The idea that Jesus died for our sins could only have come about after Jesus had actually died. Nobody involved in his crucifixion believed that his death would undo the damage of sin. His followers never anticipated his death with the expectation of salvation. That would have been ghoulish. These beliefs were formed after the death of Christ. So why do Christians accept these ideas as though from God?
The belief that Jesus died for our sins arouse within the Christian community following the death of Jesus. Only Jesus was God. These people left making sense of his death were ordinary human beings. So why do Christian churches teach the story of salvation as having come from God?
Every story has an author. Who wrote the story that Jesus died for our sins?
Clearly, God inspired the Bible. Whether or not God exists, this statement is true. God inhabits our imaginations. There, in the minds of men, God dwells.
Some Christians are under the misconception that the Bible is the unerring Word of God. Before I argue that Jesus did not die for our sins, I must first dispel the false notion that God is speaking to us through the Bible.
If the Bible were the word of God, then the Bible would not contain any contradictions. So, in order to demonstrate that the Bible is not the word of God, we will go to the beginning of the very first book of the Bible, Genesis.
Genesis opens with a story of creation. This is immediately followed by another creation story. The first story of creation is the seven-day account, where God worked for six days, and then rested on the seventh. It spans all of the first chapter of Genesis, and ends in the first three verses of the second chapter. The second shorter story of creation begins with verse 4, chapter 2. We are only looking at the two stories of creation. The second account of creation forms the beginning of the story of Adam and Eve and their fall from grace. We won’t get into Adam and Eve today. We are only looking for contradictions and other illogic within the creation stories. If the Bible is the word of God, we will not find any.
We begin with the seven days of creation.
On day 1 God creates light and darkness, day and night. (These five verses are pure poetry.)
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
Genesis 1, 1-5, KJV.
On day 2 God creates the firmament of heaven, which is referring to the skies above, and not literal heaven.
“And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
Genesis 1, 6-8.
Definition. Firmament: The sky or the vault of the heavens, viewed as something solid.
The people who wrote Genesis described the world very differently than we do. We know that the sky is not solid. But they had no idea.
On day 3, God creates dry land and plants.
“And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day.
Genesis 1, 9-13
On day 4 God creates the stars, the planets, and their moons.
“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
Genesis 1, 14-19
On day 5, God creates birds and sea life.
“And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
Genesis 1, 20-23
On day 6, God creates land animals, including humans.
“And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
Genesis 1, 24-31
Then, on day 7, God rests.
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
Genesis 2, 1-3
Before we cover the second story of creation, let’s try to make sense of this first story.
On the first day of creation, God creates light and darkness, day and night. On the second day, God creates the sky. On the third day God creates dry land covered with living plants. And then on the fourth day, God creates the Sun, the moon, and every other thing that glitters in the night sky. Does any of this make sense?
First, on day 1, did God create actual light? How did day and night exist without the sun, which God only created on day 4? And why did God create plants, on day 3, before sunshine on day 4? And back on day 2, did God actually need to create the sky? The sky is not an actual thing. The sky is just what we see when we look up at the celestial objects created in outer space on day 4. (Did I say, ‘outer space’? I meant to say, in the firmament of heaven.)
Now we will consider the second creation account.
“These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2, 4-9
This beautiful little story explicitly contradicts the first story. In the first story, God created plants on day 3, and humans on day 6. In this story, man is created before there were plants.
Contradictions are not possible. Both stories cannot be true. It is impossible for plants to precede humans, while at the same time, humans preceded plants. It is one or the other. But it can’t be both.
The contradictions and the other logical absurdities are not words from God. These are the words of ancient Jews, written about 3500 years ago.
Note that we didn’t have to go far to find contradictions in the Bible. They start to show up on the first page of the book! And we didn’t even discuss all of the contradictions in these accounts. We just covered enough to convince a reasonable person that the Bible is not the literal word of God. God would not contradict God’s self in the first pages of God’s own book!
Christianity is a false religion. By false, I mean that it is not from God. If God exists, and if God is truth, then Christianity is false. This will be demonstrated through logic.
I would still be Christian if Christians could tolerate dissent from within.
Christians believe that Jesus saves us from our sins. For them it is a matter of faith.
I will argue that Jesus does not save us from our sins. Mine will be an evidence-based argument.
Christians, it is time to evolve! Your beliefs do not hold up to logical analysis. I will present several different, but inter-related arguments to back up my claim that Jesus does not actually save us from our sins. The purpose of this is to demonstrate that the Christian understanding of Jesus is based in myth.
Do not leave your faith. Transform it, instead, by embracing the truth.
I was never in a cult, technically speaking. Yet I identify with people who grew up in cults and then left and found sanity. My story is different, yet oddly similar. I grew up with a mentally ill father in a deeply religious family. We didn’t know he was mentally ill at the time. But he was incredibly abusive to myself and my brother. If parents were governments, then I grew up in an absolute dictatorship. My father reigned supreme.
The abuse drove me away from my family. Complicating the situation for me was the inability of anyone else in the family to recognize the abuse, let alone do something about it.
