Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Christianity vs. Wagerism Part I: The Origins

A few days ago, I got tied up in a meeting and the group of folks I normally eat with tired of waiting for me. I grabbed something at the cafeteria, ate at my desk, and discovered I had half an hour between meetings. In that time, I hastily sketched out the guiding principles of my life and what I base my morality on. It was nothing earth shattering and it could be improved upon and expanded, but it was a decent starting point. We’ll call this post the foundation of Wagerism. I’d like to point out how Wagerism differs from Christianity.

Origins

Christianity: Christianity begins with Creation. Man arises in the Garden of Eden, sins, and is cast out. God is upset with his Creation and floods the world sparing only Noah. The world repopulates. God strikes a strange bargain with Abraham trading the descendant’s of Abraham foreskins for the land of Israel. The only problem was that there were people there already called Canaanites. God assures Abraham his descendants will be many and he is establishing a mighty nation. From the beginning, the Hebrews struggle, even with The One True God on their side. Abraham himself was forced to leave Israel, which belonged to him as promised by God Himself, not once but twice. Abraham’s great grandson eventually is sold to Egyptians and prospers there. A famine hits the divinely blessed Israel and the Jews are initially welcomed in Egypt until they are enslaved. Four hundred years go by and God decided to free His Chosen People. Instead of having a conversation with Pharaoh and pointing out the immorality of slavery, God instead decides to “harden his heart” and bring death and devastation upon the Egyptian people. Even though the Egyptians enslaved the Hebrews for four hundred years, their fate is nowhere near as bad as some of the other pagan tribes the Jews encounter on the way back to the Promised Land which flows of milk and honey (funny that these are not pictured on the Israeli tourism brochures). Along the way, God hands down the complete book of morals which form a pretty good foundation for hating homosexuals, slavery, and female repression. The Jews even after witnessing the power of the LORD firsthand can’t seem to stop their desire to worship idols. God commands the Jews to remember that He delivered them from slavery and this rite continues today as the Passover Seder.

Once in Israel, the trials of being the Chosen People do not end. Israel is invaded time and again and the Jews invent blame the victim mentality. For every failure of the Jewish state can be traced back to intermarriage and idolatry. So, that’s Judaism for you: circumcision, possession of Israel, xenophobia/racism, genocide against non-Jews, and blame the victim. Not much of a religion, huh?

It does, however, get better. After thousands of years of being pissed at Adam and Eve, God came up with a way that we can ALL come to know Him. The simplest way to accomplish this would be for God to forgive us once and for all, show Himself, and provide a clear and moral set of rules to live by. That’s not what happened. Instead, God had a virgin impregnated (one might say raped) and brought His only begotten son on Earth in the form of Jesus. Jesus was both fully human and fully God at the same time and managed to exist in two places at once so Christians are not polytheists (are you still with me?). Jesus taught by making a bunch of metaphors called parables, worked a few miracles, abstained from sex and masturbation, and then was cruelly tortured and killed. His death is cause for celebration because it opened the gates of Heaven to everyone, even a sinner like you!

The whole Jesus phenomenon is best described in this article:
http://evangelicalatheist.com/2005/08/28/god-is-a-dick-part-ix-crucifixion

The only thing I don’t like about this article is that I didn’t write it and therefore can’t take the credit. It sums up exactly what I think of the Christian mythology, except I might have called God an asshole instead of a dick but that’s just splitting hairs.

So Jesus died and all was forgiven if we just accept Him into our hearts. Forty years or so after his death, people finally got around to writing down all of His teachings. How much was corrupted through oral history forever remains unknown. Also along the way a one-time Jew and Christian tormenter named Paul met Jesus in a dream and began to spread the good word to everyone. That’s right – Paul never once talked to the living Jesus. Paul is considered to be one of the most influential people in the spreading of Christianity to non-Jews and NEVER ONCE MET THE MAN HE BASED HIS FAITH ON!

Paul made a lot of key decisions early on like making circumcision optional. This made it easier to convert the pagans. I can easily see The Great Kiwi’s distant ancestor contemplating Judaism until he was told he would need to be circumcised whereupon he responded with a, “You want me to do what to my what now?”

It should also be noted that at the time Christianity took root, the Jews were horrified to be living under Roman occupation. The idea that foreigners could govern them on holy land rocked the foundation of their religion. They were absolutely DESPARATE for something to believe in. If God could not keep Israel for them, was God real?

Enter Christianity which promised a desperate people a new deal. And it spread. Eventually the Roman Empire was divided into Christians and Pagans until Constantine I decided to adopt Christianity. Before forcing the religion on the entire empire, there was a little pow wow at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, approximately 300 years after the death of Christ, where extremely important theological decisions were made and establishing a Christian theocracy.

The early founders of the Church warned of the End Times believing it would happen in their lifetimes. Two thousand years later and fear of the End Times is still a fear technique used against unbelievers. Jesus and God haven’t been seen in 2,000 years I don’t think we have much to worry about.

So that’s Christianity. Pour a foundation of a corrupt religion (Judaism), sprinkle in mythology, human sacrifice, and a promise. Threaten people with hell. Tell those who do not see the Truth in the Word that they have not received the Holy Spirit. Meanwhile, it’s entirely possible that everything Jesus said was misinterpreted or made up. One of the most influential people in the early Church never even met Jesus, but we’re supposed to believe that his dreams were guided by a Holy Ghost?

