Pharyngula

It’s Easter. Once again, the masses will gawp in awe at a bizarre and unbelievable story…because it is such a good example of how religion will piggy-back on our cognitive biases.

You all know the Easter story: a god turns into a man, gets tortured and killed, rises from the dead, and somehow this act makes us all better. It’s a tale best left unexamined, because it makes no sense. We are supposed to wallow in an emotional thrill that taps deep into our social consciousness, not think about what the story actually says.

The part of the story that works for us is the idea of self-sacrifice. That’s potent; we are social animals, and an individual sacrificing him or her self for the greater good has a lot of impact, materially and symbolically, and also stirs up powerful and conflicting emotions. Think about a real example, a soldier throwing himself on a hand grenade to protect his compatriots; it’s a noble sacrifice, it means that one dies so that others may live, it makes us wonder whether we would be brave enough (or crazy enough, or despairing enough) to do the same. We look at someone who does that as a genuine hero, someone who cared so much for his fellow human beings that he would make the supreme sacrifice to spare them.

So that’s the aspect of the Easter story that the Christian faith milks for everything it’s worth. The suffering of Jesus is amplified: look at the weird obsession Catholics show for graphic portrayals of the bloody, twisted, tormented Christ on a stick; look at Gibson’s horrible torture porn movie, The Passion, that lingers sickly over every lash of the whip, every beating, the long slow bleeding death. This isn’t just a quick self-sacrifice, Jesus suffered a long lingering death, just for you. He must have cared about you so much!

Uh, except for one thing. Where’s the grenade? What is he saving us from?

This is where the myth falls apart. Don’t look! Be distracted by the crown of thorns and the spear and the nails, and by the magic trick on the third day! Whatever you do, don’t question the sacrifice!

Because, unfortunately, Jesus isn’t saving us from anything real, and he made no change in the world with his death. Ask a Christian, and they’ll tell us he’s saving us from Original Sin, our flawed, weak, inherently wicked natures. But what that sin is is an act committed by a pair of mythological ancestors (they didn’t even actually exist), and the sin was being willful, curious and disobedient to an imaginary man in the sky — it was a non-existent crime. I don’t believe in being held accountable for my ancestor’s weaknesses (as Patti Smith sang, “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine”), and in this case I don’t even consider what they did to be wrong. So Jesus suffered for an act that I would consider a virtue, committed by myths against a myth? That’s no hand grenade, that’s a fairy tale. Nobody needs to die to protect me from a fairy tale.

Next problem: what Jesus did didn’t even protect me from that fairy tale! Imagine that in some metaphorical sense it was true that there was some heritable taint infecting the entire human race, passed from generation to generation and making us more prone to do wickedness. Instead of a hand grenade, we’ve been fed a poison that’s going to hurt us slowly and horribly.

How does having the sick butcher the doctor make us better?

I can guess how it will be rationalized: that having the doctor make such a sacrifice will make us believe more sincerely in his prescription. But again, that’s religion leeching off a cognitive shortcut our brains take, that we’ll assume it must have been a very, very important message if the messenger was willing to die for it. That’s invalid — people die stupidly for bad reasons all the time. The only test that matters is whether the doctor actually helps people with his actions.

Another problem: Jesus cheats. We’re supposed to believe that he’s saving us from an imaginary ancestral sin, and that he’s doing so by dying…but he doesn’t! He comes back three days (OK, actually a day and a half) later, perfectly healthy except for a few holes which don’t seem to perturb him much, and he gets to magically zoom up into the sky and live forever in his dad’s palace. This is no sacrifice at all.

Now, if our hypothetical soldier who threw himself on a grenade turned out to survive the experience hale and healthy because, for instance, the bomb was dud, he’d still be a hero — he didn’t know it would fizzle, and the intent was there. This doesn’t help Jesus, though. He’s omnipotent and omniscient and knew his own nature, and knew that you don’t kill a god by hanging him from a tree and poking him with sticks. Jesus faked his heroism. He’s no hero at all.

Finally, there’s a layer of the story that doesn’t resonate with modern audiences much at all, the idea of the propitiatory sacrifice, which is where the appeal of these spring sacrifices arose. Got a problem that you think is caused by a god? Take your strong king or your beautiful virgin and kill them, giving them to the god, so he’ll reward you with a good harvest or fortune in war or the return of tasty game animals. Most of us know this doesn’t work. Even Christianity tends to steer clear of this claim any more, even though it is sprinkled throughout the Old Testament. But on another level, the Easter story is the tale of God giving his only begotten son in a blood sacrifice to propitiate himself and grant us forgiveness for having crossed him once in 4004BC.

It doesn’t work logically or emotionally. It’s the action of a psychopath with a grudge over a petty slight; it’s what a demented monster would do. We don’t regard as heroic the soldier who throws the fellow next to him on top of the grenade, and we especially condemn the soldier who first pulled the pin on the grenade, then smothered the explosion with his bunkmates body.

This is how you should think about the holiday today. Selfless sacrifice for the greater good is a social virtue, and it’s nice that Christianity has imbedded the idea in its heart. But what’s revolting is that they’ve taken this simple idea and spindled it up into a sick, twisted, confusing botch of a story that guts it of its power if you use your brain and think about it. Easter is a holiday for the mindless, with a grim horror at its center.

Comments

  1. #1 badgersdaughter
    April 4, 2010

    Yes, precisely, thank you! Easter is the day I celebrate my deconversion; it was the day the Bible fell out of my hands because it suddenly stopped making sense.

  2. #2 Glen Davidson
    April 4, 2010

    Well sure it doesn’t make “sense,” but that’s what it’s all about, you living even though you will die (will have died).

    Makes no sense that you rot away and still will live, but you will because ‘Jesus died and was resurrected.’ If he did, you have him to ask to give you eternal life.

    So in some way it does make “sense,” because dying for no (good) reason makes no sense, and Jesus is the “solution” to that personal and (in a way) logical conundrum. “Just let him in…”

    At least it didn’t seem entirely implausible so long as the “soul” seemed a reasonable explanation for consciousness, etc. Well, it isn’t, and for that reason the whole narrative becomes obviously the fiction that it is–unless, of course, you deny all of what we know.

    Since denying what we actually know is what it’s about, many deny the death of the “soul,” and the utter lack of evidence that Jesus rose.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  3. #3 Cuttlefish, OM
    April 4, 2010

    http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com/2010/04/easter-at-beaverdale-park.html

    On Easter, death, and failures of resurrection… and an egg hunt gone horribly wrong in Iowa.

  4. #4 TWood
    April 4, 2010

    Yeah, I never did understand why offering something to the invisible creator should be considered a gift, since the invisible creator created it in the first place.

    mother nature

    Whenever I point out the lack of actual sacrifice, since Jesus got up and flew away, I’m usually met with silence. Oh well.

  5. #5 Traffic Demon
    April 4, 2010

    I think this might be your best piece since The Great Desecration, thank you.

  6. #6 joe_s
    April 4, 2010

    “That’s the gospel truth” has got to be the silliest statement.

    cheers,

    joe

  7. #7 peter.j.nicol
    April 4, 2010

    Nicely deconstructed PZ, but I really don’t think it needs to go that far.

    It is just so very, very, very silly. There are soooooo many things wrong with the story, that the Easter Bunny is just that much more plausible.

    It is an entire fabric of nonsense, and I think that the central idea might be kind of nice if it was true (like the idea of Santa Clause), but no adult has any reason to persist with it.

    Oh, well…

  8. #8 AdamK
    April 4, 2010

    Bunnies mating in the daffodils makes sense, though. Also: eating candy eggs.

  9. #9 tdcourtney
    April 4, 2010

    Easter confused the piss out of me back when I still considered myself Christian. How did killing Jesus help me any? I guess I was never a True Christian (TM).

  10. #10 johnb300m
    April 4, 2010

    fascinating write-up Doc.
    Agreed.
    To me it’s another holiday to feed our faces with culinary genius and spend valuable time together with family.
    That’s all I care about. The further excuse for togetherness.
    Thanks Jebus!

  11. #11 Egaeus
    April 4, 2010

    Even if you accept, for the sake of argument, the existence of God, the Easter story still doesn’t make sense. Jesus is essentially saving everyone from himself. “I’m going to sacrifice myself so that I don’t have to torture you for eternity” doesn’t exactly make sense. Why not just do the not-torturing part. Why the theatrics?

    And why is his sacrifice a sacrifice? As Jesus presumably knew for an absolute fact that he was going to paradise, and that the crucifixion is temporary, how is that a sacrifice? If I had a direct line upstairs, and knew for a fact that I was going to paradise for eternity, I’d be pretty ambivalent about being tortured to death. Sure, it’d suck at the time, but in the grand scheme of eternity, it’s fairly inconsequential.

  12. #12 Biddy
    April 4, 2010

    Hear, hear PZ!

  13. #13 lreitt
    April 4, 2010

    Jesus knew he wouldn’t die for real, but it still would have hurt like hell

  14. #14 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 4, 2010

    PZ just showed how much of religion is smoke and mirrors, that if looked at too closely exposes the illogical nature of it.

  15. #15 Antiochus Epimanes
    April 4, 2010

    PZ, you benighted heathen, it’s just like you to miss the whole point.

    Jesus had to get nailed to something so the rabbit would hide the eggs, and that’s why St. Cadbury invented chocolate creme and purple plastic grass. It makes perfect sense to me.

  16. #16 Billy
    April 4, 2010

    As has already been said, his sacrifice was no sacrifice. An atheist with no hope of anything after this life making a sacrifice for another is a much bigger deal.

  17. #17 Orson Zedd
    April 4, 2010

    Hey, speaking of Easter… wasn’t the Resurrection the Second Coming? I don’t think there’s a Third Coming in the works, so I’m sure we’re safe.

  18. #18 https://me.yahoo.com/a/DhjBEuJ8pt63x6eBKuPx0Jv9_QE-#7c327
    April 4, 2010

    I haven’t even looked at the TV section of my paper yet, but I can assure you that Discover, History and other pseudoscientific channels will be full of nothing but stories about the Shroud of Turin, the search for the ark on Ararat, and so forth.
    So TV will be even more worthless than usual today.

  19. #19 wilybadger
    April 4, 2010

    I never quite understood the concept that Jesus needed to die for people to be forgiven their sins. Surely God could’ve just said, “Ok, gang! Rule change! Now you can get forgiven! Isn’t that nice? Aren’t I a kind, non-bloodthirsty god?” But if there’s one thing I’ve learned by reading the Bible (and blogging about it, for those brave enough to go to my blog and check), is that God won’t take the bloodless way when there’s a bloody one waiting for him.

  20. #20 Becca
    April 4, 2010

    I stopped being a christian when I gave up the idea of sin – after that, Jesus was the solution to a non-existent problem.

    Giving up religion was harder. At least in paganism, the Sun King’s sacrifice had a specific goal in mind (a good harvest: the life goes into the earth – no torture required.) As a metaphor for the changing of the seasons, it worked better.

  21. #21 badgersdaughter
    April 4, 2010

    Jesus knew he wouldn’t die for real, but it still would have hurt like hell

    Really? If he can pull a stunt like pretending to sacrifice himself (but not really), I’m sure he can pull off an Academy-award-winning act like pretending to suffer (but not really).

  22. #22 Kamaka
    April 4, 2010

    Jeebus on a stick, the story has a glaring historical error.

    They didn’t remove a person from a cross when they died. Part of the horror of it all was to be left on the cross to rot and be eaten by scavengers.

    This was particularly abhorrent to Jews, who are required to bury their dead within 24 hours.

    Intimidation through revulsion was the whole point of the practice of crucifixion.

  23. #23 AtheistDave
    April 4, 2010

    Celebrate – watch Life of Brian!

  24. #24 Twopints
    April 4, 2010

    If you ask me, this Easter thing is all due to shoddy workmanship. If I’d have nailed the fucker up, he would have stayed dead.

  25. #25 fly44d
    April 4, 2010

    Having never been a Christian, I never really even tried to understand Easter. I see now I would not have been able to. No wonder there are so many ways to be Christian, the logic is so screwed up that there is no way to come to any “one way” to the lord. Ditto #5!

  26. #26 timrowledge
    April 4, 2010

    Bunnies mating in the daffodils makes sense, though.

    Careful though, in case it is this bunny. Don’t get in the way of Bun-bun.

    Also: eating candy eggs.

    I was always taught the ‘easter’ was an ancient word for ‘chocolate day’. I have faith that it is true.

    Also, stupid that will melt your choccy-eggs to a nice gooey consistency -proof God exists

  27. #27 rturpin
    April 4, 2010

    Many religions have the trope of the god who sacrifices himself for man. The myth reads better when there is a conflict among the gods, as with Prometheus. The contradiction at the core of Christianity is precisely the notion of “sacrificing himself to himself to save man from himself.” This no doubt came from trying to update a religion that ritualized sacrifice, with a savior, while retaining the notion of a single god. Ah, well. Tertullian explained what one must do to believe, accepting it because it is absurd.

  28. #28 Prophet Zarquon
    April 4, 2010

    This morning I had the ‘honour’ of having to go to a local church, where I saw painting by some children of Jesus on the cross. It was appalling- apart from the blatant indoctrination visible there, they had even drawn the nails. Let’s recap: children are drawing people in the process of being tortured to death. And they are being complimented for it. It is nice to see here that I’m not the only person who thinks this is horrible.

  29. #29 pixelfish
    April 4, 2010

    I forgot it was Easter. I only found out because I was trying to get reservations to take my brother to Ye Olde Spaaaaace Needle, and couldn’t get any for today. We ended up going yesterday, and I naively asked the waiter if they were closed Sundays, because there was no way to get reservations. Nope, it’s just Easter.

    I am appreciating this dissection of the Easter story. It throws into relief a comment made yesterday by UrsulaV:

    “The commercialization of Easter is a good thing!” I snapped. “If we had to celebrate the real meaning of the holiday, it’d be really damn depressing!”

    Yeup. Damn depressing.

  30. #30 lily090
    April 4, 2010

    This reminds, I just finished watching Prince of Egypt a few hours ago; and it still gave me the same emotions it did when I was a child. But then, it made me think, holy fuck, god would actually take the first-borns just because some Pharaoh didn’t want to “Let his people go”? Evaluation of things that made you feel good as a child goes a long way.

  31. #31 Stuart
    April 4, 2010

    Jesus saves?… I didn’t even know he played in goal

  32. #32 Athena
    April 4, 2010

    Cuttlefish! Someone with the initials “DM” has left a dropping (and it ain’t chocolate!) on your post. Is it who I think it is? The Canadian whacko who threatened PZ?

  33. #33 SaintStephen
    April 4, 2010

    That was a brilliant post, PZ.

    Thank you so much.

  34. #34 unreliablenarrator
    April 4, 2010

    >29 pixelfish

    I am appreciating this dissection of the Easter story. It throws into relief a comment made yesterday by UrsulaV:

    “The commercialization of Easter is a good thing!” I snapped. “If we had to celebrate the real meaning of the holiday, it’d be really damn depressing!”

    And yet you have articles about how Easter isn’t commercialized and is still religious. At least, compared to Christmas, I guess. I saw this Slate.com article from 2008 yesterday and my eyes just about rolled out of my head. (The author of it seems to be fairly ignorant of the historical roots of the two holidays that have influenced the way they are celebrated, especially.)

  35. #35 Richard Smith
    April 4, 2010

    It’s Easter. Once again, the masses will gawp in awe at a bizarre and unbelievable story?

    Yep. Me, my mom, and her sister are going to gawp in awe with others at a bizarre and unbelievable story — specifically, Alice in Wonderland, in 3D. It’s more traditional for Easter, anyways. It’s got a bunny!

  36. #36 drdroid
    April 4, 2010

    I am in 100% agreement with everything PZ says here, but I have to ask how his final conclusion is justified:
    “Selfless sacrifice for the greater good is a social virtue…”

  37. #37 spamsink
    April 4, 2010

    Oh, come on! This is the first known case of successful resuscitation after a perforation of the pericardium!

  38. #38 BobbyEarle
    April 4, 2010

    I do know that a very nice brown sugar cured, thin spiral cut ham will be laid out on the Table of Mass Consumption a little later on this afternoon. In addition, there will be an apple wood smoked turkey helping out just in case the hunger is not quite purged.

    And pie.

    You just can’t be properly redeemed without pie.

  39. #39 Vlado
    April 4, 2010

    The UK punk band Crass paraphrased Patti Smith in 1978: “Jesus died for his own sins, not mine.”

  40. #40 Satcomguy
    April 4, 2010

    Well said, Billy @16.

    An excellent post, PZ!

  41. #41 Marcie Dietrich
    April 4, 2010

    Excellent post!

  42. #42 Ibis3
    April 4, 2010

    I don’t know which is worse: (Christian) Easter or Passover. The celebrations of unhistorical events perpetrated by bloodthirsty, sadistic, evil gods.* The more happy Pagan stuff about fertility, bunnies, crocuses and chocolate on top the better.

    *My mother was watching Ten Commandments last night and I couldn’t help my disgust burgeoning anew every time I happened to come into the room.

  43. #43 tsg
    April 4, 2010

    Wait. I thought Easter was when Christ comes out of the cave and if he sees his shadow it’s six more weeks of winter.

  44. #44 Yoritomo
    April 4, 2010

    drdroid @38:

    I have to ask how his final conclusion is justified: “Selfless sacrifice for the greater good is a social virtue…”

    Sacrifice for the greater good is good for society, thus it’s a social virtue. That’s almost a tautology.

  45. #45 sparganium5
    April 4, 2010

    Imagine the stench of a bloody corpse after being picked over by birds and then spending three days in a cave. Happy putrefaction day, everyone!

  46. #46 blf
    April 4, 2010

    I thought Easter was when Christ comes out of the cave and if he sees his shadow it’s six more weeks of winter.

    Yep. And that’s also why the silly bugger was nailed. He doesn’t want any more winter, so to avoid seeing any shadow puts his hands in front of his eyes…

    The Romans were very practical. Sadist, but practical.

  47. #47 ColonelZen
    April 4, 2010

    Let’s not knock Easter. The dawn goddess is a genuine babe from most accounts.

    But perhaps as a biologist PZ can explain the taxonomy of a rabbit that lays hardboiled eggs and shits chocolate.

    But how the babe, the rabbit and the zombie are related is something I’m afraid to think about.

    — TWZ

  48. #48 Irv
    April 4, 2010

    “…and he made no change in the world with his death”

    The image of his death became the christian logo, for christ’s sake. His death made him and the religion. If not for the image of heyzeus getting nailed, what gold pendant would so many flock members wear?

    I don’t believe in the myths any more than the next nonbeliever, but the myth (including it’s end torture scene)certainly did change the world. I’m pretty sure we’d argue for the worst, but still…

  49. #49 supexcellency
    April 4, 2010

    I find this post quite interesting. Especially since I made this video one day before, in which I say pretty much the same thing
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCLbM-GwfwU

  50. #50 IslandBrewer
    April 4, 2010

    All you heathen atheists don’t get it.

    Jesus’ sacrifice was great! While he was dead, he missed all the Easter egg hunts and candy. And after his ressurection, he got yoinked up to heaven before he could poach a stale Peep.

    No chocolate bunnies made Jesus sad.

  51. #51 rturpin
    April 4, 2010

    Irv writes:

    I don’t believe in the myths any more than the next nonbeliever, but the myth (including it’s end torture scene) certainly did change the world. I’m pretty sure we’d argue for the worst…

    It’s quite tough to say whether Christianity changed the world for the better or for the worse. Any such argument delves into the realm of counter-factual history. One can argue that Christianity made the Dark Ages darker, as Gibbons did, forestalling scientific advance for a millennium. Against this, the defenders will argue that Rome would have fallen regardless, and that the liberal views of modern era could have evolved only from a religion that put so much emphasis on the individual soul.

    I’m quite skeptical that it’s possible to resolve such questions.

  52. #52 Anri
    April 4, 2010

    Jesus knew he wouldn’t die for real, but it still would have hurt like hell

    This was another bit of this whole Christianity concept I don’t get. Either Jesus is perfectly happy in heaven, (and therefore presumably not bothered by unpleasant memories of his time on the cross), or heaven isn’t a place of perfect happiness.

    Either god/Jesus/whomever is perfectly happy witnessing the sins of mankind (and is therefore joyfully condemning people to eternal agony), or heaven isn’t a place of perfect happiness.

