Phishing For Trolls With Jesus

JCThis is a test. This is only a test. Had this been an actual religious emergency, the omnipotent creator of the universe would surely be sending plagues and pestilence, lightning bolts, or perhaps a herd of stampeding unicorns to trample all of the blasphemous infidels slandering his good name. But …. being as no such divine punishments have thus far materialized, I guess we’ll just have to settle for the inevitable intervention by a mob of his angry, self-proclaimed minions here on Earth. Or, failing that, I suppose any highly-opinionated Internet surfers will suffice.

Before jumping straight into throwing rocks at the hornets’ nest though, it might be useful to first define a few key terms just so there’s not any confusion among a certain segment of combative readers as to what particular words actually mean. Semantics, after all, is extremely important if language is to be anything other than meaningless noise.

We’ll start with “ignorant.” Per the dictionary, this means simply “lacking in knowledge.” Contrary to what many people may think, it does not mean stupid or backward. If you’re going to try to wield it as an insult, you had better be prepared to back it up by pointing out just exactly what factual knowledge is lacking in the target of your wrath. Otherwise you’re being ignorant (of what ignorant means).

Next, let’s look at the word “rational.” Originally, this word meant simply “able to be expressed as a ratio.” It was a mathematical term, dating back to the ancient Greek philosopher and geometrician, Pythagoras (of “Pythagorean theorem” fame). He had the idea that every possible number could be represented in the form of a fraction, that is, as a ratio between two numbers. When he finally became convinced that the diagonal of a unit square – the square root of two – could not be reduced to any fraction, he is said to have thrown himself off a cliff in a fit of rage as his entire worldview came crashing down around him. Quite the irrational thing to do, one might say.

Since then, the word rational has evolved to mean “having or exercising reason, sound judgment, or good sense.” So if you wish to call someone irrational, you had better be prepared to demonstrate how their presentation or ideas fail to meet the criteria of reasoned argument, and the best way to do this is by being rational.

Lastly, let’s look at the logical term “straw man argument,” also known as the Fallacy Of Extension. This is when someone creates an exaggerated, fictitious opponent bearing little resemblance to any actual person or their position, and then they attack this fake opponent in place of taking on the real one. A straw man is not simply someone who is easy to attack – someone like Rick Santorum or any garden variety fundamentalist. While people such as these may be embarrassments to more intelligent Christians, and while such Christians may prefer that atheists match their wits with someone slightly better equipped to hold their own, say a C.S. Lewis or William Lane Craig, that is a different argument altogether.

It is perfectly valid to attack “the low hanging fruit,” as Sam Harris calls it, and doing so does not constitute attacking a “straw man.” It’s just attacking a fool. Furthermore, if you’re going to accuse someone of attacking a straw man, please have the decency to point out which part of the argument seems fallacious and why. Otherwise you’re engaging in another logical fallacy, namely, the Argument By Dismissal. Here is a link to an excellent resource on the subject so you can go study up a bit in case you’re still confused.

Okay, with the preliminaries out of the way, let’s continue. Today’s topic will be one of the ultimate taboos in Western society – territory where even atheists tend to tread lightly. It’s the historicity of the man-god called Jesus Christ.

Be forewarned, if the following analysis seems shocking or offensive, try to bear in mind that for anyone not already committed to his worship or otherwise predisposed to being reverential towards the guy, then beyond the disproportionate influence the ideas attributed to him have had on the history of Western civilization, there’s nothing particularly special about this Jesus fellow, as we’re about to see.  Remember too that for someone who feels that humanity is at a critical juncture in our development, and who’s convinced that faith-based religion has become the number one impediment to the long-term survival of our species, there is absolutely no incentive to be delicate and hold back solely in the interest of not causing hurt feelings.

As a final note, it should be pointed out that as this is but one lone article and not a four hundred page book, it will necessarily have to skim just the surface of the topic, so pardon me if it seems like I’m “trying to be profound” in the space allowed. Think of this as an hors d’oeuvre platter with the main course reserved for another time. In order to help facilitate the inevitable firestorm, I’ll even number the dishes for easy reference. So here they are, some interesting facts to get the blood boiling:

1) Jesus most likely never existed.

a) There is no mention of him by any contemporary historian from the early years of the first millennium. Although the Romans were known to have kept detailed government records, his name does not appear in any surviving documents or inscriptions. Josephus, a Jewish historian writing around 94 AD (sixty plus years after Jesus’ supposed death) mentions him only in passing, and even for those passages there remain a number of legitimate doubts as to their authenticity. Tacitus, writing in 116 AD also mentions him only briefly – his probable source being secondhand descriptions from self-confessed Christians in Rome at the time. This proves nothing whatsoever about Jesus existing, no more than children believing in Santa Clause proves the existence of an elf-run toy factory at the North Pole. All it shows is that there existed credulous members of a new cult within the Roman world decades after the time period in question.

Following Jesus’ death on the cross, the Bible relates how, for a three hour period, “there was darkness over all the land” and a massive earthquake shook Jerusalem, and then, in a crowning act of supernatural extravagance worthy of any good zombie flick, “the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” (Matthew 27:45-53) One might think such amazing events would have drawn the attention of someone like Pliny the Elder, a Roman statesman and naturalist alive at the time, who spent his career scouring the Empire looking for unusual and inexplicable phenomena of which to write about, eventually losing his life while investigating the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. But alas, he spoke nary a word about Jesus.

