Sketches on Atheism

Jesus’ Immoral Teachings

MonsterPrecisely how the Yahwehist arrives at the conclusion that he or she is worshipping something good, something not evil, is not at all clear. The Middle Eastern god of the Pentateuch claims – albeit without a hair of evidence – that the earth is itsfootstool” (Isaiah 66:1) over which it rules like some insecure, vengeful despot: “for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me” (Exodus 20:5). These are hardly the words of a confident, loving, personal deity, rather the utterances of a frightened, tyrannical hobgoblin; a self-obsessed succubus whose very demand to be worshipped is expressly and unequivocally immoral. Worship requires the total abandonment of one’s moral autonomy in favour of blind, non-questioning obedience, and to order such a thing – under the threat of guaranteed punishment – indicates certain malevolence, not benevolence.

Things, however, get even more suspicious for the sect of Yahwehists known as the Christians. Their central character of devotion, Jesus, whose own neighbours thought him a raving lunatic (John 10:20), left an entire slag pile of immoral teachings that any rational observer cannot help but see as utterly repugnant and immeasurably vile.

He directed his followers to hate their families and to leave them; perverse orders which must be assessed as nothing less than the demented, authoritarian ramblings of a cult leader… The opening salvo’s in a 1st Century Jonestown tragedy.

  • Luke 14:26  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.
  • Luke 12:53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
  • Matthew 10:36 A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.
  • Matthew 10:35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
  • Matthew 19:29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
  • Matthew 23:9 Call no man your ‘father’ upon the earth.

He coached his followers to turn the other cheek and to love their enemy; demands that are not only immoral in their gross irresponsibility, but a recipe for assured subjugation.

  • Matthew 5:39 But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
  • Luke 6:29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.
    Luke 12: 4 “My friends, listen to me. Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body but can’t do any more than that.
  • Matthew 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

More intolerable in its dereliction were Jesus’ teachings of vicarious redemption; the obscene concept that man need not take responsibility for his actions as another will pay that debt.

  • 1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
  • 1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also sufferedonce for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to deathin the flesh but made alive in the spirit
  • Hebrews 9:15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant… since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant
  • Romans 5:11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The height of Jesus’ immoral messages was, however, his direction to invest no thought for the morrow. Here is such a debauched, reckless instruction so antisocial that if any portion of any civilisation actually followed the command to its fullest it would result in such mayhem that living itself would quickly become antithetical.

  • Matthew 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
  • Matthew 19:21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
  • Luke 14:33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
  • Matthew 6:26 “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?”
  • Luke 18:22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

An appeal to such gross personal neglect and social truancy is intolerable from every conceivable perspective, and yet, mystifyingly, this is not how the Christian apologist views this thoroughly corrupted instruction. Reverend Christopher R Smith (Christian Living, Translating the Bible) explains: “Jesus assures us that our heavenly Father cares for us and will provide for us, SO WE DON’T NEED TO WONDER, “What will we eat?  What will we drink?  What will we wear?”  If we seek his kingdom and righteousness, all these things will be provided as well.  And so, Jesus concludes, “do not worry about tomorrow” (NIV, NRSV).”

The good reverend should perhaps try to understand that only a mad man, a crisis cultist, a death-anxious, stark raving lunatic would consciously direct his followers to detach themselves from the very notion of self-preservation and do nothing but wait… wait for something wondrous to just magically fall into their laps. This is not only immoral, but inexcusable. It is, after all, an order to rejoice in apathetic slothfulness; to not lift a finger; to damn everything and everyone, and ultimately do nothing for themselves or for society but idly wait for death to extinguish the very suffering such a lawless command would surely bring about.

Perhaps not so surprisingly, Christianity – in its most reckless, pure form – has since its very inception been little more than a socially irresponsible death cult; a degenerate, death-anxious religion that has produced a continuous supply of socially derelict luminaries who have, in the spirit of their sage, longed for nothing short of the total annihilation of our home world. From the Hammer of the Arians (Bishop Hilary of Poitiers) in 365 CE to Warren Jeffs in 2012 there have in fact been more than three-hundred prominent captains of Christianity who have announced with excited yips of childlike anticipation that their god was about to annihilate everything from toddlers to tiaras in a burst of resplendent angelfire… and by doing so bring meaning to Jesus bizarre message to do nothing, nothing at all, but wait for death.

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269 thoughts on “Jesus’ Immoral Teachings

  1. Let’s see –

    – Worshipping under threat of eternal damnation
    – displace family values
    – don’t defend yourself against evil doers
    – let others take the blame for you
    – a pox on entrepreneurship, free markets and material wealth
    – avoid providing for our personal health and that of our children; wait for the manna to fall

    I never quite got all this from the apologist Augustine and Aquinas. Not even the more contemporary ones like Norman Geisler and Josh McDowell. If only people like you had been around to balance their arguments John.

    Oh wait. They were. And burned as heretics. Today you would be classified as a whistle-blower and hauled off to prison IF the Church was in complete authority, which many in our government are trying to achieve. They already have complete control over a woman’s body

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  2. Matthew 10:21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.

    Isn’t the usual interpretation of this passage that: Jesus is warning his disciples that in the future, being a follower won’t be easy because they will be persecuted. They will be killed by their parents or even their children because they follow Jesus.

    Not sure this belongs in your list.

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  3. Forgiving our enemy and turning another cheek can be a very powerful tool for change and should not be ruled out as an option.

    It can also be a method to enslavement — but much depends on its value.
    Such teachings, like all aphorisms, can capture a truth that needs context.

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    • Moving on from past disagreements is indeed vital for the continued advancement of societies, preaching “If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them” is a recipe for subjugation.

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      • It can be a recipe for subjugation. But we have historical evidence when just such a strategy changed hearts and changed nations.

        I repeat myself: sometimes giving your shirt, in addition to your hat or turning the other cheek can be fantastic, effective techniques for social and personal change. Generalizing about them being bad is incorrect.

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      • What historical evidence? Let us perhaps take the case of women’s suffrage. Was it their inactivity that won them anything? What about your homeland, India… Was it passive inactivity that won your freedom?

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      • So, let’s be clear about your claim. You believe that turning the other cheek, forgiving your enemy or giving your enemy even more than they request can NEVER be a productive strategy. Is that correct?

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      • Before we waste time on evidence, John, please clarify your stance as I asked above. Evidence means nothing without the hypothesis being clearly stated with operationally testable clarity.

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      • No, you made a claim and i’d like you to first back that claim up. You did, after all, say you knew of “historical evidence,” did you not?

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      • OK John, you lack of ability to be clear on your claim shows your unwillingness to really discuss to understand. I will not waste more time on this subthread.

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      • Fine, so I’m to understand you made an unsubstantiated claim and couldn’t, when pressed, justify it with the “evidence” you said you had.

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      • Nah, you are to understand that:

        (1) Here, as often, you are argumentative for the sake of argumentation and not for the growth of knowledge. You want to appear right and righteous. It is your religious side.

        (2) I was trying to make sure you committed to your assertion by being clear for everyone before offering evidence so that you didn’t later try to weasel out of your mistaken over-generalization later when evidence clearly makes you wrong. It is called the scientific method: state the hypothesis clearly in a testable operational definition. Which you are a chicken shit about doing because doing so would allow you the feeling and image of controlling the conversation.

        That is what you are to understand.

        Nice try.

        So anytime you want to stop being argumentative, to be clear and scientific, let me know.

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      • So, again, you are wasting space trying to deflect attention from a wild claim which you knew you could not back up in any faithful or substantial manner, and are now embarrassed at being exposed.

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      • “OK John, you lack of ability to be clear on your claim shows your unwillingness to really discuss to understand. I will not waste more time on this subthread”

        Sounds like back tracking and tap dancing to me Sabio. Why don’t you do the Xian thing – take the high road – and lay out what you claim you have then continue this thread

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      • State your hypothesis to show us that you don’t just want to waste space in a vain attempt to prove erudition. Tell us boldy you think that turning the other cheek has NEVER been an effective technique. Just say the word “NEVER” Johnny.

        I am sure thread always has your “religion is ALWAYS horrible” crowd, that will come to cheer you on, right or wrong.

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      • No need to get defensive, Sab… You’re only in a corner you put yourself in. As I said, after you back up your original claim of having “historical evidence” i will happily answer you….

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      • Ah, Johnny, we’ll take that as an assent from you that your claimed that turning the other cheek NEVER is an effective technique.

        Hard to believe you’d assent to that, but I am glad you have stated it clearly.

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      • Martin Buber, a Jewish philosopher, exchanged letters with M. Gandhi. Though Buber was in favor of non-violent responses to violence, he felt that “turning the other cheek” could have horrible outcomes. In his exchange letters with Gandhi in 1938, he acknowledge that the “turn the other cheek” method of Gandhi worked in India because of an ability of the transgressor to hear the witness of the non-violent reply. Buber contended, however, in his Germany, it would be a disastrous strategy agains the Nazis.

        This is one example of a more sophisticated analysis of the effectiveness of “turning the other cheek.” I have used it occasionally in my life too, but that would not count as evidence because I did not capture it on my i-phone and thus my evidence is the lowest level — anecdotal.

        As for me, I usually count on “turn the other cheek” as being disastrous, but look for opportunities where it can work. For in those situations, it is far more powerful than retribution, revenge and counter-violence which are the norm for the world.

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      • True, non-violent campaigns of civil disobedience (to do with the salt tax) did kick it off. However, and it’s a big HOWEVER, the lack of progress with this policy produced Subhash Chandra Bose who’s more violent methods the Indians, themselves, preferred… and which eventually forced the British from India.

        The same story repeated itself in South Africa.

        This, however, is not to say there is no worth in strategically turning the other cheek. As a Humanist I’d always first seek the non-violent course of action. Non-violence, though, does not equal passive inactivity… which, without any disclaimers saying otherwise, is what Jesus allegedly preached.

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      • So we agree. Isn’t that odd. We actually totally agree on your humanist position you stated, even if neither of us lives up to it as much as we’d like to imagine.

        My point was that you post says,

        “He coached his followers to turn the other cheek and to love their enemy; demands that are not only immoral in their gross irresponsibility, but a recipe for assured subjugation.”

        If you had said, “He ALWAYS coached his followers to turn the other cheek”, I’d agree that such a teaching is grossly irresponsible.

        I’d imagine Chap and many Christians would contend that he did not say “always” but was more nuanced. Jehovah Witnesses (apparently) and several other Christian groups (many among the Anabaptists), would disagree with Chap.

        But my contention is not what Jesus said or didn’t. But that your wording puts down a very valuable technique. I was suggesting a different wording before the puffed chests began.

        Perhaps you did not want to come off saying “turning the other cheek” is always immoral, but your words say that.