Wagerism:
Based on the observations of a sole skeptic who spent too much time reading a Christian discussion group at work. All ethics and morals of this made up way of life were admittedly not divinely inspired but based on the principles that as a species we should strive to not hurt each other at a minimum and leave the world a better place. Wagerism respects individuality, does not rely on faith, and does not claim the miraculous or the supernatural.

That’s how the origins of Wagerism differs from Christianity. I ask you which one seems more credible?

50 comments:

MasterJediDan said...

To point out a few things ... you yourself have said that circumcision can lead to a healthier person (a very lower rate of sexual diseases, much less masturbation, etc.). God gave the Israelites a number of laws to keep them healthy. For example, also, not eating pork. Pork back then was very diseased and generally was not healthy to eat. The Israelites didn't know this, but God did, so He simply told them not to eat it.

Female repression - now that's an interesting point. The real religion with female repression is Islam. They have to allow their husbands to beat them, and can't even show their faces in public without the fear of being killed. Yes, not being able to own land might be seen as "female repression", but remember, even in a society such as ours in America, women didn't even have the right to vote until the early 1900's (only about a century ago).

Forty years later, the disciples who were with Jesus wrote down the gospels. If I was one of them I wouldn't have forgotten much. I mean, seeing someone rise from the dead isn't easily forgettable. And if Christianity is true, they were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

To sum it up, Wagerism does seem more credible with the way you twisted the Bible's meaning. ;)

zilch said...

Which one is more credible? Hmmm- if I become a Wagerist, do I get a harp or a virgin when I die?

MJD- when it comes to the Bible, especially the Old Testament, no twisting is necessary. One example of many is when Jehovah commands Saul to kill babies (1 Samuel 15):

2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

Not nice. Interestingly enough, there is a long Jewish tradition of using the Amalekites as a metaphor for atheism.

Atheistwager said...

@MJD
Are you mad? I very clearly stated that circumcision is not beneficial to 99.99% of the population that doesn't get chronic penile infections. However, it does not deprive the man of sexual pleasure so it's not entirely cruel either. As for spreading disease - condoms and not having sex with prostitutes is far more effective.

As for not eating pork, could it be possible that the Jews noticed that eating pork led to illness and then banned eating pork rather than having the ban be divinely inspired? Maybe, just possibly that explains it?

Maybe Islam is hard on their women, but I think that it's pretty harsh that in order for me to be a good Jew, I can't even look at my wife when she's menstrating (about 25% of the time).

As for being guided by the Holy Spirit - was the Pope guided by the Holy Spirit when he forced Galileo to retract his observations about the Earth moving around the Sun? Does the Holy Spirit get it wrong once in a while?

robustyoungsoul said...

@MJD - You are using Islam as a straw man in this context anyway.

Bible student said...

@ AW

No the pope wasn’t assisted by God’s spirit. God only aids those doing His will. He never gets that wrong.


@ zilch

Don’t worry, 7 verses later at 1 Samuel 15:10 God confides in his prophet, “The word of the Lord came to Samuel: ‘I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me, and has not carried out my commands.’” (The New Revised Standard Version)

Atheistwager said...

@Bible Student

Can you appreciate the irony. The first part of your comment states that the Holy Spirit never gets it wrong. Your very next paragraph points out, Biblically, where God wishes he could take a mulligan because he screwed up making Saul king? That is funny, funny stuff.

MasterJediDan said...

@ Atheistwager

He didn't make Saul king, he let the Israelites have a king because they wanted one so badly. He didn't elect Saul either, the Israelites chose him.

Bible student said...

@ AW

MasterJD said it. Great stuff, God’s warning of how a king would effect day-to-day Israel.(1 Samuel 8:11-17) It still fits today’s governments.

Saul wasn’t a puppet, he was a real live freewheeling person. The Israelites learned to be careful what they wished for. God’s reaction to Saul’s mistakes is the same as a loving parent watching their child screw up, by not obeying.

When I saw that you were starting your own belief system, I had such high hopes, considering your love for common sense and reason. But where do you start, by keeping this place into a “slanderous website.” In the same vein as evangelicalatheist.

I’ve had a chance to take a good look at “Origins.” I’ve said it before, if you put it like that, I wouldn’t join.

Unfortunately, You’re way off, many times. Stick to explaining Wagerism. Let those who know the Bible, explain the Bible.

thelistener said...

I Must Say That A.W. Seems To HAve Some Pretty Warped Ideas.


For Example, If You Do Not Believe In God, Why Argue That He Doesnt Exsist? Why Be Upset At Something/Someone You Do Not Believe To Be Real?

In Fact, Why Even Talk About Them?


And Just Because We Cannot See God Does Not Mean He Doesn't Exsist. To Illustrate, Imagine If A Very Rich And Influential Man Was To Make A Woman Besides His Wife Pregnant. He Does Not Wish This Information To Become Public, But Is Not Willing To Be A Full-Time Parent To The Unborn Child. He Therefore Agrees To Pay For The Raising OF The Child. (School Tuition, Food, Housing, And Clothing) When This Child Grows Up, If He/She Is Told That The Reason Why He/She Was Taken Care Of Is Because He/She Has A Father Who Provides For Them, It Would Not Be Difficult For Them To Grasp.


The Child Has Never Seen Their Father, They Have Never Spoken To Their Father, Yet They See How He Has Provided For Them. They See How His Actions Have Led To Them Being Able To Survive And Even Somewhat Have A Good Life.


The Same Is True With Us Humans. We Cannot Directly See God, We Have Never Met God Face To Face, But We Do Benefit From What He Has Provided For Us, (The Earth, Life, Food, Housing, Clothing)And We See How His Actions Have Led Us To Be Able To Survive And Even Enjoy A Somewhat Good Life.