In fact, the first mention by any writer of any nationality or religion or ethnicity was by the Apostle Paul, about twenty years after the supposed crucifixion and resurrection. That’s quite a long gap for the most important event in the history of the universe to go unrecorded. Then again, considering that Mormonism is one of the fastest growing religions on Earth, and its patently absurd and demonstrably false claims occurred within recent historic times (even being openly mocked by Joseph Smith’s contemporary American, Mark Twain, who referred to the Mormon Bible as “chloroform in print”), maybe it’s not so shocking after all. But I diverge.

b) It’s doubtful that there actually existed any town called Nazareth in Galilee at the time that Jesus was supposed to have lived there. Archaeological and historical evidence both indicate that the current town of that name was not built until early in the second century AD. Prior to that time it was a cemetery, and according to Jewish law, no habitation could be built over or near a tomb, so it could not have been the home of Mary and Joseph. This begs the question, if Jesus’ hometown wasn’t real, what other parts of his story aren’t true?

c) The various Gospels blatantly contradict each other on many important elements of his life including: whether or not he was born of a virgin, his paternal ancestry (which is totally irrelevant if actually born of a virgin), details of his childhood (such as the timing and duration of his flight to Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath), what exactly happened with Mary Magdalene at his empty tomb, and many other minor, but significant details. Furthermore, although generally regarded by lay believers as eyewitness accounts, none of the Gospels actually make this claim, and most of them are written in the third person, conspicuously avoiding the use of “I” and “we.”

d) There is no authenticated physical evidence linking back to Jesus. The famous “Shroud of Turin” is almost certainly a medieval forgery, having been carbon dated to around 1300 AD. Recently, an artifact known as the “James ossuary” surfaced and briefly caused a media sensation, but most scholars and scientists who have studied it are convinced it’s a blatant forgery. Thus, with the complete lack of any verifiable archeological evidence, the case for the existence of a historical Jesus seems to rest entirely on good old-fashioned faith.

2) Whether he was a real person or merely a fictitious character in a made-up story, he wasn’t very nice, and most of what he had to say was neither original nor profound nor even very good advice.

a) To start with, what is probably Jesus’ most renowned and well-loved speech, the “Sermon on the Mount,” is nothing more than a long-winded tirade of inane babble. In it, as I’ve discussed elsewhere, Jesus advocates for the Orwellian concept of “thoughtcrime,” for when he says;

Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)

He utterly ignores the fundamental distinction between thought and action. He renders moot the value of self-control; of considering an action and then, having thought through the possible consequences, deciding against it.

b) Then there’s his famous instructions for instilling a slave mentality within the populace (on this point, Nietzsche was entirely correct.) From Matthew 5:38-39:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

And he goes on:

…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;

Let’s compare this to the well-known and frequently misattributed quote, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Which one makes more sense? If Jesus’ words were in any way meaningful, then why did the U.S. retaliate against the Japanese after they bombed Pearl Harbor? Why did we invade Afghanistan following September 11th? Why was America – “One nation, under God” – ever opposed to the Nazis or the Soviets? If we’re to love and bless our enemies, shouldn’t we have laid out a red carpet for them?

c) Next, let’s look at his purported “family values” that James Dobson and others of the Christian right are always going on about. Here’s a touching example of how Jesus treated his own dear mother, the Holy Virgin Mary, when she dared to interrupt a meeting of his (from Matthew 12:47-49):

Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

To paraphrase, it’s like, “Not now, Mom. Can’t you see I’m busy playing with my friends?” Sure, we all get caught up in our activities sometimes, but to be so busy that you turn away your own mother and siblings who have traveled from afar to come and see you? And this isn’t just anyone we’re talking about; it’s the messiah, “the Son of man,” who’s supposed to be the most perfect person ever. Then again, perhaps his behavior is not so surprising, for on another occasion he had said:

Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.(Luke 14:26)

Huh? To follow Jesus you have to hate your whole family and even life itself? Didn’t he earlier proclaim, “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law,” (Matthew 5:18) which presumably includes the commandment from Exodus 20:12 to “Honor thy father and thy mother”?

d) Now let’s look at some of Jesus’ advice that is just plain bizarre (not to mention gratuitously violent). In Matthew 18:6, he says that if someone were to offend a small child (perhaps by telling them to “grow up” as Paul does in 1 Corinthians 13:11) then, “it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Riiiiiight. Continuing in this vein, he proceeds to get even more macabre, stating:

Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee… And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. (Matthew 18:8-9)

WTF???

e) On top of dispensing useless prescriptions for death and mutilation, Jesus was also an advocate of cruelty and petty tribalism. In Matthew 15:22-26, we’re told how he’s approached on the road by “a woman of Canaan” – in other words, not a fellow Israelite. She:

[C]ried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.

So first he ignored her, then he insulted her, and finally, only after making her continue to debase herself through additional begging and excessive flattery did he finally relent and help her out. Quite the altruist and role model.