        And my evidence (and the support you offered) defeats that assertion, though it may not have been your intended assertion (a gross emotional mistaken generalization). Thus I was trying to clarify the assertion to show that you may have written more clearly if you were trying to be more careful and less rhetorical.

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      • No Sab, you’re just being anal… again. We have no disclaimers saying “Turn the other cheek, unless doing so will result in injury and/or a serious reduction in your wellbeing,” correct? Therefore, the directive is to be followed regardless if it’s some political commentator yelling nonsense, or Hitler on your border saying, “I’d like to come in.”

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      • Ah, Johnny, more of your proctological preoccupations. I was glad to see that you corrected your misquoting Matthew as evidence — which you did not classify with antiquated Freudian jargon. But the second suggestion I made cut too close to your core of wanting to classify “turning the other cheek” as always bad.

        And sure enough, now your are weaseling around to escape — as I suspected. QED. (so very sad)

        I bow out of this sub-thread. My point was made clearly. You may finish with whatever further personal attacks or rhetoric you wish. I shall turn the other cheek — for sometimes, it is the write thing to do, no matter what mistaken overgeneralization some atheists may try to sneak in to brighten their banner.

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      • What point was made, Sab? You clearly stated you had “historical evidence” to back up your rather wild claim, yet failed to deliver a single working example.

        As such…

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      • Finally got to the end, by which time I’d forgotten my original thought. So for my now two cents worth:
        turning the cheek can sometimes work wonders but it’s a judgement call—which puts you out on a limb if you’re one of those ‘judge not lest ye be judged’ automatons.

        “Love thine enemy” was in there somewhere too, which grates my teeth because I cannot extend my love to someone who simply doesn’t deserve it. Again a judgement call—but I do extend my Goodwill to all comers and it grants them a period of grace in which by their actions I may know them. And if they don’t measure up—to MY standards, not theirs—they are out.

        (Bugger … wish I could remember what it was, that’s the trouble with a limited attention span and too long a session of name calling …)

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    • What’s moral in ordering people to leave their families? What’s moral in commanding one to love their enemy?

      And if you’re so certain Jesus was a moral teacher, then please identify something he said which was original and unique.

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      • If you paused long enough to consider these quotes in their context it may become apparent that they aren’t necessarily saying what you claim them to – perhaps as Sabio pointed out above. Its like saying conscription was immoral because it made people leave their families. OK, lets let the nazis have their way….

        And he needn’t be original to be great.

        If he’s good enough for Ghandi and the DL, I’d suggest there’s probably good ground to think your characterisation might be just a little off.

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      • Oh John, that’s yet another wild statement. Which moral teachers do you consider great that had purely original ideas? (I was trying to thin of some atheist ones but my mind has gone blank – maybe you could help me…?).

        Most teachers in schools today (thankfully) teach what others discovered. Your argument is empty i’m afraid to say.

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      • Laozi, Mo Tzu, Confucious, Pittacus, even Aesop’s were great and original thinkers.

        So, am i to understand you cant name a single new or original thing actually said by Jesus?

        That’s quite telling…

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      • I haven’t read every piece of ancient wisdom so i can’t say whether its original or not. But since I’m a moral realist of sorts it wouldn’t surprise me if others had previously observed what he taught.

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      • got to agree with Clap here. John, you clamoring to make those writers original shows a desperation of argumentation. There is no reason to think they recycled ideas before them. Sure, original ideas must start somewhere but to idealize your Eastern heros is silly.

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      • Sorry to digress … but conscription is immoral. Anyone thinking otherwise would be well advised to look into a little instead of blindly (r) blindly thinking that ‘Cos we do it/did it/may do it’ it has to be good. Conscription is slavery, end of story. Can a slave fight for Freedom? That would indeed be an ironic oxymoron of the First Rank.

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  4. OK – so who wrote the bible anyway? I’m serious! I’m talking actual definitive origin of quill to papyrus I digress – can’t we simply read whatever we damn well please and all get along. :).

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      • We could all get together and designate a mutually acceptable place for them to reside provided they left us alone and didn’t get grumpy when “morality” didn’t play out as expected 🙂

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      • I thought they had those things…what are they called? oh yeah CHURCHES! Why the fuck are they not content confining their madness to those institutions dedicated to the purpose? Oh hell no that isn’t good enough for them, they have to have religion in their politics, they consistently push for religion in schools, they have a Genghis Kahn attitude with their delusions.

        This reply as much in response to NTP as well as yours JZ 🙂

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      • And so you don’t endeavour to bother Christians? Seems your whole blog is to be bigoted against folks of faith. How are they being bigoted against you exactly?

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      • You like to post your disgust and repulsion on Christians blogs and comments under this profile so…….. You sorta do.

        Just stopped by to see what exactly your point is. Now I know.

        If you want to be your own God that’s up to you, but that’s a poor basis. So prone to failure are all people.

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      • Repulsion to your uninvited response to my comment to Prayson, sure. You’re free to but in, though, his is a public blog, and in-turn I’m free to respond to your nonsense.

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  5. I agree that many of Jesus’ teachings were horrific. Fortunately, as I wrote here, most Christians obviously don’t believe Jesus or the Bible. The world would be a worse place if they truly believed. Fortunately, most believe some superstitious or candy-sweet version, while the confess another.

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  6. My other comment appears to have gone missing, but on your point about gandhi, are you suggesting that you have better insight into Jesus than him or the DL?
    That would be brave!
    Do you think perhaps they never read the gospels? Or maybe they just missed all those verses that you trotted out. Maybe they needed better tutors, or perhaps they just skim read it….?

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      • No. Which is why i haven’t commented on it.

        So you’re going to stick with saying you know better than gandhi and the DL when it comes to Jesus? That would be the only conclusion if they say he’s good and you say he’s bad.

        As i said, that is brave (?) !

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      • Ever heard of being “Politically Correct” ? Many people say things publicly they may not mean privately. 🙂 Even George Bush publicly stated what a “Peaceful Religion” Islam was right after the 911 attack in 2001. Do you really think he felt that in his heart ?

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      • “@ KCCHIEF! – really? you’re going to compare “dubya” to ghandi and the DL. Lets not go there.”

        Like him or not, he was a world figure. Nice way to weasel out of a real reply.

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      • Obama actually agrees with my post.

        “Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount – a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application?”

        (Keynote speech: Call to Renewal’s Building a Covenant for a New America conference – Washington, D.C., June 2006.)

        http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Barack_Obama

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      • It was a very enlightening trip. I learned much about my ancestors thanks to records from a Church. They seem to keep records fairly well. Too bad they aren’t as accurate with their religion. 🙂

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      • Well, we can really be happy that no one (or at least very, very few) actually follow these instructions. The Jim-Jones-Jesus character who surfaces here is not worthy of listening to.

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  7. I’m sorry, but I just can’t resist dealing with your most obvious failures to quote the entirety of what Jesus says

    Matt 15v3: Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’

    On selling your possession you conveniently forget the example of zaccheus and assume what he uses in one situation (the rich ruler) to deal with a self-righteous guy applies to everyone. You forget his followers had money. Judas was the treasurer.

    All you have done here is demonstrate a lack of research and/or understanding.

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    • Quite on the contrary, Clap. I’m more than aware that there are contradictory verses, such as Proverbs, teaching:

      Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
      give careful attention to your herds;
      for riches do not endure forever,
      and a crown is not secure for all generations.
      When the hay is removed and new growth appears
      and the grass from the hills is gathered in,
      the lambs will provide you with clothing,
      and the goats with the price of a field.
      You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed your family
      and to nourish your female servants.

      Identifying the numerous contradictions is another subject, though… whereas this one was purely focusing on the immorality (the social recklessness) of the various messages presented by Jesus.

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      • I was referring to things Jesus himself said.

        So you think its ok to half quote someone and the draw a conclusion from that?

        its a bit facile to take what could be balancing comments and make them contradictory. When you tell your kids not to go to their rooms one day and o play outside another, does that make you a contradictory parent, or one that says different things at different time in different situations?

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      • Dunno if this helps either side here:

        Contradictions do not exist. If you find an apparent contradiction, look to the premises—one of them at least is wrong.

        BUT:

        given that the Bible is infallible (divinely inspired—can’t get no more better at being infallible than that~!) then of course it cannot possibly contradict itself.

        For myself I simply stay away from the Good Book these days (it makes my head hurt).

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      • The editors put ‘everything’ in and moulded the message as to forward an ideology that that gave the leadership extraordinary control over the general population.

        The development of Christianity was the ultimate exercise in manipulative politics. It’s the most successful scam of all time.

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      • Sure *that’s* plausible.

        A bunch of iron age muppets scurrying around the countryside, made up some dude, heaps of people from Rome to Egypt just happened to adopt the teachings, evens when the leaders themselves were executed. Of course the editors were to thick to clear up those apparent contradictions, but still managed to persuade hordes to follow them. So much so that scores of them died in the years following his supposed death and resurrection -all without a scrap of evidence of any sort to support it. Constantine then, knowing it was a lie, got every one to clean things up even more.

        Yip, you go wight hat if you want to.

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      • What’s your level of education? Do you know nothing of politics and superstition during the era?
        There were many similar sects/religious formats during the period. What made Christianity thrive was precisely that they managed to refine the system to make it less easy to question.
        If you research the debates in the early councils, it’s very easy to see how this was done.
        The successful spread of superstition doesn’t depend on veracity. Just ask all the people around the world who ‘knock on wood’, genius.

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      • two degrees. not that that is event emotively relevant.

        Friend, the councils came centuries later. They simply don;t account for the early church history. Neither does military conquest etc. Christianity in its earliest days was spread without any sword and without any big fancy church councils to edit works.

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      • How utterly imbecilic. Since when does the spread of mythology in any way validate said mythology? It doesn’t take a great mind to understand that.
        Myths of vampires, of the Lochness monster, Buddhism, Islam, Paganism.
        Christianity spread (as did many other ignorant superstitions) and seeing a political opportunity, it was organized into a religiopolitical movement. The councils were simply the officialization of the movement.

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      • 1. it shows your contention that their were editors to create a uniform version of the myth is bogus.

        2. you can’t use what happened after 300AD to explain what happened before. You have to account for how a unified myth became so prevalent BEFORE the established church.

        3. in fact you have to show how a unified myth came to be widely believed within 30 years of the events, when people could still verify the parties involved. By the time of Nero, not by the time of Constantine.

        Yes, it could be possible, in the same way mars could be made of ketchup (or so one atheist put things to me). But its highly unlikely and not at all consistent with history.

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      • 1 & 2. Of course I can, you fool- because until the early fourth century there was no official Christian bible. And that bible was the direct result of an editing process.
        Or do you think your god went POOF and there it was as a finished product?