Not To Compare God To A Man Who Would Cheat On His Wife, But For This Illustration, It Works.

Wil said...

@BS

"When I saw that you were starting your own belief system, I had such high hopes, considering your love for common sense and reason."

See Wagerism for what it is instead of some religion. It's Wager's belief as an individual as I have my own, and you have yours. Though unlike members of an organised religion, we haven't fit our beliefs or lack thereof to fit in with a petty group. People should just believe what they believe and be individuals.

"No the pope wasn’t assisted by God’s spirit. God only aids those doing His will. He never gets that wrong."

Catholicism teaches that the Pope (head of the Catholic church) is guidied by the Holy Spirit in all of his decision making on morality and whatnot. It's a major part in why many Christians see abortion, euthanasia, etc how they do.

MasterJediDan said...

@ Robustyoungsoul

HERE are examples of what happens to women in the Islamic community.

http://memritv.org/Transcript.asp?P1=1447
http://www.metimes.com/storyview.php?StoryID=20070521-030414-2684r
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1617542,00.html
http://www.themountainmail.com/main.asp?SectionID=4&SubSectionID=4&ArticleID=10879&TM=41706.59

Hank said...

AW, greetings. Just stared reading your blog and thought I'd throw my oar in :)

thelistener seems to think AW has warped ideas, then likens "god's" influence to that of a deadbeat cheating father who's too gutless to face his obligations (I mean emotional deadbeat, not financial). Anyone with a dick can make a baby and anyone with a wallet can buy baby food - it takes a real _man_ to be a real father.

If it's warped to have at the core of your beliefs the notion that we should strive to do no harm and leave the world somewhat better than how we found it; if it's warped to rely on your own judgement and decisions rather than ask what amounts to an invisible space-creature for assistance; if it's warped to simply treat others decently & honestly because you know that it's _right_, rather than take the word of a bronze aged myth or a man in a smock who lives in a tomb in Rome; if it's warped to want to leave your child's decision about whether to be religious up to them when they're old enough, rather than marinate them in the religion of your ancestors as soon as they're born, thus giving them no choice in the matter, then please: colour me warped. Warped as a wet plank after a day in the sun.

It seems to me the world needs more warped people and less straight-edged religious people who simply believe what they're told from childhood and never grow out of it.

Peace
Hank

zilch said...

@ bible student: that Jehovah was angry with Saul for not following his orders is a bizarre defense of His Nastiness. In the first place, how does Saul's disobedience make God's command to kill the babies any better? In the second place, it seems as though Saul did kill those Amalekite toddlers after all:

8 And he [Saul] took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
9 But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

Sounds like the only Amalek to survive was the king, Agag. Not that it makes any difference- God's command to Saul was to kill all the Amalekites, including the infants and sucklings. Not nice in my book. But what do I know? I'm just a godforsaken atheist- if God wants something, it must be good by definition.

@thelistener- you say:

"For Example, If You Do Not Believe In God, Why Argue That He Doesnt Exsist? Why Be Upset At Something/Someone You Do Not Believe To Be Real?"

Perhaps this was directed to AW, but I'll answer if no one minds. There are a couple of reasons I, and many atheists, argue about God's existence. One is because we just like arguing, politely and logically to be sure: one of the best ways to examine and refine one's own beliefs is to bounce them around with people who believe differently. Another reason is that it's always interesting to hear how people come to believe in things that seem strange to us.

But the main reason for most atheists to argue about, and get upset about, God, is that He is in our face all the time. Atheists are the most hated minority in America right now, and Christian influence in our government and schools is leading to all kinds of dangerous silliness.

brenden said...

I Wonder If Capitalizing The First Letter Of Every Word Makes For A Better Argument.

The earth, life, food and housing are not things that were given to us. They were things that were already there, and things we did for ourselves. You go and live in a desert for a while and see how much food and clothing god provides you then.

You are discounting the work of millions of humans by attributing it all to some faceless entity.

Bible student said...

@ zilch

Very good, most in this discussion have been duped by those “slanderous websites.”

You get today’s “Good Proselyte Award.” Searching the scriptures for an answer will take you far. For extra credit, tell what Jehovah had against the Amalekites, to bring his wrath.

@ Wil

Publishing your beliefs, and naming them after yourself, tends to draw followers. Look! You defended it already.

Introducing those beliefs, immediately after misrepresenting a well known alternative, does not lend to their credibility. Remember, he did ask for comment.

Maybe the Catholics are making it up as they go along, like Wager.

zilch said...

@ bible student- without even looking it up, I can tell you: what Jehovah had against the Amalekites was that they had attacked His Chosen People when they were leaving Egypt, many years before, long before any of the babies He ordered killed were born. So why kill the babies? Maybe this is just my knee-jerk liberal upbringing talking, but that does seem a bit harsh to me.

You say: "Maybe the Catholics are making it up as they go along, like Wager."

I'll tell you true, bible student: everyone is making it up as they go along: Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Raelians- even atheists are making it up as they go along. The difference is, the atheists (at least some of them) know that they're making it up.

But what are all of us making up? Ways to live. If we want the fruits of civilization and culture, we have to learn how to get along with our fellow humans and with our planet. Religions, and governments, and secular philosophies, are sets of rules to balance the needs and desires of individuals with the needs of societies.

