Monday, May 22, 2006

Trading In Science For History ... The Bible Still Fails

Every regular My Case Against God reader knows that my favorite weapon with which to attack Christianity is science. I’m an unabashed naturalist and physicalist; I believe the natural laws under which we live are absolute, with no room for the supernatural, miracles or other unscientific phenomena. As such, most of my Christianity criticisms relate back to claims that violate natural principles. For example, I often point out the physiological impossibility of Jesus’ resurrection (if for no other reason, the irreversibility of brain death), the factual incorrectness of creationism (in all its various disguises) and the unsupported assertion that material entities somehow can interact with “immaterial” entities, whatever those hypothetical things might be.

Tonight, I’ll take a break from science and, with the help of David Mills’ Atheist Universe, attack Christianity on historical grounds. I’ll start by focusing my attention on two important—and little known—points. I’ll be quoting from David Mills’ text.

1. Jesus probably never even existed as a human being.

Mills writes, “There is not a single reference to a ‘Jesus’ or to ‘Jesus Christ’ written by any secular source who lived during the years in which Christ supposedly walked the earth. To me, this fact is very revealing, since these years represent one of the most thoroughly documented periods of antiquity. Wouldn’t Jesus’ miracles have drawn the attention of hundreds of contemporary writers and record-keepers? Why is there no mention at all of Jesus’ existence?”

I would hazard a guess that not too many Christians know this little tidbit. It’s the most convincing evidence I have to support the theory that Jesus never even existed.

2. Noah’s Ark isn’t just logically absurd. It’s also bad history.

Mills writes, “By a literal interpretation of the Bible, the worldwide deluge occurred in the year 2348 BC. Supposedly, the only humans to survive the flood were members of Noah’s own family, who rode in the ark with Noah and the animals.

“Difficult for creationists to explain, however, is the fact that the Tigris-Euphrates Valley Civilization (in the Middle East), the Nile Valley Civilization (in Egypt), and the Aegean Civilization (in Greece) maintained uninterrupted written historical records extending before, throughout, and following the year 2348 BC. Their written chains of history were unbroken by the flood. Peoples of these vast civilizations failed to notice their own ‘destruction’.”

Could several civilizations really be oblivious to a worldwide deluge killing all of humanity?

Speaking of the Bible’s historicity, I went to see The Da Vinci Code on Saturday night (it was sold out until a 10:45 start time). I found it thoroughly entertaining and think it was unfairly maligned by critics. Of course, it’s a bunch of hooey, but it’s a fun two-and-a-half hours nonetheless. I was particularly pleased to see the film mention Malleus Maleficarum, which is all too real. This book, one of the most venerated in Christian history, is a perfect example of Christianity’s pernicious nature.

What you are about to read already has appeared on this blog, but I believe it bears repeating, if only to memorialize those who died in the name of Christianity. Mills writes, “For 1500 years, the Christian Church systematically operated torture chambers throughout Europe. Torture was the rule; not the exception. Next to the Bible, the most influential and venerated book in Christian history was the Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches), which was a step-by-step tutorial in how to torture ‘witches’ and ‘sorcerers.’ Each year, the Christian Church in Europe tortured to death tens of thousands of people, including children as young as two years of age. The only restriction was that the instruments of torment had to be blessed by a priest before their initial use.”

That isn’t part of Dan Brown’s fiction. That’s reality.

Here’s more on the Malleus Maleficarum:

“In all, the text was so popular that it sold more copies than any other work, apart from the Bible, until John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress was published in 1678.

“The effects of the Malleus Maleficarum spread far beyond Germany, greatly impacting France and Italy and, to a lesser extent, England.

“Despite popular belief that the Malleus Maleficarum was the classic Roman Catholic text on witchcraft, it was never officially used by the Catholic Church and was, in fact, condemned by the Inquisition in 1490.”

So, it’s important to clarify that, while Malleus Maleficarum never was endorsed officially by the powers that be, it nevertheless was startlingly popular. Unquestionably, its effects were felt as the “witch” and “sorcerer” body count rose.

How many innocent people were slaughtered in the name of witchcraft, anyway? It seems things aren’t quite clear:

“Brian Levack, author of The Witch Hunt in Early Modern Europe, took the number of known European witch trials and multiplied it by the average rate of conviction and execution. This provided him with a figure of around 60,000 deaths.

“Anne Lewellyn Barstow, author of Witchcraze, arrived at a number of approximately 100,000 deaths by attempting to adjust Levack's estimate to account for what she believed were unaccounted lost records, although historians have pointed out that Levack's estimate had already been adjusted for these.