    I’ve never gotten a good answer for this conundrum. Any apologetic-wielders care to enlighten me on this?

  53. #53 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawkdBtdJdCG7a0WDRhu9vMdFW4XysjuvvTE
    April 4, 2010

    Jesus knew he wouldn’t die for real, but it still would have hurt like hell

    If I got to be God of the Universe for a few hours of pain, I’d do that. BTW, if you know the pain it coming that makes it a lot easier to take, because the anticipation releases adrenaline which blocks most of the pain until endorphines can take over from the trauma.

    Besides… it can’t be that bad. People cruxify themselves every year in the Philipines. How bad could it really be? I mean, it’s bad, but do it to be ruler of the universe? Easily.

    Warning: This is not a joke. You’re going to see people flaggilating themselves and nails getting hammered into hands and feet if you watch this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGe-DkDPHR4

    Is never going to have a normal name in the “Posted by:” section,

    -Kemanorel

  54. #54 ilgreven
    April 4, 2010

    And for all of today’s meaning…Christians sure don’t practice what they preach.

    In fact, there’s a good chunk of them right now in the U.S. that are so virulently against selfless sacrifice for the greater good that they’re resorting to acts of violence, up to and including putting planes into buildings (which is quite ironic, considering they’re also virulently against another religious group that has a good chunk of their membership that has put planes into buildings, as well.)

  55. #55 ejk
    April 4, 2010

    L.O.R.D. = Lagomorph Ovum Recovery Day

    Corny and contrived?…was getting bored of the old chestnuts like “I can see my house from here” and “Because he was hung like this!” and “I’m Nailed Right In”

  56. #56 safetycap
    April 4, 2010

    Antiochus Epimanes #15:

    I bow to your greatness!

  57. #57 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 4, 2010

    Fucking easter.

    I’m going to sacrifice a beer for jesus.

  58. #58 blf
    April 4, 2010

    I’m going to sacrifice a beer for jesus.

    Jesus Beer.

  59. #59 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 4, 2010

    I’m going to sacrifice a beer for jesus.

    I’m ahead of you on that.

  60. #60 Sastra
    April 4, 2010

    At the heart of the Christian sacrifice story, is the acceptance of the idea of an honor killing. Because people are not eager, happy slaves to God, they deserve to be tortured. Defiance of authority is an insult to God’s honor. His honor can only be avenged — paid for — with suffering. Therefore, Jesus, the sacrificial lamb, becomes the scapegoat. By suffering in our stead, he pays the blood price which avenges the stain on God’s honor.

    This may have made sense to a society which was structured around the toxic concept of thar, or honor. But it makes no sense in the context of a modern, humanist society of today. “Suffering” is not supposed to be a gift.

    We just don’t play this game. If someone borrows my cd without asking and breaks it, the only reparation I need is one that addresses the loss of my favorite cd. I don’t, in addition, need some sort of price paid for my insult to honor — one which involves the valuable exchange of pain and suffering, so that I might be properly avenged.

    And, if I say that I will kill my cat to pay the blood-price for my honor — but only if the repentant thief agrees to allow my cat to stand in for themselves — I will not be considered compassionate and wise. I will be considered a loony-toons.

    The major point of the Jesus-story can’t translate into any situation which we recognize today among civilized people. Its closest analogy is to young women being stoned to death by their fathers for besmirching the family honor, and speaking to a boy.

    Christians think they are being so life-affirming, when they are actually being quite creepy.

  61. #61 BaconeatingAJ
    April 4, 2010

    It is just a silly silly story. Watching people state it like fact on TV just cracks me up now.

  62. #62 jcmartz.myopenid.com
    April 4, 2010

    Technically speaking, Jesus was a demi-god since he was “conceived” from a human (and virgen) peasant woman and a GodTM who couldn’t just stick his penis into the woman.

    The silliest story ever told.

    It should be: The greatest (fictional) story ever shoved down upon humanity’s throat by force.

  63. #63 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    April 4, 2010

    Ah, Easter Sunday 1986. My agoraphobia-triggered panic attacks first starting handicapping me during church with my parents. Been struggling with them ever since. Not too fond of this weekend, though I do get an extra day off work at least.

  64. #64 truebutnotuseful
    April 4, 2010
  65. #65 Fraser
    April 4, 2010

    Another fine article PZ, thank you!

    Happy belated solstice.

  66. #66 paul fauvet
    April 4, 2010

    Perhaps the most sinister aspect of the crucifixion story is the attempt, by the authors of the Gospels, to shift responsibility for the death of Jesus onto “the Jews”. Not just a few Jewish priests, but the Jewish nation as a whole.

    The story paints Pontius Pilate as a weak figure, as a nice guy, who would really like to let Jesus go, but there’s a Jewish mob outside, so he washes his hands.

    Historically, it’s nonsense. Nice guys didn’t become governors of Roman provinces. Crucifixion was a Roman, not a Jewish, punishment, and Roman governors, backed up by the power of the legions, did not habitually bow and scrape to the local clergy.

    Jesus was crucified (and the reference to the crucifixion in Tacitus makes it almost certain that it did happen) because he was a threat to the Roman state, not because he annoyed the Pharisees.

    The Gospels, written decades after the event, censor whatever it was that Jesus actually said, because the main interest of early Christian communities was to distance themselves from Judaism, and ingratiate themselves with the empire.

    The political point being made is “Look, we preach loyalty to the state and we’re not like those rebellious Jews!”

    Here, in the gospels themselves, we find the roots of anti-semitism, the claim of the impossible crime of “deicide” which the Roman Catholic Church did not abandon until the Vatican Council of the 1960s.

  67. #67 Newfie
    April 4, 2010

    I’m going to sacrifice a beer for jesus.

    You could ‘choose’ this beer.

  68. #68 Citizen of the Cosmos
    April 4, 2010

    And the sacrifice didn’t even work, since it didn’t make us that much better. And everytime we do try to better ourselves, who are often standing in the way? Conservative Christians…

  69. #69 a.human.ape
    April 4, 2010

    The people who believe in the Resurrection magic trick don’t visit this place, but they can be found here.

  70. #70 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 4, 2010

    Rev. BDC:

    I’m going to sacrifice a beer for jesus.

    I’ll be joining you.

  71. #71 Newfie
    April 4, 2010

    Jesus was crucified (and the reference to the crucifixion in Tacitus makes it almost certain that it did happen) because he was a threat to the Roman state, not because he annoyed the Pharisees.

    Huh?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ

    Where does he refer to the crucifixion? And if he did, at 116 CE, he would have only been retelling a story that was already making its rounds.

  72. #72 mwsletten
    April 4, 2010

    You left off the final twist; the part that illustrates the mind games those who created this monstrous religion play to control people.

    This singular, sinister idea is what first kindled my religious skepticism:

    Not only does the bible depict this bizzare, unbelievable, ridiculous legend full of fallacies and bent logic as truth, but parents and church leaders teach it to children, who often see thru the chicanery almost immediately. Then these innocent, open minds are warned if they don’t believe the garbage they’re being fed they won’t get to go to heaven.

    In my mind, that is nothing short of child abuse.

    And people wonder where children learn to lie…

  73. #73 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawkijn-1gjLr7yBcPwkUddF66jpw2j8ecFc
    April 4, 2010

    The local church has a sign up saying “No-bunny loves you like Jesus does!”

    Yeah? Well I have 8 gigs of furry porn that says otherwise. Celebrate easter! F*** a rabbit!

    I kid, I kid. I’ll celebrate any holiday that gives us Cadbury Creme Eggs.

  74. #74 Steve Jeffers
    April 4, 2010

    The Vatican does increasingly look like some sort of Dawkins-sponsored project designed to destroy Catholicism, or at the very least generate quotes that save atheists from having to make up any straw men.

    In the light of PZ’s analysis, one passage here may leap out:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8602504.stm

    “the use of stereotype and the easy passage from individual to collective guilt”

    The entire basis of Christianity, the true meaning of Easter, depends on the notion of ‘collective guilt’.

    If there’s no collective guilt, there’s no original sin, there’s no dying for sins, there’s no Catholicism.

    So … there you have it, from infallible lips: Catholicism is nonsense.

  75. #75 Phil G
    April 4, 2010

    Thanks for summing it up so well. It is so easy to see through the whole thing so why do people need to believe it so much? I was taught it as ‘fact’ at school and rebelled at an early age. It is abuse to teach children religious ‘fact’.

  76. #76 paul fauvet
    April 4, 2010

    “Where does he refer to the crucifixion? And if he did, at 116 CE, he would have only been retelling a story that was already making its rounds”.

    Tacitus refers to the death penalty, which, for non-Roman citizens, was typically by crucifixion.

    Tacitus is also generally regarded as one of the more scrupulous of ancient historians, who did not just report gossip. Furthermore, this is actually a hostile reference to Christianity (which makes it more credible, and very different from the references in Josephus, which are almost certainly Christian forgeries).

    I don’t see any problem in accepting that a radical preacher called Jesus (a common Jewish name) alarmed the Roman authorities, who disposed of him in their normal fashion.

    The likelihood that he did indeed exist and was crucified does not oblige us to believe any of the claims made by his followers.

  77. #77 ohioobserver
    April 4, 2010

    PZ, i read your blog every day, and I find you can be strident, arrogant, and irritating — and dead-bang on on some subjects, like this one.

    This was the very conversation I had with my family’s pastor when I was 17. Fortunately, the pastor was no true Xtian (he was a real scholar and decent man) in that he recognized that if a person can’t believe in the resurrection and the blood sacrifice he couldn’t — shouldn’t –purport to be a Xtian. I left the church and never looked back.

    It took a little longer and some dabbling with some other religious nonsense to catch on that “they can’t all be right, but they can all be wrong.” every religion has its creepy tales that require to suppress thought.

  78. #78 arkadyrose
    April 4, 2010

    I don’t think Jesus did actually die for us directly – certainly not to save us from sin. I think that God perhaps got curious as to why these humans just seem to be incapable of sticking to “the rules” and why they keep doing “the wrong things” so decided to incarnate Himself (or a part of Himself) as a mortal human, to live as one of us and – as part of the whole human experience – ultimately to die as one of us. Being human was a bit of a shock to Him though, and I think He realised that what His priests had been insisting on for centuries was actually wrong. That’s why the teachings of Jesus are so radically different from all that had gone before in the Old Testament.

    My views are pretty much heretical by any church’s standards though; God is supposed to be omniscient – but if He had to be incarnated and live and die as a human in order to understand His own creation then obviously He isn’t omniscient; and if He realised that what He had insisted on before was wrong and had to teach a new way, then that means God isn’t infallible either – which is also considered heresy. But then again, the Bible has more than one example of where God changed His mind because a human persuaded Him that He was wrong, so if the Bible is to believed then God isn’t inerrant or infallible.

    These are just my own views though; I’m not a theologian, just someone who’s been wrestling with my own faith for over 25 years.

  79. #79 Feynmaniac
    April 4, 2010

    I think the chocolate bunnies that lay eggs makes more sense.

  80. #80 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    April 4, 2010

    I never quite understood the concept that Jesus needed to die for people to be forgiven their sins. Surely God could’ve just said, “Ok, gang! Rule change! Now you can get forgiven! Isn’t that nice? Aren’t I a kind, non-bloodthirsty god?” But if there’s one thing I’ve learned by reading the Bible (and blogging about it, for those brave enough to go to my blog and check), is that God won’t take the bloodless way when there’s a bloody one waiting for him.

    The biggest irony is that God would ‘always’ forgive, if you ask the Jews. So Christians are messed up in two ways.

  81. #81 Newfie
    April 4, 2010

    I don’t see any problem in accepting that a radical preacher called Jesus (a common Jewish name) alarmed the Roman authorities, who disposed of him in their normal fashion.

    The likelihood that he did indeed exist and was crucified does not oblige us to believe any of the claims made by his followers.

    I don’t see any problem either. I also don’t see any evidence for an historical Jesus. Tacitus didn’t even get Pilate’s title correctly in his account. Him stating that Nero persecuted Christians, named after Christus. No mention of Jesus of Nazareth or crucifixion.

    Tacitus’ brief mention of Christus is hardly cause to say, “and the reference to the crucifixion in Tacitus makes it almost certain that it did happen”.

  82. #82 shonny
    April 4, 2010

    Posted by: Twopints Author Profile Page | April 4, 2010 1:52 PM

    If you ask me, this Easter thing is all due to shoddy workmanship. If I’d have nailed the fucker up, he would have stayed dead.

    Or think about it; if those dumb fuckers had a nail gun they could have stitched up the sucker properly.

    And the Monty Python team wrote a much better, and a hellishly funnier story. And the music is better too!
    Monty Python 10/10 Funny, funny, funny
    New Testament 0/10 Boring, boring, fucking boring
    Old Testament 0/10 Boring, boring, fucking nasty

  83. #83 Ibis3
    April 4, 2010

    @ #78

    Um, why do you think that any of the story is actually true?

    Aren’t you just making up a different myth based on another one that you didn’t like so much? Why go there at all?

    It’s kind of like my saying: I don’t think three Goddesses would be so petty as to fight over which one is the most beautiful, so there must have been some deeper meaning to the apple of Eris and the Gods wanted Paris to steal away Helen who actually wasn’t very pretty at all, she was just in possession of some sacred object that would be the property of whomever could get her into bed and that’s what the whole Trojan war was over and if only we could recover the sacred object, humanity would become immortal because then we’d have a real connection with the Gods. But I’m still struggling with my faith so I’m not sure if all that’s true.

    My story has one thing going for it that yours doesn’t have. We have archaeological evidence for the existence of Troy, but none for the existence of Jesus.

  84. #84 Kilted Kraut Sugar Land Otaku
    April 4, 2010

    As one fellow atheist put it to me once:

    “Jesus had a really sh*tty weekend for your sins.”

  85. #85 pdvanmeter
    April 4, 2010

    @78

    I’m curious, what exactly do you base these beliefs on? You seem to be using the Bible as the core source of your idea, yet you are rejecting several conclusions which are explicitly spelled out within it. Is not possible that, perhaps, it is all simply just nonsense?

  86. #86 Scented Nectar
    April 4, 2010

    I just did my very first youtube rant about the easter fighting between Xtians and Jews.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lepRSBOw98

    Why are Christians angry at Jews for killing Jesus? According to their own mythology, Jesus HAD to die in order for Christians to be saved. I don’t get it. They should be all happy and stuff that the Jews helped with their god’s plan.

  87. #87 geoffmovies
    April 4, 2010

    The one cool thing I like about Easter: Mmmmm… Chocolate Richard Dawkins’s and Charles Darwins’s.

    Nom Nom Nom Nom!

  88. #88 Newfie
    April 4, 2010

    Why are Christians angry at Jews for killing Jesus?

    superstitious group think, and hatred of others who think differently?

  89. #89 reesshelley
    April 4, 2010

    (from my easter blog post)

    Here’s what I always end up thinking about on Easter: Sidney Carton from Tale of Two Cities.

    Carton makes a sacrifice [SPOILER ALERT!] in going to the block for his cousin Charles Darnay. Some people would read this act as “Christ-like,” but that would be an egregious misreading. Carton’s choice presents a crucial contrast to the Christ story in that it does NOT involve an “innocent” who is tortured and murdered for the benefit of sin-ridden others; Sidney is not redeeming anyone but himself, because Sidney is not the innocent here, Charles is, and that’s a major reason why Sidney makes his choice.

    Sidney’s epiphany is that Sidney kind of sucks, while Charles is a good guy who is about to be martyred in the French revolution’s narrative of community redemption that involves purging itself of the aristocracy. The book rejects communal expiation of sin utterly, focusing instead on personal responsibility and actual moral and immoral actions by individuals, as opposed to magical effects that cannot be measured or observed and that apply to people who didn’t even do anything. The effects of Sidney Carton’s sacrifice are obvious and objectively real: Charles will live and he and Lucie will escape France. Carton also imagines that someday they will have a child named for him, representing his awareness that his personal choice to go to the block for Charles, this “far, far better thing,” is an attempt to repair his legacy, to give the people he cares about reason to remember him fondly.

    In addition–and perhaps most appealing to me in this context–Sidney has to DRUG Charles to make this happen. Because Charles is a “good” moral character, there is no way he would ever agree to let Sidney do this, and Sidney knows it, and the reader has to know it or the character of Charles Darnay doesn’t work anymore. How would we feel about him if Sidney managed to convince him to escape with his pretty little wife and let Sidney die horribly in his place? We would lose respect for him as a character, and rightfully so. He has to be tricked, they all do, or they’re complicit in Sidney’s death, which the book codes as immoral, as it should.

    My point is, the novel correctly identifies zealotry and dogma as elements of a corrupt system under which people end up sacrificed and martyred, and though characters like Sidney can achieve dignity through suffering, it would still be better if the suffering didn’t happen at all, and the culprit is the corrupt system, and that system is the real Bad Guy. Why should we not look at the “system” that necessitates Christ’s suffering in his story and conclude the same? Because that story ends up somehow affirming the horrific idea that violently shed innocent blood can wash away the sins of other people and is thus necessary, which is so morally disgusting I am honestly astonished every time I have to think about it, just stunned and grieved that people find this okay, that they perceive it as moral.

    Which is why I dislike Easter so much, I guess.

    The moral compass of Tale of Two Cities is more moral by far than that of the gospels, and this has nothing to do with atheism and everything to do with why the core narrative of Christianity, in particular, is so repellent to me. Ugh. Why couldn’t we have stuck with the fertility celebrations? We could’ve kept the eggs and bunnies and grass and gotten excited about the return of spring and left blood and death out of it.

  90. #90 Christian
    April 4, 2010

    Newfie @ #67

    You could ‘choose’ this beer.

    Or this beer.
    OK, maybe you have to wait for next easter ;)

  91. #91 Sastra
    April 4, 2010

    Actually, the connection between Jesus and the Easter Bunny is a significant one. When you understand how to connect them, it all makes sense.

    Okay, first, remember some time when you did something wrong to someone: you lied to them, or hurt them in some way. Okay? Well, that is a sin.

    Now, what did you do to get rid of that sin, so that you wouldn’t have it on your conscience any more? You put it into a rabbit, and then killed the rabbit. That way, the sin dies, when the rabbit dies, and you’re made pure. Right?

    No, not right. You didn’t do that. And do you know why you didn’t do that?

    Because Jesus already did that for you, that’s why. That’s right! He took the place of the rabbit, so that you don’t have to kill any more bunnies. Or yourself, either. Because Jesus didn’t just take that one small sin inside himself. He took all the sins you’ve ever committed — all the mistakes you’ve made — and stuck them inside himself, and then let himself be killed in an especially painful way! And he was even more pure than a rabbit! So, it counts in a very permanent way.

    Which is why the rabbit is connected to Easter. It’s for God to remind us that we have Him to thank, for not having to go through that constant ritual cleansing-slaughter. The only small thing He asks of us, is to see the love behind this perfectly reasonable solution which He came up with. Thank Him for Jesus, the Best Bunny of All — and have a Hoppy, Hoppy Easter!

  92. #92 Newfie
    April 4, 2010

    OK, maybe you have to wait for next easter ;)

    heh.. I saw that the other day. I will look for the one that I linked, when I’m in Chicago next week.

  93. #93 Kamaka
    April 4, 2010

    Double Dog double pale ale…

    mmm, one good sacrifice…

  94. #94 Pierce R. Butler
    April 4, 2010

    … the tale of God giving his only begotten son in a blood sacrifice to propitiate himself and grant us forgiveness for having crossed him once …

    I used to have a neighbor who would do everyone around favors they didn’t ask for – then demand favors in return because we “owed her one”.

    Her little shakedown was rather irritating that way, but a pleasure to deal with when compared to someone claiming we owe him (& his shady representatives) infinitely & indefinitely, for a victimless offense, perpetrated against arbitrary rules, by somebody else, when the creditor’s tab was purportedly already settled.

  95. #95 MadScientist
    April 4, 2010

    I’d just like to point out that “original sin” was an invention of ‘saint’ Augustine (may he rot in hell). It was likely bullshit invented to answer the question “what the fuck *did* jesus die for”? There was no real reason so an imaginary one which is beneficial to all had to be invented – we’re being saved from something we didn’t even do! Augustine was one of the biggest apologists of the church and he’s still revered for his dastardly contributions.