The difference between secular and religious systems is the kinds of carrots and sticks they wield, or profess to wield: secular systems reward society-building behavior with prestige and wealth (ideally- not always achieved in reality) and punish misbehavior with fines, prison, or worse. Religions reward with heaven and punish with hell (or similar divine goodies and baddies), and often avail themselves of earthly punishments as well (stoning adulterers, etc).

Of course, it's often difficult if not impossible to tease apart secular and religious laws and motives.

Warren said...

@MJD

No one is arguing that the current state of women's rights in Islam are abhorrent but you really can't ignore the fact that throughout the bible women are villainized, oppressed and generally treated as second class citizens if not property. Only recently, say within the last hundred years or so, have women started to enjoy most of the basic human rights.

@listener

I really can't believe that you would say that god provides food and housing. I mean you can't be serious and if you are then perhaps you should seek out some homeless people and explain to them why god didn't see fit to provide them with a regular meal and a roof over their heads. Further more if god is in charge of food and housing then why doesn't he just cast out and starve us nonbelievers?

@BS

Zilch said this in a round about sort of way but did it ever occur to you that you're making it all up as you go along as well? I've posted before about the idea of opinion and interpretation and seriously it still baffles me that you see yourself and you particular reading of the bible as being right.

Atheistwager said...

@Bible Student

"Introducing those beliefs, immediately after misrepresenting a well known alternative, does not lend to their credibility. Remember, he did ask for comment."

Please feel free to point out ANY errors in the well known alternative I laid out. Every word is true.

@Zilch
Thank you!

kitty said...

@MGD

Muslims don't have the monopoly on mistreatment of women - check this - Mexico is a predominently christian nation.

Christians have - and some still do (look at the sexism in the Catholic church where women still cannot be ordained) - discriminated against women, and treated them as second class citizens. Meanwhile "modern" muslims are mostly very accepting of equal rights, the same way "modern" christians are.

It seems somewhat hypocritical to be so anti-Islam when you are pro-christianity. Read "The End of Faith" by Sam Harris - there's not really a whole lot of difference between the two.

MasterJediDan said...

@ Kitty

Mexico is mostly a Christian nation...sure, whatever. (I live in New Mexico).

You say Muslims are accepting of equal rights. Again, sure, whatever. READ these links.

http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/why_cant_muslim_kids_be_taught_to_arm_themselves_up_with_ak_47s/
http://news.yahoo.com/photo/070521/ids_photos_wl/r2408134035.jpg
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070522/ap_on_re_us/poll_muslim_americans
http://news.yahoo.com/photos/ss/events/wl/080601mideast/im:/070516/ids_photos_wl/r129561393.jpg
http://varifrank.com/archives/2007/05/question_where.php
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1617542,00.html

And lastly, making no secret of their intentions:
http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/016474.php

The Muslims make it CLEAR over and over again that they want to exterminate us. It's a DUH question. I doubt that Christians and Muslims are really that similar. Christians don't fly planes into buildings killing thousands of people, neither do they kill millions in Africa.

Warren said...

@MJD

New Mexico is not Mexico, I fail to see your point there. Besides most Latin American countries are Christian.

Again no one is saying that Islamic radicals treat women well, what we are saying is that they don't have a monopoly on it.

Also you seem pretty upset with people of the Muslim faith. This mostly seems to be because they want to exterminate you, that seems rather unchristian of you as it goes again that whole turn the other cheek/love your enemy philosophy that JC was pushing.

kitty said...

@MGD

I got the religiosity of mexico here.

I'm aware and disgusted by some muslim attitudes to women's rights. However the UK has a vast muslim population the most of whom are well integrated into life here - where there is pretty much sexual equality. I have male muslim friends - they don't despise me for being female, it's not necessarily a part of the Islamic faith here. Nor do I dispute that some muslims have a real hatred of the west that has resulted in the 7/7 and 9/11 attacks. Have you read the Qu'ran? I've only read some extracts but as I understand it, it is similar to the bible - it can be read as advocating violence... and can be read advocating peace. What people choose is up to them.

During the crusades and the inquisition some christians choose violence. More recently some muslims have chosen violence. Other than being a few hundred years behind... is there a difference? I don't see it.

Wil said...

@BS
"Publishing your beliefs, and naming them after yourself, tends to draw followers. Look! You defended it already."

It's called individuality. those are Wager's beliefs, no one elses. The same way I wrote my own unique beliefs (as far as I know) on my blog. And please do not accuse me of blindly following something, Christian, for that is not the case.

@MDJ
"The Muslims make it CLEAR over and over again that they want to exterminate us. It's a DUH question. I doubt that Christians and Muslims are really that similar. Christians don't fly planes into buildings killing thousands of people, neither do they kill millions in Africa."

That's just racist bullshit. Learn about the modern Muslim faith instead of basing your observations on a few terrorists. You'll notice that the two pillars urging the deaths of Christians have been removed and they are no longer encouraged to kill. just like Christians are no longer urged to kill the way they did in the crusades.

mwwheatl said...

Well said.

Molly said...

@MGD

http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html

21% of the world's population is Muslim. If they all hated the US and women, I think we'd have seen a few more terrorist attacks and a lot more dead women.

Bible student said...

@ AW

Thank you for allowing me to point out the mistakes in your post. It’s a quick job and our future discussion may reveal more. My Bible runs 1439 pages, Genesis through Revelation, so there’s a tremendous amount you’ve omitted. Despite that, I’ve highlighted the errors. Some have been covered at this site. (You do read these posts, don’t you?) Others will be.