        3. Easily. Islam equally spread like wildfire- and we’re not talking about it ‘taking over the world’. It spread in a relatively small geographical area, all ruled by the same powers. We’re talking about a population of 10 to 15 million at most. That’s nothing. And we’re talking about people who were so fantastically ignorant they died from the most basic of diseases. Today in the most under-educated parts of Africa there are also many who believe witch children can turn themselves into zombies.

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      • 1. we’re talking about the core issues of jesus death and resurrection and those were commonly established very early – hence Nero burning “Christians”, they worshipped Jesus mid 1st century. Core beliefs about jesus were around waaay before the 300’s that you are referring to.

        2. Islam? Are you serious? Go spend some time on wikipedia on “muslim conquest”. Completely different to the completely non-violent spread of early Christianity across numerous cultures.

        Again, your hypothesis simply does;t stack up.

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      • Sure- everything was so ‘established’ that they’ve been arguing over it all for the past 2000 years.
        The Arian question? The date for Easter? The structure of the church? Agreements/concessions from government? And that was just Nicea.
        Not to mention that the second Constantine converted to Christianity the persecutions against Pagans (and others began).

        I don’t need to spend time on wikipedia- I went to university. Christianity and Islam spread using the same methods. First the spread and popularization of the mythology, then the union of church and state in a way that had never been previously attempted, then the elimination of competing ideologies.
        The degree and use of violence may have varied by period- but the schema is exactly the same.

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      • Hilarious! So people went around worshipping a dead guy as God, without even suggestion of the resurrection?!? What a joke.

        Here’s some scholarship for you: Apostle Paul died before AD70, accepted Pauline letter = 1 Corinthians, chapter on the resurrection = 15, Date for pauline authorship of resurrection = pre 70AD.

        The doctrines you mention at Nicea are completely irrelevant. The whole reason there was a Nicea was that there was already a widespread Christian church that worshipped Jesus, and it roots go waaay back into the first century.

        As for thinking there is any similarity between the spread of islam and christianity, my dear friend, don’t flaunt your ignorance. Constantine came in the 300’s, some 250+ years after Jesus. The muslim conquest came in Mohammed’s life time.

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      • How old are you? These aren’t difficult things to understand.

        There was widespread(ish) haphazard mythology- no structure or official doctrine. So Christianity as it’s known today only begins to take shape in the 4th century. So the fabrication of Christianity is directly linked to its politicization- and obviously Constantine and his negotiations with the early church leadership.

        Until that point it was, let’s say, a free for all. People interpreted it freely. They got to choose what they believed and how they practised, which certainly must have contributed to the popularization of the ideology.

        If you want an analysis of numbers try Carrier, he does it very well: http://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/improbable/luck.html

        Christianity was not as widely embraced as people presume (numbers-wise) until the 4th century. That’s an outright misreading of history. You’re also mangling the point behind the spread of Islam entirely.
        Try ordering your thoughts with a premise, justification and conclusion- for clarity’s sake.

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      • Awesome, a site called “infidels” -THAT’ll be objective!

        You seem to me missing the point. At best for you there was an identifiable group of people by the time of Nero who worshipped Jesus – hence called Christians. It is beyond unlikely that they did this with no mention of the resurrection, indeed as i pointed out with Paul’s letter, it was already a mainstay by 70AD. It had to be, who would worship a hobo who died on a cross after 3 years?!? Even for the most simple muppet you need to sweeten that story.

        You need to deal with this before you move on 250 years. The fact that there were some doctrinal disagreements is neither here nor there – at least one of the major factions (indeed the one that carried the day) believed in the resurrection of Jesus.

        So lets get back to your point about Christianity having its roots in an edited myth. That simply doesn’t fit with history.

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      • Your ignorance is so profound, I’m not just not going to be able to compensate for the gaps in your education in a few comments on a blog.
        Richard Carrier is one of the most respected historians in the field today. The name of the site he wrote for doesn’t affect that in any way.
        try reading what he says, for starters. Then try reading books. Some of us spent years of our lives studying history so people who knew less wouldn’t have to live in this fantasy you live in.

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      • Funny.

        Seriously, read some objective history, maybe starting with the muslim conquests, then we can chat. There’s more to the story that you’ve been told.

        Till then, all the best,

        cct

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      • Hopefully one day you’ll make it into a university and your problems will be sorted.
        I actually live in what was once Al Andalus, you idiot. I know more about the Emirate and the Caliphate, and the taxes, and the reconquista, than you’ll probably ever know in your entire life.
        Christianity was marginal before its politicization- the same is true of Islam. If you can’t understand that basic point, which can be proved with numbers- then maybe you should consider specializing in something like picking up trash on the side of the road. Thinking and history really aren’t for you.

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      • Your combination of ignorance, stupidity and pedantry deserve an award. Spain is a hugely significant part of the Muslim expansion as the battle of Guadalete was in the year 711/712.
        That’s less than 100 years after the death of Mohammed, idiot.
        Why don’t you stop pretending you know anything and just go back to knocking on people’s doors and giving out Jesus pamphlets.

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      • OK, this is my last post on this because it’s now beyond tedious.
        1. You started this saying Christianity was religiopolitical myth created by editors. You have recently conceded that in fact Christianity was disparate before the 4th century, thus proving my point that there was no political agenda to account for the spread of the church in the first century, hundreds of years earlier. YOUR ALLEGED POLITICAL EDITORS SIMPLY DIDN’T EXIST N THE FIRST CENTURY. So by your own facts you are several hundred years on the wrong side of the story.

        2. As far as the spread of a myth is concerned, you have now also confirmed my point that a parallel with the spread of Islam is absurd because Islam has basically ALWYS been political and spread by an army – completely contrary to the spread of Christianity in the first century. So using a politicisation by an army in Spain is taking the story several hundred years on from the start (is that clear) because Christianity at best only politicised in the 300s. The forced spread of Islam started during Mohammed’s life time for heavens sake – let alone 100 years later!

        3. So your point that Christianity was created by a political group is absurd and proved to be so BY YOUR OWN FACTS. It spread hundreds of years before any such political group existed and there was not enough time between Jesus and Nero for a credible myth to develop. Parallels with Islam are useless because early Christianity spread with no violence and Islam was spread by the sword. Furthermore as I showed with Paul the resurrection was always part of the story.

        Mate, it really don’t think it can be made clearer than that. You can rant and insult all you want, your own facts tell the story.

        That’s it from me.

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      • Surprise, suprise- you didn’t understand a single word because you were too busy arguing with the voices in your head.
        1. FALSE: I said Christianity in its present format is a religiopolitical creation of the 4th century. Vocal editors obviously did exist in the 1st century, but they were of the Chinese Whispers variety. It’s only in the 4th century when we have a doctrinal, organized, dogmatic religion.

        2. Also false. Christianity was a response to oppression. It’s as political as political can get. A rebellion against the establishment beit Jewsih or Roman. Further the spread of Christianity in the first century was negligible- as shown by Dr. Carrier and many other scholars. Christianity was nothing until its marriage to politics.
        3. I didn’t say X-tianity was created by apolitical group. Movements of this style rarely are, rather they’re hi-jacked by opportunists. Communism went from a manifesto in the 1840’s to mass killing in the early 1900’s. Soon the large populations of Russia and China subscribed to the ideology.
        Time is an entirely irrelevant factor regarding validity.
        As for violence there is no end of documented Christian repression and violence as soon as it became religiopolitical in the 4th century. Exactly the same as Islam.
        4. Think twice before arguing your pamphlet depth knowledge with people who have spent their lives studying history. You accomplish nothing but making yourself look the fool.

        5. That’s it from you? Thanks, so very much. Perhaps now you could better use your time by reading something other than wikipedia and Jehova’s Witness booklets.

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      • I’m still trying to figure out why you’re wasting your own and other people’s time.
        If your argument is the popularity (or rapid spread) of something makes it true- then you have to concede Islam or any other popular mythology is as true as Christianity. And there the debate ends.
        So you’ve just written who knows how many comments that proved absolutely nothing at all.

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      • Pinko: you went to university, nice one. I didn’t. But even I take offence at your lack of ability in debate—perhaps it was an American university and a ‘sports scholarship’?

        In the cut-and-thrust of reasoned debate you get (used to get, perhaps it’s different these days) points for sticking to the point. Wandering off and insulting an opponent used to be regarded as a sign of a weak argument. Please address your opponents points, you fool.

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      • My opponent had no clear points- there was no coherent argument. He embarked on a monologue of muddled absurdity that had no basis in history.

        As for how to debate, my friend, let me just clarify that no one needs your permission or approval. Get your head out of your behind.

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      • Just as well you don’t need them—they mightn’t be granted.

        Point noted, and working on it … not easy, but hey, it’s early days yet. Good luck.

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      • I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a traditional logical format of argumentation- or to ridicule the intentional and manipulative misuse of logic.
        Clapham proposed the notion that early Christianity was widely accepted as fact and that can be equated to Christianity being ‘true’. When countered with the fact that Islam equally spread quickly, he had to resort to an ad-hoc (Islam was spread by force, as if force played no part in Christianity). These points are factually and historically incorrect. Monotheism (whichever variety) spread very successfully only once it married itself with authoritarian politics. Christians were a disparate minority until Constantine- in fact, they called Constantine’s conversion “The Great Triumph”.

        What we have here is a case of someone wanting to have their historical cake and eat it too. The proposed formula is just not mathematically possible because:
        a) acceptance of Christianity was not as widespread as they like to imply (as illustrated by Carrier, Stark and others)
        b) even if general acceptance had been the case, acceptance still doesn’t prove validity
        c) if acceptance and spread proved validity that would make other mythologies like Islam equally valid.

        The problem with answering muddled arguments is one doesn’t always know from what angle to approach. When something is wrong on a number of levels, there’s no good way to refute it, so sometimes I resort to an outright dismissal. i.e. “Sarah Palin is an expert in international relations, diplomacy and cold-war history because she can see Russia from her back-yard with binoculars.” Not calling that variety of statement idiotic or the proponent of the statement a fool is a waste of time.

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      • The problem is quite simple—as an academic exercise it can be good fun, but it’s like (actually, it is) discussing with a machine. All you are doing is pushing button One or Two or Whatever and triggering a programmed response.
        Mormons especially are fun like that … for good reason. But once I did have the satisfaction of seeing them spring to their feet in horror staring wide-eyed at each other, then gather up their flip-charts and tripod and run from the house.
        They came back a week or so later very happy with the response their elder-elder had reprogrammed into them but it merely illustrated to me the fallibility of logic and rationality in the face of a well performed job of indoctrination. I threw therm out, all the honest joy was gone.

        Please understand that you will not (r) not ‘win’ a discussion with a ‘good’ religionist. Logic and rationality don’t come into it. You or I may well be convinced with/by pure reason, but faith? Never.