    @Cuttlefish: Why would you say the easter egg hunt had gone wrong? The kids have got a great story to tell then. :) Years ago a friend of mine went to the beach to play and found a skeleton and a mostly rotted away wooden casket. The waves pounding on the shores had gradually eroded a cemetery which was built on a bluff looking out to sea; the cemetery had not been in use for a long time and had been largely forgotten. So one day a little land slip resulted in a coffin being dumped into the sea and deposited on the shores. My friend’s got two whole photo albums for pictures of her ‘treasure’.

  96. #96 eddyline
    April 4, 2010

    If not for the image of heyzeus getting nailed, what gold pendant would so many flock members wear?

    Perhaps this one fills the bill….

    http://www.madebymammals.com/

  97. #97 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 4, 2010

    ow, what did you do to get rid of that sin, so that you wouldn’t have it on your conscience any more? You put it into a rabbit, and then killed the rabbit.

    OH NOES, dead bunny? Guess who must console the Redhead…

  98. #98 Kel, OM
    April 4, 2010

    One element that confuses me about the necessity of Jesus. Alister McGrath in an interview with Dawkins went on about something I’ve heard time and time again – God came down in human form to know suffering.

    Now if God as it is told was a finite and contingent being, then so be it. But we are told that God is omnipotent and omniscient. Surely God would know what it is like for humans to suffer before doing so by pure necessity. Which would make his whole time as Jesus one great big piece of performance art. It wasn’t that he needed to know what it is like to suffer – by being omniscient that is a given. It was for us to understand that God knew what it was like to suffer – but again this should be obvious by the definition of God…

    Methinks people want to put their suffering on a cosmic scale and that Christianity is a means to embody that.

  99. #99 ambulocetacean
    April 4, 2010

    Like that six-year-old girl told The Onion: “Jesus died because he was weak and stupid”.

    I’ve been away, so I’m not sure whether the cephalopod hordes have already torn this apart with their sniny little beaks, but did you hear the one about the Pope’s personal preacher saying the backlash over the child-rape scandal is just like the persecution of the Jews?

    I was intially quite stunned (yes, really) to hear this hysterical and frankly offensive comparison coming from the very institution that persecuted Jews for centuries. But then I realised that I shouldn’t have been surprised.

    Anyway, it was Easter yesterday here in Australia. I had six beers and masturbated once. Do I win a prize?

  100. #100 rayradlein
    April 4, 2010

    One legacy of my long-ago Jesuit education is an appreciation for really good heresies, as well as an ability to generate then almost at will; and there’s a fairly easy way to make the whole story make sense.

    [n.b.: I take no position on the ultimate truth or falsity of these or any other ideas]

    So: Imagine, for the moment, that you are God (this isn’t too big a stretch for some folks). You are, essentially, all-powerful and all-knowing. You have created life, or maybe even just nudged existing life into sentience, and have presented Mankind with a simple, straightforward bargain: Worship me and follow my wishes for your few short years of existence, and I will take the part of you that thinks and feels, and make sure that it lives on forever after you die (ignore for the moment the question of why you would do this).

    You’ve got to admit, that sounds like a pretty sweet deal: A few short years of sacrifices and not coveting your neighbor’s ass and the like, and in exchange you get an eternity of good stuff. Who wouldn’t go for that?

    Well, lots of people, it turns out. Even when carrots for good behavior are combined with sticks for bad behavior, a shocking number of people refuse to do your will. What’s up with that? It’s completely nonsensical.

    Now, to us, it makes perfect sense that people would fuck around and disobey perfectly straightforward instructions like “Hey, just don’t eat the fruit of that one tree over there” — I mean, is there anyone among us who wouldn’t see that one coming?

    But, you know, if you’re infinite and all-knowing and all-powerful, what is the one thing that you just absolutely could not understand? You would have no idea at all what it means to be finite, and ignorant, and weak. To be fallible. To be human.

    So finally, after centuries of begging and pleading and smiting and teaching and more smiting, you decide that the only way to get a real handle on the whole “humanity” thing is to try it on for size yourself. So you break off a little piece of yourself and put as much of it as you can fit into a human (sort of like Ambassador Kosh did with Sheridan in Babylon Five), to learn what it’s like to not know everything, to not be able to do everything, to not live forever. To experience doubt, and fear, and temptation, and death, because these are things of which you can know nothing.

    And so that little bit of you is born on Earth, and lives its brief span, and experiences uncertainty and pain and death; and you collect the results of your experiment and send a simulacra back down one last time to say goodbye to your posse with your new improved message of, “hey, don’t sweat it, dudes; I understand that nobody’s perfect, so if you ask me for forgiveness, I know where you’re coming from now.”

    And there you have it: birth, death, resurrection, and, suddenly, a mellower, more understanding approach to humanity (at least until Paul and the other humans get ahold of it and start dicking around with the message in that way that humans always dick around with everything).

    And, you know, while I’m sure that this interpretation would be in some sense heretical, it’s reasonably self-consistent, and even more or less Trinity-compatible ™.

    n.b.: Once again, let me reiterate that I neither endorse nor deny any concept or belief described herein; I simply offer them as a reasonable “retcon,” if you will, of the basic concept of Christianity and the Easter story.

    Like I said, my Jesuit teachers imbued in me a strange delight in the ways that one can achieve heresy by slight tweaks to a given set of doctrines and beliefs. There was some writer (Neil Gaiman, maybe?) who once said that he could make a living designing religions for people (and no, I’m not talking about the way that L. Ron did it), and that’s kind of what I’ve done here.

  101. #101 christophe-thill.myopenid.com
    April 4, 2010

    I’d say that Easter is the religious travesty for a very old holiday: the celebration of the spring, of nature coming back to life. Just these days I see lots of little green things that start to grow in my small garden, and I feel like celebrating (especially after some very cold days this winter). In this regard, Jesus and his adventures are just a symbol (oh, you already knew that…?). He just plays the part of a deity of nature here. Plus, many people see him as a great imaginary friend, so…

  102. #102 Brownian, OM
    April 4, 2010

    God came down in human form to know suffering.

    Why only suffering? Why wasn’t Jesus the greatest comedian the world has ever seen because God came down in human form to ‘know’ what it’s like to kill on stage? Why was Jesus supposedly celibate? How come God needed to know suffering but not what it’s like to be knee deep in hookers and blow? (On second thought, I’ve some friends who can assure me the experiences aren’t so dissimilar.)

    Man, even at their best Christian apologetics make less sense than one of those shitty Star Trek: TNG episodes where Data cries throughout because he doesn’t understand human emotion.

    Egaeus (and PZ, and others) nailed–heh heh–one of the most significant realisations in my apostasy:

    And why is his sacrifice a sacrifice? As Jesus presumably knew for an absolute fact that he was going to paradise, and that the crucifixion is temporary, how is that a sacrifice? If I had a direct line upstairs, and knew for a fact that I was going to paradise for eternity, I’d be pretty ambivalent about being tortured to death. Sure, it’d suck at the time, but in the grand scheme of eternity, it’s fairly inconsequential.

    For me it was the second thief at Gethsemane that did me in: “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.'”Luke 23:39-41 (NIV)

    As a Catholically-raised child, I was terrified of hell. There was no sense of the certainty of heaven that you get with these evangelical types; getting there was a narrow path and all but impossible to achieve by any but the most martyrly ascetics. I took the camel and the eye of the needle literally.

    Yet, here was Jesus, hangin’ away, and he’s glibly handing out VIP passes to the most exclusive club in town. Because he knows. And I remember thinking (probably while serving Easter mass as an altarboy), that there were only two humans on the face of the Earth who ever met their death with the certainty of knowing they weren’t going to be cast into hell: Jesus and this second thief. And right then I knew that no matter how much suffering Jesus endured before his death, it could never come close to the rest of us slobs who might receive all of the suffering Jesus did before his death, but without any such guarantee. And so, long before I just stopped believing altogether, I believed the resurrection story to be a story of the tritest ‘sacrifice’ ever by a god who played at human for a time and so thought he understood the terrible universe he’d created for his playthings.

  103. #103 Janet Holmes
    April 4, 2010

    Anyone who still thinks Jesus was an actual person (yes, you Paul Fauvet!) should read “The Jesus Puzzle” by Earl Doherty.

    It is quite compelling and having read it (and other works)I have no doubt that Jesus was a product of the minds of men. Along with the fact that Paul clearly had no concept of a human Jesus living on Earth, he is too much like many other gods popular at the time to be anything other than an attempt to incorporate Greco-Roman mystery religions into the Jewish ideas of the messiah.

    Happy Chocky day!

  104. #104 sancolot
    April 4, 2010

    Just watching my neighbors head for the Pedophile Castle this morning was enough for me.

    I hope his putrefied flesh and sour blood tasted okay.

  105. #105 brotheratombombofmoderation
    April 4, 2010

    Here’s a commentary about Easter from the Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal web comic:

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1356#comic

    On a more serious note, the idea that Jesus’ death was required to atone for humanity’s sins was rejected by some Christians. For example, the Universalist minister Hosea Ballou wrote A Treatise on Atonement in which he rejected the idea that Jesus had to die for anyone’s sins. A summary of his work can be found online here:

    http://www.uuworld.org/ideas/articles/1044.shtml

    Ballou’s grand-nephew, Hosea Ballou II, was the first President of Tufts University (where Daniel Denntt is currently researching the phenomenon of closeted atheist clergy).

  106. #106 yashwata.info
    April 4, 2010

    Lenny Bruce said, “They say the Jews killed Jesus. I say: Yes, we killed him. And if he comes back, we’ll kill him again.”

  107. #107 --PatF
    April 4, 2010

    You’re all wrong. This is the best explanation of Jesus given by the man his own self.

    http://djhobby.blogspot.com/2008/09/ta-dah.html

  108. #108 GodlessNot Clueless
    April 4, 2010

    Could somebody please explain how it is that the church KNOW that JC was born on 25/12/0000, yet the date of his crucifixion and subsequent ressurection seems to be set each year by throwing a dart at a year planner?

  109. #109 Stardrake
    April 4, 2010

    Brownian @102:

    “Why wasn’t Jesus the greatest comedian the world has ever seen because God came down in human form to ‘know’ what it’s like to kill on stage?”

    Maybe he did….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vt4MSQQ8LPo

  110. #110 Newfie
    April 4, 2010

    Could somebody please explain how it is that the church KNOW that JC was born on 25/12/0000, yet the date of his crucifixion and subsequent ressurection seems to be set each year by throwing a dart at a year planner?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_day#Date_of_celebration
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter#Date_of_Easter

  111. #111 lizzief
    April 4, 2010

    I guess I have neglected my son’s education (he’s homeschooled) because I just now got around to telling him why people celebrate Easter. When I explained to him what the Christian Easter tradition was about, he laughed his butt off & said “That’s more ridiculous than the Easter bunny!” And then went on to point out that at least he’s SEEN a bunny in real life. That leads into a new period of history and anthropology for us to study over the next few weeks – the beauty of homeschool…..

  112. #112 Evil Merodach
    April 4, 2010
  113. #113 WowbaggerOM
    April 4, 2010

    Yeah, even if there was no other reason to reject the nonsense of Christianity, the ludicrous idea that God had to send Jesus to ‘die for our sins’ would be enough to lead anyone – well, anyone reasonable – to conclude it was rubbish. It makes God either less than omnipotent for not being able to forgive humanity without it, or a monster for wanting to watch torture and execution for no reason – and Christians believe in an omnipotent, omnibenevolent god.

  114. #114 Sastra
    April 4, 2010

    rayradlein #100 wrote:

    One legacy of my long-ago Jesuit education is an appreciation for really good heresies, as well as an ability to generate then almost at will; and there’s a fairly easy way to make the whole story make sense.

    Yes, it can be done, and I agree that it’s not very hard, given creative license. I think that the free-and-easy “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual” ecumenical approach can also foster an ability to re-translate virtually any religious narrative into making sense. It just takes some imaginative analogies to issues and situations people actually confront in Real Life. Besides, if all religions are basically saying the same thing, then there simply must be some way to harmonize them. Since religions are generally built around fairly simple themes, you can blur details, drop discrepancies, and work out almost anything.

    The interesting thing is when people who actually believe in their religions, do this, and don’t see the problem. They see themselves as getting deeper into the true meaning, and wonder why atheists seem to think this ought to damage their faith — instead of making it stronger.

  115. #115 broboxley OT
    April 4, 2010

    guys those noids on planet 3 are not progressing at all. How are they ever going to get the idea of science and relativity?
    I know, we tell a group of theocratics about a noid dying then coming back to life! matter never dies, it just transforms! After a while the science will figure it out.
    2 millenia later
    guys? that didnt work, they have relativity but cant get over the story. Is there a good lookin monkey we could send down there?

  116. #116 Quine
    April 4, 2010

    Along with AtheistDave, this is my annual day to celibate with “Life of Brian” on the DVD. Perhaps, some day, we could organize local events around the world where Atheists would rent out movie theaters on Easter day to watch the film together and laugh away the year’s worth of Christian crazy we have had to endure.

  117. #117 pnrjulius
    April 4, 2010

    You are absolutely correct. The Easter story is ridiculous on a number of different levels, from science to history to morality.

    Yet to say so—to admit such things openly—is to invite criticism and anger.

    I am feeling rather sad because I got into an argument today that upset my mother regarding this very topic. I’m quite sure that I am right and she is wrong—yet still it hurts to make your mother cry on what is supposed to be a happy holiday.

  118. #118 ambulocetacean
    April 4, 2010

    pnrjulius,

    Sorry to hear that you and your mother are having a crappy Easter.

    My Catholic mother and atheist me have a sort of unspoken agreement not to argue about religious stuff at Christmas. It’s more important to us just to enjoy being with family.

    Easter I don’t bother with at all. I think I told my mum some years ago that while I like Christmas for the family stuff, Easter means nothing to me and that I’m not buying anyone any easter eggs.

    I don’t know what’s best for you and your mother, but for me and mine a Christmas truce makes sense. We still have occasional discussions/arguments about religion at less emotionally charged times of the religious calendar :)

  119. #119 efrique
    April 4, 2010

    Not make sense?

    The story is perfectly clear.

    Jesus spends a shitty weekend to save us from himself (because he is also his father)… except, no wait a minute, actually you aren’t saved unless you do exactly what he wants.

    Unless, that is, you believe the bits in the bible that state clearly that he (as his daddy) decided before you were even born whether or not you were saved, and the other bits that make it clear that the only people who go to heaven are from the 12 tribes of Israel, and only 12000 from each tribe.

    So he spent a shitty weekend in order to somehow guilt you into doing exactly what he says, so that at the end he can say “Which of the 12 tribes were you from again?” before he tells you to piss off.

    Perfect sense.

  120. #120 passerby
    April 4, 2010

    Yeah, you can imagine Jesus’ followers after their cult leader’s death with nothing achieved and no promise or prophecy fulfilled, the Jews still under the Romans and their corrupt religion unreformed, desperate to find a way, any way, to keep believing. Two ways, somewhat contradictory. Rationalisation: He secretly meant to die all along as part of the plan, it was a sacrifice. Denial: Sure he died… but not really, because he came to life again. And that’s how you get from Christ to Christianity, right there.

  121. #121 Ron M
    April 4, 2010

    Posted by: ambulocetacean | April 4, 2010 7:14 PM
    Anyway, it was Easter yesterday here in Australia. I had six beers and masturbated once. Do I win a prize?

    … and here in Missouri, it’s sundown Easter Sunday. I had one beer and masturbated six times. Do I win a prize?
    ==================================================
    C’mon people. Of course the easter story is true — it says so in the bible. And the bible is the true word of god — it says so in the bible. And the bible never lies — it says so in the bible. How can you argue with logic like that?

  122. #122 AJ Milne
    April 4, 2010

    I recall at some point hearing some commentator or other saying the sheer incoherence of certain facets of the Jesus legend is actually a pretty decent reason for thinking there’s some germ of truth behind them. The crucifixion in particular.

    As in: actually, if you’re trumpeting some guy as your saviour in waiting, if he goes and gets executed, this is inconvenient. And so maybe, something like that actually happened: people were buying he was all of that, folk were excited, and then: oops. Dead now…

    In this view of things, turning this around into ‘yeah, umm… he meant to do that, yeah, that’s the ticket’ is at once a vaguely pathetic way of making lemonade from the lemons and something of a theological Hail Mary (in the football sense). As in: the real miracle of the Christian story is that (a) that anyone actually tried to pull that shit and that (b) there are now actually several hundred million people stupid enough to buy it…

    Now, of course, in the longer view, we also now have people who believe aliens flying ships looking a bit like DC-10s dropped disembodied souls into volcanoes, dropped in some nukes, and, umm… That’s why you shouldn’t go to psychiatrists… So really, people buying the Jesus thing comes off, in my ever so humble view as more par for the course.

    Anyway, my point, so much as I have one: when a story makes that little sense, no, it’s probably not ‘a holy mystery’. No, it’s not some deep, mystifying metaphor, the contemplation of which may lead you to higher consciousness…

    No, more likely, it’s cobbled together bullshit that wound up that way because it’s pretty much a legend designed by committee. Moreover, a somewhat desperate committee, with rather little in the way of better options. And it’s a bit scary that anyone’s still repeating it except as the punchline to a very old and very bad joke.

  123. #123 Anri
    April 4, 2010

    But, you know, if you’re infinite and all-knowing and all-powerful, what is the one thing that you just absolutely could not understand? You would have no idea at all what it means to be finite, and ignorant, and weak. To be fallible. To be human.

    Sorry, but once you’ve said that someone is all-knowing, you cannot then turn around and state that their knowledge is limited.

    In other words, if a deity don’t know what it’s like to be limited, than clearly, they don’t know everything.

    And, yes, I understand that you weren’t accepting this concept – I just wanted to point out a major logical problem right at the beginning of this story.

  124. #124 phoenixwoman
    April 4, 2010

    Actually, Easter’s yet another pagan holiday that the early Christian fathers latched onto. The very word “Easter” comes from the pagan Old High German word Ostara.

    One of the big ironies of 21st-century American life is that there is such an effort put forth to deny the pagan origins of holidays like Christmas, when up until the Civil War it was actually illegal to celebrate Christmas in much of the US as the church leaders of the time knew full well it was a pagan rite at heart.

  125. #125 OurDeadSelves
    April 4, 2010

    …and knew that you don’t kill a god by hanging him from a tree and poking him with sticks. Jesus faked his heroism. He’s no hero at all.

    You know who else was hung from a tree and poked with a stick? Odin, of course!

    … That’s what gets me about religion– it’s essentially the same story over and over again. How many other faiths have a resurrection? And yet I’m supposed to believe that the Christian version is the one true version?

    I call bullshit on that.

  126. #126 elzoog
    April 4, 2010

    Not only that, but even if Christianity is true, Jesus’s death didn’t save us from original sin anyway.

    For example, if my friend dived onto a grenade in order to save me, there would no longer be a grenade. If there was still a grenade threatening me, then I can’t say that my friend saved me from it.

    Similarly, if Jesus saved us from original sin, then why is there still original sin? Even if it’s inherited, what if both mother and father got saved before having sex? If both mother and father got inoculated from original sin, then why would they be able to pass it down to their children?

    So you would think that if Jesus’s death really did save us from original sin, we would have people today who are born without it. But we don’t.

    And of course if Jesus didn’t really save us from original sin, then what’s the point of his sacrifice?

  127. #127 asilana
    April 4, 2010

    Jesus was smarter than all of you. You use many words to judge “him”. That is a sign of self centeredness, narrow mindness and not assuming your own responsibility. I am tired of the uptight, nose up scientist that believe that they know everything and blaim others for their own faults. Nothing is real, you stupids!!! Everything is an illusion. Your bodies and minds are just passing by in this life and I don’t think there is one of you capable of “resurection”. It is your own mediocre existence that makes you believe you know “something”. If Jesus was wo unimportant why waste all this shitty words? Why always blame someone else? Now you take it on Jesus, next, Buddha, next the baby next door….. Take responsibility of your own lives. Who have you killed? Who have you crucified? Is there room for light inside of you? You are so filled with all your rationale and your reasoning, you don’t know, you can’t see. You see with the eyes of hatred.
    I chose Jesus. If you any of you is soooo impeccable, well throw the first stone!!! I definitively chose Jesus. I don’t need to destroy or disrespect other beliefs in order to feel better or in a better position. I chose to be the last one.