Christianity: Christianity begins with Creation. Man arises in the Garden of Eden, sins, and is cast out. God is upset with his Creation and floods the world sparing only Noah. The world repopulates. God strikes a strange bargain with Abraham trading the descendant’s of Abraham foreskins for the land of Israel. The only problem was that there were people there already called Canaanites. God assures Abraham his descendants will be many and he is establishing a mighty nation. From the beginning, the Hebrews struggle, even with The One True God on their side. Abraham himself was forced to leave Israel, which belonged to him as promised by God Himself, not once but twice. Abraham’s great grandson eventually is sold to Egyptians and prospers there. A famine hits the divinely blessed Israel and the Jews are initially welcomed in Egypt until they are enslaved. Four hundred years go by and God decided to free His Chosen People. Instead of having a conversation with Pharaoh and pointing out the immorality of slavery, God instead decides to “harden his heart” and bring death and devastation upon the Egyptian people. Even though the Egyptians enslaved the Hebrews for four hundred years, their fate is nowhere near as bad as some of the other pagan tribes the Jews encounter on the way back to the Promised Land which flows of milk and honey (funny that these are not pictured on the Israeli tourism brochures). Along the way, God hands down the complete book of morals which form a pretty good foundation for hating homosexuals, slavery, and female repression. The Jews even after witnessing the power of the LORD firsthand can’t seem to stop their desire to worship idols. God commands the Jews to remember that He delivered them from slavery and this rite continues today as the Passover Seder.

Once in Israel, the trials of being the Chosen People do not end. Israel is invaded time and again and the Jews invent blame the victim mentality. For every failure of the Jewish state can be traced back to intermarriage and idolatry. So, that’s Judaism for you: circumcision, possession of Israel, xenophobia/racism, genocide against non-Jews, and blame the victim. Not much of a religion, huh?

It does, however, get better. After thousands of years of being pissed at Adam and Eve, God came up with a way that we can ALL come to know Him. The simplest way to accomplish this would be for God to forgive us once and for all, show Himself, and provide a clear and moral set of rules to live by. That’s not what happened. Instead, God had a virgin impregnated (one might say raped) and brought His only begotten son on Earth in the form of Jesus. Jesus was both fully human and fully God at the same time and managed to exist in two places at once so Christians are not polytheists (are you still with me?). Jesus taught by making a bunch of metaphors called parables, worked a few miracles, abstained from sex and masturbation, and then was cruelly tortured and killed. His death is cause for celebration because it opened the gates of Heaven to everyone, even a sinner like you!

The whole Jesus phenomenon is best described in this article:
http://evangelicalatheist.com/2005/08/28/god-is-a-dick-part-ix-crucifixion


The only thing I don’t like about this article is that I didn’t write it and therefore can’t take the credit. It sums up exactly what I think of the Christian mythology, except I might have called God an asshole instead of a dick but that’s just splitting hairs.

So Jesus died and all was forgiven if we just accept Him into our hearts. Forty years or so after his death, people finally got around to writing down all of His teachings. How much was corrupted through oral history forever remains unknown. Also along the way a one-time Jew and Christian tormenter named Paul met Jesus in a dream and began to spread the good word to everyone. That’s right – Paul never once talked to the living Jesus. Paul is considered to be one of the most influential people in the spreading of Christianity to non-Jews and NEVER ONCE MET THE MAN HE BASED HIS FAITH ON!

Paul made a lot of key decisions early on like making circumcision optional. This made it easier to convert the pagans. I can easily see The Great Kiwi’s distant ancestor contemplating Judaism until he was told he would need to be circumcised whereupon he responded with a, “You want me to do what to my what now?”

It should also be noted that at the time Christianity took root, the Jews were horrified to be living under Roman occupation. The idea that foreigners could govern them on holy land rocked the foundation of their religion. They were absolutely DESPARATE for something to believe in. If God could not keep Israel for them, was God real?

Enter Christianity which promised a desperate people a new deal. And it spread. Eventually the Roman Empire was divided into Christians and Pagans until Constantine I decided to adopt Christianity. Before forcing the religion on the entire empire, there was a little pow wow at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, approximately 300 years after the death of Christ, where extremely important theological decisions were made and establishing a Christian theocracy.

The early founders of the Church warned of the End Times believing it would happen in their lifetimes. Two thousand years later and fear of the End Times is still a fear technique used against unbelievers. Jesus and God haven’t been seen in 2,000 years I don’t think we have much to worry about.

So that’s Christianity. Pour a foundation of a corrupt religion (Judaism), sprinkle in mythology, human sacrifice, and a promise. Threaten people with hell. Tell those who do not see the Truth in the Word that they have not received the Holy Spirit. Meanwhile, it’s entirely possible that everything Jesus said was misinterpreted or made up. One of the most influential people in the early Church never even met Jesus, but we’re supposed to believe that his dreams were guided by a Holy Ghost?

thelistener said...

@Zilch - you say:

"Perhaps this was directed to AW, but I'll answer if no one minds. There are a couple of reasons I, and many atheists, argue about God's existence. One is because we just like arguing"



By This Statement, It Would Appear That Your "Wagerism" Or Atheism, That You Believe In So Strongly, And BAse Your Lives On, Is Simply An Excuse To Argue? A Way To Start Conversation?


Am I Reading That Correctly Or Shall We Go Through Yet Another Constanly Repeated Atheist Loop Of The Same Old Story?



@ Hank - you say:


"if it's warped to want to leave your child's decision about whether to be religious up to them when they're old enough, rather than marinate them in the religion of your ancestors as soon as they're born, thus giving them no choice in the matter, then please: colour me warped."




