Peter Saunders

Sadly, Peter Saunders proves himself to be a gullible fool, just like all the other Christian apologists.

** FAIR WARNING!  This post is a MONSTER, it is fairly densely written and is extremely long.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you! **

There are certainly a lot of religious frauds and crackpots running around the Internet, claiming that they’ve proven a particular religious viewpoint and often producing sad lists of “evidence” like what follows, lists which are easily shredded with even a modicum of critical evaluation.  While I don’t know if he’s one of the worst, Peter Saunders is certainly one of the most vocal on Twitter.  Tonight, I saw this list go sailing by, attached to a tweet, spammed across several atheist hashtags, I had to take a look and laugh at what I saw.

By all means, go read his original post, in fact, go poke around his site, it’s good for a giggle. Clearly he, like so many other theists, is desperately looking for some reason to believe these particular stories that they are already attached to, instead of searching for the truth wherever it may lie, that he searches out carefully tailored claims, many of which are simply untrue, to show that what he already believes is true, even if it demonstrably is not.

And so, without any more ado, here’s the latest list of “proof” that Christianity is true, according to the addled mind of Peter Saunders.

1.The uniqueness of Jesus Christ. The life, teaching, extraordinary claims and miracles of Jesus Christ as recorded by eyewitnesses are best explained by him being God incarnate: the creator and sustainer of the universe who took on human flesh.

The problem here, of course, is that the story of Jesus really isn’t unique by any means, you could only make such a claim if you were entirely ignorant of other so-called saviors.  It’s a well known fact that, to put it nicely, there was a Messiah on every street corner at the time of Jesus and in the many years that have followed.   In fact, if you examine many of the other well-known Messianic figures that would have been known in the area at the time, the parallels are quite striking.

Attis of Phrygia – Born of a virgin on December 25, he is both Divine Son and Father.  He was crucified on a tree on Black Friday, descended  into the underworld and was resurrected from the dead.  His body was eaten by his followers.

Buddha – Visited the temple when he was 12, astonished all the teachers with his wisdom, fasted in the wilderness for 47 (as opposed to 40) days, began his public ministry at about the same time as Jesus (29 vs. 30 years)

Dionysus – Born of a virgin on December 25 and placed in a manger as the Holy Child.  He traveled the land, doing miracles, including turning water into wine.  He is recorded that he “rode in a triumphal procession on an ass.”  He was killed, most likely by crucifixion or being hung on a tree, and rose again on March 25

Heracles – Son of a God, Hera tried to kill Heracles as an infant, he descends into Hades and returns, and is then taken bodily to “heaven”.

Horus – Born of a virgin, the “only begotten son of god”.  His birth was heralded by a star and he was laid in a manger.  His life was threatened as an infant, parents fled to Egypt to hide.  Was baptized in a river at age 30.  Performed many miracles like walking on water, healing the sick and raising the dead.  Was crucified, sent to hell and rose from the dead after 3 days.

Krishna – Born of a virgin, called the Son of God, Savior and considered the second part of a trinity.  Krishna, like Jesus, was of royal descent, both were visited upon their birth by wise men following a star, both had a king try to kill him in infancy and both had parents who fled to protect him.  Mary and Joseph stayed in Muturea; Krishna’s parents stayed in Mathura.  Both were god-men, without sin and performed many miracles including the curing of disease and the casting out of demons.  Both had a last supper, both were crucified and both were resurrected.

Romulus – Born of a virgin, a darkness covered the earth at his death and he ascended into heaven.

Zarathustra – Born of a virgin and baptized in a river, he astounded wise men in his youth with his wisdom.  He was tempted in the wilderness by the devil.  He began his public ministry at age 30.  He cast out demons and restored sight to the blind.  Followers described him as “the Word made flesh”.  Followers watch for a second coming.

All of these pre-dated Jesus and were well-known in Palestine at the time.  It was a common practice in the ancient world to adopt characteristics from other surrounding religions to incorporate into your own tales and certainly, that was done in the Jesus story.  You’d be hard pressed to find much that was actually original in the Jesus myth.  Clearly, Jesus was nowhere remotely close to being unique, in fact it’s more likely that many elements of Jesus’ supposed life were just copied from other local “Messiahs”.

2.Jesus death and resurrection. All historical records are agreed on the facts that Jesus was killed, that his dead body disappeared, that the disciples claimed to have seen him alive and that the church grew rapidly in the belief that he had been resurrected. His actual bodily resurrection in space-time history remains the best explanation for these observations.

That’s the problem, there are no contemporary historical records that even mention Jesus, much less a crucifixion.  There are no Roman records of Jesus whatsoever, even though we have very complete records for others that they put to death.  Where Peter gets the idea that all historical records are agreed, I have no idea since there are no historical records whatsoever.  If you talk to secular historians, that is, people who do history for a living and who are not religiously biased to accept these things by  faith, you will find very few who accept the historicity of Jesus at all, certainly not based on the actual evidence at hand.  Let’s look at some of the writings we do have that mention Jesus, shall we?

Flavius Josephus (37CE-100CE) – Josephus supposedly wrote, in his historical annals called Jewish Antiquities, the following:

“Now, there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works; a teacher of such men as received the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.” (Antiquities XVIII 63f)

There are several problems with this, however.  First and most obvious, Josephus was not born during the supposed lifetime of Jesus and therefore was not an eyewitness to any of the statements he makes.  That makes him a second-hand source at best, just going by what he’s been told by others.  Secondly, however, there is evidence that this was an early Christian forgery and Josephus didn’t actually write any of this.  It doesn’t appear in any of the earliest copies of the manuscript, any that date to the time that Josephus was alive.  There is no external mention of this passage in Josephus until late in the 4th century by Eusebius, using the writings of the great Christian apologist Origen, indicating that it did not exist until then.  If Origen, who sought out such things, never mentioned it, it’s clear that it wasn’t around.  Third, it simply does not flow linguistically or stylistically with the rest of the book.  The difference in style between it and the paragraphs before and after is jarring, indicating it was written by someone else.  Finally, it makes no logical sense for Josephus, a strict Orthodox Jewish priest of high position, to have made such claims about a supposed Messiah, one that the Jews had supposedly been waiting for since antiquity, and never again in his life mention anything about it again.  There is no indication that Josephus was ever a follower of, or believer in, Jesus.  These problems make this passage beyond credibility.