This led to my lifelong struggle with mental illness.
My family is Polish on both sides. The Catholic Church was the institution of our lives. My grandparents were immigrants. I loved the church as I grew up. I wanted to be a hero to my faith. I wanted to be the person who could prove beyond any shadow of doubt that Jesus was real. But two things happened to me. The first is that I began to see God as an abstraction of Truth. And over time my allegiance to God transformed into an allegiance to the concept of truth. The second development for me was an intense desire to be rational. I wanted to live, as an adult, in a more rational world. It had to do with language. By a fairly young age I could see that some people made sense, while other people spoke with ignorance. I wanted to be someone who made sense.
During my sophomore year of high school, a Sunday sermon set the course for my life. The priest was speaking about the Catholic Church and science. The message was that the teachings of the church and the teachings of science are both true. Science, because it is based on evidence. Whereas the Church is blessed with divine authority. When I heard this, I could see a problem with what the priest had claimed. There was a contradiction between the preachings of the church and the teachings of science.
Life is filled with contradictions. But during the previous year, I had learned in my math class that contradictions were not possible. We were studying geometry and proofs. And during my sophomore year I was studying biology, where I learned and accepted that evolution was true. Evolution made sense to me. In the moment of that sermon, everything clicked. And I could see a way to prove that Jesus did not die for our sins. I didn’t even know what to make of it. Because, up until that moment, I not only believed, but I wanted to believe, what the church had been teaching.
I left the church because of the logical contradictions inherent in Christian belief. But I never stopped studying the church. I couldn’t let go of the fact that my faith was false. I didn’t know how to because I was leaning on my faith to help me endure my father.
Something interesting happened some years later in the throws of mental illness. I was reacting badly from the ways I had been treated within my family. I had ended my relationship with my father. My relationship to the rest of my family suffered too. I withdrew from them. And I had this reaction to the church that was not merely ideological. So much nonsense in my life had been justified through church teachings. I wanted to tear it all down.
Several decades have passed. My rage has mellowed.
These past few years I have been trying to write a book that takes on the theology of the church.. But I have reached a point where I need to stop isolation myself to work on this, and integrate my self instead with others by sharing what I have discovered. So, I am going to unravel it here on this blog. The Christian faith is a false faith. Evidence and proofs forthcoming.
In the last post, I argued that faith-based beliefs are irrational.To deepen this perspective, we will look at things from another angle. Let’s compare the definitions of ’faith’ and ‘to assume’.
Faith: Belief without evidence or proof
To assume: to take as true without evidence or proof
‘Faith’ is a noun, while ‘to assume’ is a verb.But, otherwise, these two definitions are nearly identical. There is a slight difference between believing in something, and taking it as true. Faith is more committed to an idea than an assumption needs to be.But, faith plays the same role in the mind as assumptions do.They enable reasoning.
Faith itself is not reasoning.Faith is belief.Belief is a starting point in reasoning.Before we can question our beliefs, we must first believe.Religious faith accepts its assumptions uncritically.Faith is acquired and faith is passed on.Faith is community-defined belief.The group has a say in what the members profess.Faith is not knowledge.It comes without evidence or proof.Faith does not know.Faith merely accepts as true.
Faith can be wrong.When there is evidence to support an idea, we can place more confidence in the idea.Faith says, “I am true,” but without evidence.Rationality is more skeptical.A rational thinker realizes that faith could be wrong.The rational person does not accept incredible claims without credible evidence.It is rational to question faith.It is rational to ask, “Is it true?”
Faith can be taken too far.
Delusion: A strongly held mistaken belief that cannot be swayed by evidence to the contrary
When we question faith, especially in the face of overwhelming evidence that its claims are wrong, we are behaving rationally.When the faithful cannot change their thinking, even when their thinking can be shown to be wrong, they are delusional.There is no problem in having faith in an idea before there is evidence to support it.But ignoring evidence to the contrary is wrong.Ignoring evidence to the contrary is not honest.How strong is your faith?Is it delusional strong?A delusional person believes they are right when they are wrong.And when we show where they are wrong, they still claim to be correct.
Rationality is a choice.We have to choose to be rational, in order to become rational.Faith happens to everyone.We are all born into some form of faith.We do not choose our initial beliefs.Delusion is also not a choice. Delusion believes what it wants to believe, evidence be damned. The delusional mind cannot help itself.
Rationality is not an easy choice.Especially when faith can be so comforting.It is comforting to believe that your beliefs are valid and true.It is discomforting to realize they may not be.
Rationality seeks to believe that which is true.And to not believe that which is false.Faith does not aspire to be true or correct.Faith only claims that it is so.
What I originally envisioned as a book has instead become a project to occupy me until my death. Instead of a book, I have decided to begin publishing papers and articles. The last few years left me with a lot of time to think about what I wanted to write. I have so much more than a simple book. Eventually, (hopefully), a book will come. But my goal at the moment is to stir the cultural pot. I seek to challenge conventional religious thinking. I am convinced that Christians and Muslims see the world incorrectly. I am convinced that for many, faith has become an obstacle to thinking.