The More I Learn About Atheism, The More It Seems To Be Based On Rebelion. Your Words (And That Of Most Atheists) Would Indicate That At Some Point In Your Life You Began To Be Fed Up With Something Or Someone Who Believed In God and Therefore Have Taken Everything That We As Humans Have Been Taught Regarding The Existance OF A God And Tossed It Aside.

If Ive Said IT Once, Ive Said It Twice, Ive Said IT A Thousand Times: There Is No More Proof That God Doesnt Exsist Than There Is Proof That He Does.

Wil said...

@TheListener

It seems like you're approaching atheism as just another religion when it is in fact the opposite. Everyone is an individual and has different thoughts. People's thoughts may overlap and hey, that's awesome, but atheism has no foundation for belief as you hint at here: "It Would Appear That Your "Wagerism" Or Atheism, That You Believe In So Strongly, And BAse Your Lives On,"

Thing is I'm reading your post that you think we atheists all just get together and plot against religion. Some may, but most reasonable, respectable atheists do not.

And regarding the arguing, nothing suffices conversation between any two people like a good debate. Were that untrue, you wouldn't be posting here.

Totally unrelated, but could you give your shift key a rest? As an editor, it's killing me that you capitalise the first letter of every single word.

Bible student said...

@ zilch

“So why kill the babies?” Imagine the alternative. Atheists complaining that every Amalekite was killed except for the babies, who were left alone to starve, be taken by predatory animals, fall from a precipice, etc.

If you believe that babies were killed, according to what it says in the Bible, know that it also says that God has the power and will to bring those innocents back when they can have a peaceful life, free from war, disease, famine and predatory animals. (Revelation 21:4)

There is one aspect of the difference between secular and religious systems that you failed to mention. The benefit of relying on Bible guidance for a better life now.

Developing a healthy fear of God, also encourages a lively conscience. Living a life that pleases God makes for plenty of smooth sailing. It’s not trouble free, but I’m looking forward to when it will be.

zilch said...

@ thelistener: Sigh. You say:

"Am I Reading That Correctly Or Shall We Go Through Yet Another Constanly Repeated Atheist Loop Of The Same Old Story?"

Uh, maybe you are a good listener, but you are not a good reader. Please read through my comment to the end.

And I'll echo Wil: is it really necessary to Capitalize Every Word? It doesn't make you more credible, and it's tiresome to read. Capital letters have a Purpose: to identify the beginnings of sentences, to distinguish proper nouns, and to highlight Important Concepts. But if Everything is Highlighted, Pretty Soon the Effect is Lost.

Here's a comparison: I'm a musician. There are ways of ornamenting melodies, to make certain parts more interesting or important. One common ornament is the trill: a rapid alteration between two notes. Used artistically, it can add a lot to a melody. Bbut iif yyou ttrill eevery nnote, iit bbecomes ttiresome, and the trill has no meaning any more. Do you see what I mean? Take Wil the editor's advice, and give the caps a rest, please.

@ bible student: yes, I've heard both these rationalizations for the killing of the Amalekite babies. But if God will take the innocent souls to His Bosom, why not kill all babies, including your own, to save them from the sorrows of life? Why treat anyone with fairness or kindness, if God is going to separate the sheep from the goats anyway?

If you believe that it's alright to kill babies, or burn witches, or stone women raped in the city, because the "good" ones will go to Heaven anyway, then life on Earth has no meaning, and nothing is good or bad any more, except what God decides, and that's out of our hands.

No thanks- I'll decide for myself what is good or bad.

Ilja said...

@ Bible student

Although you have highlighted the passages that you regard wrong in Wager's text, without giving a reason for why they are wrong and what would be correct instead, it's quite pointless. Has he used the wrong word? Has he got the whole concept wrong? etc.

kitty said...

@BS

Are you suggesting that religion is necessary for morality?!

Oooherrrr!

Maybe the reason why no-one has suggested this is because we are atheists with morals and don't think that religion would make a blind bit of difference - except possibly in terms of the amount we think it is reasonable to intrude into people's lives.

Well that's me anyway!

Whether or not religion gives some people morals does not demonstrate in any way the "truth" as to the existence of god.

A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.
-Albert Einstein


And look - for "religion makes people happy" (which has much of the same problems as "religion makes people moral"

"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one." -George Bernard Shaw

zilch said...

@ kitty- what you said. I've heard over and over again from Christians, "If you don't believe in God, what's to stop you from robbing banks and knocking down old ladies in the street?" Well, whatever it is that stops most of us from being naughty, it seems to work pretty well most of the time- atheists are no more likely to be nasty than Christians are.

Another couple of quotes which go well with yours from Shaw and Einstein are from the Dalai Lama:

"Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion."

"The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual's own reason and critical analysis."

Bible student said...

@kitty

I was suggesting nothing of the kind. What I saw was the hole in zilch’s statement:

“Religions reward with heaven and punish with hell (or similar divine goodies and baddies), and often avail themselves of earthly punishments as well (stoning adulterers, etc).”

There are also tangible rewards. If you have better way to get there, by all means, get there.

@ Ilja

Which one would you like to discuss? I said that AW misrepresented “a well known alternative.” I highlighted statements that are biblically inaccurate. Get a good translation and check for yourself. It’s pointless to argue where we already agree.

Ilja said...

@ kitty and zilch

I think that's simply empathy, an innate ability, and the reasoning is known under the name of the "Golden rule". Would i like to be robbed or knocked down in the street? No, so i should not treat others this way.