  128. #128 AJ Milne
    April 4, 2010

    Actually, Easter’s yet another pagan holiday that the early Christian fathers latched onto. The very word “Easter” comes from the pagan Old High German word Ostara.

    And while I’ve pointed this out previously, I really do have to say again: Christian religious holidays would totally suck ass without the pagan elements.

    I mean yes, sure, the various old Germanics and miscellaneous European tribal types who give use most of the more colourful stuff in the now-semi-camouflaged solstice and equinoctial celebrations were kinda insane, too… But at least they knew how to have a good time.

    Okay, technically, it’s them and some more modern entrepeneurs who knew how to play up the stuff they could actually sell. But anyway: mistletoe? Presents? Dressing up and extorting candy from the neighbours/egging ‘em when they failed to put out properly? Chocolate for chocolate’s sake?

    All the fun stuff has like zero to do with that pushy dominant sometime state religion that’s always trying to stick its brand all over it.

    Seriously, for all certain sad apologists’ efforts to defend ritual itself as somehow worth the trouble, Christianity is such a fucking downer of a religion, its own actual native rituals are pretty much the gold standard of lame, to the degree you get to wonder: does anyone find this particular argument in any way compelling?

    I mean, do you really think you’d be bobbing for apples and chasing that hot blonde around the Christmas office party with that sprig of fake plastic greenery attached to your seasonally appropriate hat if the dour church fathers hadn’t realized that if they were to get anywhere they had to co-opt the locals’ idea of what constituted a real holiday?’

    I mean, those losers’ idea of a party is mostly droning in Latin until you pass out. Not a good time. So thank the weird merciful randomness of history those sad sacks were stuck trying to ‘civilize’ the northern Europeans. Cos the Picts and their neighbours, at least they knew how to sex up certain sidereal dates enough to make them actually worth noticing.

  129. #129 OurDeadSelves
    April 4, 2010

    Who have you killed? Who have you crucified?

    Um, nobody. Am I to assume that you have??

    Nice word salad by the way. You almost* made sense there.

    *Not really.

  130. #130 AJ Milne
    April 4, 2010

    Who have you killed? Who have you crucified?

    Oh man. This was show and tell day? No one told me…

    Fortunately, I just got off work…

    (Rummages aorund in bag for dismembered heads…)

    Got John the Baptist in here. And, oddly enough, John Larroquette…

    (/What do I win?)

  131. #131 Usagichan
    April 4, 2010

    I chose to be the last one.

    If only that were true, my children’s world would be a far nicer place.

  132. #132 Newfie
    April 4, 2010

    If Jesus was wo unimportant why waste all this shitty words?

    Cause his ‘peeps’ are wo dumbing up those joint

  133. #133 Autumn
    April 4, 2010

    Actually, Brownian, the 2nd thief story contains a delightful contradiction; Jesus tells the man that he (the thief) will join Jesus “this day” at the right hand of God, but we are later told that, upon his death, Jesus spent the next three days in Hell, gloating. So was Jesus punking the thief with false hope, or was the J-man insinuating that he was, in fact, the anti-Christ?

  134. #134 oc4jc22
    April 4, 2010

    funny thing about this article all the comments and “amens” that were received….is that they make no more sense that the very thing that you claim doesn’t make any sense. WHAT DOES IT MATTER TO YOU! if you choose not to believe that is on your soul your choice how dare you sit here and judge and then claim to be upset because you think Christians judge you! God is never forced. you choose to participate its called free will. if this is not what u want to believe then walk away but dont post such wreckless speech to protest something you dont even care about. he sacrificed his life…you dont have to appreciate it- thats on you. nobodys making u do anything! dang. misery truly loves company. tonight with all the faith i have in my being i will pray for every person that commented and the author of this article. truly i hope that on that day when we all must bow….your heart will exude that same confidence and proud nature that it does now…but for a truly different cause.MAY GOD BLESS YOU. and please dont respond to this comment, for as you have written it doesnt matter to you i only posted because God- Jesus-his holy spirit..and his sacrifice does matter to me. oh and fyi this is simply confirmation of what is written.

  135. #135 Crudely Wrott
    April 4, 2010

    If you were to ask me I’d say that comments 24 and 26 reap the InnerTubes. If you were not to ask nothing would change.

  136. #136 Sastra
    April 5, 2010

    asilana #127 wrote:

    You use many words to judge “him”. That is a sign of self centeredness, narrow mindness and not assuming your own responsibility.

    No; it’s a sign of caring more about what’s true, than needing to form reality into our own self-centered image. The story about Jesus makes no sense. Do you really think that ought to be ignored, just because it’s so wonderful to playact being part of a magic inner circle of the devout?

    I don’t need to destroy or disrespect other beliefs in order to feel better or in a better position.

    You don’t need to examine your own belief very hard, either; not doing so, definitely makes you feel better, and puts you in a better position, than doing so.

  137. #137 Crudely Wrott
    April 5, 2010

    24 and 25.
    Consecutive hits.
    I can’t count.

  138. #138 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 5, 2010

    asilana @ 127:

    Jesus was smarter than all of you.

    Pity he didn’t pass those smarts on to his followers. Not even a single admonition to, oh, say cherish the pursuit of knowledge or even a learning is fun, people!

    You use many words to judge “him”.

    There’s very little evidence that Jesus existed, ya know. Even so, it seems to me that it’s christians who are being “judged”. Really, it’s mockery, but not everyone gets these distinctions.

    That is a sign of self centeredness, narrow mindness and not assuming your own responsibility.

    Sez you. I think coming here to preach and scold is self-centered and narrow-minded. Not assuming responsibility for what? Atheists are responsible for themselves, their actions and their words. We don’t depend on the crutch of a god to lay blame on or beg forgiveness from.

    I am tired of the uptight, nose up scientist that believe that they know everything and blaim others for their own faults. Nothing is real, you stupids!!! Everything is an illusion. Your bodies and minds are just passing by in this life and I don’t think there is one of you capable of “resurection”.

    I doubt you know enough about science or scientists to be tired of them. If you’re going to make that kind of claim, back it up. (More word salad does not constitute evidence, by the way.) So nothing is real, is it? That means you aren’t real, and your Jesus isn’t real either. Right? Yeah, we have one life, that’s it. That’s why it’s a good idea to enjoy it. Why in the hell would I want to ‘resurect’ [sic]? I don’t want to be a zombie.

    It is your own mediocre existence that makes you believe you know “something”. If Jesus was wo unimportant why waste all this shitty words?

    It is your own mediocre existence, spent in the thrall of an imaginary being that makes you preach and sling insufferable world salad all over the place. Jesus doesn’t have anything to do with anything. It’s those who claim to follow Jesus who are the problem. That’s why all the words. Shitty words seem to be your particular metier.

    Why always blame someone else? Now you take it on Jesus, next, Buddha, next the baby next door….. Take responsibility of your own lives. Who have you killed? Who have you crucified?

    I’ve never taken anything out on Jesus. Or Buddha. Never met either one of them. Now, if they showed up for tea or something, I’d be polite. I’d draw the line at preaching though. I do take responsibility for my own life. It’s christians who don’t. Why on earth would I kill anyone, let alone in a barbaric manner? I think you should take that up with religious folks, who tend to be on the bloodthirsty side all too often.

    Is there room for light inside of you? You are so filled with all your rationale and your reasoning, you don’t know, you can’t see. You see with the eyes of hatred.

    You don’t get it both ways, you know. If we’re filled with rational thinking and reason, we’re not filled with hatred. Rational thought is the light inside! You should give it a try.

    I chose Jesus. If you any of you is soooo impeccable, well throw the first stone!!! I definitively chose Jesus. I don’t need to destroy or disrespect other beliefs in order to feel better or in a better position. I chose to be the last one.

    Good for you. Personally, I’m not into stone throwing. That seems to be the purview of religious people. I don’t care what people believe, as long as they keep that belief where it belongs – at home and your place of worship. The trouble is, religious folks are never happy with that. They want to interfere with education and laws. That does not get a pass.

  139. #139 truebutnotuseful
    April 5, 2010

    asilana @ #127 wrote:

    Jesus was smarter than all of you.

    Are you sure about that? He apparently wasn’t smart enough to, you know, not get nailed to a cross. I, however, am still alive and kicking. Jesus 0, me 1.

    I am tired of the uptight, nose up scientist that believe that they know everything and blaim others for their own faults.

    The first half of that sentence is just a tired old strawman. And the second half is almost too stupid for words.

    Nothing is real, you stupids!!!

    Except for Jesus, I’m willing to bet. In your mind, anyway.

    Everything is an illusion. Your bodies and minds are just passing by in this life

    Turn off The Matrix and step away from the crack pipe.

    and I don’t think there is one of you capable of “resurection”.

    The first correct thing you’ve written! Congratulations! You aren’t a complete waste of neural matter!

    If Jesus was wo unimportant why waste all this shitty words?

    If his obnoxious followers would stop harassing the rest of us, we’d gladly let him go the way of Odin and Zeus.

    Why always blame someone else? Now you take it on Jesus, next, Buddha, next the baby next door…..

    When the Buddhists or the baby next door (WTF?) start systematically raping children from a position of priestly power, we’ll take them on. Or when they try to take control of women’s bodies, or teach mythology in the science classroom, or discriminate against homosexuals.

    You are so filled with all your rationale and your reasoning, you don’t know, you can’t see. You see with the eyes of hatred.

    Most intelligent people consider reason and rational thought to be virtues.

    I don’t need to destroy or disrespect other beliefs in order to feel better or in a better position.

    Unless those others happen to be atheists, right? Then it’s totally OK to disrespect their beliefs (or nonbeliefs). It’s encouraged, even!

  140. #140 Sastra
    April 5, 2010

    oc4jc22 #134 wrote:

    WHAT DOES IT MATTER TO YOU! if you choose not to believe that is on your soul your choice how dare you sit here and judge and then claim to be upset because you think Christians judge you!

    What, does truth not matter? Or, is it not supposed to matter?

    Look, people are putting forth this idea as if it’s true, and it’s not. They’re also framing believing it as some sort of “test” for being a wise and good person, and it’s not. What you call “judging,” we call “evaluating.”

    and please dont respond to this comment, for as you have written it doesnt matter to you i only posted because God- Jesus-his holy spirit..and his sacrifice does matter to me. oh and fyi this is simply confirmation of what is written.

    Too late: I responded to you. Clearly, you are persecuted.

    And if having a very dicey, unlikely claim criticized is some sort of “confirmation” that you’re right, then you’ve certainly set yourself up in a situation where you never have to worry about actually entertaining an opposing view, or looking at your belief from the outside.

    Not only is the Christian story a creepy, false story — but it encourages people to ignore any evidence which calls them, and their self-righteous certainty, into question.

    Not good, my dear … not good at all.

  141. #141 Octopoggle
    April 5, 2010

    #134,
    None of us came into your churches today to disturb your services. Why are you barging into a place where atheists come together to appreciate an equivalent socially supportive environment?

    This lack of symmetry — let alone lack of basic social manners — is a great example of what makes Christians’ cries of “persecution” so laughable.

  142. #142 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 5, 2010

    oc4jc22 @ 134:

    WHAT DOES IT MATTER TO YOU! if you choose not to believe that is on your soul your choice how dare you sit here and judge and then claim to be upset because you think Christians judge you!

    It matters because it’s a silly story which makes no sense when examined. How dare we? Easy. It’s not difficult to examine a fairy tale closely. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m not upset. As for christians and their judging people, well, they do, you know.

    God is never forced. you choose to participate its called free will. if this is not what u want to believe then walk away but dont post such wreckless speech to protest something you dont even care about.

    God is never forced? Hmmm, you better get that message to every single theist on the planet. Right away. They seem to think it’s their business to cram god down every throat. Free will? Hahahahaha. Silliness. Reckless speech? Oh my. It’s not reckless, it’s not heresy, it’s not all awful and icky and stuff. I do care that so many people get suckered into a story that they refuse to examine in any detail themselves; I care because these people will not keep their beliefs to themselves, but insist on trying to force those beliefs into areas they do not belong.

    he sacrificed his life…you dont have to appreciate it- thats on you. nobodys making u do anything! dang. misery truly loves company.

    Except he didn’t (and that’s pretending he existed in the first place). Jesus knew he wasn’t going to actually die. That’s cheating. It might be good enough for you, I think it’s on the sleazy side myself. I’m not miserable at all. I’ve had a very pleasant Zombie Day.

    tonight with all the faith i have in my being i will pray for every person that commented and the author of this article.

    You really shouldn’t bother. You might need to save up your prayers for something really urgent, like finding your car keys one day. If you want to though, knock yourself out.

    truly i hope that on that day when we all must bow….your heart will exude that same confidence and proud nature that it does now…but for a truly different cause.MAY GOD BLESS YOU.

    Silly. I don’t bow to anyone, let alone some psychopathic prick of a god, if we’re going to play pretend god is real for a moment.

    and please dont respond to this comment, for as you have written it doesnt matter to you i only posted because God- Jesus-his holy spirit..and his sacrifice does matter to me.

    You don’t get to call whether people comment or not. So all that matters to you. That’s great for you. As you so amply demonstrate, christians are incapable of keeping that belief where it belongs, in their heads, their homes and their place of worship. Nowhere else.

    oh and fyi this is simply confirmation of what is written.

    If that’s some sort of reference to the bible, it’s a book of myths, cobbled together over years. It’s not true.

  143. #143 Crudely Wrott
    April 5, 2010

    Someone actually said:

    I am tired of the uptight, nose up scientist that believe that they know everything and blaim others for their own faults.

    I’m tired of listening to the lamentations of ignorance. I’m tired of people who know nothing about the workings of the world, outside of their amateur approach to schmoozing and back slapping, I am also tired of the inability of believers to convince me that I should show any measure of respect to their fairy tails.

    Give me one good reason, oh, ye faithful. One.

    So there. Take that.

  144. #144 Ibis3
    April 5, 2010

    @ 120 & 122

    Another piece of the puzzle, mostly overlooked by sceptics and apologists alike, is the fact that the whole omnibenevolent, omnipotent, omniscient stuff was also cobbled on to the god(s) of the biblical texts. Because Yaweh was originally a henotheistic deity in a polytheistic universe, he’s no more all-good, all-powerful, or all-knowing than Marduk, Ba’al, Zeus, or Osiris.

    But when the earliest educated converts to Christianity got started on the theology, they had to make it fit with the rational, perfect One God of the philosophers. That’s why the Christians are still stuck trying to defend all the inconsistencies (e.g. the problem of evil), why they had to formulate the concept of the Trinity, and of a Christ that was both fully human and fully divine.

    Another interesting fact: for many centuries, the classical Pagan gods were believed by Christians to exist. It wasn’t as though they thought Isis and Apollo were imaginary characters from mythological stories; they believed that those gods were actually demons pretending to be gods. It’s only post-Enlightenment that Christian believers decided that only their god was the real one and all the others were made up.

  145. #145 Crudely Wrott
    April 5, 2010

    Let’s face it, folks. When we observe our brothers embracing magic, all we can do is point and laugh in the hope that others will catch our drift. The hope being that enough people will catch on and that the obvious will be, well, plainly seen, even by the faithful.

    A true believer has no sense of guilt or personal responsibility. All of that is done for them, don’t you know? A true believer is never wrong. Only those listening are. They always misunderstand, you see.

  146. #146 Love F
    April 5, 2010

    I can only speak for myself, but I belive many others agree when I say that I find Jesus to be among the best parts there is in the bible. We criticize him and the story to bring the moral code of our society forward, although I find the “book” moral only loosely correlated with the “day-to-day” morals people actually have.

    Plocking apart the pseudo self sacrifice is not a difficult part, as can be seen by the varying takes on it in the previous posts. Yet it is nontrivial enough to be a challange to kids in the ages where religious identity is largely formed. To me, in my confirmation studies, the one thing that really beat me is how we’re all supposed to be saved but then again really not. It’s not just the original sin, it’s the concept that a murderer can get into heaven by a switch of heart in the last minute, but I should go around in the fear of hell for lusting after a neighbour and other minor stuff and may actually go to hell if I have a bad relationship with god in my last days.

    Bear in mind that my religious upbringing is in the liberal protestant church of Sweden. Even here, hell is a living part of religion, albeit the number of sins has been reduced.

    On a completely separate note; because of Easter I get two days extra of work and at higher pay. REALLY nice for a student whose girlfriend currently doesn’t contribute economically.

  147. #147 Bill Dauphin, OM
    April 5, 2010

    Just dropping in (except for some blather on the iPad thread, I’ve been mostly away from Pharyngula this long weekend), so forgive me if somebody’s already posted this somewhere, but some folks know how to celebrate Easter right! [NSFW]

  148. #148 Owlmirror
    April 5, 2010

    Nothing is real, you stupids!!! Everything is an illusion.

    So Jesus didn’t really live, and didn’t really die?

    Are you one of those Gnostics?

    It is your own mediocre existence that makes you believe you know “something”.

    Why shouldn’t we believe that we know something?

    If Jesus was wo unimportant why waste all this shitty words?

    Who said that Jesus was unimportant? Millions of people think that Jesus is important. Some think Jesus is important enough to kill for, or hurt others for.

    We don’t think he was unimportant. We think he was fake; that his story was false; that the story of Jesus is a fundamentally shitty one. We think he should be unimportant.

    You are so filled with all your rationale and your reasoning, you don’t know, you can’t see. You see with the eyes of hatred.

    Hatred of who? I don’t hate you — I just think you’re wrong.

    If you any of you is soooo impeccable, well throw the first stone!!!

    What stone?

    I don’t need to destroy or disrespect other beliefs in order to feel better or in a better position.

    You just spent an entire comment viciously destroying and disrespecting the lack of belief that is atheism, presumably to make yourself feel better and in a better position.

    Just in case you missed seeing your own hypocrisy.

  149. #149 Owlmirror
    April 5, 2010

    funny thing about this article all the comments and “amens” that were received….is that they make no more sense that the very thing that you claim doesn’t make any sense.

    Pointing out that something doesn’t make sense doesn’t make sense?

    Then it doesn’t make sense for you to point out that we’re not making sense by pointing out that something doesn’t make sense.

    WHAT DOES IT MATTER TO YOU!

    Why should truth and things making sense not matter to us?

    and please dont respond to this comment,

    No-one will force you to read the responses.

    for as you have written it doesnt matter to you i only posted because God- Jesus-his holy spirit..and his sacrifice does matter to me.

    It matters to us because this supposed “sacrifice” does not make sense. And neither do you.

    Sorry, we just prefer things that make sense. That’s just the way we are. Maybe God made us this way, eh? Would that make sense?

  150. #150 timrowledge
    April 5, 2010

    Jesus was smarter than all of you.

    Doubtful. I’m very smart and I know an alarmingly large number of people even smarter. Almost all of us have been smart enough to avoid getting pointlessly killed.

    Who have you killed?

    That would be classified information. You certainly are not one of the people with clearance to know.

  151. #151 SaintStephen
    April 5, 2010

    You are so filled with all your rationale and your reasoning, you don’t know, you can’t see.

    OIC. So if we abandoned rationality and reason, we could see… er… hmmm. Uh-huh. Yep. Okay.

    This has to be one of the clearest examples of religious delusion I’ve ever encountered. Quick, somebody get a Mason jar and we’ll capture it for further study in Sam Harris’ fMRI lab…

  152. #152 raven
    April 5, 2010

    asilana:

    Who have you killed? Who have you crucified?

    !!! WTH. AFAIK, killing someone by crucifying them isn’t a requirement to be a xian or a nonbeliever. Which cults do that and why did you do it? Was is anyone you know or did you just grab a random kid and start pounding nails into them?

    I don’t need to destroy or disrespect other beliefs in order to feel better or in a better position.

    Well that is nice and all but irrelevant. Your coreligionists have spent the last 2,000 years murdering nonbelievers, heretics, alleged witches, other religions, and each other by the tens of millions. They are still doing so.

    Hardly a day goes by without some church official calling nonbelievers satanists, pure evil, dangerous, or subhuman. Fundie xians sponsor xian terrorists, assassinate MDs, and have started forming militia groups such as the Hutaree to kill cops in an attempt to overthrow the government.

    If you cultists would just stay under your rocks and lie to each other no one would care. Unfortunately, they never do that but instead keep bothering the rest of us.