        And lest the faithful declare me of closed mind: if ever (even just once) I am out in a boat fishing and some Aryan bearded hippie-type in a white dress with glowing head, beatific smile, frolicking lambs, holes in his feet comes hoofing across the water to bless me … I’ll be the most immediate conversion this planet has ever seen. But I don’t see it happening in any hurry … hell, it doesn’t have to be so spectacular—a simple opened ancient grave with the once-incumbent standing up and dusting himself down would do just as nicely …

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    • In Matthew 15:1-20 Jesus is outraged that the Pharisees show more concern for following the Sabbath hand-washing rules than they do for obeying God’s commandments to stone disobedient children. He then dispenses faulty hygiene advice—twice.

      And the tale of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11 presents a clear case study of what was “actually” meant by selling one’s possessions and sharing the proceeds with others.

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      • Sweet Veles, you’ve done it again, Ron! Paul’s “church” murders people who don’t pony up and donate EVERYTHING!

        5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died…. 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died.

        This is diabolical!

        Like

      • Yeah, the the name did register. Where was Peter’s church? The Acts Seminar concludes there was never a church in Palestine, so i was a little confused who this “Peter” was.

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      • OK, I didn’t realize you were addressing the historicity of the text. I confess I’m not really up to speed with that argument, so I avoid it and focus more attention to the theological aspects of the passages.

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      • Ron, sich insight. You’re obviously a real scholar, like John – both devoted to seeing the teaching as it really is.

        Its very obvious that he is saying they should have killed THEMSELVES if they were so concerned for the law. He;s using it to make a point, not about killing but about HYPOCRISY. You know – claiming to be interested in one thing (like perhaps understanding a text), when i fact you have no real interest in it at all.

        He is pointing out their hypocrisy, them expecting others to do what they don’t – that’s why he calls them hypocrites.

        May i humbly suggest that you spend some time considering verse 16?

        As for Acts 5, did you even bother to read the verses or did you just trot out something that you’d heard somewhere else?

        Verse 4 very clearly shows that the land and money was theirs to do with as they pleased – their fault was **lying** about what they did with it. they were more than entitled to keep their goods.

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      • If they were “more than entitled to keep their goods” why then did your god murder them for not handing over 100% of the sale price?

        Might just be me, but a double murder over a tithe seems a little extreme…. wouldn’t you say?

        And why even include this story in the good book if not for it to be used as a threat so as to *encourage* faithers to willingly give EVERYTHING they have to the church… or else be murdered?

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      • @ John, re your comment to rat –

        I’m really interested in how you can come to the conclusion that jesus was a “crisis cultist” (or anything for that matter) without actually understanding the Bible?

        The bible is by far the most comprehensive statement of what he was about – so if you have drawn a conclusion about him as anything (or even concluded that he is myth) how is it that you done so without actually considering the evidence? Certainly you haven’t published it.

        Or could it be (no, surely not) that you have come to the conclusion having been fed it by others and not actually having doe the work yourself? SURELY NOT!!

        Surely you didm’t prejudge Jesus before reading him?

        SURELY that would be bankrupt as things can possibly get?

        As for honest “objective observer” – does that mean we can now expect a post on his other sayings? Surely that is what an honest objective observer would do.

        Come on John, old buddy, old pal, prove to us that you’re really one of those.

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      • A crisis cultist is, quite simply, someone (usually a madman/madwoman) who says the end is neigh. Did Jesus, or did he not, preach that the end was neigh? Was he, or was he not a messianic character… who taught to give no thought for the morrow?

        “some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:28, Luke 9:27, Mark 9:1).

        If you’re interested, you should read my post: Death Cult Christianity. It’s quite a ride:

        https://thesuperstitiousnakedape.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/death-cult-christianity-6/

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      • Hmm, any chance this could refer to the resurrection….?

        Your desperation to paint the picture as something that it obviously isn’t (even by non-Christian standards) starts to make it look like a desperate attempt to cover the truth. I wonder if you ever consider that maybe, just maybe, its not the way you think it is….

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      • Hmmm, I don’t know… I don’t have my Magic Decoder Ring on.

        Who’s desperate? I put down straight quotes from your good book and it seems to be you doing all the dancing in a mad dash to present excuses for the awkwardness of the words.

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      • LOL – if you mean refuting each of your ill conceived allegations, then yes.

        I again challenge you (if indeed you are interested in honesty and objectivity) to put the other half to. Show us your the truth seeker you claim to be, and not some dancer for the crowd. Risk the ire of your adoring fans by daring to post on any postiive aspect of Jesus. That would be a good start….

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      • Clap, we’ve already been through this on some other thread:

        If you can identify just one thing that Jesus (allegedly) said which was new and unique, something that hadn’t been said by someone else long before, then I might take you up on your offer.

        Over to you….

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      • Even if they weren’t his own why wouldn’t they count as good sayings. Very very very thin, in fact translucent, attempt to evade the issue john.

        But let’s start with the beatitudes. If nothing else at least you’ll have to go dig up someone else’s research…

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      • The idea of cosmic justice? That was well established in Eastern mysticism long, long before Jesus (if he existed) re-articulated the idea. Haven’t you ever heard of Karma?

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      • Maybe read them before given yet another unbelievably ignorant response.

        If you can;t even be bothered to read the texts why bother.

        I guess i’m the muppet here as its been amply established that you’re not actually interested in engaging on this – simply trotting out some tired old cliche’s, probably recycled from somewhere else.

        Keep dancing for your crowd, they seems o like it.

        At long last i am actually done here….

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      • I have read it all. In fact, i was chatting with someone not too long ago about this very matter. Perhaps you, Clap, should re-read the entries, because if you can’t see the concept of cosmic justice in there then you’re either blind, or purposefully ignorant.

        If, however, you’d like to identify something specific then by all means, point it out.

        Until then, you haven’t identified a single thing Jesus said or did which was even remotely new, or even marginally useful.

        Still waiting….

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      • No doubt that “someone”w as Ark, or one of your other adoring fans – know THAT would be a powerful combination of real objective “just out to find the truth” Biblical scholars, with no ax to grind or agenda to push…

        Ah, yes, I’m the one who can’t understand the teaching. Tell you what, I’ll side with Gandhi and the DL on this one John. You keep telling yourself you’ve got this waxed.

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      • Actually no, it was an apologist, much like yourself. He, like you, cited the Beatitudes as being unique and new. They are not. Eastern mysticism dealt with the entire concept of cosmic justice long before… the idea that things will get sorted out in some other realm, the last will be first, that sort of thing.

        So, again, you still haven’t named a single thing Jesus said which was new.

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      • So, Clap, let me get this straight: you’re perfectly fine with a god, the creator of the UNIVERSE, the fashioner of galaxies and black holes, the tailor of atoms and life itself coming to earth and running a three-year ministry in which he said absolutely nothing new or even mildly useful?

        How fantastically odd….

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      • Sorry john, you seem to be mistaken. That’s YOUR position, not mine. I find plenty of good stuff in the beatitudes, the rest of the sermon on the mount etc. me, Gandhi and the DL.

        It’s you and your merry group of admirers who sit alone in the corner unable to say anything good about him.

        Now **that** is odd???and a bit sad.

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      • If you say so, but if you ever do find something new and original (or even marginally useful) said by Jesus (if he existed) then i’d be happy to hear it.

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      • Your protests notwithstanding, the teaching in Matthew 15 is crystal clear. Jesus claims that washing up before you ear is less important than following God’s commands to stone your disobedient children. Furthermore, the Alpha & Omega of the universe appears to be completely clueless about the Germ Theory of Disease. That’s a strange oversight, wouldn’t you say?.

        And Acts 5 also speaks for itself. God kills two people for withholding a portion of their proceeds from a land sale. If the tax department did this the religious right would be up in arms.

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      • Ron, john, well done guys, you’ve cracked it. The guy held up a good by guys like Gandhi and the DL in fact meant to say what you guys allege.

        Brilliant! They must have just missed those parts.

        As for acts 5, not sure which part of the plain English you are failing to read but at best for you the charge is lying.

        If you can’t see that it’s no surprise the whole book is a mystery to you.

        As I said, Matt 15v16 seems more up your alley. Once you’ve cracked that there try moving on.

        All this thread has shown is how completely uninterested you are in actually understanding the Bible. What you’re interested in is taking pot shots.

        More than happy to banter with you on them but all you’re showing is your true colours. Keep me flying is all I can say!

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      • @ claham,

        I sense we’ve reached an impasse, so I’ll continue this conversation when you’re ready to address the points I’ve presented.

        Like

      • @ Ron, I do this in the hope that maybe you are actually interested in understanding the Bible, rather than just taking pot shots.

        I’m not sure if you are being serious about the hand washing thing, but just in case, have you forgotten that this is the guy who famously washed their feet?

        But anyway – this passage is obviously a ritual washing they’re referring to (“the tradition of the elders”), not some ordinary hygiene. These guys didm;t give two hoots about the welfare of Jesus followers – they wanted to attack him because his followers didm’t toe the ritual line.

        As for acts 5, what more do you want me to do? Verse 4 plainly indicates that God’s complaint is **lying** – they were free to keep the land or the money. But having offered the full proceeds they should not have lied about what those were.

        So your and John’s point on “money grabbing” is nowhere in this text. They wren’t obliged to sell the land or give the money.

        I write this in the hope you will be provoked to read the book for what it is, with an open mind, and not fall into the same trap John has or taking cheap pot shots, that in the end are simply showing he has no interest in actually discussing Jesus teachings (or even understanding them before discussing them) but simply to play to a crowd that have already made up their minds on the issue.

        best, cct

        Like

      • @CCT

        You’re reading the text as a Sunday School lesson. I’m reading it for what it is.

        Matthew 15 presented Jesus with the perfect opportunity to teach the importance of following good hygiene (“Hey guys, that’s really smart advice. Your hands may contain tiny organisms that could cause serious illness, or perhaps even death.”). Instead, he employs a childish tu quoque argument and then goes on to claim the exact opposite (“What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them”). In other words: he not only withhold the truth—he outright LIED about it.

        And that, dear sir, makes him immoral… at least in my book.

        As for Acts 5, the heart of the matter remains: two people were executed for failing to share the full proceeds of their land sale with the congregation. I’m unable to formulate a context that would justify such a reaction. Can you?

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      • Ron,

        My dear friend, I’m not sure how much plainer i can make this. There is a difference between lying and withholding funds. Their crime was **lying**. They didn’t have to give ANY of the money. It’s there on the page for anyone to see. If you don’t want to see it I can’t help you. But please recognise that the problem is not with the text – it’s what you are reading into it.

        Matt 15 is dealing with “the tradition of the elders” – should Jesus have said, “oh wait guys, i know you’re talking about ritualistic washings but let’s just have a quick aside on good hygiene –even though you probably already keep it and that is not the point here….” . This passage has nothing to do with ordinary hygiene. Remember, Jesus washed his disciples feet…?