And what about the story of “the Good Samaritan” from Luke 10:30-37? Everyone remembers the punch line about showing compassion and helping out those in need, but no one ever mentions the massive elephant in the room – the unstated assumption that all other Samaritans, solely by virtue of their ethnicity or cultural identity, were worthless pieces of camel dung – otherwise the origin of the man in the story would be irrelevant. How’s that for “celebrating diversity”?

f) Now by this point, I’m sure there are numerous Christian apologists chomping at the bit, ready to contort themselves through all sorts of hoops of twisted logic to rationalize away and present the “true interpretation” and context behind these apparent contradictions and absurdities. So let’s shift gears and examine something else – the near-universally acknowledged “Golden Rule” as presented in Matthew 7:12. Although it falls apart completely if faced with a sadomasochist, for any normal, mentally healthy person, it’s generally pretty sound advice. That’s why it’s so widely recognized as such. But that’s not the only reason. It’s also because it has a long and distinguished history totally independent of, and far preceding, the arrival of Jesus on the scene. Similar statements appear in a wide variety of religious and philosophical traditions from around the world.

For instance, in Buddhism (Buddha, India, fifth or sixth century BC) we find “Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” From Zoroastrianism (Zoroaster, Persia, seventh century BC, possibly even thousands of years earlier), we have, “Do not do unto others whatever is injurious to yourself.” And in Taoism, “Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.” (Lao Tzu is thought to have lived in China, like the others, sometime around the sixth century BC – a time known as “the Axial Age” for the profound impact these and a handful of other thinkers from this time had on Eurasian society.) So the Golden Rule clearly cannot be credited as originating with Jesus.

g) Lastly, just so no one gets to thinking that everyone in ancient times was as foolish as Jesus, here are a few excellent quotes from some classical philosophers whom I particularly admire. First we have Plato, writing four hundred years before Jesus came along:

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.

Next we have Epicurus, who died around 270 BC:

It is folly for a man to pray to the gods for that which he has the power to obtain by himself.

And finally, my personal favorite, Lucretius, a Roman philosopher who wrote his wholly-naturalistic treatise De rerum natura, around 55 BC:

O joyless hearts of men! O minds without vision! How dark and dangerous the life in which this tiny span is lived away! Do you not see that nature is clamoring for two things only, a body free from pain, a mind released from worry and fear for the enjoyment of pleasurable sensations?

And that concludes today’s presentation. Now, let’s sit back and watch with a smile as the enlightened flow of grammatically dubious, proper-spelling-be-damned, f-bomb sprinkled invectives comes flowing in, cheerfully and unselfconsciously failing to address any of the actual points with reasoned counterarguments and instead, ranting on about generalized preconceived notions and emotional biases against the overall topic. Ready? The bait is set. Nothing more to do than get comfortable and wait for the scavengers to come crawling in. Happy trolling!

Colby Hess is a freelance writer and photographer living near Seattle, WA. He is currently writing a book about science, philosophy, and freethought. Follow him on Twitter at ColbyTHess.

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  • Lotim

    Simply brilliant! That is all…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1054461464 Douglas Berg

    I love you man. My I.Q. is now higher after reading this.

    • Calypso_1

      No, it is not.

  • Barbara Force

    CAPSLOCK IS CRUISE CONTROL FOR COOL

  • http://twitter.com/bezoar Mark Welch

    I disagree only a little with the specific ground rules for debate. I treat the use of logical fallacy as either an invitation to deconstruct, an opportunity to challenge an assumption, or as a declaration that the argument is over (“time to get back to work/fun/sleep/booze/music/etc”). It does frequently make the advocate look like an idiot, though.

    Also, I always thought “phishing” specifically defined only fraudulent actions using Internet-based tools. Potato, po-tah-to, I guess.

    Excellent post otherwise.

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    rationality rarely has anything to do with religious beliefs
    and rational arguments rarely have an impact on true believers
    nonetheless, rational speaking
    Jesus does exit as an idea
    which has turned out to be more powerful and eternal
    than actual physical existence

     

    • eyebeam

      But why is that? It doesn’t seem to be due to any logical or rational approach to the subject. The fact that Christian doctrine endlessly splits into heresies and orthodoxies, indicates that the minutiae of doctrinal belief are not provable by any logical deduction from a set of facts. It’s the opposite of science, where experimental observations generate predictions based on logical extrapolation, which  must then be tested by experimental observations, all the while subject to constant debate, and which tends to create convergent beliefs – we don’t have different laws of gravitation for different countries, and you can’t “convert” from believing in one Periodic Table to another. Leibniz and Newton developed calculus independently, because number systems believe in logical, predictable ways, no matter how you feel about them.

      The only “fact” that all Christians take for granted, is that Jesus Christ died for your sins, and came back from the dead. Almost everything else is subject to constant debate, for the very reasons of scriptural contradiction, and lack of historical and archaeological evidence, enumerated in this article.

      It seems that religious belief is entirely based on feelings, that is, an emotional reaction produced by the belief. For some reason, the idea that a god-man was sacrificed to his father, so that the father would forgive the evil deeds of humans, and then resurrected his dead son, is very attractive to humans. Does this belief fit a very deep-seated need in the human psyche?

