pro-Roman sugarcoating in the Gospels and Acts. The Romans in Palestine were a merciless colonialist force, their tactics documented for us by the Jewish turncoat Josephus. Their portrayal in the Gospels and Acts as good-hearted moderators of the excesses of the Pharisees (themselves depicted as zealous/populist) appears to be a fiction designed to appeal to a Roman audience. (...)

Think on it. This is not the babbling of some net-head, but serious research from one of the towering giants of modern religious research and a, if not the, foremost expert on the "Dead Sea Scrolls".

You might also profitably read or obtain The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy by C. Dennis McKinsey that bears on the next topic as well. A reference source of biblical criticism can be found at

Quoting a little from the first of those, as he raises the problem that contemporaries who should have known of "Jesus Christ's" existence (according to the Christian's bible) did not mention him:

Philo was born before the beginning of the Christian era and lived until long after the reputed death of Christ. He wrote an account of the Jews covering the entire time that Christ is said to have existed on earth. He was living in or near Jerusalem when Christ's miraculous birth and the Herodian massacre occurred. He was there when Christ made his triumphal entry in Jerusalem. He was there when the Crucifixion with its attendant earthquake, supernatural darkness, and resurrection of the dead took place--when Christ himself rose from the dead. Yet, he did not mention these events.

Under the reign of Tiberius the whole earth, or at least a celebrated province of the Roman Empire, was allegedly involved in a preternatural darkness of three hours. Yet, Seneca and Pliny the Elder, who recorded all the great earthquakes, meteors, comets, and ellipses they could find and who lived during the period of Jesus, failed to mention the event.

Justus of Tiberius was a native of Christ's own country, Galilee. He wrote a history covering the time of Christ's reputed existence. This work perished, but Photius, a Christian scholar and critic of the 9th century, was acquainted with it and said, "He (Justus) makes not the least mention of the appearance of Christ, of what things happened to him, or of the wonderful works that he did" (Photius, Bibliotheca, Code 33).

The Bible is full of contradictions that cannot be refuted. From misstatements about the universe, solar system, mathematics and history all the way to severe internal contradictions that nobody can reply to except by saying, oops, sorry. Try Pi = 3 sometime (2 Chron 4:2). That is an example of the bible attempting to contradict reality. Please don't try to argue that this was a religious work not a math’s book. As a defense it fails utterly. The number is plain wrong. A schoolchild can confirm it for you. The Moscow papyrus shows the Egyptians using the square root of 10 or 3.16 for PI in a religious work in 1500BCE; while the Rhind papyrus* copied by a scribe, Ahmes (or Ahmos) in ~1650 BCE, from another document written ~2000BCE, which, probably in turn, was copied from a document from ~2650 BCE (the time of Imhotep?) indicates that the Egyptians knew that PI = 3 + 1/13 + 1/17 + 1/160 = 3.1415 (from problem 50). As the biblical book of "Chronicles" was most likely written by Ezra around the time of 450 BCE the Jewish god was at least 1,000 and possibly 2,250 years behind the Egyptians. Internal examples abound.

*also called the Ahmes Papyrus, named after the British collector, Rhind, who acquired it in 1858. The Rhind Papyrus is now located in the British Museum, and contains mathematics problems and solutions.

Here are a few simple, straightforward problems of fact, not interpretation, that even some well-known spokesmen for the fundamentalist position grudgingly concede:

(a) David took seven hundred (2 Sam. 8:4), seven thousand (1 Chron. 18:4) horsemen from Hadadezer;
(b) Ahaziah was 22 (2 Kings 8:26), 42 (2 Chron. 22:2) years old when he began to reign;
(c) Jehoiachin was 18 (2 Kings 24:8), 8 (2 Chron. 36:9) years old when he began to reign and he reigned 3 months (2 Kings 24:8), 3 months and 10 days (2 Chron. 36:9);
(d) There were in Israel 8000,000 (2 Sam. 24:9); 1,1000,000 (1 Chron. 21:5) men that drew the sword and there were 500,000 (2 Sam. 24:9), 470,000 (1 Chron. 21:5) men that drew the sword in Judah; (e) There were 550 (1 Kings 9:23), 250 (2 Chron. 8:10) chiefs of the officers that bare the rule over the people; (f) Saul's daughter, Michal, had no sons (2 Sam. 6:23), had 5 sons (2 Sam. 21:6) during her lifetime;