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      • The facts remain:

        1. Jesus explicitly stated that what goes into someone’s mouth doesn’t defile them. He was WRONG. And if he was truly God incarnate—as Christians maintain—then he was a LIAR.

        2. The couple was killed for not sharing completely. That’s hardly a capital offense.

        So you can choose to go on ignoring the 800 lb gorilla in the room if you like, but it won’t change the fact that the God presented in the Bible is an immoral character.

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      • Ron, the 800lb gorilla must be standing on your throat and cutting of air to your eyes and/or brain.

        Can you not read the text?

        I can’t even be bothered to deal with your other point – its so far off the mark its mind boggling.

        That’s it from me.

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      • Can’t say as I blame you for bowing out. Defending a deity who’s guilty of lying and double homicide is an impossible assignment.

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      • @ Ron just read your treatment of acts 4. It was obviously VOLUNTARY!!! That was why it came from time to time.

        Acts 5 itself says the charge was lying.

        Why bother with the text if you a re just going to pick and choose what to read into it.

        If they wanted to threaten people they would have just said this is what happens if you don’t give us your money – not make up some thinly veiled threat that STATES that people can keep their goods.

        It’s all there right in front of you on the page….

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      • John, it’s your apparent tendency to overstate your case that keeps me from “liking” this post. You seem more interested in throwing everything against the wall and finding what sticks, vs. reading the text fairly and letting it speak for itself. However, I don’t care to pick your post apart, as there are other sources available that will inform me of these things, and require less time on my part. I will mention, though, that the verses you cite outside of the gospels are arguably not *Jesus’* teachings. (Jesus was dead, “Paulianity”, etc.)

        Moving on, what catches my attention here in the comments is Ron’s and your insistence that God (allegedly) killed Ananias and Sapphira because they didn’t hand over 100% of the proceeds of the sale. The text is pretty clear that they were killed not for not giving it all, but for lying about how much they were giving. Why isn’t it enough for you to point out that a death penalty for a lie is an outrageously overkill punishment? Why must you erroneously insist that it was about the withholding itself?

        Acts 5:1-5 (ESV):

        But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.

        (Emphasis mine.)

        Note, “a piece of property” indicates that this was not everything they had.

        The bolded part in verse 4a shows Peter saying they could have done whatever they wanted with it. He goes on to say, “You have not lied to man but to God.”

        There are plenty of instances of Yahweh and his followers being ostensibly unjust or immoral in the Bible. I’m not sure why you feel to the need to twist the text to make it appear worse than it already is. This sort of thing makes it hard to take you seriously.

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      • Hi Rat

        I could indeed point out that “a death penalty for a lie is an outrageously overkill punishment,” but I think that actually fails to address the issue of that passage even being included in the bible. Why was it? If it’s so plain that it was overkill, and therefore an act of sheer perversion, then surely the only reason it was included was as a deliberate threat to other faithers… “Pony up everything you have, or be murdered by a *money-hungry tyrant.”

        So, what we have is Jesus ordering his followers to neglect themselves and sell everything, and the Church (which came later) capitalising on this command, cap in hand. Seems like the perfect theft, doesn’t it?

        *Note: money-hungry tyrant = the Church

        Like

      • ratamacue0,

        Acts 4:32-37 set the stage:

        All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

        That sounds strikingly similar to “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”—doesn’t it?

        But I digress…

        According to this passage, the early believers had entered into a voluntary compact requiring them to forward all proceeds from their land sales to the congregation. The couple apparently violated that trust and paid dearly for it.

        So. yes—given that it would be somewhat difficult to “lie” to an all-knowing omnipresence, it seems kind of obvious that Acts 5 was meant to stress the consequences of straying from the commitment to the group. But when have I ever stated otherwise?

        Like

      • “Pony up everything you have, or be murdered by a *money-hungry tyrant.”

        This was not “everything they had”–it was the proceeds of the sale of a piece of property.

        As to the inclusion of this passage, you could argue that the context of giving surrounding this disproportionate penalty is a sort of implied veiled threat to other “faithers”, that they should be giving sacrificially. Alternatively, you could argue that the context of giving is presented as somehow making this a “worse lie”. These are debatable, but more reasonable positions–and you’ve argued for neither.

        “Jesus ordering his followers to…sell everything…”

        Again, overstating your case.

        Like

      • Hi Rat

        Curious: where, exactly, do you think I’m “overstating my case” when Jesus personally orders: “Those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples”?

        I will grant you, though, I don’t usually dive into scripture-heavy posts as I don’t need to in order to prove Jesus (if he existed) was just a man; just another wandering, the end is neigh, crisis cultist. The purpose of this post, if there was one, was to simply detail the slurry of (supposed) teachings which an honest, objective observer would rightly view as being immoral.

        Like

  8. So you’re going to stick with saying you know better than gandhi and the DL when it comes to Jesus? That would be the only conclusion if they say he’s good and you say he’s bad.

    And why would you believe that Gandhi and DL know any more about the character Jesus than John does?

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      • Well, everyone is wont to draw conclusions.
        But I can state right here and now that I know as much as anyone about the character, Jesus, and probably a lot more than most. Including you , I shouldn’t wonder.

        What is the actual point you are trying to make, Clap?

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    • How thoroughly modest of you Ark! With that sort of humility you are sure to acquire wisdom wherever you go! I assume you include gandhi and the DL in “anyone” as well.

      My point (obviously) is that this rather crude caricature of Jesus teachings is woefully incomplete and inaccurate and some of the greatest moral leaders of our times certainly seem to take a differing view to John’s. Maybe that should be reason for us all to pause and think which is more likely to be true…

      Not that i harbour any expectation of you agreeing with me, but maybe i’ll be surprised…;-)

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      • No, I doubt I will surprise you on this score. But maybe you ill see the light and one day turn normal? You never know, right?

        The bible is open to interpretation and this in itself should be cause for concern, bearing in mind the different mainstream interpretations, never mind the myriad of left field numbskulls visible on almost every street corner ( metaphorically speaking)

        Thus my knowledge of the character Yeshua, Jesus or whatever tag you wish, is as relevant,as the next bloke. In fact, more so, as I don’t ascribe to the supernatural nonsense you do or believe he has quiet chats in my ear’ole.

        The point , it seems to me, is that there are a few nutters among your ranks that will read these texts and act upon them almost to the letter in some cases and one would think that being a god man JC would have recognised that perhaps in the future there just might be some rather silly people who ought to know better but didn’t and adjusted his patter accordingly.

        Oh… but wait a moment!!!

        Of course, JC was an eschatological preacher. He was here to warn everyone the end was nigh. This was why he acted like such an irresponsible dickhead, because he truly believed the whole world was about to go Kaput!

        Oooops…..

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      • Yawm. Every document is open to interpretation – a first year law trainee will tell you that. that doesn’t mean they’re all valid.

        But well done for asserting that your interpretation is as valid as everyone else’s.

        funny how John didm;t mention any of the balancing quotes – maybe he’s saving that for a post on Jesus moral teachings. Surely that would demonstrate his commitment to real truth finding?

        And i am sure that as a a fellow searcher for the truth you will support him in that, won’t you. Esp with your deep knowledge of Jesus…

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      • You fail to take note that neither John nor I truly hold much stock in the actual historicity of the biblical character; oh, there may well have been some smelly little bloke ranting on in some grotty Palestinian backwater. But this little sunbeam you all genuflect to? Not a chance in Hades.
        And this is why such posts are worth taking note of, if only to highlight the absurdity of a command such as give no thought for tomorrow etc.
        Such mindless drivel has allowed many a Christian dickhead preacher to relieve millions of the delusional to part with hard earned money to build mega churches and other obscenities.

        Oh, and there is no interpretation needed regarding JC being of an eschatological frame of mind.
        It is because of this that you lot built a religion based largely on Pauline doctrine.
        Jesus was for the Jews and he believed the world was almost at an end.

        And didn’t he end up looking rather silly….or rather you lot did.

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      • indeed. how interesting that someone as patently unsuccessful as you paint him to be spawned the largest religion the world has ever known. A backwater hobo apparently last seen hanging on a cross, within a few years had a following spanning Rome to Egypt.

        How cunning of those self contradicting, uneducated, soon t be dead, poor, iron age muppets to be able to make that up, for someone who never actually performed miracles, was a horrible immoral teacher, and basically a big old miscreant. who ended up dead, after only three years on the road – he barely got started!

        You’re right, that does sound silly.

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      • Lol…the christians are so small-minded sometimes it is quite staggering.

        And just how long do you think the Egyptian religions went on for as an example?
        And your piss-willy religion owes a lot less to the munificence of said narrative construct than it does to the self-seeking arrogant,murdering bastards that exported it across the globe, mostly accompanied by the sword, syphilis, rape pillage, child abuse, a box of matches and a fuck youy attitude to one and all besides themselves.
        And if it doesn’t eventually get swamped by Islam or cause large scale war then you better hope your religious leaders have the moral decency and common sense to own up to the farking sham they have helped perpetrate for the past 2000 plus years so’s we can all work together and build a saner society.
        Because if they don’t, you sanctimonious halfwit, the atheist might well end up being you bestest buddy.
        Dwell on that, while you are down on your knees.

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      • with friends like you,w ho needs al quaeda? No need to get your knickers in a knot.
        And that works both ways, esp in your neck f the woods. In Africa it tends to be the churches that are on the forefront of resisting radical islam. Sit tight Ark, we’re fighting for you buddy!

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      • In Africa, some churches were fully behind Apartheid. And in certain parts of Africa the Catholic Church has been directly implicated as an instigator in certain atrocities in areas of tribal conflict, And lets remind ourselves that by condemning the use of contraception their barbaric doctrine helped fuel the AIDs pandemic.

        Christianity is also at the forefront of ACE education, and South Africa is a little pot of gold for these domesticated dinosaur believing wankers.
        So with all due respect, Eff your churches and the maggot infested donkey they rode into town on.

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      • Maybe if we never had Christianity, Islam would not have come about in the first place?
        And let’s be honest here, both religions are based on lies perpetrated by fools and liars; duplicity at it worst.

        Surely you can see a decent case here of encouraging the prevention of child indoctrination?

        Or are you that callous, Clap?

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      • Sure, I’ve never said all religions are good.

        But Christianity was not founded that way, and whatever can be said for its spread by military force, that certainly wash;t the case at its stet – quite the opposite. There simply were;t the structures to spread a unified false version, it was too decentralised. Its only once power became centralised that the potential for those sort of things came into being.

        Anyway, I can see this heading down a dead end already. time for me to try rescue something of my day.
        best,cct

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      • I read on Facebook that if I truly believe in the existence and power of Thor, I’ll go to heaven at age 60, without dying, while my earthly body will continue its physical life on earth without anyone noticing any change.