“Ronald Hutton, author of Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles and Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft, in his unpublished essay ‘Counting the Witch Hunt,’ counted local estimates, and in areas where estimates were unavailable attempted to extrapolate from nearby regions with similar demographics and attitudes towards witch hunting. He reached an estimate of 40,000 total executions, which appears to be emerging as the most widely accepted figure among academics.”

It should be noted that those figures might be too low. Some historians present figures of up to 135,000 people killed under the infamous Torquemada. This number incorporates 125,000 asserted to have died in prison because of bad conditions.

For every Biblical historical inaccuracy, there seems to be a Church-sponsored historical atrocity.

It’s always tragic when people perish in the name of a lie.

And, unfortunately, that’s equally applicable to the Iraq debacle.

26 Comments:

Blogger Woozie said...

Well, you know that the guy who wrote the bible didn't even put his name on it, so those miracles are most likely made up.

9:06 PM EDT  
Anonymous bernarda said...

I may have mentioned the following site in another blog subject, but as I don't see it on your list, I will give it again. It is by an Italian who gives a thorough analysis of the Jesus myth.

http://www.luigicascioli.it/home_eng.php

As to debunking the old testament, I may also have mentioned the book "The Bible Unearthed" by Finkelstein and Silberman. There has also been a video documentary made of their book.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0684869128/002-7085796-9270430?v=glance&n=283155

Another source for the history of the bible, both old and new testaments is here:

http://www.bidstrup.com/bible.htm

3:44 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh the people of the book. Think of it. The Quran tells the past, present and future. Let me give you an example: The Quran said this 1400 years before the hubble space telescope was launched to discover this: (Quran: 55, Surat- Ar Rahman)
37. When the sky is torn apart, so it was (like) a red rose, like ointment.
38. Then, which favours of your lord would you deny?
Definitely, you would probably say that this is pure rubbish before any scientific evidences. Scientists are
beginning to prove that the supernatural world is true... Little by little. For if you don't believe this, why not YOU alone travel into the Bermuda Triangle with the latest tech toys and we'll see if we'll ever see you again.

Now, bear witness that the glorious Quran said that before any there was any Scientific evidence many years later. Therefore, I invite you to Islam. The light in the darkness. The true guidance against violence. Peace. When the heavens and the earth meets. Think. Think Allah. The most merciful.

As a muslim, I'd rather you have a guidance with the 'untrue bible' than be uncivilised and barbaric as what you are now. For the bible was from Allah, the eternal, the absolute. So was the thorah. And the glorious QURAN which has never been edited for the 1500 years it has survived so far. No news updates no nothing. Islam = Peace And Prosperity
Please stop critisising the bible, as what Muslims believe, Respect other religions even if it is wrong to the fullest. Respect the believe of others.

abdulrahmankhan01@gmail.com
May Allah Subahannaawata'ala bless the deserving ones and punished the wrong ones.

11:19 AM EDT  
Blogger Delta said...

Good post. I saw Da Vinci code this last Saturday and liked it as well. Although towards the end when they're asking if they should reveal all this to the public and "destroy faith" I wanted to yell outloud in support! But of course that sort of secret wouldn't destroy faith at all. Common sense does that.

2:22 PM EDT  
Anonymous bernarda said...

Islam is a religion of male pigs, by male pigs, and for male pigs.

If you believe in islam like abdulrahmankhan01 you are a woman-hating terrorist.

Guys like abdulrahmankhan01 are such losers that they can't get any unless they make women slaves.

But when you see all these muslim men at prayer with their asses in the air, they sure seem to want to take it in the ole chocolate speedway. I suppose the Prophet or Allah will give them what they want where they want.

Put that in your "pipe" abdulrahmankhan01

3:31 PM EDT  
Blogger Bacon Eating Atheist Jew said...

Anon, nowhere in the Koran does it say evolution is fact.
Most religious Muslim leaders I've seen think evolution is crap.
I guess it isn't such a good science book afterall.

3:44 PM EDT  
Blogger The Comment Pimpette said...

Frances - aren't you supposed to be working on a book? How do you have all this time to post lies about lies? Oh, and that building isn't going to build itself and those religious bullshit holidays aren't going to magically appear on calendars.

**sigh**

6:57 PM EDT  
Blogger TheJollyNihilist said...

those miracles are most likely made up.

To say the least!


Bernarda,

Thanks for all the links! Much appreciated!