(g) Lot was Abraham's nephew (Gen. 14:12), brother (Gen. 14:14);
(h) Joseph was sold into Egypt by Midianites (Gen. 37:36), by Ishmaelites
(Gen. 39:1);
(i) Saul was killed by his own hands (1 Sam. 31:4), by a young Amalekite (2
Sam. 1:10), by the Philistines (2 Sam. 21:12);
(j) Solomon made of a molten sea which contained 2,000 (1 Kings 7:26), 3,000
(2 Chron. 4:5) baths;
(k) The workers on the Temple had 3,300 (1 Kings 5:16), 3,600 (2 Chron.
2:18) overseers;
(l) The earth does (Eccle. 1:4), does not (2 Peter 3:10) abideth forever; (m) If Jesus bears witness of himself his witness is true (John 8:14), is not true (John 5:31);
(n) Josiah died at Megiddo (2 Kings 23:29-30), at Jerusalem (2 Chron. 35:24);
(o) Jesus led Peter, James, and John up a high mountain after six (Matt. 17:1, Mark 9:2), eight (Luke 9:28) days; (p) Nebuzaradan came unto Jerusalem on the seventh (2 Kings 25:8), tenth (Jer. 52:12) day of the fifth month.

Besides hundreds of singular contradictions, the Bible has several instances in which contradictory statements appear in blocks or groups of anywhere from 10 to 25. The numerous problems associated with the Resurrection show this quite well. Probably the most blatant example concerns the listings in Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7 of the family units of the returning exiles. There are about 33 units that appear in both lists, starting with the children of Parosh. Fourteen of these units disagree, as can be seen by simply reading down the lists and comparing the numbers. Moreover, Biblical writers often had difficulty in adding figures, and this instance is no exception. Ezra 2:64 says the whole congregation together was 42,360, whereas, one need only add the figures to see that it is actually 29,818. Neh. 7:66 says the total number of returnees was 42,360, whereas, the actual number of people listed in Nehemiah 7 is 31,089.

I, and any serious historian, can point to at least tens, if not hundreds of places where definite known history and archeology flatly contradicts biblical accounts and time-lines. Note that I am carefully avoiding the more difficult areas where arguments could arise about the exact meaning of passages and examining only internal inconsistancy or blatant errors of fact.

If we both stipulate that the Bible is "the word of god" in order to refute it more effectively, then your problems become more severe, not less so.

The bible claims to have been written by a god who is self-admittedly not only a liar (I Kings 22:23), but powerless against mechanically competent opposition (Judges 1:19), and who not only inspires, but accepts human sacrifices, including people sacrificing their own children (Judges 11:29-40). A god whose holy writings calls a man good (2 Peter 2:7-8) after the man had offered his virgin daughters as sacrifices to a mob, for a gang-bang (Genesis 19:3-9)! This loving god of yours advocates genocide, read Joshua 10 to see how he allegedly stopped the movement of the sun and the moon (yes, it seems your god's understanding of the solar system was a trifle primitive), in order to give the Jews and himself more time to kill their enemies (yes it says that god fought for the Jews that day!). If you claim that the New Testament Jesus was your god, then he also advocated the killing of people who do not like the idea of him ruling over them (Luke 19:27). It is worth remembering that this is the same god who allegedly killed his own son, in order to allay his own anger at other people long dead who did wrong in his eyes (the whole "New Testament"). People who, at the time they are supposed to have committed "sins" against your god, were unable to tell right from wrong and were incited to their actions by a "snake" who was created by this same god, and whom that god knew was going to do this (at least if the god is omniscient); yet this god failed to take any steps to prevent it from happening. This is justice? This is fair? This is kind? Spare me! This god should be locked-up as a nasty, homicidal, antisocial psychopath.

This same loving god hates people so much, that any rational humans who look at the world and say that the lack of available evidence compels them to deny the existence of this god, will be punished by being cast into "hell" where they will be tortured forever, for a "sin" that this god has defined. Of course, the lack of evidence is created because this god does not seem to want to leave any evidence for its existence. Naturally, the rational person refered to above's "sin" could only last as long as the "sinner's" lifetime if it existed at all. So this god promotes infinite punishment for finite "crimes". This is the "kind" god that you are espousing here. I think you can keep your primitive gods - modern men have infinitely superior ethics.


> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> []On Behalf
> Of Snow Leopard
> Sent: Thursday, March 25, 1999 11:52 AM
> To:
> Subject: Re: virus: Faith vs Relig
> Great. I agree. Anyone can be religious. I religiously brush my
> teeth. Maybe we should come up with anoher word, like "relijious" or
> something. Anyhow, religions lack faith is what I've been saying all
> along.

Religions don't have faith or phaith because religions are organizations, not people. Only people can have faith or phaith. Then again, religions do not commit atrocities - only people (and your gods, at least according to your bible) do that. When a person performing atrocities says that he is a member of a religion and is doing something because his gods commanded him to do it, whom do you blame for the atrocities? Try Psalm 137:9. Or tell the inquisitors that they were wrong, that they were not carrying out "Jesus'" commandments when they burnt heretics. After all, they had read in parable (but spoken of favorably) "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth..., and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned."