        Should I believe this? Can you disprove it? If not, do you believe it?

        What if 2 billion people believed it, would that tell you it’s true, or that they are all mistaken and believe for a faulty reason?

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      • John, with respect, I’m slightly reluctant to accept your version of what that faith actually looks like. I might wait to see your moral teachings of jesus post before i rely on a summary here, if that’s OK.

        But you feel free to go ahead wight hat if you;d like to! Nothing to lose right?

        😉

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      • Well, Gandhi and the DL had no problem coming down not eh otherwise so…

        But John, surely if you are committed to a true examination of his character we can expect a follow up post on the moral teachings of Jesus, those “contradictory” texts that you are so familiar with.

        I for one am **REALLY** looking forward to that!!

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      • There’s nothing particularly fascinating about Jesus, if he actually existed. He was a 1st century Crisis Cultist who regurgitated old apocalyptic messages and plagiarized even older moral teachings. You, certainly, haven’t been able to identify anything new or original he said…. And you won’t be able to, simply because there was nothing new or original. The fact that he didn’t even know that Moses and Abraham were fictional characters is proof enough that he was nothing but a wandering sage screaming about the end of the world, no different to thousands of other death cultists who came before him, and the thousands who came after him, like Jim Jones, yelling about the same things.

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      • That’s truly surprising given how much time you guys devote to bagging him.

        Still having devoted some time to his so-called “immoral teaching” SURELY you now need to put out an assessment of his other teachings.

        It would be irresponsible of you not to, lest his followers charge off and do as you say…

        John, you must, i appeal to you in the name of humanity and all that is good in critical thinking!!

        Surely you wouldn’t dream of having your blog look one-sided?!?

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      • I am proof that the Thor story is false.

        The way it actually worked, for me — a true Thor believer — is that at 60 my almost-perfect soul stayed right here but my pathetic scrawny body went to heaven and my remaining soul now occupies a Thor-like body. That is my reward for simply believing in Thor. Praise his Hammer! Meanwhile, my skinny little body was transported to a heavenly factory where it is being refitted for my future life of celestial debauchery.

        It is great. So, here on earth, for my next few decades (Thor willing) I not only can enjoy the former gals who only loved me for my mind, but now I also get lots of beauties who could give a shit about what I think.

        Thus, your Thor story is apocryphal. Q.E.D.

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      • I am two sided: critical when I think it helpful, and funny when it doesn’t support potentially bad habits.

        At work I don’t laugh along with sexist, racist or gay jokes (if I catch myself – but I am a weak white boy). On blogs I try not to join into overgeneralizations either — just because everyone else is chuckling.

        This can be seen as being a wet rag, picky, snobbish, anal retentive or any number of slurs in both those group settings. — but that is fine with me.

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      • Yep, Johnny, that is what I push for, “awareness”! [both for myself and others]
        OK, again, I am out of this subthread and bow to your final rhetoric if you chose.
        And off this post all together. It has been real fun. Full of learning.

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  9. I’ve always found your posts very well written and very interesting to read, despite my conflicting religeous views.
    The problem with the Bible ( or ANY book really) is that is is always open to interpretation. Obviously, as a Christian, I will interpret the verses you have selected from an entirely different perspective. In my opinion, being able to “turn the other cheek”, for example ,is not immoral, or weak, but is taking the high road. It speaks of high moral character. I think it is harder to walk away from something hurtful than it would be to retaliate…and trust me, I’m a fighter, lol.
    Nevertheless, I respect your writing and opinion as always, and appreciate the food for thought.
    🙂

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    • Cheers Cookie… apologies if (and when) I focus on the negatives. I do agree, in some instances turning the other cheek might well be the best course of action. We seriously don’t need to go around full of confrontational bluster at every transgression. That would be madness, but my point here was the larger implications if we were to adhere to this method of living 100% of the time. In hindsight, perhaps a few disclaimers and asterisked *provisions should have been added to the bible, to make it more realistic 🙂

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  10. God, the Father and Jesus the Son…

    …you just gotta luv’em!

    Your scripture quotes are so infused with wisdom that they are always a pleasure to read.

    Unfortunately, an atheist quoting scripture is like a chimpanzee trying to bang out Shakespeare on a keyboard.

    The chimps just end up defecating on the keyboard and stinking up the joint.

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  11. Crap. Late to the party already! John, your post is amazing an irrefutable! Makes me feel tremendous pride as a Christian evangelical fundamentalist pretribulation dispensationalostic quasi-Calvinistic Quantum Metaphysical follow of the Light.

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    • Quack, the party is always going, and we’re presently short a Christian evangelical fundamentalist pretribulation dispensationalostic quasi-Calvinistic Quantum Metaphysicalist.

      OK, let me have it, though.. what’s your objection? Am i being nasty for using Jesus’ own teachings? 😉

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    • I’d add a reply of my own to ol’ Quakers above but can’t spare the time, my on-board desktop dictionary is having a few conniptions.
      Dammit, I didn’t know they could overheat …

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      • Auto correct … that might explain why the computer and I sometimes argue all night over who has the right — I’m an English Kiwi and it (Mac) spells Yankee …

        Good luck with the brain. If I see one running about loose I’ll let you know (it might have escaped and be wanting to get home).

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  12. Jesus walked around for at least three years mooching off of the backs of his followers. I’m surprised that Paul, who wrote, “He who does not work shall not eat,” (1 Thess. 3:10) latched on so fervently to the teachings of a homeless wanderer.

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  13. Though I’m an atheist I rarely engage in religious debate, mostly because I lack the skills to do so, and also because I tend to not focus on things I don’t enjoy. Religion falls squarely in the category of things I don’t enjoy. This said, I do enjoy reading those who are skilled in this area. You, John, are definitely skilled in this area, and I really enjoy the debate which always follows your well written posts.

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    • hey, Alex. John is apparently (one assumes) dedicated to fair presentation of the facts. Don’t you think he should also do a post on the moral teachings of Jesus, since, by his own admission, there are verses that say quite the opposite of those he’s posted?

      I think that would be the intellectually honest thing to do don’t you?

      That would show John has no particular axe to grind but is just presenting the facts as they really are, don’t you think? Surely he’s not scared of putting both side sod the story across?!?

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      • I seriously doubt that there is much that John is scared of. 🙂

        And, I think John should present on his blog exactly what he wants to. That’s kinda the whole point of blogging. That he allows open commentary shows he is more than willing to allow others to not only challenge his views, but also present their view. Seems intellectually honest to me.

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      • Let’s be fair all around, here. Wouldn’t you be better suggesting JZ do a post on the ‘original’ moral teachings of ol’ Geez?

        If any can be found not plagiar— ooops, borrowed.

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      • Bugger … no gunsights on these comments, that was for ol’ Clapham above.

        (No wonder I get weird looks sometimes … it’s these pointy ears, I thought once of putting ’em in curlers …)

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  14. @Sabio

    I bow out of this sub-thread. My point was made clearly

    Actually it wasn’t at all, old bean, because, once again, there is no qualifying verse from His Lordship, the god-man, JC that states, “Interpret what I just said to suit relevant situation, okay?” ( or local vernacular equivalent)

    As well-travelled and well-versed in a number of ”religious experiences” surely the intelligent option would be to expend your energies upbraiding those that continue to perpetrate the garbage that is religion; which you claim to have walked away from, rather than behaving like a complete chump by continually indulging in asinine exercise of oneupmanship which simply makes you come across as a complete and utter arsehole.

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  15. Pingback: Religionists Say the Stupidest Things. Christians were the Kardashians of the 1st century (and still are today) | The Pink Agendist

  16. The I-will-turn-people-against-each-other philosophy so that they should follow Jesus is insanely narcissistic. These verses are hostile, war inciting verses no matter who reads them.

    What about Jesus condoning the killing of children? In reference to a woman who has upset him with her uncouth behavior, he remarks, “And I will kill her children” (Rev. 2:23).

    In the modern age, when people have behavioral difficulties we try and help them with psychological treatments, and prison if necessary, but we most certainly don’t threaten to kill their children.

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  17. Indeed, the parallels are harrowing. I have been fascinated with the phenomenon of cult leadership for quite sometime. David Koresh and the Heaven’s Gate team were no better, and these are proofs, along with the Jesus phenomenon, that hierarchies in levels of intellect can be exploited.

    What mess these guys create!

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    • Messes filled to the rafters with the innocent, the hopelessly lost, and the desperately gullible. It makes my skin crawl to know as that lunatic, Jones, is speaking children are being fed the poison in the background… and he has the sick audacity to say, “hurry up.”

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  18. Not like you, so respectably-sized a post? Thank God for that, I thought you were losing interest (hang on a tick … I’ll go light Him a candle. Her a candle. Them a cand— bugger, it gets complicated).

    Actually those requirements of big Geez are strict recruitment criteria—he (they?) obviously knew what they wanted/needed. A bit like the US marines or other drone-drivers, gung-ho guys who respond robotically and never question their divinely inspired leaders.
    All good stuff and as the guy said hundreds of years ago “Let God sort ’em out on arrival”. I admire simplicity in both politics and religion and dislike redundancies in statements; delete my last, insert in place ‘religiotics’ (or perhaps, ‘politigions’?).

    Thank heavens ol’ Luke left out the “dog against dog” bit—he must’ve been a nice guy. (I saw a movie once “All Dogs Go To Heaven”; great title but I wouldn’t recommend the film. Only got half way then went back to practising karate bites on an old Bible).

    Sadly gotta go out now—still honking and barking, blasted divine gift of the flu—but will catch up with the comments later.
    I always use the church car-park when I can and am grateful to Good ol’ god for Their hospitality even though they have lass than honourable motivations (“If a man offendeth thee, offer unto him your wife, your daughter, your coat, your parking space, that he may be in awe of thy grace”).

    Snot … aaaaah, such a wondrous blessing I may just enter the church for if it’s open and spread it with Christian abandonment if there’s anyone home. Don’t wait up: God will take care of his innocents (and I can never get into a church anyway—my paws heat up at the threshold … )

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    • Unquestionably, dog, you pen the most entertaining comments. You have the flu, huh? I’ve been getting rabies shots this week. Nasty painful, worse than your cousin who bit me.

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      • No cousin of mine, Sir, although possible showing excellent taste. We BTs are pussycats really

        Perhaps it was really an act of Dog? After all—dsylexai can be universal too.

        Rabies shots I understand can be ongoing and very painful. The only alternative is to put your faith in God … but that might well be even more painful. Just get better soon—what is it with you and animals; kangaroos, dogs … with your record I’d stay well clear of anywhere involving piranha. Good luck …

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      • The full program is ten shots, if the dog is showing signs, but this fella isn’t, so its been just two. Actually, there is no rabies in this southern pocket (it does still exist in the north, i hear), but it’s better to err on the side of caution. That bastard kills you 😦

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  19. Anyway, to address the OP itself and taking into account some of the comments in the thread, it would seem the problems boil down to interpretation and how literal do you understand these teachings.