10:35 PM EDT  
Blogger TheJollyNihilist said...

I saw Da Vinci code this last Saturday and liked it as well. Although towards the end when they're asking if they should reveal all this to the public and "destroy faith" I wanted to yell outloud in support! But of course that sort of secret wouldn't destroy faith at all. Common sense does that.

Or so we all hope. At the very least, we can say common sense and science destroyed faith for you and I. Let's hope there are many more.

Frances - aren't you supposed to be working on a book? How do you have all this time to post lies about lies? Oh, and that building isn't going to build itself and those religious bullshit holidays aren't going to magically appear on calendars.

I suppose I've gotten sidetracked. And my upcoming weekend getaway to sunny Florida won't help matters. Perhaps I'll bring a laptop into the surf!

10:47 PM EDT  
Blogger DoctorBoogaloo said...

According to Homer Simpson -- as reliable a source as any priest, rabbi or imam -- Jeebus was 'all man'.

It's a damn shame there was no photographer from the Nazareth Times present at The Last Supper.

12:20 AM EDT  
Blogger Delta said...

You're going to write a book? On what may I ask?

2:38 AM EDT  
Blogger Allie D. said...

All very good points, particularly on the lack of evidence from secular sources on the existence of Jesus himself. It is questionable.

Obviously SOMETHING happened back then, though. Something big enough to cause the changes it did. Even if he did exist, there is nothing to indicate that he was nothing more than a human being, and testaments to his miracles are nothing more than hearsay and recall passed down during the decades between the so-called miracles and the writing of the gospels.

One thing I like to point out to the scholars who are trying to refute the claims made in Holy Blood, Holy Grail (and by proxy The Da Vinci Code) is that while they try to shoot down what they believe is fiction, they have no evidence whatsoever to prove that what they are trying to defend is anything BUT. Ridiculous.

12:52 PM EDT  
Blogger Bacon Eating Atheist Jew said...

Allie, the first Christians seemed to appear around 60 AD most likely. Jews were being persecuted by the Romans big time. Their loyalty to the big mean vengeful God was really being tested. Enter, the good kind turn the other cheek God and his invented son who promised all those dudes who had misery on earth eternal life. It was a pretty easy sell.
It only takes two people to start a religion: One really good liar/or mental patient and one person with a big mouth who believes everything the liar/mental case says.

3:47 PM EDT  
Blogger The Comment Pimpette said...

**crossing arms**
**stomping foot**

grrrrrrrrrrrrr, I hate waiting!

Have fun in Florida!

4:12 PM EDT  
Anonymous bernarda said...

Paul is actually the major figure of the new testament and he says virtually nothing about jesus. Paul's writings(circa 50 CE) were apparently the first confirmed christian writings and he knew nothing about jesus and very little about the supposed disciples.

Paul didn't even pretend to learn from jesus. He claimed to have visions and revelations straight from god.

There was no significant persecution of christians under Nero around 60-70 CE. One simple reason is that there were at most only a handful of christians in Rome and probably all of Italy at the time.

http://users.drew.edu/ddoughty/Christianorigins/persecutions/tacnero.html

There is no proof that either Pierre or Paul were martyred. They seem to have died natural deaths. There is even a question whether Pierre ever existed.

4:53 PM EDT  
Blogger Allie D. said...

That's a good point, Bacon.

Basically the only thing driving these people is "faith". That word tastes more and more sour to me as time passes.

5:01 PM EDT  
Blogger TheJollyNihilist said...

You're going to write a book? On what may I ask?

Nah, it's just a little joke that Comment Pimpette and I have going. She recently was bemoaning the fact that there's no Atheist Bible, atheist holidays and other such atheism-affirming things. I facetiously promised to get right to work on it.

I might write a book one day though. After all, I am a writer/editor by trade, since I work for a magazine.

11:13 PM EDT  
Anonymous superskeptic said...

The Mills quote, while factually correct, is a little misleading...

There are other, non-Christian texts that mention Jesus. None of them come from when Jesus was supposedly doing his teaching (asserted to be around 30-33 CE or so). However, they are early enough as to at least give one pause before making unequivocal statements that Jesus historically did not exist.

Writings from Josephus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus), while far from proof, seem to be the closest thing to a non-Christian historical account of an actual person named Jesus. Two passages in his writing "Antiquities of the Jews" (published 93 CE, so it's possible that the synoptic Gospels reached Josephus by this time) mention Jesus Christ. One (that goes into much detail) is highly debated as to its authenticity; the other, which mentions "James, brother of Jesus who was called Christ" is generally accepted as authentic.