      • http://www.jaycob.co.nf/ Scruffy

        It’s perpetual. People teaching lies to their children because the same lies tell them that they have to if they don’t want their child to suffer. You can make a child believe ABSOLUTELY anything, keeping them ignorant the rest of their life is the church’s main function. I don’t care what people say, religious freedom is the freedom to be lied to and manipulated, and to lie and manipulate, Christianity and Catholicism especially.

      • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

        Its one of the more recent classical “hero’s tale”. The funny thing about the Abrahammic hero tales is that it ends with “and this was the final story ever to be told ever. Anyone else that tells you something similar is the devil”. That kind of trick keeps the story alive a lot longer than it really should. I suppose all the divergent sects come from the thirst for a new story, without being “allowed” to do anything but reinterpret the old one. 

  • Peter hiv

    The most well thought out and presented display of fact on this subject that I’ve read to date.

    • Calypso_1

      Thus a declaration that you are not well read on the topic –
      and a fanboy of the poster.

  • emperorreagan

    It’s actually not perfectly valid to attack the low hanging fruit if you’re attempting to draw broader conclusions about religion.  Perhaps you should read your list of fallacies again.  Selective Reading/Selective Observation is a logical fallacy.  Argument by generalization is a logical fallacy.   

    If you’re out to argue with a fool just for the sake of argument, well, there’s lots of famous quotes about arguing with fools.  You quote one of the many here. 

    1. Jesus, as depicted in the gospels, most likely did not exist.  A historical Jesus, who was somehow involved in the founding of Christianity, may or may not have existed.  The historical record supports the former.  The latter is a matter of speculation.     
    2.
    a.
    A question of ethical theory and depending on what school of ethics one subscribes to it makes sense.  Is ill intent but being too lazy to fulfill your will acting rightly?  Not in some of the deontological schools of thought.  

    b.
    A slave mentality which some may argue has been a successful form of protest and engine of social change.

    As for laying out a red carpet, the verse doesn’t say, “get your enemy a limo and invite them over to rape your mom.”  One could argue whether intervention or violence were the best course of action for the US in any of those cases you mention, though, at various points in the history that led to those conflicts.  Either way, it’s not relevant to the argument you’re making about Jesus being a dick – perhaps relevant to whether the US is a Christian nation or not, but that’s not the argument here.

    c. – e. 
    Special pleading – you are discounting any other interpretations or context for the verses that doesn’t fit the picture you want to paint.  

    f.
    That depends on the premises one chooses to accept.  
    If one accepts the premise that Jesus is divine and part of some sort of godhead, then one may also accept a premise that moral law stems from Jesus.  As such, Jesus is the source and others are simply able to recognize the moral law.  

    If one works from the premise that Christianity is or was a useful myth, then Jesus is simply a useful mouth piece for that particular moral law.  The fact of who said it first doesn’t matter, simply the transmission of the moral law within the framework of the dominant cultural myth.

    g.
    Irrelevant.  Even if the rest of the logic were perfect this section would detract from the argument.  “In case you believe that all people in antiquity were non-existent fools, here are some neat quotes from people from the era who I believe to be neither fools nor mythological figures!”

      

    • Redacted

      Unfortunately, logical fallacies convince the stupid. See: Fox News.

      • Linear Inequality

         >Unfortunately, logical fallacies convince the stupid. See: Marxism.

        FTFY

        • JaceD

          Unfortunately, logical fallacies convince the stupid. See: Capitalism

          FTFY :)

    • http://www.jaycob.co.nf/ Scruffy

      “Phishing For Trolls With Jesus”
      LOL, he caught a big one.

      to sum up this comment for the ones who found it too long…

      Everything in the post is wrong because, I don’t agree.

      • emperorreagan

        To sum up my post:
        If you want to invoke the rules of logic and accuse other people of not following them in the opening to your post, then you should avoid making fallacious arguments yourself.

      • http://www.facebook.com/elpolloloco52 Josh Adkisson

        Obviously, you are not familiar with the definition of “troll” in internet slang, nor are you familiar with rational discourse, nor, as it happens, are you familiar with comma usage rules.

        That’s all for now.

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      Wow, I sure enjoyed watching that delightfully “enlightened flow of grammatically dubious, proper-spelling-be-damned, f-bomb sprinkled invectives comes flowing in, cheerfully and unselfconsciously failing to address any of the actual points with reasoned counterarguments and instead, ranting on about generalized preconceived notions and emotional biases against the overall topic.”

      Good ol’ “anti-christian” atheists, as opposed to rational atheists. They always like to hop on the rational truth bandwagon without actually attempting to view things rationally.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bobbie-Jean-Pentecost/100000391760333 Bobbie Jean Pentecost

        If you’re going to chastise people for their grammar, you might want to consider proper comma placement and run-on sentences.

        • http://www.facebook.com/elpolloloco52 Josh Adkisson

           Perhaps you should have read the article, or noticed the quotation marks in Chaorder Gradient’s post and determined to find the source of the quotation (which happens to be the article). Then perhaps, after having completed one or both of those things, you should have pondered the meaning of sarcasm and attempted to interpret the post to which you are responding in light of whatever fruits your pondering produced.