    The first stuff about hating one’s father and mother are examples of hyperbole. The idea being in order to be a true Christian your first loyalty cannot be to family, tribe, or clan, but to all, especially to those in need.

    The turn the other cheek can be a useful strategy in certain contexts as already pointed out, but more importantly I think it is an ideal worth shooting for.

    Vicarious redemption can just as easily have the opposite effect. If you think you’re a sinner who can only be redeemed through Jesus, then you might actually spend MORE time considering your transgressions against others and take responsibility for them, attempt not to recommit them, etc. It also has the potential to give hope to those who have committed misdeeds and who wish to reform (have a second chance in life) by allowing them to believe that forgiveness is possible and consequently engage in a change of behavior proceeding into the future.

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    • Hi Console.

      I’ll let Pink handle the Carrier question, as he’s a historian and is far better positioned to field it.

      You’re the second person to mention hyperbole, but my response has to be, where is the asterisked *disclaimer notifying the reader the text is to be interpreted so loosely? Brand hermeneutics is all well and good for the apologist who’s forced to craft ever more sophisticated excuses so as to navigate around awkward passages, but at the end of the day brand hermeneutics is just finger dancing. We have literalists saying one thing, non-literalists saying another, and as long as none of the 40,000+ Christian sects can agree with one another on how to actually read the text then those watching from the sidelines are forced to accept it as written.

      I agree, turn the other cheek can be the appropriate strategic maneuver under the right circumstances. But again, as I commented above, we have no disclaimers saying “Turn the other cheek, unless doing so will result in injury and/or a serious reduction in your wellbeing,” Without that disclaimer (in a book which claims to be 100% true) one must assume the directive is to be followed regardless if it’s some political commentator yelling nonsense, or Hitler on your border saying, “I’d like to come in.”

      I have to disagree with you regarding vicarious redemption. Christianity teaches a sinner can repent on their deathbed and be forgiven. Of course, in practice, this is ludicrous, but the concept alone is vile. Deferring responsibility onto another is inexcusable. We err, we make mistakes, we pick ourselves up and by doing so we steadily improve the human condition. One need not defer attention onto some supernal agent for this process to be meaningful.

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      • But where is the asterisk in any literary text? A careful well-educated reader doesn’t need an asterisk to point out all the possibilities of meaning. Clearly, other works use hyperbole since the word “hyperbole” actually exists to help us categorize the times such a technique is used. Yet, my experience as a reader tells me there is never an asterisk when it is used. It would be like giving away the punch line of a joke before telling the joke. So to apply such a standard strictly to the Bible (and only the Bible) is to cherry-pick when one wishes to apply a certain criteria!

        But I assume you will put your money where your mouth is and from now on you’ll take everything literal that a person says in your personal interactions and blog interactions, unless they include an asterisk. I also assume you now have money taped to your mouth!

        Well, if Hitler is at your borders* and wants to come in and I’m taking the words literally:

        According to Luke 6:29, I can in fact resist Hitler with tanks and planes, but if he manages to sneak through enemy lines and slap me (technically I can resist his attempt as well), I must turn my other cheek. If he takes my coat, I also have to give my shirt. If he takes my X-Box, I don’t have to give him anything!

        According to Luke 12:4, I can resist Hitler, but I shouldn’t be afraid of dying or of Hitler killing me.

        According to Matthew 5:44, I can resist Hitler, but I have to love him while doing so, wish good things will happen to him him if he should happen to wish bad things upon me, do good to him, despite the fact that he might hate me (so I’ll bake him cookies in prison), and pray for him.

        The only line that is problematic if I’m being literal is Matthew 5:39, which does state outright that I can’t resist my enemies.

        Now neither of us disagrees that the general gist of all these lines. When not taken strictly literal the general gist is “don’t resist your enemies.” The real point here is nobody reads literally. The other passages are read in light of Matthew 5:39, yet if Matthew 5:39 weren’t there I suspect we would still understand the other lines as suggesting to “not resist your enemies,” despite none of those other lines saying so directly and I just showed what an actual literal reading would look like. We understand that these lines are representations of a larger idea.

        Perhaps Jesus did mean his followers should do it a 100% of the time, but the only thing anyone has managed to demonstrate is that this is impossible to determine one way or the other, which then allows for different interpretations anyway. So actually I see no reason whatsoever to assume it is meant to be taken absolutely literally 100% of the time. And even if we could determine the One True Meaning to Rule Them All, nobody is bound to those interpretations anyway.

        As to your last point, there are certainly times when someone is a completely horrible human being who then repents on their deathbed in some sort of cheap contrition, but if we grant that I see no reason not to also grant that there are many an alcoholic, criminal, and repentant person who genuinely feel sorry about their past actions and misdeeds and do turn over a new leaf* due to finding religion and gaining a new hope.

        * By “borders”, gentle reader, you’re not to assume the bankrupt bookstore, but the imaginary politic lines delineating one country from another.

        * And no, I don’t mean they play a gigantic game in the courtyard in which they search through the grass for some object called “religion” and then celebrate once they find religion hiding in the bushes by picking up all the leaves and turning them over!

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      • But we’re not talking about “any” literary text, rather scripture which makes a painfully audacious truth claim: inerrancy. We have, for example, the Pentateuch, which we now know beyond a shadow of doubt is historical fiction: a 7th and 6th century work of geopolitical imaginings. All well and good, but nowhere is there a single note of this; the story is presented as fact, the characters said to be real historical figures. When people start picking and choosing what is literal, what is allegorical, what is poetic, and what is apocalyptic imagery (against the backdrop of the inerrancy claims) then we have a recipe for intelligible disaster.

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      • The context of Matthew 5:39–48 is set by verse 38:

        “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you…”

        In other words, Jesus is telling his followers to set aside the retaliatory justice prescribed in Lev. 24:19-22 and Deut. 19:20.

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      • I posted this above, but even Obama made a note to how impractical this is:

        “Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount – a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application?

        (Keynote speech: Call to Renewal’s Building a Covenant for a New America conference – Washington, D.C., June 2006.)

        http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Barack_Obama

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      • Noted. I remember the apologists grilling him for “taking the passages out of context” and “distorting” the Bible.

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      • Not all sects accept inerrancy and addressing the problems of inerrancy doesn’t need to lead to literalism necessarily. Traditional Rabbinical Judaism, if I understand correctly, believes the Bible is inerrant, yet simultaneously accepts that if taken literally there are contradictions. Since the Bible is inerrant and there are contradictions if each line is taken literally, they concluded that the Bible requires interpretation and the “real meaning” lies in reconciling seemingly contradictory lines or that the real meaning of a passage can only be uncovered when considering the context of a particular Hebrew word in other passages, etc.

        I would agree it can be a problem in that certain types of interpretations can have bad practical consequences in the world (the fundamentalists who restrict the rights of women or who justify all sorts of heinous behaviors). Those views NEED to be challenged! But on a more academic level, multiple interpretations don’t bother me in the slightest. With any kind of text, it is inevitable.

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      • Anyway, I didn’t exactly address your point. So let’s address your point.

        Determining if something is apocalyptic literature or imagery is not particularly difficult as it’s a particular genre with particular characteristics. If it fits those characteristics, then it is apocalyptic literature.

        Close-reading (a careful sustained analysis of individual parts and details of a text) takes one a long way in determining what to take literally and what to take allegorically.

        1) If your narrative begins with two creation accounts with conflicting details, there is a good chance the author’s or at least the later editor wasn’t overly concerned with literal details of creation.

        2) If you have a story/poem structured around parallelisms as in Genesis 1 whose very structure is symbolic, I would think this, too, would suggest allegory.

        3) If you have a story with a tree that isn’t just any old tree, but is called the TREE OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL. That, too, would suggest symbolism and allegory.

        4) Notice Adam in Hebrew is always “ha-adam” (ha is an article, the equivalent of “the” in English and “adam” literally means “man) and it becomes apparent the text is talking about an unnamed character with a highly symbolic name (which only later tradition ascribes a specific name of Adam).

        We can read literally what archaeology or other sources confirm. Of course, some people will still read things like Genesis 1, 2, and 3 literally. There are many interpretive approaches to the Bible as you point out elsewhere. But no Magic Decoder ring needed, a decent understanding of literary criticism, literary theory, and careful paying attention to the way a person is interpreting (by paying attention to their line reasoning, if they include it) will tell you how they came to their interpretations.

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      • Sure, I can understand that, you can understand that, many, many rational people can quite happily understand and embrace that, but that’s not where the problems in interpretation lie. Still, you do have to admit the Patriarchs, Exodus and Conquest narratives are presented (deceptively) by the author/s as a straight historical account. Of course, this was done so to invent a new history in which Judah was the center of the Jewish way of life. Looking to the NT we do however have very clear instances where creative metafiction is not only used, but identified, distinguishing it from other sections of text: the parables. Here interpretation is invited. The same really can’t be said for the rest… excluding, of course, John’s Revelation, which was just the ramblings of a madman holed up in a cave.

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      • @ Ron

        I’m aware of context, which is exactly why John dismissing it for the most part is so problematic. Turn the other cheek or retaliatory justice, which one is more immoral?

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      • @Consolereader

        Which is more moral depends on entirely on the circumstances, doesn’t it? If someone accidentally steps on my toes, I’ll quietly forgive them their transgression. If they continue to do so, I’ll advise them to watch where they’re stepping. If they deliberately continue to do so thereafter… well, at that point things might turn ugly.

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    • The thing about hyperbole is often that the less educated (or those with an IQ matching that of a thrip) take it as Gospel. Not good, especially if the thrip has college degrees and nuclear weapons.

      Oops, please forgive, inappropriate simile there.
      I meant of course ‘as literal’. Gospel indeed—but to some it’s the Gospel Truth (and who would I be to judge?).

      As for ‘sin’ … why let others do your defining? Have we no morals of our own? Certainly there’s law—which if any good is written so wide-open to so many different interpretations it can feed endless batteries of lawyers for generations (which takes care of Caesar’s requirements); and there’s the other side of the coin which opens the field to many hundreds if not tens of thousands of religions, Gods, prophets, prophet’s profits, creeds, cults etc etc.

      Dammit—without a god to my name (or two commandments to rub together) I know when I’ve sinned; and the feelings afterwards create sufficient remorse to guide my future behaviour.

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      • No need to apologize. You can take swipes at the Gospels to your heart’s content.*

        * By this I don’t mean you should keep posting about the Gospels until your actual organ is in a state of satisfaction and thus imply this will somehow lower blood pressure.