Suetonius (69CE-122CE) – There is a single mention that Christian apologists make a big deal about, but which clearly doesn’t mean what they want it to mean in context:

“Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome”. Life of Claudius (XXv.4)

At issue here is the name of Chrestus, who apologists claim was talking about Christ.  Of course, that makes no sense.  First off, Suetonius wrote in Latin and “Chrestus” is the proper Latin form for a Greek name.  Suetonius spelled out Christians correctly elsewhere in his writings, proving that that wasn’t what he intended.  Further, there’s no record of Jesus ever being in Rome, certainly not to instigate an uprising from the local Jews.  And, of course, Suetonius wasn’t around when Jesus was, thus anything he might have had to say on the subject would be hearsay anyhow.  It makes no sense whatsoever to think this is a credible reference to Jesus.

Tacitus (56CE-117CE) – The great Roman historian and politician wrote the following in his Annals:

“Consequently … Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations. Called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberias at the hands of the Procurator Pontius Pilatus, and a deadly superstition, thus checked for a moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but also in the City.” Annals (XV.44.2-8)

In this passage, Tacitus, who is also not an eyewitness to anything that Jesus supposedly did, is simply informing his Roman readers of the stories about Jesus.  There is no reason to think that Tacitus actually did any research into the death of Jesus and plenty of evidence that he did not.  For one thing, Pilate was not a Procurator, he was a Prefect and no Roman records would have referred to him as such.  Much more likely, he was relating stories he had been told by early Christians.  While many historians consider the passage legitimate, there are other questions about the validity of this account, it was never mentioned by Christian apologists until the 15th century, at a time that the only copy of Tacitus’ Annals was made 600 years after his death.  Surely, if such a passage did exist earlier, it would have been made use of by many of the early Christian scholars, especially Origin and Eusebius.

Pliny the Younger (61CE-112CE) – Pliny was the provincial governor of Pontus and Bithynia, was concerned about early Christians who refused to worship the Emperor.  He sent a letter which reads, in part:

“They also declared that the sum total of their guilt or error amounted to no more than this: that they had met regularly before dawn on a fixed day to chant verses alternately among themselves in honour of Christ as if to a god, and also to bind themselves by oath, not for any criminal purpose, but to abstain from theft, robbery, and adultery …”

Clearly, Pliny, who was the  was asking Emperor Trajan what to do about the Christians living in Asia Minor, he certainly was not talking about Jesus and, as with all the others, lived far too late to have ever seen Jesus with his own eyes.  No one is discounting the existence of Christians.  The passage itself reveals that he is simply reporting information he got from the believers themselves, not historical fact.

Thallus (?) – We know very little about Thallus because his writings do not survive to this day.  The only reference we have is a single passage from a book written by Julius Africanus around 221CE, in which he claims that Thallus recorded a darkness that fell across the land.  However, since we cannot be certain of the source material, this is simply hearsay.

Talmud – Some Christian apologists claim that references to Yeshu in the Jewish Talmud actually refer to Jesus, but of course one only has to read the passages to find them absurd.  The Talmud is very clear that Yeshu  was a student of Jehoshua Ben-Perachia, that lived at least a century before the  supposed time of Jesus.  Others claim it may refer to Yeshu ben Pandera, a teacher who lived in the 2nd century BCE, certainly too early to be our Biblical Jesus.

The Acts of Pilate is a supposed official letter written by Pontius Pilate about the execution of Jesus but no one considers it valid.  Virtually all experts consider it to be an early Christian forgery to discredit pagan criticism.

There are other sources but they are all as unreliable as the ones I’ve presented.  Sorry, there just isn’t any credible extra-Biblical source material for the factual existence of Jesus.

3.The manuscript evidence for the New Testament. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are by far the best attested events in all antiquity in terms of the number of manuscripts recording them and the closeness in time of those hand-written records to the events they describe.

Certainly not, mostly because Christians are largely ignorant of how historical sciences work.  So let’s look at this claim.  There simply are no manuscripts written during the time of the life of Jesus and there isn’t a single independent eye-witness account of the life or works of Jesus, that’s something we tackled in the previous point.  None of the people at any of his miracles penned a quick testimonial.  Nobody who watched him die on a cross bothered to write it down.  None of the many, many people who must have seen him after his supposed resurrection wrote a letter saying “hey, guess what I saw!”  Such things simply do not exist, which is a major blow to the historicity claims of Christians.  Historians operate by comparing multiple independent eyewitness accounts of events to determine if they agree on enough elements to consider the story reliable.  For the longest time, historians discounted the Trojan War, recorded only in the writings of Homer, because it lacked significant literary or archaeological evidence.  It was only after they found actual physical remains from the war itself that historians accepted that it had actually happened.  Peter’s claims about the reliability of the New Testament is simply untrue.  If you compare the writings of the Gospels, people who purported to have actually been at these events, you find an absurd amount of discrepancies.

Now I suppose that some of the early-life elements of Jesus, we can excuse these “eyewitnesses” for making errors since obviously, they weren’t there, but the story goes that the Bible was inspired by God and in Proverbs 30:5-6, it says “Every word of God is flawless,” which brings us back to the claims that are made in the Bible must, if the Bible is true, be without error.  Yes, that’s circular, but it’s what many Christians believe.

So where do the anonymous Gospel writers differ in Jesus’ early life?  It may strike you as nitpicking, but I’ll point out why it’s important in a moment.  Matthew 2:14 says that Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Egypt after his birth to escape the killing of the infant boys by Herod.  Luke 2:39 says they went straight to Nazareth without an Egyptian stopover.    That seems to be a rather important omission, especially considering that the distance between Nazareth and Egypt is 5,659 miles.  That’s quite a long distance, especially in an age where everyone walked.  It’s not like forgetting to mention a quick visit to the liquor store on the way somewhere.

So you ask, what difference does it make?  Well, very little if the writers of Matthew and Luke are just people telling stories, there’s no reason why one ought to mention something and the other not.  However, we’re talking about Godly inspiration here, God supposedly spoke through these two men and everything that these men said must, by definition, be without error.  It seems odd that God would relay details to some men and forget to do so with others.  In fact, only Matthew and Luke even mention the early life of Jesus, it seems to have completely slipped God’s mind when it came to Mark and John.

Let’s move to an event that all four writers reportedly attended then, the resurrection of Jesus.  They simply cannot get their stories straight.  How many women went to the sepulchre?  How many angels were there?  What were the women told to do?  How and where did they meet Jesus?  All of the gospels give different answers to these most basic of questions.  If they can’t get the easy stuff right, how can we trust them on the difficult parts?