        • NOPE

          NOPE

    • southpaugh

      Nope. Your generalization , ”
      Argument by generalization is a logical fallacy.” is false. Try this generalization on for size. It’s absolute. The entire premise of religions’ authority is false. They have not one shred of evidence in support of even the simplest among their purported supernatural phenomena. That their supernatural stuff effects the natural world, whether their supernatural stuff is ephemoral or otherwise not-of-this-world, and therefore would leave testable proof of that effect. But, all they got is hearsay, myths, legends, traditions, superstition and old wives tales. And, the propensity to substitute conviction for facts, opinion for proof, and magic for reality. Without credibility, there’s not basis upon which to base authority, and no reason to grant faith. Set, game and match.

      • http://www.facebook.com/elpolloloco52 Josh Adkisson

         Argument by generalization is still a logical fallacy, and if you disbelieve that, you should probably just avoid posting here, mostly out of concern for not looking like an assclown.

        Argument by assertion, however, is the particular fallacy you are guilty of in this post, not argument of generalization (generalization is drawing a broad conclusion from a small sample size).

      • emperorreagan

        That’s not the argument he was making.

        The argument in the blog post I was addressing is that it’s perfectly valid to argue with a fool or to attack the low hanging fruit, per Sam Harris.  The caveat, which I add, is that it’s not valid to draw further conclusions about religion from debating with said fool for the reasons I listed.  Generalizing (explicit or implied) from a debate with a member of the Westboro Baptist church to most religious people is not a valid argument.

        Seeking out the low hanging fruit also generally violates the principle of charity.  In rhetoric and philosophy, the principle is that you approach the opposition’s argument in such a way as to maximize it’s rationality.  Plucking the low hanging fruit is pursuing the exact opposite course of action.  

        If Sam Harris or the author of this post were serious about the debate about the existence of deities, then they should be seeking out the theologians, meta physicists, and others who are most well versed on the topic in order to make their arguments.  That’s not just what religious people would prefer – it’s what the principles demand.

        To your specific statement: empirical arguments about the existence of a god have been going back and forth for hundreds of years and I doubt that they’re going to kill off religion any time soon, regardless of the popularity of Hitchens, Dawkins, et. al.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=582421762 Ants Parder

    Oh dear this will confuse some true believers.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/FRJD66AT6LQ6CZZ46XJO43A4FM Artor

      Nah, they’re immune to evidence or logic. I think Dawkins said, “If you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people.”

      • http://www.facebook.com/elpolloloco52 Josh Adkisson

         Because Dawkins is the paragon of reason and wisdom…

        Please. Give me the old atheists back any day.

        • Yer Dad

          Amen! (ha!)

          Dawkinsites, another brand of true believer.

      • Hey ho

         and yet dawkins is a religious man himself. the fool can only see the other fools through his own eyes, atheism is a joke and has just as much backing as any religion does, pick and choose your facts to support your story, welcome to our story, human history.

      • Linear Inequality

        >Dawkins

        sigh…

        >Along with ignoring the French Revolution, one of the most telling features of the new books on atheism [cf. new atheism
        ] is their consistent refusal to engage Nietzsche, who, if read
        correctly, ought to make atheists squirm far more than he has ever
        caused discomfit to believers. ¶ First, he turned the critical methods
        of the Enlightenment against their inventors and showed that Enlightened
        faith in progress was just as illusory as belief in an afterlife.
        Second, he demanded that a critical philosophy stop pretending to be a
        substitute religion (he shrewdly called Hegelian
        idealism “insidious theology”). Third, he insisted on the indissoluble
        bond between Christian doctrine and Christian morality and poured
        contempt on novelists like George Eliot for supposing otherwise [...] ¶ Perhaps this why Nietzsche said in Ecce Homo, “the most serious Christians have always been well disposed toward me.” For they at least, unlike Dawkins, Harris, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens,
        can see that after Nietzsche a moral critique of the Christian God has
        become impossible, for it denies the very presupposition that makes its
        own critique possible. Like Abraham asking if the Lord God of justice
        could not himself do justice, protest atheism must accept the very norms
        that Nietzsche showed are essential to the meaning of belief. In
        Nietzsche alone one reads what the world really looks like si Deus non sit [if God does not exist].
        Edward T. Oakes, “Atheism and Violence”, First Things, 29 Jan 2008

        • Simiantongue

          Did you cut and paste that directly from Atheism and violence or did you type it out?

  • http://www.jaycob.co.nf/ Scruffy

    I don’t need convincing that Christianity and Catholicism are lies created to manipulate people(into being what they consider a good person, in their defense).

    But making a website about how much of a tool Jesus was and making it so people need to sign up to flame, would be a clever way to steal account info, and choose a good victim.

    • eyeoftheaxis

      I have said that about the Christian Mingle dating site. I know a woman
      that used it and fell in love with a OBVIOUSLY gay guy that said he could not
      have sex with her per Gods will. He could accept vacations and air fair. She got
      to meet his parents shortly before they broke up over biblical doctrine. IMO he
      used her in a big way, but the real deal was proving to his religious mom and
      dad he was not gay and should not be excluded from the family inheritance. So if
      you want to troll … and rake in some $ at the same time… play like a
      Christian and scam lonely 40 something never married but had a couple
      abortions “so god is punishing me” spinster on Christian Mingle. I don’t have
      the black heart to do it, but some of them are totally asking for it.