  153. #153 Harbo
    April 5, 2010

    My favourite media release for the weekend was from the Queensland (Australia) Department of Primary Industry(DPI) which reminded graziers(ranchers) that it was a particularly good time to destroy Rabbits!
    Now that’s getting into the spirit of things.

  154. #154 DLC
    April 5, 2010

    Oh, I’m fairly sure there was a Yeshua ben Joseph, ex-carptenter turned rabbi. No such person equates to quite a bit of skullduggery, and too many people would have had to be “in” on it. The entire divinity business, with miracles and divine resurrections is not beyond the skill of any good magician. It could be that we’re looking at a simple bronze-age con man. Divine Bunco gone wrong.
    The irony appeals to me.

  155. #155 thehuntbox
    April 5, 2010

    Since I more-or-less buy the historicity of Jesus argument, it’s more than a little ironic that Easter represents the first killing attributed to Christianity. Jesus was likely a real man, deluded perhaps, who was horribly killed by crucifixion. So the whole damn thing kicks off with the torture death of its hapless founder. You know, the pathos and bathos here is thick enough to cut with a knife.

  156. #156 defides
    April 5, 2010

    “How does having the sick butcher the doctor make us better?”

    OK, well, I guess this must have been written late at night or under the influence of an Easter posset.

    Missed a word or two – or some punctuation – which would have helped us all understand the sentence, PZ.

  157. #157 Rorschach
    April 5, 2010

    Missed a word or two – or some punctuation – which would have helped us all understand the sentence, PZ.

    Where by “us all” you mean yourself.
    Maybe under the influence of an easter posset yourself? Or just poor reading skills in general?

  158. #158 travcollier
    April 5, 2010

    Assuming Jesus really existed… I’m liking more and more that he committed “suicide by Roman”. He would have to have been an amazing dolt to not realize that the shit he pulled in Jerusalem (during the high holy days no less) was bound to get him executed in short order. Certainly puts the episode of the moneylenders in the temple and the “I’m going to die” speechifying to his followers in a new light.

  159. #159 Judy L.
    April 5, 2010

    Easter is a choco-secularized holiday where I’m from. My little nephew, Darwin, got his first chocolate bunny this year, and he approves…so much better than that chocolate-free crucifixian story that christians have to swallow at this time of year.

  160. #160 GravityIsJustATheory
    April 5, 2010

    All this reminds me of a discussion I had with a preacher a while ago, that ended up being a critical step on my road to atheism.

    A little under a year ago, when I was still an agnostic with lingering respect for Christianity (and a lingering desire to rekindle my faith), I saw a group of Christians outside one of the churches in my town doing a sort of “recruiting drive”. One of them was a woman I had briefly dated a while ago and who I still fancied, so I went over to talk to her.

    She introduced me to one of the preachers, who asked he could talk to me about religious stuff for a bit. Given that, as I said, I still had a lingering desire to regain my lost faith (and get back together with the girl), I agreed.

    This led to in a conversation about the Ten Commandments, ending in the conclusion that I was a lying, blaspheming, covetous adulterer[1], and so didn’t deserve to go to heaven[3]. (I can’t remember if he said anything about Hell or not).

    The preacher then started telling a parable/analogy/metaphor thingy: imagine I was on trial for my sins, and that the judge found me guilty and sentenced me to a £50,000 fine. (Which made me think: WTF? Who made all those things crimes? This is England, not Iran. And most of the definitions you used for adultery, covetousness etc were non-standard ones. And even if I was guilty, a £50k is hardly fair for victimless crimes. Although I didn’t say any of that out loud – maybe I should have).

    The preacher then said: Suppose someone stands up and offers to pay the fine for you.

    Now, I know where this metaphor is going, because I was told a similar one in RE lessons at school. The judge is God, judging us for our sins, and the man offering to pay the fine is Jesus. When I first heard the metaphor it had seemed reasonable, but now I realised how messed up it was.

    Firstly, based on the analogy, this means that the man offering to pay the fine is the son of the Judge, which at the very least sounds like the potential for a major conflict of interests.

    Secondly, if the judge represents God, then he’s not only judging the law, he made the law in the first play. So again, major conflict of interest, and against all modern/western notions of appropriate checks and balances.

    Thirdly, Jesus isn’t just the Son of God, he also is God. Which isn’t merely logically and biologically whacko, but makes the whole deal seem not merely a conflict of interest, but an outright scam (or even blackmail).

    The preacher then explained the analogy (which of course I already knew) and how it related to actual Christian theology:

    (My thoughts as he explained it are given in square brackets).

    * You have sinned, and therefore not only can not to go to heaven, but deserve to be punished.
    * The penalty for sin is death.
    * But God loves you and is infinetly compassionate and merciful, and He wants you to go to heaven.
    * But He can’t because you have sinned [wait – he made the rules, surely he can change them? Especially since they are rules that are literally impossible for any human to follow perfectly – a point that is explicit in the theology]
    * Justice demands that if someone has sinned then SOMEONE MUST BE PUNISHED.
    * To be precise, SOMEONE MUST DIE.
    * Fortunately, Jesus is perfect and has not sinned, so he can die in your place [WTF – what sort of messed up “justice” is that? ]
    * So Jesus died for your sins, and then rose from the dead [so does that really count as dying?]
    * That any who believe in him will be saved and go to heaven.

    The preacher obviously thought was a compelling argument, and a demonstration of how much God loves us that he’s willing to sacrifice his son/himself for us.

    But what struck me was:

    1) If God was saying “I make the rules. And the rules say: If you look at a woman and think “Phwoar!” then YOU DESERVE TO DIE! And justice can only be satisfied if SOMEONE DIES! But it doesn’t have to be you, so I’ll have my son killed and let you off”, then God is a monster unworthy of worship.

    2) If his Son of God can come back to life after three days, then it’s hardly a sacrifice worth talking about. And if the “Son of God” also actually is God, and salvation granted to those who believe it happened and worship God/Jesus for making the non-sacrifice, then the whole thing sounds like a set-up and blackmail, and an infinitely worse one than in the courtroom analogy.

    3) And finally, after all that, the preacher has given no evidence at all that any of that is actually real.

    So I left, feeling quite sad, because I knew then that I couldn’t believe in any of it. And whereas before I had been an agnostic of the “There probably isn’t a god, but it would be foolish to deny the possibility outright” sort, combined with “believing in belief” in general, and with a particular soft-spot for Christianity in particular, I now realised that the whole edifice was worthless, and that the Crucifiction-Ressurection-Salvation story, far from being an inspiring myth, was morally bankrupt.

    (My final transition to true atheist came a month or two later, when I was reading the comments on a Timeonline article about dinosaurs or evolution that was being spammed by creationists, and mentally shouted “Oh for fucks sake! There is no God!” Which lead to a moment of shock as I realised what I’d said, followed by a great sense of relief, as I realised how much simpler that made everything, as I no longer had to engage in the sort of absurd mental contortions necessary to reconcile contradictory world views, nor did I have to “respect the sincerely held beliefs” of fools).

    [1]Based on a very binary concept of sin where any transgression no matter how small counts, and using Jesus’s definition that simply having lustful thoughts about a woman[2] counted as adultery.

    [2]Who happened to be standing net to me at the time, although I didn’t specify it was her.

    [3]The Church of England, AFAIK, doesn’t believe in the doctrine of Original Sin, and instead takes the view that because God and Heaven are perfect, whereas all humans are imperfect and have sinned in some way, they don?t “deserve” to get into heaven, but instead have to rely on God’s mercy.

  161. #161 nigelTheBold
    April 5, 2010

    …but for a truly different cause.MAY GOD BLESS YOU. and please dont respond to this comment, for as you have written it doesnt matter to you i only posted because God- Jesus-his holy spirit..and his sacrifice does matter to me. oh and fyi this is simply confirmation of what is written.

    *sigh*

    Jesus obviously died for our spelling, grammar, and punctuation, as it seems no True Believer(tm) uses either three properly or effectively.

  162. #162 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 5, 2010

    OK, well, I guess this must have been written late at night or under the influence of an Easter posset.

    Missed a word or two – or some punctuation – which would have helped us all understand the sentence, PZ.

    I understood it just fine.

  163. #163 RtPt
    April 5, 2010

    Zombie Jesus is a very silly story.

    I always thought that Joshua stopping the sun was the silliest story.

    The “great” thing is there are so many to choose from.

    Maybe that could be an article: What is the silliest Biblical story…or religion narrative?

  164. #164 stoneyage
    April 5, 2010

    Bravo! Great piece. For if we laud Jesus as a hero and a savior for mankind, then we will be obliged to laud the countless suicide bombers who believe their cause to be dying to save their own, right?

  165. #165 https://me.yahoo.com/a/hMTnrH8JkegRx6gXqRPC43XjYan1vnC7vw--#c00c5
    April 5, 2010

    I’ve always enjoyed watching ‘The Ten Commandments” at this time of year, (or on the gorgeous technicolor of DVD) because it’s a rather amusing story in which the hero does absolutely everything wrong.
    Despite all of the babbling about liberty and freedom, when you examine it carefully, Moses needs the clumsy, blunt-force help of God because he’s an idiot. And the Egyptians are the voice of reason.
    Moses gets all kind of advice on how to proceed in ways that ensure nobody gets killed, tortured or plagued and he ignores them all, leading to, eventually, genocide in his own camp and all over the middle east.
    Because God had to show he had bigger balls than the Pharoah’s gods.
    And at least they’ve had the good grace not to remake it as a haeartwarming family comedy starring Adam Sandler.

  166. #166 tacroy
    April 5, 2010

    And why is his sacrifice a sacrifice? As Jesus presumably knew for an absolute fact that he was going to paradise, and that the crucifixion is temporary, how is that a sacrifice?

    Oh man, I just had the best idea: it was a sacrifice because Jesus was supposed to stay here. The original idea was for Jesus to be resurrected and then stick around in Jerusalem for the next infinity years, teaching and spreading His own word*.

    Then He chickened out, because it sucks down here – if you think it was hard to wait three months to get your hand on an iPad, try two thousand years!

    And of course, like all spinmeisters, He decided to make it seem like that was the plan all along while abandoning us to our filthy mud huts.

    *) An idea I stole from the guy who does Evangelical Realism

  167. #167 eviltwit
    April 5, 2010

    PZ, you are awesome. After a day where I’ve had to grit my teeth and wish my family a Happy Easter like I give a crap (and felt vaguely guilty about not at all “respecting” the holiday), this post was the perfect balm to my brain. Thank you!

  168. #168 PeteJohn
    April 5, 2010

    Yeah Easter is kind of silly. Basically, Eve ate fruit from the wrong tree and, with Adam, was banished from Eden by God for all eternity, cloking humanity in original sin. Jesus died for this sin, so that humans could go and live in Heaven with him and his dad… or wait they’re the same thing or some nonsense. So Jesus actually died to redeem humanity of the sin that he placed upon humans.

    “But wait,” protest the sophisticated theologians, the Adam and Eve story is really just a story intended to teach us something. If that’s the case, Jesus died to save humanity from something he cursed humanity with in a story intended to teach us something. Hmm…

    Yeah this is patently ridiculous to anyone who takes three seconds to think about it. It makes my brain hurt. But I do love Easter candy!!!

  169. #169 Richard Wolford
    April 5, 2010

    Great post as always PZ. I just had a question for all of those beeble-thumpers who are so damned mad at those snotty, elitist scientists and who love to troll the threads here. Why are you using a computer?

  170. #170 Sven DiMilo
    April 5, 2010

    After a day where I’ve had to grit my teeth and wish my family a Happy Easter like I give a crap

    *shrug* What I do, I picture it every time spelled “?ostre”.

  171. #171 asilana
    April 5, 2010

    Bill Dauphin: Just words, labels, bla, bla, bla. Science changes every second, because it is not in the words… Nothing, absolutely nothing can stand still. The constant is our own creations in our own mind, and even that changes. Knowing a lot is not wisdom is just having a library inside. For what purpose? Is it going to improve the way we interact or is it just an excuse to hate.
    I know very humble, very “ignorant”humans, indians in mountains with their beliefs and they are sooooo wise and would never use words to disrespect your own godless ideas. Being without a God, I can see is a religion to. Jesus, for me goes beyong religion, as well as the milkman next door.
    Masai people, for example, do not believe in time, because they know and not “literally” that it is an ilussion. They live present. They need no more than a word to shut up our “big ideas”of what is best. I wish I could learn from them. I wish I could learn from the very poor old lady, very sick one, ignorant, if you wish, praying for the peace of all the world in her own little church. In her heart there is more light than the whole science community. And I cannot “prove it”. Sorry.

  172. #172 Sastra
    April 5, 2010

    I don’t think I realized that Easter had any connection to religion till I was maybe 7 or 8. I remember that the egg-dying kits had little pictures you could soak in water and transfer onto the eggs, and one of them was a cross with a lily. I had no idea what it meant; the flower made sense, but what was the cross for? I seem to vaguely recall that my mom used to take that one away when I was very little, but let me put it on when I got older — probably after giving me a brief explanation which didn’t take, because I don’t remember it. We were freethinkers.

    I still don’t think of Easter as being a religious holiday. The Christian story feels to me as if it’s awkwardly grafted on to the spring bunny and egg part, which is the real meaning of Easter.

    I raised my kids the same way.

  173. #173 MrFire
    April 5, 2010

    Jesus, for me goes beyong religion, as well as the milkman next door.

    well that was a weird sentence alright

  174. #174 JimL
    April 5, 2010

    I like easter for two reasons only: First, Peeps. Second… um, nevermind, it’s just the one reason.

  175. #175 Tigger_the_Wing
    April 5, 2010

    Thanks to you lot I decided to google ‘peeps’.

    All I can say is?

    Yeuch.

    Asilana, perhaps you should try using a different translation tool. The one you are currently using is producing a mangled mess that makes no sense whatever.

  176. #176 MrFire
    April 5, 2010

    The constant is our own creations in our own mind, and even that changes.

    You speak more truly than you know. Unfortunately, not in your favor of your faith.

    Knowing a lot is not wisdom is just having a library inside.

    But belief in imaginary beings and meaningless sophistry is?

    For what purpose? Is it going to improve the way we interact or is it just an excuse to hate.

    Ignorant people hate less?

    Being without a God, I can see is a religion to.

    Point Refuted A Thousand Times.

    In her heart there is more light than the whole science community.

    No doubt she means well. There is similarly little doubt that her efforts are a complete waste of time, in comparison to those of ‘the whole science community’.

  177. #177 Tigger_the_Wing
    April 5, 2010

    My mother (when she was still religious) used to say “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions”.

    It doesn’t matter how much light there may be in the heart of an old lady sitting in church – she still isn’t actually doing anything to help anyone.

    The ones who truly light up this world are the ones who study and understand it, so that they can produce medicines, cure diseases, design wonderful machines.

    Those are among the things that mean the quality of life in non-theocratic countries is considerably higher than it was in ‘The Good Old Days’ when women and children routinely died as a direct result of childbirth, when every cancer was a death sentence, when making a living was shitty and dangerous, when travel and commerce required enslaving other, stronger species.

    Doing things ‘God’s Way’ leads to misery. Especially as no-one can agree what ‘God’s Way’ actually is.

    Science is releasing us from that misery.

  178. #178 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawk8Er0xHwr5oQ2bWARUzonh6Ov_ijL0Dbw
    April 5, 2010

    Pz’s article on Easter was spot on. I was especially taken with the stuff about Christianity taking advantage of our human cognitive shortcuts to grab us. That blew my socks off, especially as I watched the dishonesty front and center as a (very reluctant) singer at a church this weekend. The music director is a friend of mine and he needed an alto.

    Anyway, I have one small point of clarification on PZ’s article. Where PZ says that Jesus was supposed to be omnipotent and omniscient and knew his own nature, and knew that you don’t kill a god by hanging him from a tree and poking him with sticks, I want to clarify that this is the view we get in the gospel of John. A christian (which I was until very recently and for–goodness help me–a long, long time) would tell you that the synoptic gospels don’t match up with John on this point. Yeah, I know, it’s a pretty big point of disagreement among the gospels. In the other three gospels, especially in Mark’s story, it looks like Jesus isn’t always so sure about his god-nature or his sonship with god or whatever.

    Now, this really doesn’t improve things for the christian view point, though. If Jesus was a regular person who learns that god has a special plan for him but he doesn’t know what it is (death on a cross) until it finally happens, what kind of love or trust should anyone feel for this god? This is how he treats his “only begotten son” so–gee, I’d be nuts to want any of that kind of love.

    By the way, I’m coming to reason late in life, but so glad I am. I was the 50-something woman who came to the meet up at MacGregor’s after PZ’s Rochester gig. I came and then was too shy to say much of anything. It was such a joy to be with non-religious people, I didn’t have much to say. Thank goodness for PZ and all you minions of Pharygulites everywhere!

  179. #179 Sastra
    April 5, 2010

    asilana #171 wrote:

    Knowing a lot is not wisdom is just having a library inside. For what purpose? Is it going to improve the way we interact or is it just an excuse to hate.

    In other words, you’re saying that it doesn’t matter what religion is true, or if religion is true, or if anything is true at all. The only thing that matters, is that we’re nice to each other, and feel happy inside. Why can’t we all just agree to this, and leave each other alone?

    Except, of course, that you don’t mean it. You really mean that, because your religion makes you nice, that makes it true. True for you, but really true in reality, too, as fact. And we’re not nice, because we don’t see the truth you see.

    And you will flip back and forth between the first approach, and the second, without realizing what you’re doing, or caring if you do realize it.

    But we notice, and care.

  180. #180 maddogdelta
    April 5, 2010

    Jason Dunham died for his fellow Marines. I find it insulting to think that someone (assuming that someone even existed) was killed, but came back to life is considered to be a greater sacrifice than Jasons.

    So to all those who want to whine about Jebus sacrificing anything, I would like to ask them politely to fark themselves.

  181. #181 Menyambal
    April 5, 2010

    God made some people, so they were his children, really, but he didn’t make them very well or teach them very well, then he told them to not do something that he could easily have prevented happening, but they didn’t know any better so they did it, and then God made up the idea of sin and said that what his made children had done was what he called a sin and that they should have known better, even though they couldn’t have and he could have stopped it, and God decided to be mean to his made children and all of their children, even though all the people were really his children, except some time later he made part of himself into his own special child by making one of the children of his earlier made-children pregnant with it, even though she was really one of his children, then he killed that special one of his children, which was really part of himself, by making some of the children of his made-children kill it, which made God so happy that he made up forgiveness, which just meant that he would stop being mean to people, and he said that he forgave all of his children for what his first made children had done before they understood that they shouldn’t, and that he would stop being mean to his children, except God didn’t forgive anyone for anything except that first thing, and everyone had to make themselves think that this story makes sense and is true.

  182. #182 Tigger_the_Wing
    April 5, 2010

    #178

    By the way, I’m coming to reason late in life, but so glad I am. I was the 50-something woman who came to the meet up at MacGregor’s after PZ’s Rochester gig.

    Parallel life here. I’m also 50-something woman who has belatedly decided to attempt to join the rational minds. I went to the meet up in Canberra.

    Your post shows a good understanding of the gospels based on a lot of study (I’m a Catechist). Have you found, as I have, that it is very, very difficult to shake off the decades of rationalisation of faith that come with deep study? I keep feeling vague guilt that I’m somehow being ‘unfaithful’ to something that I know isn’t there.

  183. #183 David L
    April 5, 2010

    Excellent. The whole structure of Christianity is built on one central fallacy–original sin.

  184. #184 CJO
    April 5, 2010

    Oh, I’m fairly sure there was a Yeshua ben Joseph, ex-carptenter turned rabbi. No such person equates to quite a bit of skullduggery, and too many people would have had to be “in” on it.

    No, the development of a literary tradition doesn’t equate to “skullduggery,” and yes, it usually has a few people “in” on it. Ultimately, that’s the Jesus we got. A literary character in a myth that developed over time.

    This intuition, and I come across it all the time, that a conspiracy to propagate the lie would have been required, relies on the ability of those originally presented with the story to know better. And this, in turn, relies on two things: their ability, perceived or real, to be in possession of accurate information about events in Galilee and Jerusalem a couple of generations ago; and second, their propensity to take a skeptical, empirico-rationalist stance toward the story. If the earliest believers lacked either or both, the story simply spreads if it finds resonance with enough people. No malicious lies and no conspiracies required.