Matthew 28:1 says that there were two women who went to the sepulchre, in Mark 16:1 says three women went,  Luke 24:10 said there was one, and John 20:1 says five or more.  Every single Gospel differs, yet this is the easiest possible detail to get correct.  If these four men can’t even count to five, they have no business writing a story down.

According to Matthew 28:1 it was dawn when the women went to the Sepulchre, but in John 20:1 they went before dawn, when it was still dark.  So when was it?

Who was at the tomb when the women got there?  Matthew 28:2 says there was an angel, Mark 16:5 says a young man, Luke 24:4 says there were two men, and finally John 20:12 says there were two angels.  Now while I might be able to grant that the young men were actually angels in disguise, going sans wings and halos, we’re again left with a case of writers who can’t count.

Then we’re left to wonder how these people got into the tomb in the first place.  Matthew 28:2 says that the angel rolled the stone from the entrance, but Luke 24:4 says the stone was already moved.  So when did this miraculous event happen?  Before or after the unspecified number of women showed up?

The Gospels don’t agree on where the angel(s) and/or men were either.  Matthew 28:2 says that he was outside to open the tomb… but the other Gospels they are found inside the tomb.

In Matthew 28:8 the women run to tell the disciples about what they found at the tomb.  But Mark 16:8 says they were too scared to tell anyone.  Which was it?

Mary Magdalene saw Jesus and knew it was him in Matthew 28:9, but she didn’t know it was him in John 20:14, and never saw him, but was told by angels that he was alive in Luke 24:23.  Again, we’re left with an undecipherable paradox, it’s simply not possible for someone to see another person and recognize them, to not recognize them, and not to see them at all.

Matthew 28:10 says Jesus told the disciples to go to Galilee, but in Luke 24:29 Jesus tells them to head to Jerusalem to be empowered “with power from on high”.

Again, I have to ask, if it is so utterly impossible for four men who were supposedly at the same event to relate the same story, even in the broad strokes, how can we trust anything that they have to say at all?  Credible historians would reject the Bible as a general source of historical fact, in fact, credible historians do exactly that.

4.The uniqueness of the Bible.  The uniqueness of the Bible in its continuity, circulation, translation, survival, teachings and influence along with its internal consistency despite consisting of 66 books written by over 40 authors on three continents over 1,500 years defies simple explanation and is fully consistent with its claim to be divine revelation.

This would be great if the Bible was actually internally consistent, which it is not.  It would also be great if the Bible wasn’t purposely constructed by a religious organization with an agenda, which it was.  The fact is, there were many, many more books than the 66 that made it into the Bible, some of them have been kept by Catholics in their Apocrypha.  It’s not like some of these ideas weren’t referenced in the Bible, in fact, a huge number of these books were quoted or referenced in existing Biblical texts, such as:

Poets Epimenides and Aratus in his speech at Athens (Acts 17:28).
Acts of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:29)
Acts of Solomon (1 Kings 11:41)
Acts of Uziah (2 Chronicles 26:22)
Book of Enoch (Jude 1:14)
Book of Gad the Seer (1 Chronicles 29:29)
Book of Jasher (Joshua 10:13, 2 Samuel 1:18)
Book of Jehu (2 Chronicles 20:34)
Book of Samuel the Seer (1 Chronicles 29:29)
Book of the Covenant (Exodus 24:7)
Book of the Law (of Moses?) (Joshia 1:8) [Same as Book of The Covenant? 2 Kings 23:2, 22:1]
Book of the Wars of the Lord (Numbers 21:14)
Book of Truth (Daniel 10:21)
Book of Life (Psalm 69:28)
Epistle from Laodicea to the Colossians (Colossians 4:16)
Epistle to Corinth (1 Corinthians 5:9)
Epistle to the Ephesians (Ephesians 3:3)
Iddo Genealogies (2 Chronicles 12:15)
Jude, the Missing Epistle (Jude 1:3)
Letters to the synagogues in Damascus (Acts 9:2)
Nathan the Prophet (1 Chronicles 29:29, 2 Chronicles 9:29)
Nazarene Prophecy Source (Matthew 2:23)
Prophecy of Abijah (2 Chronicles 9:29)
Sayings of the Seers (2 Chronicles 33:19)
Shemaiah the Prophet (2 Chronicles 12:15)
Story of Prophet Iddo (2 Chronicles 13:22)
The Annals of King David (1 Chronicles 27:24)
Book of The Annals of the Kings of Judah (1 Kings 14:29)
book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah
Book of The Annals of King Solomon (1 Kings 11:41)
Book of The Annals of the Kings of Israel (1 Kings 15:31)
The Manner of the Kingdom (1 Samuel 10:25)
Thousand Songs of Solomon (1 Kings 4:32)
Visions of Iddo the Seer (2 Chronicles 9:29)

That’s just a small list of the books that we can directly reference from the Bible, the reality is, there are literally hundreds of books that were considered at the Council of Trent.  These works have been semi-organized into various categories including the apocrypha/deuterocanonical writings and the pseudepigrapha.  Of course, we must realize that the whole point of the Council of Trent was to simply build a Bible that the attendees agreed with.  There are four criteria that were generally considered to determine if a book qualified to be in the New Testament:

  1. Inspiration – church fathers wanted to only canonize writings that they thought were “inspired by God”, they certainly recognized that the books of the Bible were not the only inspired works. Inspiration was a necessity for inclusion, it was not a guarantee of inclusion and, of course, whether or not something is inspired is wholly subjective in the first place.
  2. The Rule of Faith – this rule states that no book shall be accepted that varies from accepted scripture or that teaches false doctrines.  In other words, it won’t  be accepted if it disagrees with what the council already believes to be true, a purely fallacious and circular proposition.
  3. Apostolic Authority – to be included, the book had to be written by an Apostle of Jesus or an immediate follower of an Apostle of Jesus.  Of course, today we know that the writers of the Gospels, for instance, were never eyewitnesses of the actual person, if such existed, they are wholly anonymous authors writing under pseudonyms.  Paul, of course, was never an Apostle, nor a direct follower of an Apostle, they made exceptions for those who pretended to have mysterious experiences.
  4. Church Usage – once again, we have a circular criteria, they would not consider including a book in the Bible unless Christian churches already acknowledged it and were using it.  In other words, they’re only going to consider things true that they already consider true.

It’s clear that the Bible didn’t just spring, fully formed, from the mouth of God, it was carefully constructed by a group of men who had an agenda.  To then turn around and say “look how perfectly formed it is!” is quite hypocritical, it is the way it is because it was built that way.