> If I have the most phaith in the goodness of God,
> then I'm not
> going to kill someone for their beliefs, because God is good
> and killing
> is bad.

This is not what your bible says, or how it claims your god behaves. Your bible claims that your god did evil (Exodus 32:14, Joshua 23:15, Judges

9:13, 1 Sam 16:14-16 et ff, 2 Sam. 12:11 et ff, 2 Sam 24:16, 1 Kings 9:9, 1
Kings 14:10, 1 Kings 21:21, 1 Kings 21:29, 1 Kings 22:23, 2 Kings 6:33, 2
Kings 22:16, 2 Kings 22:20, 1 Chronicles 21:15, 2 Chronicles 7:22, 2
Chronicles 18:22, 2 Chronicles 34:24,28, Nehemiah 13:18, Job 2:10, Job 42:11, Jeremiah 4:6, Jeremiah 6:19, Jeremiah 11:11, Jeremiah 19:3, Jeremiah 23:12 et ff, Ezekiel 5:16-17, Ezekiel 6:10, Daniel 9:12-14, Joel 2:13, Amos 3:6, Amos 9:4, Jonah 3:10, Jonah 4:2, Micah 1:12, Micah 2:3, Lamentations 3:38, Isaiah 45:7 and 2 Kings 21:12 the last three are especially noteworthy. Try Malachai 1:8 and while on the page notice that your god can hate a whole people forever (Malachai 1:5). Zephaniah 1:12 is only confusing if you imagine that the Jewish God does not kill and does not do evil. Now these are but a number of the places I could cite where your holy writing claims that your god does evil. Yet your bible says, in Matthew 7:18, "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." Please excuse my quotation here, but it makes the point more effectively than I could have. I used the KJV and please check for yourself that I have provided an adequate "context". If your bible says that your god can do evil, and if the bible is the word of god, and if according to your bible, evil cannot proceed from good, then it follows that your god is not good. Matt 12:35 also applies. So where do you get the temerity, the chutzpah, to call your god good. After all, your bible warns you against just this in Isaiah 5:20, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"

Please don't misquote things about your god, even if you imagine that you read it in the bible, without checking the facts first.

As another aside, killing is not necessarily bad and can be good. Even your bible's 10 commandments do not prohibit killing. Only unlawful killing. Ask any Hewbrew literate Jew to interpret Exodus 20:13 for you, if you cannot do it yourself. Of course, how many of the "ten commandments" are "enforceable laws" anywhere in the world today? Think about why they are not.

<Another snip>

> >The bare definition of the Christian faith is "Jesus Christ, the
> >perfect Son of God is the only thing that can save us from our own
> >wrongdoings. All you have to do is let him live through you,
> >accepting him as Lord and Savior."

No. There are a bunch of "other requirements" - even in your bible. As one example, when Jesus was asked about "being saved", he is alleged to have replied with an emphasis on works and the law. This should not be suprising. If there was a "prototype Jesus", then he was a Zealot, as were all of the Qumran and "Jerusalem community". The name originated because they were "Zealous for the law". They wanted to return to strict Mosaic Law. It was only when Paul came along that he started to try to wipe out "the law". According to Jesus (not Paul), you had best start living according to strict Mosaic Law. Or are you saying that your Jesus didn't understand the requirements for "being saved" as well as Paul did?

<Another huge snip of usual lamer inclusion of Pascal's wager>

> >This argument is known as Pascal's Wager, after Blase Pascal, who
> >first made it. There are many refutations available, but consider
> >this:


> >Calvin: Well. I've decided I do believe in Santa Claus, no matter
> >how preposterous he sounds.
> >Hobbes: What convinced you?
> >Calvin: A simple risk analysis. I want presents. Lots of presents.
> >Why risk not getting them over a matter of belief? Heck, I'll believe
> >anything they want.
> >Hobbes: How cynically enterprising of you.
> >Calvin: It's the spirit of Christmas.
> > -- Calvin & Hobbes comic by Bill Waterson

> That's nice, but I can disprove Santa Claus a lot easier than you can
> disprove the God of the Bible.
That is not our job. If you are making extraordinary claims for your god, then some extraordinary evidence provided by you is needed. So far you have merely whimpered. Eric tried to make the point gently. The argument you have proposed is so weak, that many atheists sit and laugh about the stupidity of the people who raise this argument, and take bets on how soon until the next time that it will be attempted in various forums. It proves nothing but the weak-minded inability of Christians to think rationally and grasp the challenge to debate logically. You see, it is not for the people who are opposed to the idea of something, to disprove it; but rather for its supporters to prove it. If you really feel that we should have to disprove your idea, state the attributes of your god, or where we are supposed to find out about them, and I am sure somebody will demolish it as neatly as I have demolished your assertion of your god's "goodness" (Of course, once you quote a source, you cannot then deny it, and must be prepared to defend it). On the other hand, if you insist we do this, you then will in turn need to attempt to demolish the idea of gods such as the Invisible Pink Unicorn (blessed be her pinkness), the hermaphroditic purple squid, the Purple Oyster of Doom, and other gods more rational and much more difficult to "disprove" than the Christian gods have ever been.