    Also, most generally skeptical folks who find the core of the demythologized ex-carpenter-turned-rabbi narrative plausible enough are not taking into account the later history, of which we can be more confident than anything in the gospels. So, ask yourself: if the Jesus narrative was based on a real person, why does the earliest tradition (Paul) present us with a cosmic savior figure who is only later (in the gospels) given a narrative involving a “rabbinic” career as a teacher and healer? If Jesus was really crucified as a dissident in Jerusalem, why are his followers allowed to go about proclaiming his name, seemingly with impunity, a few years later in the same city, under the rule of the same implacable military authority that put him to death?

    Plausible as it may seem at first blush, the whole story just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

  185. #185 isaac
    April 5, 2010

    There has never been one second in my life that this made any sense to me. It was only later in my life that I understood why.

    I remember little seven year old me sitting in church and Sunday school wondering why this didn’t make any sense, but I just couldn’t wrap my little brain around it then. I would have called “bullshit” if I’d known the word then and could have broken it down like this then.

    Church was never a pleasant experience and I could never understand why my mom insisted on dragging me to some place every week where they tried to scare the hell out of me (I can say in fairness to my mother, though, that I was never fed this crap at home, just in church). I also could never understand all the little sycophantic mouth breathers with whom I was forced to endure Sunday school and who swallowed this and similar bullshit whole.

    I think it was Carlin (or maybe Gallagher) who said that when you’re a kid, church is just a weekly reminder that there’s something worse than school.

    During the week, my school teachers encouraged me to ask questions and to have and make up my own mind. On Sunday I was told by other adults that shit was just not for me to know and it was better not to even ask unless I wanted to end up being tortured and miserable for eternity.

    Not understanding death (or my innate atheism), I thought they were talking about torturing me by making me sit in church forever.

  186. #186 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawk8Er0xHwr5oQ2bWARUzonh6Ov_ijL0Dbw
    April 5, 2010

    Parallel life here. I’m also 50-something woman who has belatedly decided to attempt to join the rational minds…Have you found, as I have, that it is very, very difficult to shake off the decades of rationalisation of faith that come with deep study? I keep feeling vague guilt that I’m somehow being ‘unfaithful’ to something that I know isn’t there.

    I’m still coming to terms with the fact that the progressive, liberal “ground of all being” slippery, beyond the limitations of objective/subjective crap I was into is just as crazy and dangerous as any other flavor of christianity. OK, I was never the kind of Sunday school teacher who had the kids crying like “Jesus Camp,” but I taught some bad stuff to little kids who trusted me. I hope they all remember the kindness and cookies and forgot all the lesson content.

    I’m in an anger and guilt phase right now, I think.

    BTW: could I email you privately occasionally? I’m just beginning to find people I can talk to about this stuff. I have no local friends right now who understand or who want to hear it.

    Also, does anyone know how I can get a better posting name than: https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawk8Er0xHwr5oQ2bWARUzonh6Ov_ijL0Dbw?

    Peg
    Peggesis@aol.com

  187. #187 Tigger_the_Wing
    April 5, 2010

    You’ll be more than welcome to email me.

    I am very lucky to have a couple of good friends who are going through this with me.

    We call ourselves ‘the coven’. We are more like Terry Pratchett’s witches, rather than Shakespeare’s though!

  188. #188 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 5, 2010

    Peg:

    I’m just beginning to find people I can talk to about this stuff. I have no local friends right now who understand or who want to hear it.

    Peg, post in the endless thread here. Nothing is off topic, we talk about all manner of things.

  189. #189 Knockgoats
    April 5, 2010

    Masai people, for example, do not believe in time, because they know and not “literally” that it is an ilussion. They live present. They need no more than a word to shut up our “big ideas”of what is best. – asilana

    The deep wisdom of the Masai, according to wikipedia.

    The central unit of Maasai society is the age-set. Although young boys are sent out with the calves and lambs as soon as they can toddle, childhood for boys is mostly playtime, with the exception of ritual beatings to test courage and endurance. Girls are responsible for chores such as cooking and milking, skills which they learn from their mothers at an early age.[25] Every 15 years or so, a new and individually named generation of Morans or Il-murran (warriors) will be initiated. This involves most boys between 12 and 25, who have reached puberty and are not part of the previous age-set. One rite of passage from boyhood to the status of junior warrior is a painful circumcision ceremony, which is performed without anaesthetic. This ritual is typically performed by the elders, who use a sharpened knife and makeshift cattle hide bandages for the procedure. The Maa word for circumcision is emorata. The boy must endure the operation in silence. Expressions of pain bring dishonor, albeit temporarily. Any exclamations can cause a mistake in the delicate and tedious process, which can result in life-long scarring, dysfunction, and pain. The healing process will take 3?4 months, during which urination is painful and nearly impossible at times, and boys must remain in black cloths for a period of 4?8 months…

    Young women also undergo excision (“female circumcision” or emorata) as part of an elaborate rite of passage ritual in which they are given instructions and advice pertaining to their new role, as they are then said to have come of age and become women, ready for marriage. In Kenya female circumcision is practiced by 38% of the population. The most common form is clitorectomy. These circumcisions are usually performed by an invited ‘practitioner’ who is often not Maasai, usually from a Dorobo group. The knives and blades which make the cut are fashioned by blacksmiths, il-kunono, who are avoided by the Maasai because they make weapons of death (knives, short swords (ol alem), spears, etc). Similar to the young men, women who will be circumcised wear dark clothing, paint their faces with markings, and then cover their faces on completion of the ceremony.

    To others the practice of female circumcision is known as female genital cutting, and draws a great deal of criticism from both abroad and many women who have undergone it, such as Maasai activist Agnes Pareiyo. It has recently been replaced in some instances by a “cutting with words” ceremony involving singing and dancing in place of the mutilation. However, the practice remains deeply ingrained and valued by the culture. Some might consider it necessary since some Maasai men may reject any woman who has not undergone it as either not marriageable or worthy of a much-reduced bride price. The practice can result in thick scar tissue, which makes urination difficult, and this has also generated controversy. FGC is illegal in both Kenya and Tanzania.

    An academic I know, why has studied and greatly admires the Masai, is nevertheless horrified by the way Masai women are treated – sold by their fathers at 12 or 13 to a middle-aged polygamous husband to whom they are in effect slaves, regularly beaten as a matter of course, in addition to the genital mutilation they suffer.

  190. #190 Menyambal
    April 5, 2010

    I think that a strong component of religious “teaching” is to present confusing stories so that the people decide that they are too stupid to understand the stories, and then they give up their judgement to the preacher man who obviously is smart enough to understand the stories.

  191. #191 michaelldouglas
    April 5, 2010

    Professor- you are correct about one thing. Either Easter is the only way this all makes sense, or it makes no sense at all. You are correct in that it can’t be in between.

    “…unfortunately, Jesus isn’t saving us from anything real, and he made no change in the world with his death.” How do you deal with the problem of evil? Can we at least say that evil is a result of an individual’s sin (your wrongdoing). If evil exists, and it is a result of individual’s wrongdoing (sin), not some ‘mythical’ individual’s sin, then how do you square what you have done wrong? Is that wrong not punished?

    So the issue of sin is a big thing. Once again, if you think that sin isn’t a big deal, then you are perfectly correct in your conclusions.

    “Another problem: Jesus cheats…He’s omnipotent and omniscient and knew his own nature, and knew that you don’t kill a god by hanging him from a tree and poking him with sticks. Jesus faked his heroism. He’s no hero at all.” How did Jesus cheat if He died. Once again, if sin is true, and if what the Bible says is true is true, then how Jesus died was the worst death imaginable, multiplied by exponents. For argument’s sake, let’s just day that the Bible is right, and that all the world’s collective wrongdoings would be placed on Jesus. Can you then, regardless of whether or not you think it’s true, say that it would be unbelievably painful if all of that “weight” was being punished in Jesus?

    “Finally, there’s a layer of the story that doesn’t resonate with modern audiences much at all, the idea of the propitiatory sacrifice, which is where the appeal of these spring sacrifices arose” The idea of appealing to/placating the gods/God is important, if you believe that somehow, we are doing wrong. IF we are doing wrong, we must placate/ask for forgiveness/become right with whom we have wronged. Thus, jesus’ propitiatory sacrifice. And once again, you either believe this or you don’t. There is no middle ground. God’s way of punishing sin was not to kill all of his children, but to provide the only conceivable way that sin could be punished – punish something/someone innocent. If I died for my sin, then sin is removed but I am dead. If Jesus died for Jesus’ sin, then Jesus’ sin is taken away but he is dead. But, if the Bible is true, and Jesus (who never sinned) died for my sins, in my place, he both takes away my sin and allows me to be right with God.

    So in summary, this goes back to the issue of sin/wrongdoing. Do we sin? I submit that we do, regardless of whether it was Adam or it was me. If we do things wrong (lie, get angry, lust, become jealous, etc.) then somehow we have to reconcile what we have done with whom we have done to.

    Intelligent responses are welcomed…

  192. #192 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Scholar of Shen Zhou
    April 5, 2010

    So the issue of sin is a big thing. Once again, if you think that sin isn’t a big deal, then you are perfectly correct in your conclusions.

    Sorry, but you’ve got some reading comprehension fail. Myers said that the “Original Sin” was not a big deal. The original sin was about God punishing humanity for the curiosity and disobedience of two people who had no previous sense of right or wrong. So the “sacrifice” of Jesus was needless, because there is no need to sacrifice humanity for that sin. (And, in reality, there is no need to sacrifice for other sins either, because humans should be able deal with it themselves.

    So in summary, this goes back to the issue of sin/wrongdoing. Do we sin? I submit that we do, regardless of whether it was Adam or it was me. If we do things wrong (lie, get angry, lust, become jealous, etc.) then somehow we have to reconcile what we have done with whom we have done to.

    We’re humans. We’re fallible, but we don’t need a blood sacrifice to reconcile it.

  193. #193 Becca
    April 5, 2010

    The whole issue for me about “sin” is that it casts a moral judgment over a person. Sin is defined as a transgression (usually deliberate) against god — if one does not believe in god, there can be wrong-doing, but not sin per se. What I didn’t like about Christianity was it’s insistence (even in the moderate church in which I was raised) at how *sinful* we are, merely by the fact that we exist. Why should I apologize for existing? Why do I need to propitiate any deity?

    I reject the whole concept of sin – and with that, the whole house of cards that is Christianity falls down.

    Yeah, bad things happen sometimes. And sometimes there’s no reason, life’s like that sometimes. And sometimes people can be shits. I’m sure sometimes I can be less than perfect. But I’m *not* going to spend my life in abject terror. And I don’t want any creature’s torture-death on my head, either.

  194. #194 asilana
    April 5, 2010

    “The ones who truly light up this world are the ones who study and understand it, so that they can produce medicines, cure diseases, design wonderful machines”.

    Do you realy believe that medicines and machines created a better world? Is there a machine that can resemble the beauty of a bird, a flower or a child. Machines and medicines are killing this world…, because you think you are so intelligent and giving the best to your world. Instead of for a second listening to the silence, what the world really needs. Probably the old lady, which you think is useless (like an object you can throw because it is not functioning as a productive machine by “your” eyes), is doing much more for this world. What has improved? Egos, predjudice, judgmental human beings that only see as far as their noses. Beautiful machines to create bombs, and vaccines to kill more people debilitating inmmunological systems. What a beautiful world.

  195. #195 Becca
    April 5, 2010

    If we do things wrong (lie, get angry, lust, become jealous, etc.) then somehow we have to reconcile what we have done with whom we have done to.

    I refuse to believe that getting angry is a bad thing. There are things it is *good* to be angry about – like discrimination – and we can use that anger to create change. Sometimes anger *is* the most appropriate reaction to a situation. Sometimes being “nice” is the wrong thing to do.

    and what’s wrong with a little healthy lust?

    it’s not how we feel that’s a problem, it’s what we do with that feeling, how we evince it.

    I’ve spent too long in therapy getting over that crap. I refuse to let you make me feel guilty for existing, for being human. So, michaelldouglas, you can just stuff it.

  196. #196 Owlmirror
    April 5, 2010

    (Here we go again…)

    Can we at least say that evil is a result of an individual’s sin (your wrongdoing).

    What does “sin” or “wrongdoing” mean, as you use the words?

    Does it mean something that affects other human beings, or somthing that God doesn’t like even if it doesn’t affect other human beings?

    How did Jesus cheat if He died.

    Because he didn’t. Death, if it means anything, means the permanent end of life. Obviously, Jesus did not “die” permanently, therefore, what happened to him was not really death — even if it looked that way. That is the cheat: the end of Jesus’ story is not permanent death, but coming back to life and then living happily ever after in heaven.

    then how Jesus died was the worst death imaginable

    Why was it the “worst”?

    For argument’s sake, let’s just day that the Bible is right, and that all the world’s collective wrongdoings would be placed on Jesus. Can you then, regardless of whether or not you think it’s true, say that it would be unbelievably painful if all of that “weight” was being punished in Jesus?

    Is that in the bible anywhere? As noted, that appears to have been a later invention by Augustine.

    The idea of appealing to/placating the gods/God is important, if you believe that somehow, we are doing wrong.

    Again, I re-ask my question about sin. Is wrongdoing something that we do to other people, or something that God doesn’t like even if it doesn’t affect other people?

    IF we are doing wrong, we must placate/ask for forgiveness/become right with whom we have wronged.

    Why does this entail anything more than genuine repentence, at the very most?

    Thus, jesus’ propitiatory sacrifice.

    Isn’t this basically saying another wrong makes things “right”?

    Christianity is essentially saying that two wrongs do make a right? Is that what you’re trying to say?

    And once again, you either believe this or you don’t.

    Why should we believe it if it’s complete nonsense on its face?

    God’s way of punishing sin was not to kill all of his children

    Have you read the story of Noah?

    but to provide the only conceivable way that sin could be punished – punish something/someone innocent.

    Do you realize that is absolutely insane?

    “Oh, no! Somebody killed Mike last night! Smashed his head in with a rock!”

    “Wow! How terrible! Let’s kill someone that we know didn’t do it, preferably a small child who could not even have lifted the rock! That will punish the one who actually did it!”

    How does your brain work, that it can reach such conclusions?

    Do we sin? I submit that we do, regardless of whether it was Adam or it was me. If we do things wrong (lie, get angry, lust, become jealous, etc.) then somehow we have to reconcile what we have done with whom we have done to.

    Lying and anger and lust and jealously are things that, if they have any effect at all, have an effect on other human beings. So the only reconciliation required is to apologize to those other human beings, and hopefully not do it again.

    Intelligent responses are welcomed…

    Are you capable of recognizing intelligence when you see it, given what you just wrote?

  197. #197 KOPD
    April 5, 2010

    @191

    As the saying goes, if I wrong Peter and ask God for forgiveness, I haven’t done anything for Peter. My problem with the notion of sin and forgiveness presented by Christianity is that too often means people doing what they want to who they want, knowing their imaginary friend will forgive them. There’s no incentive to make amends to the person who was actually harmed. A humanistic approach that holds that all people are valuable and where cooperation is encouraged does more to promote mutual respect and atonement, IMO.

    @194
    The MRI machine that saved my mother’s life is as beautiful to me as any bird can ever be. As are the cancer drugs that also saved her life. They are both certainly more beautify than any Ebola could ever hope to be. If you hate machines so much, get away from that computer.

  198. #198 asilana
    April 5, 2010

    Knockgoats: In “western civilization” kids are shown by adults to millions in the net being sodomized, raped and humilliated (which I believe is a horrendous crime). In Western “Civilization” millions kids are neglected emotionally by their parents, teachers and authorities. They are given every object possible, but they are lacking of respect, honor and love. You can find darkness everywhere. You are just labeling humans through your own lenses. There is crime every where. Remember the Nazis? Why don’t you mock Hitler instead of Jesus? Oh no wait a second, you are going to tell me he was such a good man…. Because you studied it on books. As well as you studied the Masai on books, or the Guatemalan Mayans. What have your learnt from life? Actual life. The present.?
    There is darkness everywhere, if you want to see it that way. Have you been able to protect children from abuse in the net? Very well educated professors are amongst the criminals, as well as others.
    Probably I don’t make myself understood well *(this is not my language), but what I believe is a crime is believing that you, in fact, are better so you have the right to disrespect what is sacred for other humans. As simple as that. You are entitled to think whatever you want to think but respect and tolerance is it too much to ask from scientists? I don’t think we live in a better world. In fact there is destruction and hate every where. I find this site sad. It is worthless, senseless. It is just a place to feed up your ego.

  199. #199 Bobber
    April 5, 2010

    And so.

    How do you deal with the problem of evil?

    How do you?

    Can we at least say that evil is a result of an individual’s sin (your wrongdoing).

    For myself, the answer is no. I do not accept the notion of “sin” in the sense that it is most often used; that is, thoughts or actions that go against a moral code established by a supernatural law-giver. People can do wrong, and can do evil, but I myself would not say that people sin.

    If evil exists

    Where is this “evil”? Evil actions can occur. I suppose you can make an argument for evil thoughts – although I think in most cases that sets the bar for evil far too low.

    how do you square what you have done wrong? Is that wrong not punished?

    “Wrong” is not always punished.

    How did Jesus cheat if He died.

    If Jesus died knowing that he wasn’t going to remain in a state of non-existence – which must follow, because he is, after all, “god” – then what sacrifice did he make that is superior to that of PZ’s hypothetical soldier? He’s playing poker with a few aces stashed up his shirtsleeve. He may purposely lose a few hands, but in the end he’s going to manage to win the game – oh, and I forgot to mention, he’s not only playing, he’s also the dealer.

    Once again, if sin is true, and if what the Bible says is true is true

    …and if pigs could fly…

    then how Jesus died was the worst death imaginable, multiplied by exponents.

    Lots of people suffered crucifixion at the hands of the Romans. Jesus wasn’t all that special in his suffering. Unless you believe he took on the “sins of the world” – but then again, he was supposedly god, and in the big scheme of things, a few days of such misery, when measured against all of eternity, doesn’t seem to be much of a sacrifice.

    God’s way of punishing sin was not to kill all of his children

    Genesis chapters 6 through 9.

    but to provide the only conceivable way that sin could be punished – punish something/someone innocent.

    Excuse me? You punish the innocent for the crimes of the guilty? Do you think this is just?

    If I died for my sin after committing an evil act, then sin is removed but I am dead and can do no further evil.

    … which is pretty much all that matters. That’s how I would rephrase it.

    So in summary, this goes back to the issue of sin/wrongdoing. Do we sin?

    No.

    If we do things wrong (lie, get angry, lust, become jealous, etc.) then somehow we have to reconcile what we have done with whom we have done to.

    You make amends to a person whom you have wronged. There is no need to make amends to a non-existent entity, however. And why is it wrong to get angry or be lustful? Everyone gets angry; everyone experiences lust at one time or another. If you grope someone in your imagination, it’s a far cry from doing it physically.

    Intelligent responses are welcomed…

    Now you tell me. Oh well… back to “SpongeBob.”

  200. #200 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 5, 2010

    michaelldouglas @ 191:

    So in summary, this goes back to the issue of sin/wrongdoing. Do we sin? I submit that we do, regardless of whether it was Adam or it was me. If we do things wrong (lie, get angry, lust, become jealous, etc.) then somehow we have to reconcile what we have done with whom we have done to.

    Intelligent responses are welcomed…

    You’ll find most of the responses here are intelligent, even when posts we’re responding to aren’t. By the way, don’t mistake style and substance. They aren’t the same thing.

    As for sin, no, we do not sin. Sin is a religious concept. Wrongdoing is not. So the two cannot be lumped together as you’re attempting to do.

    Being jealous might be categorized as a sin; it’s not wrongdoing in the sense of breaking the law or doing something to the detriment of society. There are degrees of jealousy as well, ranging from very mild to definitely dangerous.

    The whole notion of sin (going by christianity) is ridiculous. El Shaddai goes psycho on two people who are the definition of innocence, for the great crime of indulging their curiosity. Then El Shaddai goes even more psycho on them because he’s terrified they’ll eat from the tree of life and become gods themselves. The premise is so ridiculous, it’s honestly not worth any deep consideration.

    Different societies throughout the ages have set up various rules, boundaries and laws which help their society to function in a good way. People will break rules and face consequences. This has been going on for as long as there have been people; this has gone on before gods and endured through thousands of different gods. The notion that a fake death was required to “cleanse” people of sin is idiotic. Might as well start sacrificing a goat in your backyard every day, give it up to a whole bunch of gods, in a frenetic effort to please them.