In fact, I find one of the non-included books, the Infancy Gospel of Thomas to be quite entertaining.  It is supposedly written by a childhood friend of Jesus who records the clear fact that Jesus was a real dick growing up.  Found within that gospel is the following story:

3  The son of Annas the scholar, standing there with Jesus, took a willow branch and drained the water Jesus had collected.  Jesus, however, saw what had happened and became angry, saying to him, “Damn you, you irreverent fool!  What harm did the ponds of water do to you?  From this moment you, too, will dry up like a tree, and you’ll never produce any leaves or root or bear fruit.”

In an instant, the boy had completely withered away,  Then Jesus departed and left for the house of Joseph.  The parents of the boy who had withered away picked him up and were carrying him out, sad because he was so young.  And came to Joseph and accused him:  “It’s your fault – your boy did this.”

4  Later he was going through the village again when a boy ran by and bumped him on the shoulder.  Jesus got angry and said to him , “You won’t continue your journey.”  And all of a sudden he fell down and died.

Some people saw what had happened and said “Where has this boy come from?  Everything he says happens instantly!”

The parents of the dead boy came to Joseph and blamed him, saying, “Because you have such a boy, you cannot live with us in the village, or else teach him to bless and not curse.  He’s killing our children!”

So according to one of the many unacceptable Gospels, Jesus murdered at least two other children when he was a boy.  I wonder why this particular Gospel wasn’t included by the Council of Trent?

5.Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in Christ.  The 39 books that make up the Old Testament contain several hundred references to the coming Messiah concerning his life, death and resurrection which were written hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth but were fulfilled during his life and confirm his credentials as the promised Messiah.

While it is true that there are some references to a coming Messiah, there certainly aren’t as many as many Christian apologists pretend.  That’s because they have combed the Old Testament for anything that they could make appear might apply to Jesus and claimed it was a reference, even when, if you read it in context, it clearly is not so.  Certainly, there is no evidence that the Jews ever considered it to be a Messianic prophecy.

Perhaps the best known is Isaiah 7:14 which reads:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Lots of apologists look at that as a prophecy of a coming Messiah but it’s certainly not what it is.  In fact, this is an example of the author of Matthew trying to make up a prophecy where one doesn’t exist.  If we simply  go back to the passage in Isaiah and read it in context, we  find it’s certainly not talking about some future Messiah, but of then current events.  If you look at, say, Isaiah 7:10-16, it’s clear that this is part of a promise from God to King Ahaz, who is concerned that his kingdom is about to be overrun by two competing nations and God promises a child named Immanuel as a sign that God is with Ahaz and his people and promises that the child will still be an infant when the foreign kings are defeated.  How then can it apply to Jesus, who wasn’t born until 700 years after the death of Ahaz?  Clearly, it does not, Matthew got it wrong.  Or did he?  The fact is, Matthew was quite good at pouring over the Old Testament, taking words and phrases out of context and demanding they constituted an ancient prophecy when clearly, in context, they did not.  We’ll revisit this in the next section.

6.Biblical prophecy fulfilled in history.  The hundreds of predictive prophecies in the Old Testament and New Testaments about the fate of nations, empires and cities are consistent with supernatural revelation from a God outside the space-time continuum (Tyre, Sidon, Samaria, Gaza, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, Rome, Israel).

balancerock

I can be a great prophet and push this rock over!

Of course, most of these supposed prophecies occur only in the heads of the faithful.  In order to be a demonstrable prophecy, a statement has to make a verifiable claim that such and such a thing happened at such and such a time, be demonstrably made prior to the time of the prophecy and the event cannot be something that the faithful simply caused to happen in order to fulfill the prophecy.

For instance, there are lots of precariously balancing rocks out there.  If I announced that on June 5, 2013, a specific balancing rock would fall, then took a crew of people out on June 5 and pushed the rock off it’s perch, would that be a fulfilled prophecy?  After all, I did accurately predict that it would happen, I just happen to have caused it’s fulfillment.  Clearly, we need to put some limits on what we’re going to consider a prophecy and what we’re not.  I can’t “prophesy” that last Thursday, someone will die, I already know that, it’s in the past.  Prophecies also have to be specific.  “Someday, someone will walk into a Baskin Robbins and order a vanilla ice cream cone” isn’t a valid prophecy, it’s too vague.  No, you need a specific event to happen at a specific time and in a specific place, unlikely to happen by chance, such that no one can influence the sequence events to bring it about and purposely fulfill the prophecy in order to be credible.  Unfortunately, there just isn’t anything like that in the Bible.  Let’s look at one that  gets bandied about quite a bit:

Isaiah 66:7-8 – “Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.”

Apologists say wow, Israel became a nation in a day in 1948, that’s proof that Biblical prophecies are true!  Of course, that’s ridiculous, all nations are “brought forth in a moment”, the moment they declare their independence.  The United States became a nation the minute we stated we were independent of England.  Sure, we had to fight a war to back it up, but Israel has had to fight numerous wars over the past 60 years to back up their own independence.  It cannot be a moment when the world recognizes their nationhood, there are still many nations that refuse to acknowledge Israel to this day.  Clearly, this would not qualify as a prophecy.  I’d need to see someone having a vision of specific events in the future, then writing down those specific events in detail such that it is nigh impossible to misidentify those events when they come to pass in order to qualify.  Vague hand-waving and constant re-interpretation of mystic nonsense simply doesn’t do it.

7.The uniqueness of the Christian experience.  The shared testimony of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ by millions of people from diverse cultures, nations, personalities, professions and time periods is unparalleled by any other ideology and consistent with the existence of a God with a universal attraction to all kinds of human beings. Each testifies to finding peace, forgiveness, the power to change and new meaning, hope and purpose through Christ’s death and resurrection.

Sorry, Christianity just isn’t all that unique.  In fact, I’d wager to say that all religious experiences are roughly equivalent in scope, if not in detail.  Most religions make claims that their gods are with them, that they feel them and have experiences with them, that they feel their prayers are answered, etc.  However, no matter how much some Christians want to call their religion a “relationship”, it makes no more sense than a small child claiming to have a “relationship” with the monsters under their bed.  You cannot have a relationship with something you cannot even prove is real.  To be honest, a Christian’s “relationship with Jesus” strikes me as little different than the unpopular guy who claims to have a beautiful girlfriend in Canada.  They’re always talking about it but they can do nothing to prove it’s real.