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    • The doctrine of vicarious redemption—i.e., the proposition that innocent third parties can serve as substitutes for the guilty in receiving punishment—runs counter to all rules of western jurisprudence. No court of law would propose such a thing; nor would the public accept such an option.

      The act of forgiveness requires only an extension of forgiveness, and nothing more. Demanding blood sacrifices is completely extraneous to the process, so why would an all-powerful being be obliged to engage in such an elaborate and pointless exercise?

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      • You’re addressing a point I’m not making. I’m not arguing one way or the other whether an all-powerful being would engage in such a pointless exercise. I’m pointing out that some people clearly do find the idea that someone “died for their sins” and that they can be redeemed (i. e. have a second chance) psychologically uplifting and thus such beliefs theoretically can be morally beneficial.

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      • Hi Console

        I can appreciate what you’re suggesting that some people find the concept beneficial, i agree some (perhaps many) do, but is this in-turn morally correct? I mean this first from the individuals position, then from the larger societal/cultural perspective.

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      • One could argue that arson promotes fire awareness, stricter building codes and insurance sales, but that’s hardly sufficient reason to enshrine it as public policy.

        Furthermore, the idea that we’re all hopeless sinners in need of redemption comes from the very source proffering a solution.

        So my point stands. Vicarious redemption is a deeply flawed doctrine.

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      • So let’s look at what you’re doing here. You attack the potential positive pragmatic implications of vicarious redemption by creating an analogy with arson and certain positive outcomes the problem of arson might create. You never do any groundwork to establish vicarious redemption is the equivalent of arson. You just assume we’ll accept such an analogy, which an atheist audience will without thinking about it much further (because of course religion and any of its concepts is just like arson!), but I need not because it is based on loaded connotations.

        The idea of Original Sin does come from the church, but to claim it is a problem that the church created is a rather superficial way of looking at it and something of a half truth. It is a response to the larger question, “why does the world seem to be so bad?” “Why do so many people act terribly to each other?” “Why do we have so many problems?” Various ideologies: humanism, Conservativism, Liberalism, Marxism, Catholicism, etc. will provide different answers to those questions and different solutions.

        The question underlying the idea is a legitimate question. Christians’ response to this question–why does the world seem like such a bad place or why are there so many problems in the world?–is Original Sin. So it seems to be there are some real flaws in your argument and even the way you’re thinking about this topic.

        To be honest, I’m not really that interested in continuing the conversation about whether the doctrine itself is flawed or not, incorrect or not, or whatever. My original response to the OP was to add what I felt was a useful observation that the “morality” of each of the specific ideas of Jesus depends strongly on the interpretation and how literal or non-literal one understands them. If you really dislike the idea of vicarious redemption, it’s fine by me!

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      • My analogy was intended to (humorously) drive home the point that appealing to the pragmatic benefits of a flawed proposal is not a justification for it’s continuance.

        And you’re certainly correct in stating that the concept of “original sin” (a theological construct claiming that one of our earliest ancestors violated the dictates of some unseen higher authority) is Christianity’s attempt to explain mankind’s propensity for evil. But since evangelical Christians are rarely content to keep this to themselves and routinely insist upon employing it as a means to guilt non-believers into accepting the need for vicarious redemption, it should come as no surprise that non-Christians will rebuff such advances by critiquing the argument itself.

        Or as one blogger so eloquently stated:

        “I certainly respect your right to your private belief. And when that belief truly is private, I’ll shut up.”
        —Daz

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  20. He did have some rather questionable teachings, as you say…

    Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.”

    1 John 3:15 “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.”

    Stark, raving mad, indeed. Or kaneh-bosem related memory loss from one sermon to the next. Hyperbole or not, in or out of context, Luke 14:26 is a hateful, reprehensible analogy to use, more so when used by a “loving god”.

    On the flip side, he had a few teachings that preached common human decency… compassion, care for the needy, care for your fellow humans, etc. The thing is, that’s exactly what it is …common human decency. One shouldn’t need a god or a bible to command people to practice this. Yet his followers *are* commanded to practice this, and the majority that I’ve known do not follow those teachings. Teachings that could benefit the people in their own communities, if done compassionately, and with no agenda. Writing a check to the Lottie Moon fund doesn’t count. No one wants to eat a bible.

    “for if anyone did in fact take these commands seriously then a portion of our species would never have lifted itself from the Iron Age.”

    …and there would have been no burnings of people at the stake, nor “converting” people at the point of a sword, nor torturing of people during the Inquisition, nor oppression of those who believed differently …I’m having a hard time convincing myself that that portion would have been much of a loss…

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    • “The thing is, that’s exactly what it is …common human decency. One shouldn’t need a god or a bible to command people to practice this.”

      I could pen 10,000 words and not capture this idea any better, Panda. Precisely. And I do agree, there are many worthy bits in the Jesus message (I’m not actually anti-Jesus), and they should be presented in equal slotting alongside the teachings of Confucius, Laozi, Mo Tzu, and others… and for wisdom kids should really be fed a healthy diet of Aesop’s fables. Even the concept of the Golden Rule goes as far back as to the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (c. 2040–1650 BCE), and was articulated by many, many thinkers long before Jesus. It’s not rocket science.

      “I’m having a hard time convincing myself that that portion would have been much of a loss…”

      Agreed. Christianity has proven itself over and over again to be a retarding religion. Its central practice, its dogma, is not designed to lift the human condition, rather shackle it as its marketing managers peddle the imaginary cure to an imaginary disease.

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  21. @John

    I’m curious John, do you think that sometimes, too much information makes it harder to talk with the deluded? I’m all over the plentiful evidence thing, but the trend seems to be here that with more information it makes it easier for believers to run their usual obfuscation game and, as usual, not deal with the actual argument presented.

    On the the other side of the coin, presenting a very concise argument makes the believe crank out the ‘cherry-picking’ accusation (with the usual nekkid hypocrisy) to again, not deal with the facts of the matter.

    I get the feeling sometimes that to people who are defending their cherished belief in the grand ooga-booga act as if you are kicking their puppy.

    The outrage, the offence. It happens all the time in almost every thread I see. The funny/sad part is that *we* are the ones who should be outraged and offended at the all insipid nocuous poppy-cock that religion foists and continues to extrude into secular society.

    It is not kicking a puppy while tackling religious issues; it is doing nothing more than illustrating a toxic system of erroneous beliefs that have no place in 21st (or any) century.

    Like

    • Hey Arb. Typically I don’t even bother with scripture-heavy posts for this very reason: “you’re not *interpreting* it correctly!” There’s no way to get through to someone who’s perfected the Voodoo dance of shifting hermeneutics; that most-powerful tool of the *True Christian…. which comes with a Magic Decoder Ring, and, I hear, a stain-free invisibility cloak 🙂

      I’m actually chatting with Fide (who’s trying to take me to task for my “Easter in Ten Words” observation) on another blog at the moment and his brand of hermeneutics is clashing with another brand of professional hermeneutics as practiced by CARM (Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry). It’s kinda’ funny, although a little distressing, to see the cogs crash so badly as they scream at each other across the bows of their respective ships: “My interpretation of this particular nonsense is better than yours!

      http://fidedubitandum.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/if-you-redefine-christianity-its-ridiculous/

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  22. Muhahahaha, “hobgoblin”! 🙂

    Anyway, it is curious how many historical and mythical moral teachers we have who (as the conversation abowe shows) can be used as a source for moral inspiration, or for worst possible abuse. It kind of gives me hope for human kind, that most adherents of for example Christianity have not fallen into these pitfalls. That they have higher morals than the god they profess to worship.

    Anyway even if Jesus was a great moral teacher, what of it, if he was alledgedly sent by the “hobgoblin”? What the hell happened? Was there not something wrong whith the morals of the Old Testament god? If there was, or even if we could just say that Jesus was somehow representing higher morals than the god of Abraham and Moses, then did he somehow grow up, so to speak? What caused this obviously immoral god to abandon his former ways to become somehow more moral?

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    • My other favourite word is (magical) bugaboo 🙂

      It’s a good point you make: Most Christians, for example, do in fact follow a higher moral value than the one laid out by their particular god. Encouraging, indeed… if only they’d recognise this fact.

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  23. Now, John, the truth might set you free but can only get you into trouble. You can’t trust such people to do the right thing because of their bizarre notions as to what “he right thing” is. Be careful, my friend.

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  24. Pingback: Religionists Say the Stupidest Things. Christians were the Kardashians of the 1st century (and still are today) | Christians Anonymous

  25. This is great, I especially like the opening line. I’ve never thought about how unproductive ‘turning the other cheek is’. I tended to think of it as simple pacifism, but you’re right, it’s asking for more trouble, rather than simply standing your ground without retaliating. I was kind of sympathetic to Sabio’s objection at first, thinking about Aung San Suu Kyi or Gandhi, but it’s not the same thing as offering yourself up passively for more abuse.

    However, I do think the notion of loving your enemies is useful. The idea of finding the humanity in everyone, and not dividing the world up into the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’. I think Ignorance, indoctrination and blinkers can be rectified with knowledge, and for everyone else there’s the medicine cabinet. If we blindly hate we’re not improving anything.

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    • 100% agreed. The “loving your enemies” wasn’t really important in my mind, we can (and should) find common ground and move on from past transgressions, but it was more the “he takes your hat, give him you coat” message that is appalling. It’s fatalistic, and that’s dangerous.

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  26. Funny how the New Testament is generally considered to be somewhat of a pleasant alternative to the old one, or at the very least not as aggressive.
    In fairness, I can appreciate what I think is the supposed sentiment of turning the other cheek: I think there is a certain strength in allowing an aggressor to hit you a second time (however, if someone would try to hit a me a third time I would definitely start working on another defense strategy;))
    As for the rest I guess the moral is basically very repetitive throughout: Do as god says, think as he says you must, and you’ll be fine in the afterlife. It’s an appeal to fear as is commong throughout the entire bible. Like most effective marketing strategies, it’s morally weak:s

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    • I agree, turning the other cheek is the best strategic move in certain instances. “Offering” the other is drifting into the realm of the unwell.

      Sir van Nerel, did you get my FB message? Your blog doesn’t recognise WordPress accounts so i can’t comment anymore. Any way of opening that gate?

      Like

      • Yes, I got your facebook message and replied to it…in case you didn’t get it: here’s my reply:

        “Hey, thanks for letting me know of course. I switched to the Disqus commenting system a few days ago (the amount of spam I got exceeded 1000 comments a day at some point:s)…below every post is a discussion area. On the top right side of this area there’s a button that says ‘login’. You can use Facebook, Twitter and/or Google ID to leave a comment.
        Once again, I am sorry for the trouble. There simply wasn’t any spam filter decent enough to distinguish real comments from fake ones and it became too much to shift through 1000 comments every day, which is why I switched to disqus.
        Let me know if you have any troubles.”

        Like

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