  • Guestmail

    All hope is gone. The future is bleak and filled with tumult and horrors not yet imagined. hatred is more powerful than love. The each will shake. There will be no fire from the sky to liberate us. We are doomed forever more. Lets crush oxycontin and put it up our noses to numb the experience of this.

    • Eric_D_Read

      If you’re going to chase the dragon; at least do it right. 
      Fuck that Oxy bullshit. Learn to let go and love the needle.

  • PatrickBateman

    Whatever…

  • Azathoth

    It’s funny: the very kind of thinking the church helped foster by distorting every sensible message contained in the bible in order to consolidate their power as an institution is now being used against it to try to dismantle them as an institution.
    If that’s not proof that it’s a self-destructive way of thinking, I don’t know what is.

  • feint_ruled

    I naively imagined that pointing out the inconisistencies in the bible would be a slam-dunk win over any Christian, but in reality they just shift the goalposts to say that the only inconsistencies are inconsequential stuff, human transcription errors accumulated over the years, but the main areas of doctrine are unaffected. So you can say “well Jesus died on two different days according to John or Matthew” and they will shrug it off with “it’s just the fact he died that is important.”

    Totally immune to reason.

    • Linear Inequality

       >I naively imagined that pointing out the inconisistencies in Marxism would be a slam-dunk win over any Marxist, but in reality they
      just shift the goalposts to say that the only inconsistencies are
      inconsequential stuff, human transcription errors accumulated over the
      years, but the main areas of doctrine are unaffected. So you can say
      “well, all of Marx’s core ideas have been repeatedly disproved” and
      they will shrug it off with “it’s just that _true_ socialism has never been attempted.”

      >Totally immune to reason.

      FTFY

  • GavinSealey

    1) Teachings attributed to Jesus exist therefore an originator of those teachings must have existed. ‘Jesus’ is a designation that we give to the originator of those teachings. We cannot say with any certainty if all or any of the events described in the Gospels correspond to events in the life of the teacher we call Jesus. I wouldn’t doubt a correspondence simply because historians do not record events described in the Gospels. Politically Jesus would have been a minor figure in his time; even in our own news saturated times the most profound spiritual teachers get little attention. The supernatural tales that might have drawn attention are likely to be part of the myth that attached to the historical teacher. Whether these supernatural events happened or not is not relevant to the existence of a historical Jesus.

    2) “Jesus advocates for the Orwellian concept of “thoughtcrime,” for when he says; Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)

    Jesus is actually saying ‘don’t judge’. He’s saying you’re condemning others for what they do but that same sin is in you too. See here:

    1But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

    But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

    9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

    11“No one, sir,” she said.

    “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

    ref: http://niv.scripturetext.com/john/8.htm 

    And … Why exactly did you invade Afghanistan after 9/11? And Iraq? Why are you still there?

    3) “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.(Luke 14:26)”

    Warning: Not to be used by the literal minded. Clear hyperbole pointing out the need for and primacy of spiritual commitment.

    4) “[C]ried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.”

    Not everything in the Gospels is well .. gospel. In addition to the teaching of Jesus are intrapolations from others. This passage may be on of them from an early Christian motivated to keep Christianity within the Jewish tradition.

    5) Actually there is little point going on .. I don’t define myself as Christian but I think Jesus was saying some pretty profound things about love, forgiveness, non-judgement, peace, commitment and the nature of God. The thing is to engage with that .. not to deify the teacher or condemn the teaching without really engaging.

  • Rayray

    I am now and forever will be a LUCRETIUSIST! Thank You Colby for giving me my RELIGION!

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      You mean you’re a nihilistic hedonist now? Great. We need more of those….

  • Gregory Wyrdmaven

    Well, atheists and fundie Xians and Jews all make the same mistake at looking at the Hebrew Bible as a record of stuff what happened, rather than as a sacred text that has some wisdom that could be applied to this age as well as any age.  The Hebrew Bible has the problem of coming from a culture with a monotheistic religion with an angry, jealous…but also extremely loving (snicker) god named Yahweh, the Semitic God of Sheep Molestin’.  Yahweh, being the Wal*Mart, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple of Semitic deities wanted to shut down his competition and therefore demanded his followers accept him as the only true god and basically told his people to do the exact opposite of whatever anyone else was doing, which means:  don’t wear makeup, don’t get tattoos, don’t dance, don’t grow vegetables, don’t pay any attention to idols, don’t play “pack the luggage” with the other shepherds and put your sandals on the neck of anyone who doesn’t have testicles. 