8.The origin of the universe.  Everything that began to exist has a cause and it is now virtually undisputed that the universe had a beginning. Any cause would have to be outside the material universe so would be timeless, spaceless, immaterial, personal and all powerful – characteristics shared by the God of the Bible.

Note here that, like many apologists, Peter adds an unnecessary condition to his argument, then assigns this condition to his imaginary friend in the sky, simply to make him an exception to the rule.  Truth be told, we have absolutely no examples of anything that does not “begin” to exist, it is a characteristic that is arbitrarily assigned to God in order to give him a “get out of reality free” card.  In fact, if you look at the whole of Christian argumentation, we find that the whole concept of “supernatural” is equally meaningless, we have no reason to think that anything exists outside of the natural world.  It’s all just a way to define your way to victory.  Unfortunately, it causes more problems than solutions since anyone else who wants to use that tactic can do so.  Why can’t we find Bigfoot?  Because aliens dug thousands of miles of tunnels for the Bigfoot tribe to hide in!  No evidence needed, just make something up!  It explains anything from the Loch Ness Monster to alien anal-probers and it is not subject to rational evaluation or examination.  In fact, any religion can do it.  Why can’t we find any evidence for any gods?  Just make up an explanation and claim it as truth!  If Christians want people to take their magical imaginary land and undetectable deity seriously, shouldn’t all the other religions demand the same respect of their own beliefs?  Of course, Christians won’t pay any attention, they have no interest in logic or reason, they take their stand on faith.  However, faith is a meaningless concept.  It doesn’t actually do anything useful.  It is a position that one takes when one has no good reason for doing so.

9.The fine tuning of the universe.  In order for the universe to come into being and allow intelligent life to exist, it required an astonishing series of ‘coincidences’ to have occurred. The probability that the six dimensionless constants (N, Epsilon, Omega, Lambda, Q & D) would be tuned in such a way as to allow this is infinitesimally small and the phenomenon is best explained by intelligent design.

Let’s be honest here, Peter really has no clue about any of the things he’s included on this list, he didn’t come up with any of it, he just

You are here, you think God made all the rest of it for you?

You are here, you think God made all the rest of it for you?

copied it off of another apologist website which probably did the same, repeated ad nauseum.  He has no clue about quantum mechanics or any of the other disciplines that it would take for him to verify this information is true so I’ll save him the trouble of getting educated and just tell him it’s not true.  Why is it not true?  Because it starts with a fundamental flaw in it’s reasoning.  “Intelligent life” isn’t what is being discussed here, it’s human life.  In fact, without conditions on this planet being correct, none of the carbon-based organic lifeforms that currently exist here would exist.  Peter and other apologists would seize on that statement as proof, but it really isn’t, simply because they understand the situation entirely ass-backwards.  Christian apologists think that mankind was predestined to exist, thus they work all of their assumptions off of that idea.  However, humanity was not predestined.  We evolved to fit the universe that was here.  Had the universe been different, the universe would have produced different lifeforms.  It could have also produced no lifeforms, at which point in time, nobody would be around to argue this point.  The reality is, were the universe different, it’s not hard to imagine a completely different form of life, perhaps based on silicon or flourine, with six arms and eight eyes, sitting on their form of the Internet arguing how amazing it is that the universe was so perfectly fine-tuned to support their form of life.

Humans are not very good at dealing with large numbers.  If you talk about 100-1 odds or 1000-1 odds, people might follow along but once you start talking about 1,000,000-1 odds, people’s eyes glaze over.  That is exactly the fact that apologists take advantage in by playing these number games.  So let’s play along, shall we?  Let’s look at you.  Yes, you.  The you that is there right now, reading this article, is statistically impossible.  We can go back a mere 10 generations and realize that the only way you can come about is if the exact right people, all of your male ancestors, get together with the exact right people, all of your female ancestors, at the exact right time and place, having survived disease and accident and all manner of death, to procreate with that one specific person out of the entire planet that they were supposed to.  Add to that the fact that, conservatively, a man ejaculates 40 million sperm at a time, only one carries the exact genetic material that is needed to produce you and it needs to meet with the one specific ovum, out of approximately 2,000,000 that a woman is born with.  I’m not going to throw around huge numbers here, but the chances of that happening is astronomically small.  Add to that the fact that approximately 70% of fertilized ova fail to implant and are flushed from the body.  The chances of your ancestors accomplishing all of that are staggering.

Now remember that’s just one generation out of ten that has to get it all right.

And even assuming everything was perfect, ten male ancestors found ten female ancestors, they survived to have children and exactly the right sperm met exactly the right egg and the resulting fetus made it all the way to birth successfully, which is certainly no mean feat in and of itself.  Once all of that’s done and you are born, in order to put you in precisely the place you are at right now, how many billions upon billions of events had to go exactly so in your life in order to put you where you are right this second, in front of a computer, reading these words, instead of, say, in the bathroom or dead.  The chances against it all working out exactly right are beyond belief.

Yet there you are.

As much of a mind-blower as that is, consider the larger picture.  The same thing had to happen for all 7 billion people currently alive on the planet!  To get to this exact moment in time, the chances against it are utterly incalculable.  But it all happened, didn’t it?

Of course, the rational among us would realize that none of us, where we are at the moment, was intended from the start, even 10 short generations ago.  We are where we are because of the things in the past that led up to it.  We are who we are because things happened the way they did.  If things happened differently, we’d simply be different people.  There was no planning, no goal, no intent to our existence.

The same is true of humanity as a whole.  We are not the goal of reality, we are the result.  The physical laws of the universe just so happen to permit life so life evolved.  This planet that we inhabit just so happens to support carbon-based life so that’s what developed.  We are the result of a long, long line of intertwined events that just so happened to produce us.

Aren’t we lucky?

10.Biological complexity.  Whilst it is widely recognised that random gene mutation, genetic drift and natural selection can account for a degree of biological descent with modification (evolution) the mechanisms by which proteins, DNA, unicellular organisms and new body plans could have arisen remain unexplained. Blind chance and necessity alone are unable to account for the biological complexity that we observe on planet earth and these phenomena point to intelligent design.

As soon as you see someone mention “blind chance”, you know you’re talking to someone ignorant of evolution.  As I pointed out above, chance is just not a mechanism that we can rely on, but it all depends on what one means when they say “chance”.  If we look at DNA from a chemical standpoint, we understand that the four base pairs only combine in a certain way under optimal conditions.  Thymine only combines with adenine, cytosine only combines with guanine.  It’s not random and it’s not chance.  It’s chemistry.  However, sometimes things don’t work out as they ought to.