> >Pascal's Wager, although at first convincing, has some serious flaws,
> >not the least of which is that it assumes one can *choose* to believe
> >whatever one wants to. Next on the list is that Pascal's wager does
> >not consider the fact that perhaps choosing to believe in the *wrong*
> >God could have infinite negative consequences, balancing off the
> >infinite positive consequences of belief in the correct god.


> The right god? Pardon me, Eric, but it occurs to me that I
> may have the
> bases covered. I have a working set of beliefs, and in charity to
> whatever may be out there, I check out everything else.

SnowLeopard, just for a moment, please imagine that your bible is a book of lies. Imagine for the same moment that there are gods that exist that are rational, sensible, ethical and merciful beings. Such gods will reward people for being ethical, kind, rational and presumably for obeying the golden rule. Let us further assume that these gods "created" you, and your ability to think, by guiding evolution. You are going to be judged sometime soon, and the only criteria that you will be judged upon, is how well you do against the criteria enumerated above. If you are irrational and believe in things for which there was no evidence, despite your having perfectly good senses, and a mind to analyze what you see; then you will have failed the tests and will be quickly, mercifully and permanently euthanased. Otherwise you will go on to live for as long as you wish to in the most pleasant environment you can imagine.

Are you feeling a little uncomfortable? If you are not, why not? The gods I have suggested here are much nicer gods than the ones in your bible. The religion suggested makes much more sense, and the ethics displayed are impeccable. Any university ethic's committee would be horrified if somebody proposed to perform on rats, the kinds of actions that your god is alleged to have done (e.g. the flood - fortunately another myth) to humans, while the test described above would almost certainly be regarded as ethical. Can you see the qualitative differences?

Maybe now you can see why proposing Pascal's wager is a losing proposition. It only works if the only god/s involved in judging you, approve totally of your attitude, beliefs and actions. If you make a mistake, or if the gods are different in any way from what you expected, you run the risk of being condemned to eternal torture or maybe worse, for your mistake. Just as a simple example, assume that your Jesus really was talking about real gods that will end up judging you. Also assume that your words here have maybe mislead somebody, in other words somebody believes your assertion that you are to be judged only on your faith, not on your words, deeds and works. And let us assume that you are going to be judged on your adherence to mosaic law (Matthew 5:18, Luke 16:17, John 7:19, 1 Peter 1:17, note especially John 7:49). Where will you be going to spend "eternity" according to your bible? (There are clues scattered througout the New Testament).

> The funny thing
> is, every Biblical *discrepancy* I've heard of so far can be
> explained,
> if one looks though the Biblical world view.

Thomas Paine said it well: " is, I believe, impossible to find in any story upon record with so many and glaring absurdities, contradictions and falsehoods, as are in those books (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). They are more numerous and striking than I had any expectation of finding, when I began this examination..." (The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine, p. 67).

> I challenge
> anyone reading
> this to point out a few, I'll show you what I mean.

Hope you enjoy the few contradictions mentioned here. The day you prove that PI = 3, I will personally agree that the bible is free of discrepancies.

> On the other hand,
> I have invested an incredible amount of time trying to understand the
> viewpoints of otherr religions. I see the discrepancies, ask around,
> and then the members of *whatever* think that I'm being
> spiteful.

Really? So why not tell us about the "discrepancies" you have noticed? Not that we are claiming perfection for any religion. Just interested to see such a refreshing approach as yours.

> So,
> it looks like they're being sore losers. I keep checking. If God is
> not what I think he is, and he is powerful enoughto do anything, and
> caring enough to think of humans as more than giga-pets, then
> He'll make
> the truth known to me. He knows I'm listening.
> Get Your Private, Free Email at
Think about that concatenation of ifs. Assign some probabilities to it. I'd love to see the results. Truly. No sarcasm at all.

Regards TheHermit

P.S. still looking for your other passage. I have found a lot dealing with miracles and warning that the ability to do miracles does not prove one is from God, is God, or represents God. e.g. Matt. 24:23-24 and Mark 13:21-22, 2 Thess. 2:9, Rev. 16:14, but I am not sure that any of these are the passages you were thinking of.

P.P.S. Not entirely signed off the list, just not able to answer as immediately as I would like or as carefully and completely. If anyone feels that this smacks of hit-and-runnism, please let me know and I will stop commenting and simply read.