    And of course having such an authoritative, paranoid, bi-polar god such as this has created three religions that resemble a wet cat being set loose in a pitch-black warehouse full of rocking chairs.  But Yahweh insisting he is the only true god, and the writers of the gospels claiming that Yeshua bar Joseph is his only son, has doomed the Hebrew Bible from being read like a sacred text should be read…as something full of metaphor, allegory, hints to the truth but not actually saying the truth.  Because knowing WHAT IS GOING ON is the most important, and therefore the most difficult, truth to grasp.  We can only see facets of that diamond, not the entire jewel.  And this is the mistake atheists and believers make, trying to come up with easy, pat, simple judgments about the true nature of reality.

    And of course there is Islam, which exists only because someone a few centuries claimed there were editorial mistakes in the Hebrew Bible, realizing that if you change a few names here and there, BAM, suddenly the Arabs are Yahweh’s…sorry, Allah’s…chosen people and everyone else is an infidel so let’s go loot and pillage and try and conquer as much real estate as you can.  It’s like someone going back and saying that Greedo Shot First.  Oh, wait.  See?  See what revisionist history does?!?

    And it’s all because Yahweh is such an asshole.  Any spin on the big 3 Abrahamic faiths being about peace, love and sharing the last piece of cheesecake is completely ludicrous.  It’s about galvanizing racial/cultural groups into political empires, it always has been and it always will be.

    In the name of this bullshit, conquer.

    But any real examination of the Hebrew Bible by an atheist, Xian, Jew, whatever as a document that seeks to lay down real events in the lifes of real people is silly…it’s trying to tell you something other than what it is really saying and a great deal of what it says should be ignored as the ranting of a sociopathic god whose mother never got him a pony and who could never get a date for the prom, which is why he hates wimmin so much.

    Fiat lux

  • Lifobryan

    “Blessed are the Cheesemakers.” Well, obviously it’s not meant to be taken literally; it refers to all manufacturers of dairy products. 

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    When asked the question “Why do you believe something?” it seems to be a relatively new idea that the one and only acceptable answer is “Because it is True”. I think a lot of problems have come about because people have been shamed into thinking that this is the only case. Thus, when beliefs that are there for the purpose of utilitarianism or preference or any other reason people believe things, they convince themselves, as to not be considered “irrational” to say these beliefs(of which their truth is either not there, or a nonsensical issue) are in fact, True.

  • Alturn

    Jesus nearly immediately was ‘reborn’ – or reincarnated as Appolonius of Tyana after his most famous life.  Prior, he had been Joshua, Son of Nun and was trained by Moses and in 500 BC he was Jeshua son of Jehozade, 

    His latest incarnation was over 670 years ago when he was born in Syria.  He is still alive in the same physical body living outside of Rome.  

    You can confound people with the rational mind or you can confound people with the information provided by the Spiritual Hierarchy.  One relies on the interpretation of a limited set of information available in human records, the other relies on the capacity access to the Akashic records or the records of the Hierarchy.  In either of the latter case, a level of spiritual development is needed far beyond the normal human state or respect for a source who can.

    The easier way to move past this debate would be to have humanity actually request to meet both Jesus and his associates.  That, however, has been something the majority of people; whether Christian, religious or non-religious; have not had the slightest interest of actually happening.

    The fact of the massive resistance to actually seeing Jesus in the flesh is a truth that is stranger than fiction.

    • http://twitter.com/VinVanZant Vin Van Zant

       Word has it that recently he was reborn as an NFL quarterback who threw for 316 yards in a playoff game. You cannot deny the numerical facts in this case. Later he was traded to the Rome of modern times to a team, whose mascot when seen overhead looks like a cross, and in a short while will be crucified once again by the local media.

  • Pb

    TROLOLOOLOOLOLLOLOLL!L!!L!L!11!!! ENJOY YUR HELLFIRE!!!!!L OLOL

  • Tarkan Gulenc

    Jesus or Isa as he is known as in The Quran, the holy book for Muslims, is mentioned many times and was written in the 7th Century. Of this there is no doubt.

    • Dirk

       Superman or Kal El as he is known on Krypton, the home planet of Kryptonians, is mentioned many times in Action Comics written in the 20th Century. Of this there is no doubt.

      Superman = Jesus

  • BnalAlast

    Cogent logic?! In my internet? AT LONG LAST!

  • Adamsshadow

    As someone who constantly waffles between pure agnosticism a la RAW (“I doubt everything, including my own existence”), and a mushy, quasi-mystical pantheism (“God is everywhere and everything, man!”), I’m still surprised by the invective unleashed by any article or post discussing religion, “god(s),” spirituality, belief, and so forth; this includes the rabid Christian fundies, the rabid anti-Christian atheists, and everyone in-between.  Not that I haven’t been occasionally guilty of the same thing, mind you, but the level of true Interweb dickishness that invariably arises with discussion of religion (whether pro, con, or other) still surprises me.  So I offer the following (sarcasm alert) profound and totally original observation:

    Religion, more specifically organized religion, is a poison; not just in the sense that most religious critics and atheists think so, as in a virus of the mind, or as a sign of emotional or intellectual immaturity, but it is quite simply a spiritual poison.  It is wasteful, destructive, insidious, hypocritical, and mostly useless; it is, by my understanding of the word, evil.  Look not only at the effect it has on true believers, those who subscribe to any literal, codified interpretation of religious teachings, but also the effect it has on many of those who are the most adamantly opposed to it: they can’t stop talking about it, condemning it, and becoming incensed over its every mention; it inspires hatred and irrationality on both sides.  In the “culture wars” (which I believe are real, at least in the US), I definitely lean towards the secular humanist “side,” but no matter who you are, when you jump into this fight, you get dirty. I find it distressing.  If you don’t believe in the “soul,” but do believe in the moral and ethical improvement of humanity, please try and live up to that ideal and be a less of a dick.  And if you do believe in the soul, or a spiritual world (regardless of specifics), than remember that you really do no one a service (especially yourself) using hatred and bigotry.  If the world’s religions have taught us anything, I would hope they have taught us that.  All of this applies just as equally to myself, as well. 