Tacitus, a Roman writer, mentions the death of Jesus at the hands of Pontius Pilate under the rule of Tiberius in "Annals" (published 117 CE but certainly written before that).

Other non-Christian writings from the late first and early second century are listed at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08375a.htm. That's a Catholic website, so one can take it with a grain (or pillar) of salt.

None of these writings prove that there was a historical figure named Jesus, but at the same time, these are historical texts.

Just for the record, I'm an ex-Christian -- not exactly an athiest, but not exactly *not* an athiest either. I just want to analyze everything pro-belief and anti-belief with the same set of scales.

3:02 AM EDT  
Blogger GhostRose said...

I can't stand the bible or anything to do with Christioanity. I don't see why I should bother with a religion that burns people at the stake for being "a litttle odd and talking to cats". Seems to me that not a lot has changed in 500 years.

By the way, would you be up for swappiing links? I like this blog and will be doing a link for it, so would be great if you cuold link me too.

L

10:55 AM EDT  
Blogger J. R. Morden said...

"I often point out the physiological impossibility of Jesus’ resurrection (if for no other reason, the irreversibility of brain death)"

God exists outside of space-time and therefore neither He, nor His powers are in any way limited by the rules and laws of a system He exists outside of. The Resurrection was an act of God, and no physiology can prevent Him from accomplishing His goals.

3:42 PM EDT  
Blogger TheJollyNihilist said...

JR,

Basically, what you're saying is this:

I am going to presuppose the existence of an all-powerful deity--despite the fact that there is no hard evidence to support that presupposition--and on the basis of that unsupported presupposition I am going to ignore the physical laws by which nature operates.

3:06 AM EDT  
Anonymous Mehreen said...

People, Let me say that Islam PROHIBITS THE KILLING OF INNOCENT PEOPLE.
If Osama Bin Laden is killing innocent people, then don't balme all Muslims, becuase there will be some black sheeps in a community but most Muslims think Bin Laden is an idiot.
ISLAM IS THE MOST LOGICAL RELIGION, KNOWS THE MOST ABOUT SCIENCE AND NOT ONE OF IT'S CHAPTERS HAVE EVER BEEN ALTERED, BECUASE GOD PROMISED THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN.
If you want to know more about Islam, E-Mail me and I will answer your questions and I will tell you about my website that is currently under construction.
Yours Faithfully,
Islam_ForEternity@yeahoo.com

9:11 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tried to struggle through the rubble in seek of life, but I found no sign of life. The article is but rubble, a waste indeed!

Imagine the magnitude of power an non-existent man. Faith in Christ (supposedly non existent!) has stood the test of time. People have died for this NON EXISTENT man. I think there is no other man who walked on earth who had such power and leadership qualities.

My desire and hunger to learn about such a man has increased

11:15 AM EDT  
Blogger Lui said...

"stop critisising the bible, as what Muslims believe, Respect other religions even if it is wrong to the fullest. Respect the believe of others."

Ummmmmmm....nah. I have no obligation to stop criticising anything.

"37. When the sky is torn apart, so it was (like) a red rose, like ointment.
38. Then, which favours of your lord would you deny?"

This is one of the most vague passages I've ever read. The fact that you would consider this "scientific evidence" tells me that either you hold real science in complete contempt, or you don't know what it is.

Anonymous, I want to know what you think about evolution. Since Islam "knows the most about science" (strange, considering that most Muslim countries lag behind the West in scientific expertise, but anyway) what do you think of the enormous amount of evidence that we are descended from a common ancestor with chimpanzees? If you're just going to say that evolution is the invention of Satan or some idiotic nonsense like that, don't waste my time.

7:37 AM EDT  
Blogger Katherine said...

""Islam is a religion of male pigs, by male pigs, and for male pigs.

If you believe in islam like abdulrahmankhan01 you are a woman-hating terrorist.

Guys like abdulrahmankhan01 are such losers that they can't get any unless they make women slaves.

But when you see all these muslim men at prayer with their asses in the air, they sure seem to want to take it in the ole chocolate speedway. I suppose the Prophet or Allah will give them what they want where they want.

Put that in your"pipe"abdulrahmankhan01""

I want to kiss you in the mouth.

12:51 AM EST  
Blogger Shanmugamonydighthe said...

Man only made god and not god.Man named god and not god named man. You are the god.

10:47 AM EST  

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