Imagine you are putting together a puzzle and you find that two pieces which clearly do not  go together, judging by the picture on the face, happen to fit together anyhow.  For some reason, the interlocking pieces happen to be the same size and shape, allowing them to be attached.  This potentially gives rise to a mutation in the puzzle.  There are many reasons for chemical mistakes to arise and I’m not going to go into them here, except to say this is where mutations originate in biological replication.  They happen all the time statistically, although the overwhelming majority of genetic replication that goes on is without error, it happens so frequently and with so many millions of base pairs at once, that a mistake or two is going to creep in here and there.

Genes

When apologists are in doubt, they just make something up.

I’m really not qualified to go into a deep discussion of genetics and evolution.  Unfortunately, you get a lot of apologists who are equally unqualified, or let’s be honest, even more unqualified, who seem to think that “it seems to me” stories,  based on ignorance and personal incredulity, qualify as a logical argument.  I think it’s clear that a lot of apologists are simply ignorant of science and openly so, they don’t understand it and they don’t want to understand it, I think they recognize that science is inherently dangerous to their fantasy religious beliefs.  Then you have the apologists who absolutely do understand science, they simply discard it out of hand because it disagrees with what they irrationally believe to be so.  Either way, I think a short primer on how science works is in order.

First, an individual makes an observation.  Science is always based on an observation, something that happens, something they find, something objective that can be examined by anyone.  This is perhaps the greatest advantage of science, it starts off with reality, unlike faith, which cannot be independently verified in any way.

The individual then tries to come up for an explanation for that observation.  Why did it happen?  How did it occur?  What is the process behind it?  There may be many, many different hypotheses thought up at this time, it’s just a means of coming up with a lot of different ideas and possibilities that can be examined more closely down the line.  At this point, there are no right or wrong answers because none of these are answers, just possibilities.  The only requirement for a hypothesis at this stage is that it has the possibility of being verified and also that it has the possibility of being falsified.  Being able to prove an idea wrong is at least as important as being able to support it.  If there’s no possible way to prove that the idea is wrong, how can you ever hope to show that it’s right?

Thereafter though, the scientist starts looking at the various hypotheses with a critical eye.  Which, if any, of these have evidence to back them up?  How do these compare with established theories that may be related to the original observation?  They see how the math lines up, how other observations and experiments verify or invalidate a hypothesis, until the scientist is satisfied that they have an explanation they are happy with, that is experimentally verifiable and falsifiable.

Next, they publish their idea in a peer-reviewed journal where many, many other scientists will examine their ideas, take them apart, put them back together, re-perform the same experiments over again, perform new experiments that the original scientist may not have thought of, etc.  In other words, many other scientists will try their best to break the hypothesis proposed.  It is only if it stands up to this, and many other tests of it’s validity, that it may become a scientific theory.

Scientific theories seem to confuse apologists.  They are not just random guesses, as is often claimed, that would fall most  closely at the hypothesis stage.  A scientific theory is a highly verified set of statements that purports to accurately describe how an observation or process takes place.  Let’s take the most misunderstood scientific theory, the Theory of Evolution.  Evolution is a fact.  It is widely observed in nature, we know for an absolute, undeniable fact that alleles do vary in frequency in nature.  There’s no getting around that.  The Theory of Evolution, however, is an explanation of how evolution occurs.  It seeks to answer the “hows” and “whys”, it does not validate the fact, it just explains the fact.

As Stephen Jay Gould once said, “In science, “fact” can only mean “confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.” I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.”  Theories are subject to change, that is one of their greatest strengths, even though apologists purport it to be a weakness.  We learn new things every day, we will likely never know everything there is to know, thus we constantly need to integrate that new knowledge into the ideas we’ve had in the past.  Science is a cumulative effort, it improves upon itself every day.

Religion, on the other hand, does not demonstrably improve.  It does not seek new information.  It does not change it’s beliefs based on new facts.  In fact, it simply denies new facts if they disagree with what they already believe.  Whereas science starts with an observation and works it’s way up to an understanding of reality, religion works backwards.  It starts with a belief and works backwards, only looking for data that supports that belief and rejecting everything else out of hand.  It doesn’t seek a better understanding of the world, it claims to already have it and is only seeking to validate the understanding, true or not, that it currently has.

That’s why religion sucks.

11.The rationality of the universe.  The universe operates according to physical laws which are not merely regularities in nature but also mathematically precise, universal, ‘tied together’ and rationally intelligible. These phenomena point to the existence of what Einstein called ‘superior mind’, illimitable superior spirit’, ‘superior reasoning force’ and ‘mysterious force that moves the constellations’ and are fully consistent with the teachings of Christian theism.

It’s always amazing to see how badly apologists misquote scientists in a desperate attempt to make it look like the greatest minds of our time actually support their cause.  Albert Einstein was a deist of sorts, in the sense that he labeled the natural universe “god”.  He said, regarding his religious beliefs:

It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.

Execution of Giodano Bruno, burned for openly disbelieving in God.

Execution of Giodano Bruno, burned alive for practicing science.

Of course, most apologists ignore this, it  gets in the way of their baseless claims, that simply won’t do.  In fact, they’re very good at producing lists of  well-known scientists who were also Christians, as though that validates Christianity.  There certainly are some scientists who are Christians, even today, although they are by far the minority.  However, most of the theist scientists they usually come up with lived in the distant past, most certainly before the day of Darwin, the point that I’d suggest makes religion unnecessary at answering that most burning question, where did we come from?  Also, they fail to mention that these old-time scientists lived in a day when it was downright dangerous to admit publically that you didn’t believe in God.  It could get you killed, it could get you censured, it could get you imprisoned  and certainly, as so much of their pay was made by religious organizations and the universities were, with almost no exceptions, operated by the religious institutions, getting a paycheck or getting an education were difficult, if not impossible, if you didn’t pretend to be religious.

Now I certainly have no way of knowing which of those scientists were being honest about their faith and which were just playing along out of social necessity, it is interesting that in these oft-quoted lists, the overwhelming majority lived and died quite early.  In fact, in a list that I found at random, of the 13 scientists they list, 11 did their major work in the time before Darwin.