    If I do something I know is wrong and hurt another person, it is up to me to make that right. It’s up to me to take responsibility for my actions. That’s why I’m thoughtful about my actions. I don’t deliberately set out to do wrong, there’s simply no pay off in it for me. There is, however, a pay off in being a thoughtful member of the society I live in. No religion required, no Jesus needed, no torture and blood sacrifice needed either. That kind of thinking is barbaric, and we should be well past that sort of nonsense by now.

  201. #201 woodsong
    April 5, 2010

    michaelldouglas:

    How do you deal with the problem of evil? Can we at least say that evil is a result of an individual’s sin (your wrongdoing).

    No.

    Others may disagree, but I would define evil as “taking pleasure in causing/witnessing another creature’s pain.” I don’t believe in “sin”.

    If we do things wrong (lie, get angry, lust, become jealous, etc.) then somehow we have to reconcile what we have done with whom we have done to.

    If I do wrong to another person, I will “atone” for that wrong TO THEM, myself, in whatever fashion is appropriate. If, for example, I don’t pay attention to the space around me and knock someone’s favorite stein off a table, I will apologize profusely to them, and do my best to replace it. No prayers needed. I don’t deliberately do wrong, period. I don’t enjoy causing or witnessing pain or distress.

    Why do anger and lust have to be “wrong”? There are times when both are entirely appropriate, although it is best to control your behavior under that influence to avoid harming others. Likewise for jealousy–it’s a normal emotion, just be careful how you express it, or even if you express it.

    Lies are a gray area. If someone asks me “Do I look OK?”, I’m likely going to say “Yes”, unless I see an easy improvement, in which case I will suggest it. I’ll also lie to avoid seeing someone hurt (and I don’t mean to help someone escape deserved disciplinary action). Do you really have a problem with this?

  202. #202 Bobber
    April 5, 2010

    Becca, #195, said:

    it’s not how we feel that’s a problem, it’s what we do with that feeling, how we evince it.

    I’ve spent too long in therapy getting over that crap. I refuse to let you make me feel guilty for existing, for being human. So, michaelldouglas, you can just stuff it.

    which is a far more erudite and concise way of saying what I did previously.

    Applause.

  203. #203 Knockgoats
    April 5, 2010

    Do you realy believe that medicines and machines created a better world? Is there a machine that can resemble the beauty of a bird, a flower or a child. Machines and medicines are killing this world – Asilana

    Asilana, did you pray that gem of fathomless wisdom onto my monitor? Or were you, like us old-lady-killing [shurely “baby-eating” – Ed.] atheists, obliged to rely on machines to speed its progress from what one might at a stretch describe as your brain, to the unsuspecting world?

    BTW, don’t you think that same old lady might actually be grateful for the cataract operations and artificial hips that modern medicine provides? I know my mother was. As for my father, well a few decades earlier, he’d have died at 47 when his pancreas packed up, not at 82.

  204. #204 Owlmirror
    April 5, 2010

    Machines and medicines are killing this world

    If your computer — a machine — is killing the world, then why are you even using one?

    Instead of for a second listening to the silence, what the world really needs.

    If you want silence, maybe you should turn off the computer and go outside for a bit.

    Probably the old lady, which you think is useless

    What are you even talking about?

    (like an object you can throw because it is not functioning as a productive machine by “your” eyes)

    The only one who has talked about throwing people away is you.

    is doing much more for this world.

    By listening to the silence?

    Why don’t you turn your computer off and do as she does?

    What has improved? Egos, predjudice, judgmental human beings that only see as far as their noses. Beautiful machines to create bombs, and vaccines to kill more people debilitating inmmunological systems.

    And the computer that you hypocritically use to curse at us and tell us how horrible we are.

    If you hate us so much, why don’t you leave?

  205. #205 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 5, 2010

    asilana:

    Why don’t you mock Hitler instead of Jesus? Oh no wait a second, you are going to tell me he was such a good man…. Because you studied it on books.

    Oh for fuck’s sake, what brand of idiot are you? No, Hitler wasn’t a good man. He was a christian though, why don’t you remark on that? Again, you miss the point entirely that it’s the people who claim to follow Jesus who are the problem, along with the insipid, stupid stories they cling to so desperately. Those insipid, stupid stories are interpreted differently by every single brand of christianity as well.

    but what I believe is a crime is believing that you, in fact, are better so you have the right to disrespect what is sacred for other humans. As simple as that. You are entitled to think whatever you want to think but respect and tolerance is it too much to ask from scientists?

    Right. While you feel free, in your haze of self-righteousness to come here, preach and whine about respect and tolerance while showing absolutely none yourself. Hypocrite. I owe religion no respect whatsoever. And yes, I am entitled to think what I like. Religion is a force for wholesale destruction and corruption. You spoke of child rape. How about all the child raping priests of the catholic church indulge in? How about the current pope covering it all up? Gee, please don’t say that doesn’t count because it’s being done by men of god.

    Science and religion don’t mix. Full stop. You know, with all your constant blather about what’s good and what’s bad, I think you’re spending way too much time being corrupted by a product of science – the computer you’re using. Science. So perhaps you should shut if off and go join your little old lady full of light.

  206. #206 Knockgoats
    April 5, 2010

    Why don’t you [Knockgoats] mock Hitler instead of Jesus? Oh no wait a second, you are going to tell me he was such a good man…. Because you studied it on books. – asilana

    Only insanity or sheer stupidity on your part can excuse such a vile accusation. If you are a decent human being, you will withdraw the disgusting slur that I am an admirer of Hitler, and apologise.

  207. #207 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Scholar of Shen Zhou
    April 5, 2010

    The anti-technology troll is also an Anti-Vaxer. ‘nough said.

  208. #208 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 5, 2010

    Gyeong, I just noticed that. It is indeed ‘nough said. Someone who keeps extolling the virtues of a primitive life style, who can’t manage to get off the computer. Sheesh.

  209. #209 Bobber
    April 5, 2010

    Why don’t you mock Hitler instead of Jesus?

    Why can’t we do both?

    Oh no wait a second, you are going to tell me he was such a good man….

    Wait a minute… if we deny the Jesus myth, we’re suddenly goose-stepping our way into Poland and committing mass murder? Some of us can actually be decent human beings without making up some kind of divine inspiration in our lives, thank you very much. As I’ve paraphrased before: “With (you), mercy is a passion. With me, it is merely good manners. You can determine for yourself which is the more reliable.”

    What have your learnt from life? Actual life.

    That too many followers of Jesus have provided compassion only after they’ve caused the wounds.

  210. #210 Owlmirror
    April 5, 2010

    You can find darkness everywhere.

    You can also find the opposite of darkness.

    Remember the Nazis? Why don’t you mock Hitler instead of Jesus?

    Do you know that Hitler saw himself as being like Jesus?

    Oh no wait a second, you are going to tell me he was such a good man…. Because you studied it on books.

    Who was a good man? You’re saying that Hitler was a good man?

    He certainly thought of himself that way.

    Here’s something Adolf Hitler said : “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was his fight against the Jewish poison. Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed his blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… “

    Hitler insisted that killing people was exactly what God wanted to do.

    As well as you studied the Masai on books, or the Guatemalan Mayans. What have your learnt from life? Actual life. The present.?

    What have you learned from life? Have you actually met any of the people you’re talking about?

    Have you been able to protect children from abuse in the net? Very well educated professors are amongst the criminals, as well as others.

    Don’t forget the abuse committed by very religious priests, and protected by the Church hierarchy that claims to speak for God and Jesus.

    Probably I don’t make myself understood well *(this is not my language)

    What is your first language?

    but what I believe is a crime is believing that you, in fact, are better so you have the right to disrespect what is sacred for other humans.

    You mean like you think you have a right to disrespect us, hypocrite? You want to criminalize us, you hypocrite, for doing what you do to us?

    You are entitled to think whatever you want to think but respect and tolerance is it too much to ask from scientists?

    It’s obviously too much to ask from you.

    I don’t think we live in a better world. In fact there is destruction and hate every where.

    Why is it like that, given that most people are religious?

    Maybe religion isn’t doing anything to make it better, eh?

    And you want to make it a crime to even point that out?

    I find this site sad.

    Feel free to leave.

  211. #211 withheld
    April 5, 2010

    asilana #194

    Probably the old lady, which you think is useless (like an object you can throw because it is not functioning as a productive machine by “your” eyes), is doing much more for this world.

    Nobody here said that the old lady herself was useless, or had no value. Her action of sitting in her church praying is useless, as it helps no one.

    #194 & #198
    anti-vax – check
    THINK OF THE CHILDREN – check
    Godwin – check
    ranting about machines while using a computer to communicate with thousands of people over a global network – check

    Also, complaining about what a wretched hive of scum and villainy this is. You came here. Nobody is forcing you to read it. You show no more respect for our beliefs than we show for yours, and that’s fine. I’ll respect and tolerate you as a person, but your beliefs are fair game.

  212. #212 asilana
    April 5, 2010

    Knockgoats: So in fact, you are acting like God, asking me to apologise. It was an assumption not an affirmation. You are so reactive… I don’t know for what I have to appologize? You have insulted me first. You call me stupid, vile, indecent, self-righteous… What else, becase we think differently? We have touched the dwell of hate. Probably your ideas are so weak you feel threatened. Now, I have to apologise or you will continue using horrible words to describe someone you realy don’t know. This is the best way to get rid of what you don’t understand: attack it!!! How easy we are to hate, and insult. If your words were weapons I would be killed by now. You are incapable of taking sides. There is only one side for you. Well I fly, I prefer to transcend polarity… I wish you the best.

  213. #213 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Scholar of Shen Zhou
    April 5, 2010

    Someone who keeps extolling the virtues of a primitive life style, who can’t manage to get off the computer.

    Lol, the hypocrisy right? As for the primitive lifestyle thing. It’s actually a product of racial thinking. The idea that these “primitive” people are “closer to nature” and ought to be that way is a form of establishing racial hierarchy. By claiming that they are good because they are “closer to nature”, it is essentially drawing an allusion to “primitives” being animals. Essentially, it seeks to deny the contemporary to these people and exoticize and simplify the culture of these people. Well, guess what troll. Get over it. Even the Mayans had a series of societal and technological changes. To claim that they are stagnant is wrong.

  214. #214 Knockgoats
    April 5, 2010

    What have your learnt from life? Actual life. – Asilana

    That happiness, pleasure, knowledge and fulfilment are good, while suffering, ignorance and frustration are bad.

    That we must help each other acieve the first and avoid the second, as far as possible.

    That we must investigate the world scientifically.

    That we must seek a way to give everyone a decent living, in a way that is environmentally sustainable.

    That inequality kills people and harms societies.

    That without religion good people will do good, and evil people evil, but it takes religion (or a religion-substitute such as national chauvinism or Leninism) to persuade good people to do evil with a clear conscience.

  215. #215 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 5, 2010

    asilana:

    Knockgoats: So in fact, you are acting like God, asking me to apologise. It was an assumption not an affirmation. You are so reactive… I don’t know for what I have to appologize? You have insulted me first. You call me stupid, vile, indecent, self-righteous… What else, becase we think differently?

    You don’t think well, do you? You owe us all an apology for making the bald statement that we think Hitler was a good man. It’s bad enough you’re so idiotic, but that was uncalled for. Knockgoats isn’t acting like a god, that would be you, coming in here and telling us all we’re wrong, intolerant, stupid, ignorant, unknowing people. You started this exchange with your first post, which insulted and slurred all of us, you dimwit. We responded to your idiocy accordingly.

    We have touched the dwell of hate. Probably your ideas are so weak you feel threatened. Now, I have to apologise or you will continue using horrible words to describe someone you realy don’t know.

    “We” haven’t touched on anything, outside of your particular lunacy. Our ideas aren’t weak at all. You’d know that if you actually bothered to read anything, then take the huge step of thinking about what you read. No one is going to force you to apologize. If you were a decent person, you would see why you should apologize and do so. I guess we can see the shallowness of your god-derived decency. So much for the goodness of religion, eh?

    This is the best way to get rid of what you don’t understand: attack it!!! How easy we are to hate, and insult.

    Your delusional word salad is being refuted. You aren’t being attacked. You’re nice and safe in front of a computer. Remember reality? Try to stay in it. I don’t hate you, and neither does anyone else here. You are an annoying troll, but that’s about as far as it goes. Honestly, the idea that a bunch of people hate you is an incredibly arrogant thing to think.

    If your words were weapons I would be killed by now. You are incapable of taking sides. There is only one side for you. Well I fly, I prefer to transcend polarity… I wish you the best.

    What is it with you christians and your constant desire to be persecuted? No wonder you idolize an instrument of torture. You aren’t persecuted. Go away and live the lifestyle you extol: a completely primitive one. That means no more computer.

  216. #216 asilana
    April 5, 2010

    Find pleasure…, avoid suffering. Have you ever met one single person in this world that has not suffered. Can we avoid suffering as humans and stick only into pleasure. Eating is pleasurable, but if you eat too much you get sick and obese.
    Should we all be equal? Is there two people in this world living in the same exact situations?
    You can persuade people to do evil with science as well. You can persuade people to do good with science as well. The problem is in the “persuasion”.
    Why should others do what we think is best for them…?
    A clear conscience would never do harm. if you hate and destroy your conscience is not clear. What a contradiction.
    I believe in decent living and envirnormental sustainability. That is perfectly well said.
    It is not inequality that destroys is it that we reject what is different. Remember the ugly duckly?
    Well, I am a tired ignorant in this moment. I am going out to see the world. Have a nice life.

  217. #217 Newfie
    April 5, 2010

    asilana, see how many of these criteria apply to you… wait, nevermind. I don’t think you will understand any of it.
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/plonk.php

  218. #218 asilana
    April 5, 2010

    Caine, Fleur du mal: i am impressed you are so angry… you called me a Christian and you don’t know if I am one. I have never said it. Who posted first or second or third. That gives you the right of labeling me idiotic, delusional, what else…, why are my words making you so uncomfortable. I respect you point of view. You have the right to believe or think in whatever you do. Probably you are used to see ideas floating on your direction. What is wrong with being different? I do not feel attacked or insulted at all. You do not know nothing about me. Your words tell nothing to me. It is not going to change or insult me a bit. This is the first time in my life I encountered such angry, bitter posts, so reactive and it is all well.
    Hope you are treated the same way you treat others.

  219. #219 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 5, 2010

    Have a nice life.

    Had one before your inane comments, and it will be exactly the same after. You will do nothing for my life. Also, you never showed your deity actually exists, just presumed it does. We don’t. That makes us smarter and more rational. You have a nice life. Maybe someday you will actually start to think.

  220. #220 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Scholar of Shen Zhou
    April 5, 2010

    I think I need some blue-cheese for this word salad.

    It is not inequality that destroys is it that we reject what is different. Remember the ugly duckly?

    No, inequality destroys. Look at how immigrants have poorer health because they are given unequal access to suitable housing and healthcare. Stop being such a word-salad-idiot. Plus, the ugly duckling turned into a swan because it wasn’t a duckling at all; It was a cygnet.(Pedantry)

  221. #221 Bobber
    April 5, 2010

    This is the first time in my life I encountered such angry, bitter posts

    “You should get out more.”

  222. #222 Galahad Threepwood
    April 5, 2010

    It’s good to know I’m not the only one who noticed the problem with the “three days” part of the resurrection story. When I was still a believer, I used to try to convince myself that Jesus really had risen on the third day after his death, even though it didn’t seem that way. I kept thinking, “He died on Friday afternoon, was dead Friday night and all of Saturday, and rose on Sunday morning. How is that three days”? But I always ended with the assumption that I must have misunderstood things somehow, because God always fulfilled his word. It really is amazing how easily religious belief can trump critical thinking in a willing mind.

    Oh, and reesshelley # 89–thanks for the “Tale of Two Cities” reference. The last two sentences of that book still give me chills.

  223. #223 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 5, 2010

    asilana:

    This is the first time in my life I encountered such angry, bitter posts, so reactive

    Didn’t read your own posts, I see. Tsk.

  224. #224 withheld
    April 5, 2010

    #212 – If your words were weapons I would be killed by now.
    #218 – I do not feel attacked or insulted at all. You do not know nothing about me. Your words tell nothing to me. It is not going to change or insult me a bit.

    #127 – well, everything in that post
    #218 – I respect you point of view. You have the right to believe or think in whatever you do.

    #127 – I definitively chose Jesus.
    #218 – … you called me a Christian and you don’t know if I am one. I have never said it.

    You have also had three variations on “I’m leaving now, have a nice life,” and you’re still here.

  225. #225 asilana
    April 5, 2010

    “Maybe someday you will actually start to think”. Another calling me stupid. Well, Nerd of Red Head. I actually want to start stop thinking! Hurrah for stupidity!!! What a bunch of bullies… It makes me laugh, you are so frail, so vulnerable to words. You are so “serious” in what you think you “think”. You are “so” smart, I am so stupid…, it makes you feel better. But my words, still, are making you angry… Just words, you bully. Just words.

  226. #226 asilana
    April 5, 2010

    127 – I definitively chose Jesus.
    #218 – … you called me a Christian and you don’t know if I am one. I have never said it.
    Chosing Jesus, does not automatically makes me a Christian. I chose my daughter as well, it does not make me a “Marianists”. What is you with labels? I can respect a figure, a person, a dog, a cat, it does not builds up a religion because of that. I chose my dog!!! He is really smart, unconditional, loving. Now I become a “Doggist”, or how we could call it? Never mind. Just words. Really tired of this. I have a bunch of bullies running after me.

  227. I saw painting by some children of Jesus on the cross. It was appalling- apart from the blatant indoctrination visible there, they had even drawn the nails. Let’s recap: children are drawing people in the process of being tortured to death.

    USC 2257a (intended to protect against teh pr0nz) defines ‘sexually explicit’ materials as – among other possibilities – depicting ‘sadomasochistic abuse’ Of course nobody actually gets turned on by the passion of christ. Right? Right?

  228. #228 Owlmirror
    April 5, 2010

    Chosing Jesus, does not automatically makes me a Christian.

    Oh!

    You mean you did not choose Jesus Christ, but someone else named Jesus?

    Well, that makes loads of sense.

    Never mind. Just words.

    Words that you keep distorting…

    Really tired of this.

    You keep saying that you’ll leave, and then you don’t. Your problem — well, one of your many problems — is that you don’t keep your word.

  229. #229 MAJeff, OM
    April 5, 2010

    What’s with the whiner?

  230. #230 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 5, 2010

    assilana:

    But my words, still, are making you angry…

    Cupcake, you aren’t making anyone angry. We’re laughing as we shred your lack of reasoning. Try, try, try as you might, you aren’t being persecuted nor are you engendering any serious response. Just another chew toy.

  231. #231 Newfie
    April 5, 2010

    What’s with the whiner?

    mixture of persecution complex, zealotry, and a poor education would be my guess.

  232. #232 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 5, 2010

    MAJeff, OM:

    What’s with the whiner?

    We aren’t respecting its word salad.

  233. #233 Kel, OM
    April 5, 2010

    Do you realy believe that medicines and machines created a better world?

    I don’t know about you, but I personally like the notion of living a longer, higher quality life than even my recent ancestors. And the fact that you’re on a computer makes me inclined to agree. Why aren’t you living electricity-free in a cottage you made yourself from dirt?

  234. #234 withheld
    April 5, 2010

    asilana, I don’t see bullies running after you. I see you coming in here and making a load of assertions about our behavior that you don’t back up. No, I don’t know where your faith lies, and I’m not interested in labels either. I’m just pointing out where that idea may have come from.

    Go back and re-read your post at #127. That is where you started with us. The attitude you came in with is what you got back. You never showed that you were interested in a discussion. You lead with name calling and assumptions about us being “nose up scientist that believe that they know everything and blaim others for their own faults.”

    No one here will claim to know everything. Show me where we do. Most of us align with some form of Humanism, and are big promoters of personal responsibility (we are responsible for our own actions). How are we blaming others for our own faults? I’d rather live in a world full of people with Knockgoat’s code of ethics (#214) than anything I’ve seen from the “Trust in Jesus” crowd.

  235. #235 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 5, 2010

    What a bunch of bullies..