    No, if you’ll excuse me, I have some rainforests and dolphins to save. :)            

    • Adamsshadow

      *Now, if you’ll excuse me…

      Goddammit!

    • Lifobryan

      Brilliant …. thank you.

  • Linear Inequality

    An anti-religious essay on Disinfo?

    How daring! 

  • i’z donts getz

    jsdb

  • Only EH

    EHEHEHEHEHHEHEHEHHEHEHEHEHHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHHEHEHEHEHEHEHHHEHEHHEHEHEEHHEHEHHEHEH

  • Susej

    Do What Thou Shat out butt.

  • http://twitter.com/IWannaGetFunky Mike Young

    You are definitly not going to Kolob & becoming a God after insulting the prophet Joseph Smith like that

  • Eric Rosenfeld

    How is one going to catch any trolls by posting this here? It needs to be on youtube or something.

  • Pidonre

    I’m a big fan of logic.  For all that many people will dismiss others’ arguments as being illogical, it has never the less been one of the most influential factors of civilization and also an underlying basis of language itself.  That said, the model of logic that we follow now (I appreciate the irony) has its own limitations …. bear with me for just one second.
    When one is debating a logical argument, say
    if A > B and B > C then A > C
    one either must note a logical fallacy (which I don’t believe is present … this is pretty basic)

    OR
    one can retort by doing what is known as debating the premise. 
    Debate the assumption that A>B
    or that B>C
    and once you manage that, it can no longer be said that A > C

    Unless you use a logical fallacy.

    And by “once you’ve managed that it can no longer be said that A>C”
    I meant that it can TOTALLY be argued that YOUR argument is fallacious be debating one of YOUR premises. 

    The underlying problem is in fact one of the most interesting and frustrating aspects of philosophy and logic.  Ultimately, each argument relies on assumptions – without a fundamental proof or most basic fact, a foundation of knowledge if you will. 

    Now, for the record, I am NOT arguing that a God or Gods provides this.  Quite the opposite. 

    My argument is instead for physical evidence.  You say there’s a heaven?  Prove it.  Think there’s a Hell?  Prove it.  How’s about God?  Prove it.  If you can’t, I’m not interested.  And really, even if there is one, I’m still not terribly interested.  I still have my own ideas of morality – often wrong, I wil admit and if I am mature I will correct them – but I do not believe that omnipotence is the equivalent of decency.  One could easily argue that the God of the Old Testament is highly immoral, or abusive at best – similarly, the New Testament.  Can you imagine if your brother or sister were punching you in the back seat of the car and your mother turned around after you yelled “MOOOM!!! TIMMY HIT ME” and said, “Turn the other cheek dear, so your other eye can match”.

  • RetweetLister

    You can’t see me. But I’m giving you a standing ovation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ke.combobreaker Artasith Morris Nasdsnre

    Ah, fallacies.  Tis reminiscent of a certain mine-laden playground in Fallout 3.   A major problem here is axiomatic idiosyncrasies.  Analysis of logical fallacies yields a number of landmines to pocket.  Is there a complete list?  What’s a logical fallacy, what’s a list, and what’s complete?

    Concurrently from this page and comments:

    Fallacy of Extension – fallacy of extension is a fallacy of extension i.e. to place “x” as a fallacy of extension is to commit a fallacy of extension (srsly the OG who started this ‘straw man thing’ is reaping sooo much troll cred .. makes me want to design a strawtroll or trollman … hmm …).

    Argument by Dismissal – argument by dismissal is an argument by dismissal i.e. to dismiss that argument by dismissal is not a logical fallacy is argument by dismissal (simple enough?).

    Selective Reading/Observation – if you are a human reading this, then non-selective reading/observation is physiologically impossible for you (us, atm).  uh oh!  ad hominem!  i tripped this one!  better use a stimpack!  (I can foresee it now … someone will create … THE SARCASM FALLACY!)

    Argument by Generalization – mathematical induction is an example of a case in which argument by generalization is not a logical fallacy; again, argument by generalization is an argument by generalization (whoever drew this map of mushrooms must own the field!)

    Argument by Assertion – yeah at this point they all start to seem like rhetoric.  go learn some math and physics.  srsly.  gl hf

    Supersillyset – this set contains every set k such that k is not an element of k (awkwardly similar to irrational numbers, eh Pythagoreans?  Axiom of Regularity?)

    And last but not least “THIS STATEMENT IS FALSE”

  • Tourourou

    either he exists or he doesn’t you can’t seem to make your own mind up

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