Without rationality, we are socially controlled by a dynamic system of opinions. Without knowledge to compare with our beliefs, we cannot know whether our opinions are actually true. A correct understanding of the world allows to make correct decisions.
My goal is to marry rationality with our collective spiritual practices, by challenging the idea that Christians and Muslims speak for God. I am an atheist who believes in God. My goal is to demonstrate that within Christianity and Islam, a false understanding of God is being taught.
As a former Catholic with a more naturalistic understanding of the world, I have long suspected that many Catholics, maybe most?, must have priestly ancestors. There was a scandal in my own community that was kept hush-hush when I was a teenager. A priest had become a real father with a girl from the church. She was my age, +/- 1 year. No one talked about it. Years later my mom brought it up. For some reason, we didn’t discuss these things as a family while they were an actual threat. Ah, but that is the Catholic way. We were kept ignorant by our own inability to speak about sexuality without feeling shame.
This has been in the making for some time. I was inspired to write a book. I was disturbed enough to try. For the past few years I have been hard at work developing the themes and concepts I wish to discuss, and integrating them into a model of the book. The book itself was too complex to write in one go. I had to build a model of it, to help me see what I was trying to say.
In some ways, the book has been a healthy diversion from life’s problems. I have a form of muscular dystrophy that makes things quite challenging. Several years ago I was forced to quit the working world, and deal head on with this. It took a lot of effort to learn how to live with failing strength. But I have. Recently I moved from Arizona to North Carolina. Soon I will move from an apartment into a home. This was unthinkable three and four years ago. But think it I did and now here I am.
Last year, at the beginning of summer, I made my first road trip, on my own. I went to the 29th annual Pima Writers Workshop, in Tucson. I submitted a manuscript to be critiqued by an agent. First time doing that. The guy likes my writing, but not as a book. This did not stop me. But it got me thinking about the scope of what I am trying to describe. I have an awful lot of material that contradicts our understanding of ourselves.
One of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of this year was to write for an audience. Begin publishing. This blog has been on and off the back burner since its inception. It has been difficult to keep this up while dealing with everything else. But when I found the home, it occurred to me that I had achieved a goal I had set when I first could no longer work. I had gotten myself out of one living situation I could no longer handle physically, and into one that I could. A couple weeks ago I met at the house with a contractor to get a quote on a wheelchair ramp and a front deck, to replace the wooden staircase leading to the front door. Afterwards, getting back in my van, I had to pause for a vision. Something was telling me that I could finally pick up the blog again, and sustain it.
We live in a world gone mad. I have been following the problem of radical Islam with intense disturbed fascination. My writing interests have converged with world events. I have spent my life finding the words to describe a phenomenon that regularly now is making the news. Then, in the past few days, news broke of the pending executions of 14 pro-democracy demonstrators in Saudi Arabia. As a writer, I feel a need to do something. It is time to put an end to this madness.
My goal is to stop these executions from happening, by bringing attention to their plight. But this is a short term goal. Long term, my goal is to challenge our understanding of God, so that radical Islam loses its power. My method will be to counter the narrative of radical Islam by describing it in new terms. Religions like Islam and Christianity present a false view of God. I am building a case. We need a new understanding. Something rational. Because we have reached the limits of faith.
When free versions are available, why did I pay good money for this translation of the Quran? Some of the value is in the English-language translation itself. But much of the book is commentary from experts on Islam. I paid for that. Initially, I made a good faith effort to read the entire book, page by page. But by the time I made it through the introduction, through the first surah and into the second, I realized that the commentary was bogging me down. Most of this book consists of commentary. For now, it distracts me from my purpose.
So I have spent the week reading the Quran, but focusing on Mohammed’s words exclusively. It is slow but rewarding work. I take the time to copy passages into my journal so that I can better argue with the ideas themselves. When I read, I argue. If I don’t argue, I am not engaged. The fact that I am arguing much with the Quran means that I am very engaged by what it says. When I get to the end of the 114th surah, I will have the basis for my for the article I am writing. I won’t be done. But I will be on my way.
I want to explain why I cannot embrace Islam. Idealogical differences motivate me. More than a quarter century ago, I left the Catholic church. My reasons for rejecting Christianity were just as valid then as they are now. But they apply equally well to Islam. I am convinced more than ever that religion misrepresents God.
Religion is my endless fascination. I have studied it throughout my life. I am convinced that God is not what religion teaches us He is. This is why I have decided to write. God is something other than how we have traditionally imagined him.
My evidence lies in an argument I am composing. I am analyzing Christian and Islamic theology within the context of logic. The Christian half of my analysis is completed. But because I am not Muslim, I needed better knowledge of the subject of Islam. So I bought the Kindle version of The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary, by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Caner K. Dagli, Maria Massi Dakake, Joseph E.B. Lumbard, and Mohammed Rustom.
I have been taking notes as I read the book. My argument develops out of this exercise. Work this week has been good.