  1. Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543)
  2. Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1627)
  3. Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)
  4. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
  5. Rene Descartes (1596-1650)
  6. Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
  7. Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
  8. Robert Boyle (1791-1867)
  9. Michael Faraday (1791-1867)
  10. Gregor Mendel (1822-1884)
  11. William Thomson Kelvin (1824-1907)
  12. Max Planck (1858-1947)
  13. Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Of course, what they list about Einstein is patently untrue in light of his quote above.  He never believed in the Christian God, he outright rejected belief in any personal deity whatsoever.  To be honest, I suspect that had these men of science lived in the modern era, where there was no requirement to profess belief to get paid or to keep your head, it is unlikely that most of them would be professing Christians.  The modern world just doesn’t leave many rational questions unanswered or much space for God to hide in ever-shrinking gaps.

Not Bobo but an amazing simulation!

Not Bobo but an amazing simulation!

12.The human mind.  Human experience of free will, consciousness, self-awareness, conscience and a sense of meaning, purpose and destiny are all very difficult to explain within a purely materialist world view (ie. the belief that nothing exists apart from matter, chance and time). These phenomena point to, and are consistent with, a reality existing beyond the material world and are consistent with the biblical teaching that human beings are made in the image of God.

Actually, it’s not at all hard to explain and even if it were, that doesn’t give anyone license to just make shit up because they’d rather not admit that they don’t know.  That’s the real problem with religion, it simply supplies “answers” to questions we may not currently be able to address, but it provides no means to demonstrate if those “answers” are actually true or not.  I can do exactly the same thing, in fact, many years ago, I invented my own deity, dubbed “Bobo the Tree God”, to do just that.  Bobo lived in my back yard at the time, he was a young oak tree that I planted outside the kitchen window.  Bobo communicated with me telepathically and let me know his will, which I, in turn, passed on to the Christian apologists who were busy trying to convince me of the same thing with their God.  For every “answer” that Christian apologists gave, I supplied an equally absurd “answer” from the mind of Bobo.  They never bought into my answers and I never bought into theirs, no matter how many times I pointed out that both sets of “answers” had the same amount of evidence that they were so.  Sadly, Bobo blew over in a windstorm and I cut him up with a chainsaw and had him recycled into mulch, except for two branches which I fashioned into a cross with a bit of twine.  While Christians can claim their Messiah was crucified on a cross, my god actually *WAS* a cross.  I doubt that would impress them either.  Go figure.

13.The explanatory power of the Christian world view.  The Christian theistic world view described by the parameters of creation, fall, redemption and consummation has considerable explanatory power in accounting for the existence of human complexity, creativity, love, suffering, disease, evil and hope.

The problem is, while you can just make up myths that primitive man might take as explanatory, none of it is backed up by any actual evidence.  They’re just stories, not facts.  If you examine the myths in detail, you find out how little they actually have in common with the scientifically verified facts about our universe.  Let’s look at one of these claims, that the Christian theistic worldview has considerable explanatory power in accounting for disease.  That’s funny, the Bible is chock full of cases where “disease” is caused by demon possession.  In fact, right up until the Middle Ages, that was the common Christian assumption, that human disease was caused by evil spirits who got into your blood and the best way for curing people was to let copious amounts of that blood out, or to perform exorcisms and other magical rituals.  The fact is, disease has nothing to do with any of that and it wasn’t religion that came to that conclusion, it was science.  Religion really has no demonstrably true explanations for any of the things listed.  It simply makes assertions which cannot be verified or validated and pretends it holds all the cards when, in fact, it’s not even sitting at the table.

14.The universality of spiritual belief and experience.  The universal belief in, and experience of, a spiritual reality beyond the material world and in the existence of other intelligent beings in addition to human beings (gods, spirits, angels, demons, ghosts etc), along with the proliferation of different religions, is consistent with the Christian world view including the existence of a Devil whose intention is to deceive people into believing anything but the truth.

Or Christianity could be consistent with the worldview of any other religion with a devil-character, that is seeking to lead Christians astray from some other true god.  Funny, they never think of that clear possibility.  The belief certainly is not universal, as the quickly growing “nons” demographic shows.  In fact, as I’ve suggested before, in most advanced nations, it’s more likely that religion fulfills a social function than a belief function, most people who claim to hold the belief are really not clear on what they’re supposed to believe, nor do they practice most of the rituals and ceremonies that their religious beliefs would seem to demand.  They do it because they think it makes them look good to the neighbors.  In fact, I’d suspect this is true in most countries and most religions, most people pretend to believe it, not because they’ve examined it and found it to be true, but because it’s what they’re expected to believe.

I would suggest there’s even evidence of this in the Bible if we look at the Ten Commandments story where Moses boogies up the side of a mountain to commune with God, the children of Israel, who have supposedly directly witnessed the awe and majesty of God, waste no time building a golden calf to bow down to the second Moses is out of sight.  Why?  Because they never really bought into the whole God thing in the first place.  The second someone stops goading them, in this case Moses, they go off and do something else because belief and worship in God just doesn’t matter that much.

15.The moral law.  The universality of moral beliefs and conscience, and the similarities of moral codes across times, continents and cultures, point to the existence of moral laws and a supernatural law giver. The moral laws outline in the Decalogue (ten commandments) encapasulate these principles of respect for life, marriage, property and truth and their observance leads to more stable and enduring societies. These observations are consistent with the existence of a moral God who has designed human society to operate according to moral norms and who reveals moral principles.

Except for the fact that there are no universal moral beliefs, this is something I’ve pointed out many times in the past and no matter how many times you repeat a falsehood, it will never become true.  Of course, you can just look at the Bible and see all of the horrors supposedly visited upon man by this imaginary “moral” god.  In fact, let’s be honest, the Bible displays God as a massive fuck-up.  God creates this perfect world and puts two people in it.  Almost immediately, they’re off eating fruit God didn’t want them to eat so he casts them out.  Then the whole world becomes wicked so he sends a flood and kills almost all of the people and most of the animals, who really never did anything wrong.  Then the Israelites piss him off again so he sends them into slavery in Egypt.  When they get out, they wander around for 40 years, Moses goes up a mountain to talk to God and everyone starts worshipping a golden idol.  Why can’t God ever get any of this right?  What a pathetic loser.

16.Lives changed by Christian faith.  The power of Christian faith and prayer to change behaviour and improve human functioning in restoring the lives of those suffering from addictions to drugs, alcohol, pornography and other enslaving activities or in reforming antisocial and criminal behaviour and strengthening marriages, families and societies is unparalleled.