Though of course i can already sense some Christians typing "but that was our god who taught the humankind this", 1) there are older sources, 2) it was shown that chimps as well as 2-year old children (could be wrong on the age though, but anyway too young to have been indoctrinated by Christians already, to test that was on of the goals of the experiment) help others without being asked to. The experiment setup was that a person dropped something from the table and pretended to be unable to reach it again, and both chimps and children picked up the object and gave it to that person. So Christianity didn't bring empathy to the world, it just tried to scare those who don't empathize with others with eternal damnation.

Ilja said...

@ Bible student

If you have a point to make, letting others do the research on your statements is lazy and arrogant. But in fact, that's the normal Christian attitude of "here's what i was told to believe and now prove me wrong", while IMHO it would be rather correct if the one who makes a statement backs it up with reasoning, or in your case, bible quotations.

So let's start with the first one and go through all of them. Please educate me according to your correct bible translation, for i have lost the hope of finding one that's free from mistakes.

Bible student said...

@ Ilja

The first one “only Noah.”

2 Peter 2:5 “and spared not the ancient world, but preserved Noah with seven others, a preacher of righteousness, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;”

Genesis 7:23 “And every living thing was destroyed that was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and creeping things, and birds of the heavens; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only was left, and they that were with him in the ark.”

Genesis 8:18 “And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him:”

Agreed?

zilch said...

@ ilja- of course, not all chimps can read, but maybe they were being helpful because they heard a televangelist or a Christian radio program? Just speculating...

@ bible student: you say

"There are also tangible rewards. If you have better way to get there, by all means, get there."

Of course there are tangible rewards- we wouldn't have religion if there weren't. As I said, religion can help to build societies by laying down rules, and civilization brings tangible rewards. There is also the tangible reward, for many, of feeling part of a community of like-minded people, and of feeling at one with God. But as kitty said, that doesn't make religion true.

And there is satisfaction in being an atheist too. I love life all the more because it's short and it's all we have. And I'm not subject to the arbitrary laws of a jealous and vengeful (His own Words) Big Guy in the Sky.

Whether my "there" is the same as yours, we'll never know. But my "there" is a pretty good place to be.

Ilja said...

@ BS

Pedantically speaking, yes. But it's like saying "god spared 0,0008% of the population" as opposed to "0,0001%". Still a genocide in my eyes. Not to mention, that the entire story is borrowed from they Babylonians.

But let me guess what's wrong with "which form a pretty good foundation for hating homosexuals": The bible doesn't tell one to hate homosexuals, but to simply slay them without any emotions?

"God instead decides to “harden his heart”": Let me hear Exodus 4:21 and 10:20 from your correct translation.

"(one might say raped)": Did god ask Mary if she would allow to impregnate her? If no, that's non-consensual sex with a fictional deity, or rape by a fictional deity by my definition of rape. And doesn't sex outside of the marriage count as adultery? So this must by why god is hiding from everyone: he's afraid of being stoned for breaking his own law?

"God strikes a strange bargain with Abraham trading the descendant’s of Abraham foreskins for the land of Israel.": let's leave out the word "strange", as it's Wager's personal interpretation. What were the details of that deal in "reality"?

"because it opened the gates of Heaven to everyone, even a sinner like you!": What does this quote say: “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”? What do i have to do in order not to get into heaven, if i'm allowed to break the commandments and teach others to do the same?

"is still a fear technique used against unbelievers.": Umm, let me guess, fear is used against believers as well?

"threatening people with hell": here's what the Revelation has to tell us about it:

"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8, KJV)

Which part of your definitions of "threaten", "people" and "hell" does this quote not satisfy?

And i would be delighted to recieve answers to all of these points.

zilch said...

"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."

Hmmm. Since I'm at least three of those things (you can guess which ones), it looks pretty bad for me. Unless perhaps μέρος, translated "part" here, could mean an island in the lake with a nice view of the burning damned. But alas, it seems to be pretty unequivocal that μέρος means "part" in the sense of "lot, apportioned destiny". Oh well.

Atheistwager said...

I will cheerfully admit error when I say God killed everyone but Noah. I meant to say Noah and his family. I stand by everything else.

thelistener said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
thelistener said...

@ Warren you say:

"I really can't believe that you would say that god provides food and housing. I mean you can't be serious and if you are then perhaps you should seek out some homeless people and explain to them why god didn't see fit to provide them with a regular meal and a roof over their heads. Further more if god is in charge of food and housing then why doesn't he just cast out and starve us nonbelievers?"


When I stated that god provides food an housing, I meant in the sense that he created such things for us to use. It is man's own selfishness, corruption and the love of money that have led to certain humans being homeless and starving.


God also gave humans free will so that they were not merely robots. God will not make you believe in, or follow (Figuratively speaking) him.



Therefore he would not punish his own creation, whom he gave free will, by starving and therefore killing them for not believing in him.



Also, for all readers of this blog, i would like to say that I am NOT an atheist hater.


I speak to people about religion and god whenever i can because i enjoy the conversations that suround them. And I must say that atheists in general, are very nice people.


It is only there choice not to believe in god that confuses me.



Also, my typing errors are duly noted. As you can see my "Shift" button is taking a rest in comparison to Previous posts.



@ Bible Student:


I Have to say i really enjoy your thoughts. Your answers have been the most satifying of anyone on this blog, in my opinion.


Untill next post,
thelistener

Bible student said...

@ AW

I realized, the Noah thing, but Ilja asked for it.

All the students, Bible, Mrs. and Sprout are preparing for our three day “Bible Study Pow Wow” and a wedding on Monday. All are invited (to the Pow Wow). If you are in the NYC area and would like to attend, e-mail me.

I’ll see if I can’t steal a few minutes to answer you guys, this weekend.

--Thanks for the encouragement, listener. I’ve also enjoyed your posts.

zilch said...

@ thelistener: if you just take out the "God" stuff, I agree with most of what you say. And most Christians I know are also very nice people.

Speaking for myself, I never consciously chose to not believe in God- rather, I never chose to believe in God. I did choose to not believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, but since I somehow never started believing in God, I didn't ever have to stop.

Bible student said...

@ Ilja

I raised someone’s ire when I posted this 3 weeks ago.

I checked, my Bible says “let Pharaoh’s heart become obstinate” (or unresponsive) at Exodus 7:3; 8:15; 9:12; 10:1; 11:10 and Romans 9:18. Maybe this is why I stayed with these folks. (If you would like a copy, let me know.)

Considering that God hasn’t made atheist harden their hearts, but lets them, this makes sense.


Exodus 4:21 and 10:20 also agree.

(Exodus 4:21) And Jehovah went on to say to Moses: “After you have gone and returned to Egypt see that YOU men actually perform all the miracles that I have put in your hand before Pharaoh. As for me, I shall let his heart become obstinate; and he will not send the people away.

(Exodus 10:20) However, Jehovah let Pharaoh’s heart become obstinate, and he did not send the sons of Israel away.


A week earlier I posted:

Christian, may agree with God’s view of homosexuals but need to follow the counsel in Paul’s letter to the Romans 12:17-19: Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (New King James Version)

Jesus’ brother Jude wrote to the Christian congregation, in verses 22 and 23:

“Also, continue showing mercy to some that have doubts; save [them] by snatching [them] out of the fire. But continue showing mercy to others, doing so with fear, while YOU hate even the inner garment that has been stained by the flesh.”

These scriptures argue against hate and slaying.


Rape?

The miracle is virgin birth, He never touched her. He doesn’t have a body.
Mary’s problem wasn’t with the one who impregnated her. It was with those who didn’t believe it.

Next three, later.

Ilja said...

@ BS

Let us agree that you will not use your own translation of the bible, but instead one that is established and can be double-checked by everyone who wants. I would suggest NKJV, since you have just quoted it. The problem is, that if every other translation found on BibleGateway contains "harden his heart" in both exodus verses i asked for, and only you posses a different translation, then you cannot speak for the majority of Christians, since their versions read differently. It's like if i had a problem with some book and would write my own translation where the problematic parts are defused. The obvious solution would be to work with the Hebrew original, but this is beyond my language skills.

Bible student said...

“Christianity” may be as diverse as atheism. I speak for Bible student, let other “Christians” speak for themselves.

Sometimes Bible scholars come in handy. I like David Guzik's explanation of who hardened Pharaoh's heart at:

http://www.studylight.org/com/guz/view.cgi?book=ex&chapter=4&verse=21#Ex4_21

Please don’t be limited by BibleGateway. Two online bibles that translate correctly (there are probably more), can be found at:

http://www.watchtower.org/e/bible/index.htm

for the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures and

http://www.studylight.org/desk/?l=en&query=Exodus+4%3A21&
section=0&translation=reb&oq=&sr=1

for the J.B. Rotherham Emphasized Bible.

Bible student said...

@Ilja

Hell

The book of Revelation contains many symbols. In a quick-and-dirty response, back on the Christian Hope page I explained:

Don’t worry, “lake with burning sulfur” is as symbolic as a seven headed beast. What is thrown in before, is death and Hades (Revelation 20:14), which don’t burn, and Satan and his demons (Revelation 20:10) who being spirit, cannot be hurt by literal fire.

It symbolizes final destruction, called second because it occurs after resurrection (judgment day).

Or maybe you have been taken in by the falsehood called “hellfire doctrine”.

Back one page (An Unlikely Mormon Apologist), I let zilch know:

“The one who sins is the one who will die.”--Ezekiel 18:4 (Today's New International Version)

Adam (and so his offspring) lost the gift of everlasting life, through disobedience. In the same version of the Bible Genesis 2:17 quotes God: "but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will certainly die."

The immortal soul doctrine has it’s origin in Genesis 3:4: "You will not certainly die," the serpent said to the woman.”

Tell a lie often enough, and you could confuse even a great thinker, in Vienna.

Plato also pushed the idea that the body dies, yet the soul is lives on.

Hell is just bad-mouthing God. Who could love someone, who forever tortures imperfectly born people, for their imperfection?

The ruse has worked for years. Choose life!

God tells us how he feels about the idea, observing human sacrifice in Canaan, at Jeremiah 7:31.


Heaven and Earth

A limited number of humans will have everlasting life in heaven, but no harps and puffy clouds. Revelation 5:10 speaks of them when it says: “and made them to our God kings and priests; and they shall reign over the earth.”

Since kings rule over people, this refers to a heavenly government (Daniel 2:44).

Everlasting life on earth is what God intended for Adam and Eve. Though they blew it, God hasn’t changed his mind. (Psalms 115:16; Isaiah 45:18). He told the first humans to expand paradise (Garden of Eden) to cover the whole earth (Genesis 1:28).

I was never enticed by the reward of heaven. When the truth found in the Bible was explained to me, I went from the being frightened of an unsure future, to relieved that there was a way to paradise.

I still enjoy helping others understand that way.

zilch said...

No harps and puffy clouds in Christian Heaven, bible student? Then forget it- I'll go check out what Mohammed has to offer...