This kind of claim always makes me shake my head at it’s absurdity.  First off, it’s a disingenuous claim because it offers no evidence or even a significant definition of terms.  I’m sure that any religion can claim, equally well, that it changes the  lives of it’s adherents.  What makes Christianity and better than Buddhism or Hinduism?  Secondly though, it’s just blatantly false.  If we look at prison entry statistics, for example, we find that Christianity is far over-represented in prison populations in relation to their percentage in the regular population.  That means that Christians commit *MORE* crimes than non-Christians.  Atheists, by way of comparison, are far under-represented, last time I looked were less than .5% of incarcerated criminals.  Beyond that, Christianity has strengthened marriages?  Seriously?  More than 50% of all marriages end in divorce and Christian marriages fare far worse than pretty much any other group!

17.Christian reformation of society.  The reformation of British society in the 19th century (and many similar phenomena elsewhere in the world throughout history) through such moves as the abolition of slavery, child labour, child prostitution, prison reform and the establishment of schools and hospitals through the work of Wilberforce, Booth, Fry, the Clapham Sect and others was largely the result of the evangelical revival of the 18th century and lends strong support to the existence of a redemptive supernatural God who changes and shapes human lives and societies.

To be honest, many of those things Peter wants to claim Christianity “reformed” were things that Christianity set up in the first place.  While he  does specifically mention England, he also makes reference to similar phenomenon elsewhere in the world and since I don’t really feel like running this by my best friend, who is a historian that specifically works on the British slave trade and would tell Peter he was full of bullshit, I’ll shift this to the U.S. instead.  While there’s no question that there were some Christian groups involved in the abolition of the American slave trade, there’s no doubt whatsoever that many, many Christian groups were responsible for helping to set it up in the first place.  In fact, the majority of U.S. racist organizations  are specifically Christian and believe strongly that blacks are inferior based upon a particular reading of the Bible.  I won’t even mention the Mormons, who are blatantly racist, because Peter would likely not accept them as Christian.  Further, while we can certainly point to the involvement of Christians in some of the other causes he lists, that’s mostly because a majority of people in the United States claimed to be Christian at the time, it’s hardly surprising that many would be involved, although certainly, you cannot point to Christianity, as a philosophy, as being the major cause of any of these movements.

18.The work of Christian missions.  The development of education, healthcare and societal reform in the developing world owes a great deal to the work of Christian missionaries motivate by the love of Christ who underwent great hardship and made great sacrifices to assist and empower those marginalised through ignorance, superstition or poverty. If Christianity were true we would expect it also to result in demonstrable good across nations and cultures.

Yet this is exactly what we don’t see.  If you look at the nations where Christian missionaries have done the most work, especially those where Christianity has taken hold, you see things like Uganda, which is culturally ruled by Christianity and which said Christianity routinely murders unbelievers.  The only thing you can really say that missionaries have done right is feeding the poor, something that is done as well or better by purely secular charities.  You can’t even count education because all they’re doing is filling these poor, ignorant kids’ heads with religious garbage.  It’s not so much education as indoctrination and that’s never a good idea.

19.The plausibility of Christian eschatology.  The emergence of a one-world government under the leadership of an antichrist, antagonistic to God, based on the worship and pursuit of material things, strongly opposing Christian faith, dominating through economic control and resulting in massive environmental destruction seems increasingly plausible given recent historical experience and the current trajectory of world history.

That’s not plausibility, it’s inevitability.    As the world becomes more and more intertwined, it seems likely that someday, a worldwide government will be set up.  Of course, I find it rather silly that he claims that something that has not come to pass, something that isn’t even remotely close to coming to pass, somehow demonstrates that the Christian worldview is plausible.  Of course, the most outrageous claim, that this supposed one-world government will be led by “an antichrist” (why not *THE* antichrist?  Is Peter channeling Nostradamus here?) is wholly unsupported by anything but the most extreme and blind faith.  Funny how he’s ascribing motivations to a government that may be decades or centuries away.

20.The phenomenon of Israel.  The history, laws, influence and endurance of the nation of Israel through over 4,000 years of world history whilst world empires have come and gone, the maintenance of its national identity and central place in world affairs through war, persecution and holocaust, its recent restoration to Palestine and the educational and cultural achievements of its people are unparalleled but fully consistent with its special status as described in the biblical record and teaching of Jesus Christ.

Israel might be more impressive were it not for the fact that everything that has happened to it since 1947 has been at the behest and hand-holding of the United States and England.  Those nations felt guilty for not stopping the Holocaust faster and therefore, largely for religious reasons that had nothing to do with Judiasm, forcibly set up the nation of Israel and have had to constantly provide aid and support to keep it from being blasted off the map constantly.  This is certainly not what we’d expect to see from a nation, favored by some magical God, it is, however, exactly what we would expect to see from a heavily Christian nation, the fundamentalists of which believe that Israel must exist as a nation in order to have the Jews killed and the nation destroyed in the end times.  All Israel is to the American evangelical is the material component to their Summon Jesus spell.  They have to keep it around and reasonably intact so the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse can ride into Jerusalem swinging swords.  This is the kind of theistic fact forcing that is most laughable.  God didn’t establish the modern nation of Israel, we did.  God hasn’t kept it safe.  We have.  God hasn’t funded it.  They’ve been our largest foreign aid recipient for decades.  Frankly though, the nation of Israel hasn’t been very nice, they consistently violate international civil rights laws  and UN mandates.  I think they ought to be taken out.

Conclusion:  I didn’t intend this post to be this long, but when you’re given source material that is this absurdly and ridiculously wrong, sometimes you just can’t help yourself.  Unfortunately, this isn’t out of the ordinary, there are hundreds upon hundreds of Christian apologist websites out there with the same kind of absurd, irrational drivel, abject lies and utter ignorance.  This is what happens when you start with a worldview that is not primarily concerned with the facts.  Christians find something on a website and instead of verifying that it’s actually so, they pick it up verbatim and stick it on their own blogs, as though, just because they agree with it, it’s got to be so.  That’s the failure of religion.

I’m sure that if Peter Saunders ever saw this post, he wouldn’t bother to read it, I’m sure the majority is above his head anyhow, he’d just condemn me to hell, call me a heretic, insist his beliefs are right and cling to them even more tightly.  This isn’t about truth, it’s about making bullet points.  They don’t expect the faithful to think much beyond the sentence or two that follows, they don’t want anyone to ask themselves if what’s said is actually so, according to theists, the devil is always in the details.  That’s why they ignore the details.  That’s also why it’s a good thing that there are a lot of dedicated, sometimes insanely so in my case, atheists and skeptics who keep holding their feet to the fire.  Yes, I know they don’t care, but for the people looking on, for the people who actually care about reality, those are the people that we spend our time on, to show just how ridiculous religion actually is.

Let’s all keep working hard to inform the rational of the world.

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