    Then stop your bullying. Funny your religidiots never look in the mirror before saying such things.

    you are so frail,

    No, you godbots are. Can’t stand sane folks around who realize that your deity is only between your delusional ears. Talk about frail…

    Really tired of this.

    Then why don’t you shut up, like any sane person would? You have problems. Deal with them elsewhere.

    Chosing Jesus, does not automatically makes me a Christian.

    Yep is does. What a mental underachiever if you don’t get that basic definition. No reason to listen to anything you say except to show you your lack of intelligence, cogency, and rationality.

  236. #236 Kel, OM
    April 5, 2010

    Chosing Jesus, does not automatically makes me a Christian.

    That’s pretty much the one thing that some ~2,500,000,000 billion people within ~40,000 denominations and unaffiliated have in common. Belief in Jesus anywhere between a great moral teacher to God-incarnate by whose sacrifice means eternal life either in paradise or hellfire.

  237. #237 asilana
    April 5, 2010

    Nerd of Red Head:
    Oh you are so creative with words: godbots, religidiots, mental underachiever, lack of intelligence and rationality… Wow. Wow. I wish you could met Esculapio, a friend of mine, his IQ is 43 (probably a mental underachiever) but way way way more wiser than you. He doest not need his brain to have a soul. He is impeccable with his word. He does no harm. In fact, you do not sound quite “sane”. You sound frantically angry and a bullier. I am sorry. You are the one who keep insulting and insulting. I come back to laugh a bit. I do not feel threatened. You think you are so intelligent? Read, go back and READ all the labels, insults and illogical ideas you are posting. There is no one sane one. You just REACT. Reactive personality disorder. Delusional, feels attacked by a “so called Christian”and then gets angry.

  238. #238 MAJeff, OM
    April 5, 2010

    The paternalistic primitivism of this one is rather silly, isn’t it. Pretty soon, belly button lint is going to be the greatest miracle EVAH!

  239. #239 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Scholar of Shen Zhou
    April 5, 2010

    Pretty soon, belly button lint is going to be the greatest miracle EVAH!

    ?

  240. #240 asilana
    April 5, 2010

    Withheld: “You have also had three variations on “I’m leaving now, have a nice life,” and you’re still here”. Do i have to leave because you want it to? Bet you only enjoy reading your own ideas and eating your own salad.
    This exercise has been quite interesting. I have been called names, been labeled, invited to leave, etc., etc., etc. Only because you all think I am Christian. I don’t see science or intelligence here. Only fiery people insulting one human being, just because you think I am Christian. Where is your logic. Telling me I am stupid? Telling me I am a religidiot (something like that). Just like in the Dark Ages. Destroy what you can’t understand. Put me a name and that is just what I need to be hated. That is science and evolution. ?

  241. #241 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 5, 2010

    but way way way more wiser than you.

    Not if he believes in imaginary deities.

    He doest not need his brain to have a soul.

    Your soul is as imaginary as your deity. Show me physical evidence otherwise. Which is why you are a delusional fool, and I’m not.

    You sound frantically angry and a bullier.

    Oh, back to attempting to reverse roles. But you are bullying and angry, and will stop once you cease posting here.

    I do not feel threatened.

    Neither do I. Your delusions don’t threaten me at all. They just make you look and sound silly. By the way, you are doing a smash-up job of sounding silly.

    There is no one sane one.

    All are sane. Yours aren’t due to lack of physical evidence to support your delusions.

    Delusional,

    Yep, out of touch with reality. Where your deity and soul don’t exist, and your religion is based on a book of mythology/fiction. When are you going to quit? If you don’t, with as many time as you have threatened to do so, do you become a liar and bullshitter for not following through? Personally, you are well over the sane limit.

  242. #242 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Scholar of Shen Zhou
    April 5, 2010

    Only fiery people insulting one human being, just because you think I am Christian.

    Shiny shiny mirror.

  243. #243 Bobber
    April 5, 2010

    Asilana is one of those who must admire Jesus for his martyrdom – goodness knows she believes herself to be nailed to a cross here.

    So, any takers for the role of Pontius? “What’s so funny about the name Biggus Dickus?”

  244. #244 Newfie
    April 5, 2010

    Do i have to leave because you want it to?

    no. but that makes you a liar, after thrice saying that you were. I don’t trust liars. They do not do what they say. Believe that they will would make me the fool.

    so, lie your way on to your lying high horse, and lie your way on out to some other corner of the internet with more lying liars on the lying high horses.

    Filthy liars.

  245. #245 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 5, 2010

    Asilana, you keep trying to get the last word in, which is a form of bullying. A very prevalent one with godbots. Until you stop doing that, by simply ceasing your posts, you are the bully. So, why can’t you stop?

  246. #246 Feynmaniac
    April 5, 2010

    Only because you all think I am Christian. I don’t see science or intelligence here. Only fiery people insulting one human being, just because you think I am Christian.

    You certainly sound like a Christian:

    Nothing is real, you stupids!!! Everything is an illusion. Your bodies and minds are just passing by in this life and I don’t think there is one of you capable of “resurection”. It is your own mediocre existence that makes you believe you know “something”….I chose Jesus. If you any of you is soooo impeccable, well throw the first stone!!! I definitively chose Jesus.

    Fine, if you’re done whining about what you aren’t can you tell what you are? What are your religious beliefs?

  247. #247 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 5, 2010

    MAJeff, OM:

    The paternalistic primitivism of this one is rather silly, isn’t it. Pretty soon, belly button lint is going to be the greatest miracle EVAH!

    Hahahahahaha. Belly button lint has been so dissed, when it really is a miracle, blessed by Jesus and everything.

  248. #248 withheld
    April 5, 2010

    “Do i have to leave because you want it to? ” No, I’m calling you out on being inconsistent. You say you’re leaving and don’t.

    You are not being hassled because we think you are a Christian. There are Christians here who are part of the community. You are being hassled because that is what you came here for. You called us stupid, and you are surprised when that is sent back to you. You came in with abuse and cry persecution when we take you to task for it.

    While this is a science blog, the topic of this thread (before it was derailed) is the resurrection story. Do you have any comments on that, or are you just here for abuse?

    I should probably stop feeding the troll. I am actually done for the day. I’ll catch up tomorrow.

  249. #249 asilana
    April 5, 2010

    Nerd of Red Head: 1. I haven’t promise any one I will leave this room. Did I (probably you are wishing it)? So you are delusional. 2. Show me evidence that this is not a soul posting to you. Show me evidence that you don’t have a soul as well. Prove it. What makes you angry or happy. Well, both are inexistant because we cannot prove em… My grandfather existed, he is dead since 1972. Was cremated. No signs of his existance, No proof… No third dimensional proofs. But he did. I remember him. It is in my memory. Where? No proof.
    3. Show me evidence “in the present moment” of anything. Do you dream? Where is the chemical evidence stored? Do you wish? Where is it stored? Can you prove it? Where is the proven equation for intelligence? Where? You cannot prove or prove, that Esculapio does not have a soul. But his eyes glow. He is kind and sharing. Well, we can prove he has eyes…, but the glowing…

  250. #250 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Scholar of Shen Zhou
    April 5, 2010

    Before you ask such insane questions, perhaps you should take a course on introductory psychology. You’d be surprise about how ignorant it makes you look. Also, you said many times that you would leave. Stop lying.

  251. #251 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 5, 2010

    assilana:

    1. I haven’t promise any one I will leave this room. Did I (probably you are wishing it)?

    You said, in post #216:

    Well, I am a tired ignorant in this moment. I am going out to see the world. Have a nice life.

    That is not the only time you said you were leaving. See, at one point, we were willing to take you at your word. However, you keep repeating you are leaving, then don’t. That makes you a liar. If you’re going to lie and go back on your own words, expect to hear about it.

    2. Show me evidence that this is not a soul posting to you. Show me evidence that you don’t have a soul as well. Prove it.

    It doesn’t work that way. There is absolutely no evidence to show there is such a thing as a soul. As you are the one positing the existence of souls, the burden of proof is on you. You aren’t proving a thing by waving your god delusions about and insisting they are true. They aren’t. You need evidence to be taken seriously.

    Where is the chemical evidence stored?

    We aren’t here to teach you science. It’s obvious you don’t even have so much as a 2nd grader’s grasp of science. Teaching you neuroscience here isn’t going to happen. Of course, you could attempt to do some learning on your own, but most religious types are anti-knowledge, a quality you demonstrate to its fullest.

    You cannot prove or prove, that Esculapio does not have a soul

    You can’t prove your friend with the 43 IQ has a soul. Now, go hang out with your little friend, you two are perfect for each other. Really.

  252. #252 MAJeff, OM
    April 5, 2010

    Before you ask such insane questions, perhaps you should take a course on introductory psychology. You’d be surprise about how ignorant it makes you look. Also, you said many times that you would leave. Stop lying.

    But that involves studying and learning and thinking…not being!

    Reminds me of this scene from AbFab (start at 0:08)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5U3dL5cJwo

  253. #253 MrFire
    April 5, 2010

    asilana, should I contend with your dimbulb ass, or should I watch the latest episode of Chuck?

    hmmm….

    *flicks on NBC*

  254. #254 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 5, 2010

    asilana is such an unhappy, miserable, hating person, even after having found Jebus.

  255. #255 Dave
    April 5, 2010

    Ok I’ve read the original post and all of the comments and I thought I would just leave a couple. If you are a rational person you have to admit that the Jesus “myth” or story as a rationalist would call it, is the most successful and widespread “myth” on the planet. Although it is easy to point out logical problems with the “myth” there is no denying the power the “myth” has had over millions of human minds and the motivational power it has had on those millions of humans. Some may argue the results have been bad, good or mixed but the results are there and they are huge on the human scale. PZ tries to address this by considering the “self-sacrificing” moral most human cultures find attractive. However, the Jesus “myth” has been far more successful than other self sacrificing myths in other cultures (Jihad, Kamikazee, self sacrificing Marxist, jumping on the hand-grenade, etc.) The Jesus “myth” has motivated millions of people to do millions of things over thousands of years and it continues, even in this secular age, to have tremendous power. Why? Why do humans still find this “myth” attractive? What needs are being met by the “myth” that science and secularism can’t meet? Why in this battle between mythology and “reason” does mythology often win out in the hearts and minds of humans? Easter, if you believe in it, answers the age old problem of people dying. Humans don’t like to die and they get very sad when people they love die. And death challenges the need most humans have to find purpose and meaning in life. The “myth” answers questions many humans struggle with everyday, in a way relieving their real concerns and fears. So think of that when you ridicule or make fun of people who have faith. And ask yourselves, “What do I have to offer them?” The answer is a cold, rational world view that does nothing to help them through life and which makes life, love, death, suffering and self sacrifice all ultimately meaningless. And when you all die a few years from now and cease to exist all of this discussion will be an entirely meaningless waste of time. If you are rational you have to admit this is true.

  256. #256 WowbaggerOM
    April 5, 2010

    asilana doesn’t appear to realise how the human brain works. This does not come as much of a shock to me.

  257. #257 asilana
    April 5, 2010

    YOU COULD NOT ANSWER MY QUESTIONS!!!

    JUST TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR INTELLIGENCE: JUST BULLYING!!!

    Before you ask such insane questions, perhaps you should take a course on introductory psychology. You’d be surprise about how ignorant it makes you look. Also, you said many times that you would leave. Stop lying. (PROJECTION OF YOUR OWN LIES)

    But that involves studying and learning and thinking…not being! (I PREFER BEING!)

    Reminds me of this scene from AbFab (start at 0:08)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5U3dL5cJwo (willl not waste time watching it tks though)

    asilana, should I contend with your dimbulb ass, or should I watch the latest episode of Chuck?
    (What in the world is a dimbulb ass, are you talking to my body? Is there something in my body that is bothering you?) And I don’t watch tv. That is for ignorants. *je@
    hmmm….

    *flicks on NBC*

    asilana is such an unhappy, miserable, hating person, even after having found Jebus.

    I am pretty happy, Jesus found me… *je@

  258. #258 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Scholar of Shen Zhou
    April 5, 2010

    The answer is a cold, rational world view that does nothing to help them through life and which makes life, love, death, suffering and self sacrifice all ultimately meaningless.

    Wrong. A person can be rational and have a meaningful life. It is up to individual to leave whatever meaningful legacy that they want to those who lives on. There is no myth needed there. Stop thinking that everything good is the product of religious myths.

  259. #259 MAJeff, OM
    April 5, 2010

    Oh noes! It’s shouting now!

    SERENITY NOW!!!

  260. #260 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 5, 2010

    Gyeong:

    Wrong. A person can be rational and have a meaningful life.

    Absolutely right. Right now, my meaningful life is being seriously bored by our little Primitive Cupcake of God, so into the kf it goes.

  261. #261 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Scholar of Shen Zhou
    April 5, 2010

    (PROJECTION OF YOUR OWN LIES)

    PROJECTION (two can play that game you ignoramous). How many time have the other commenters posted the exact place where you said you would leave? Yeah stop thinking that you’re on a high horse when you’re so clearly in a pile of shit. You came in here in an insulting condescending screed and now you cry persecution when you are being pointed out. Fuck off you lying twit.

  262. #262 Dave
    April 5, 2010

    “Wrong. A person can be rational and have a meaningful life. It is up to individual to leave whatever meaningful legacy that they want to those who lives on. There is no myth needed there. Stop thinking that everything good is the product of religious myths.”

    Ultimatley, if you are a rationalist, you have to admit that your life is meaningless, unless you are dishonest or buy into the athiest “mental DNA” myth. I agree your life has meaning while you live but when you die, if you cease to exist, how could your life have any meaning? Please explain that if you could. And I’m not saying that everything good comes from religious myths. Lots of bad things come from them as well. But most humans need myth to make life tolerable.

  263. #263 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 5, 2010

    MAJeff, OM:

    SERENITY NOW!!!

    HOOCHIE MAMA! HOOCHIE MAMA!

  264. #264 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Scholar of Shen Zhou
    April 5, 2010

    I agree your life has meaning while you live but when you die, if you cease to exist, how could your life have any meaning?

    Why would you care? You’re dead, non-existant. So all that matters is that you lived a good life. So the meaning of it all is that you lived. And perhaps you’ll find satisfaction in that when you die, your legacy may live.

  265. #265 WowbaggerOM
    April 5, 2010

    Dave wrote:

    Ultimatley, if you are a rationalist, you have to admit that your life is meaningless, unless you are dishonest or buy into the athiest “mental DNA” myth. I agree your life has meaning while you live but when you die, if you cease to exist, how could your life have any meaning? Please explain that if you could. And I’m not saying that everything good comes from religious myths. Lots of bad things come from them as well. But most humans need myth to make life tolerable.

    Life is only ‘meaningless’ in the sense of an external meaning to life – that doesn’t mean that each person’s life is meaningless, just that it doesn’t come as a gift from a magical being suspiciously poor at communication.

    I would suppose – since I am not an evolutionary biologist – DNA comes into it because it would seem that our ancestors who did find meaning for themselve did a better job of passing on their DNA than those that didn’t.

    Oh, and plenty of people need heroin to make life tolerable. Should we give it to everyone?

  266. #266 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 5, 2010

    Dave:

    I agree your life has meaning while you live but when you die, if you cease to exist, how could your life have any meaning? Please explain that if you could.

    Unless you are living your life in a vacuum, your life touches a great many people. Your life lives on in actions you took, words you said, in the memories of others. That’s a lot. It’s plenty for any thinking person. All the notion of an afterlife is, is wishful life-extension thinking. Most people don’t want to die, we enjoy life. We will, indeed, cease to exist. That doesn’t mean our lives didn’t have meaning, they do.

    But most humans need myth to make life tolerable.

    Humans do love narrative. That doesn’t mean you have to use it in order to hide from reality. There’s wonder, beauty and awe to be had in reality, and life is no less wondrous because it isn’t wrapped around a dictator god of some sort.

  267. #267 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 5, 2010

    haven’t promise any one I will leave this room.

    Only in your dreams. Saying you should means you should. The fact that you continue your bullying posts says all I need to know about your lack of introspection and cogency.

    Show me evidence that you don’t have a soul as well. Prove it.

    And here comes the delusional thinking. Positives can be proven. So the burden of proof is upon you. Negatives can’t be proven, as there can always another case to test. But, lack of positive physical evidence for a soul, which is the case to date, coupled with parsimony, says the lack of one is the rational hypothesis. So, show your positive evidence.

    What makes you angry or happy.

    My brain. Let’s remove yours and see if you continue to exist.

    I remember him. It is in my memory. Where?

    The brain. Remove it, remove the memories.

    You cannot prove or prove, that Esculapio does not have a soul.

    Nope, the parsimonious position is he doesn’t have one until it is physically proven. Your inane word salad is meaningless. No proof there. Just words stuck together without real meaning.

    Your glowing eyes are meaningless evidence too. It only convinces the already convinced. Delusional fools like yourself.

    I’m still waiting for your physical evidence.

  268. #268 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 5, 2010

    But, lack of positive physical evidence for a soul, which is the case to date, coupled with parsimony, says the lack of one is the rational hypothesis.

    Such biiiig words! You know that makes you all angry, Nerd. ;p

  269. #269 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 5, 2010

    But that involves studying and learning and thinking

    Right. I read the babble. It is a terrible book. Yahweh is worse than an amoral warlord, supporting rape, genocide, slavery. And his alleged son also has a bad temper. Nothing there worth worshiping. Also, the babble was written for the most part well after the fact, and can only be consider a book of mythology/fiction for the most part. Thinking. Allows one to see the falsehoods in presuppositions.

    I am pretty happy, Jesus found me.

    Jebus is also a myth. Prove otherwise from outside of the babble, or your delusions. If Jebus isn’t real, and physical, he couldn’t have found you.

  270. #270 MAJeff, OM
    April 5, 2010

    I am pretty happy, Jesus found me.

    I didn’t know he’d left Madonna.

  271. #271 MrFire
    April 5, 2010

    Huh. Nobody around no more. Time for bed.

    *unlaces gloves*

  272. #272 Owlmirror
    April 5, 2010

    I agree your life has meaning while you live but when you die, if you cease to exist, how could your life have any meaning?

    How does religion — or myth — help, here? Even granting for the sake of argument that it’s something that might conceivably help inspire someone while alive, what is the life lived supposed to mean after death to the one who died?

    Even if there is some putative afterlife, then everyone — the believer and and the atheist alike — has the same sort of satisfaction (or lack of satisfaction): they did their best while they lived (or they regret having failed to do their best).

  273. #273 Owlmirror
    April 5, 2010

    But most humans need myth to make life tolerable.

    And what makes you think that this is true? It’s an assertion that doesn’t follow from anything obvious — although it may depend on how you’re defining “myth”.

  274. #274 Menyambal
    April 6, 2010

    Why is it that people with horrible reading skills base their lives on a book? If I couldn’t read for shit, I’d at least base my life on that black guy in the TV commercials–he sounds smart.

    How, exactly, does religion give your life meaning? Christianity reduces all our lives to a weird contest to get into Heaven, with goofier rules than Calvinball, and no way to know if we have won or are even playing the right game. Anything else that we do in our lives, whether saving lives with scientific medicine or building beautiful machines to transport the sick, or even loving one another, is totally beside the point, unless it gets us points.

    “Glorifying God” is sometimes given as a life purpose, but what does that really mean? Are we supposed to be feeding fragile God’s ego? Or are we just giving him ups with the other gods? They don’t exist, you know.

    Jesus Haploid Christ on a rubber crutch.

  275. #275 AJ Milne
    April 6, 2010

    Why is it that people with horrible reading skills base their lives on a book?

    Well, considering which books they’re basing it on, probably having horrible reading skills is a plus, there, actually.

    (/Obvious…)

    Somewhat more seriously: you don’t have to think about too long to realize there is a grand tradition of religious acolytes not so much reading their canonical texts–or at the very least, not reading them too closely. From contemporary madrassa-educated types who memorize the sounds of the Koran but, since they don’t actually speak Arabic, have to rely upon the word of their mullah (or, as often, weirdly mangled and in no way especially accurate rumours) as to what the text actually says, back to pre-Reformation Christians who read no language whatsoever (and certainly not Latin, if anything) in a pretty similar bind, actually, through to the contemporary post-literate version of the same thing, you can pick out a rather obvious common thread…

    Certain contemporary Christians strike me as a particularly nakedly silly and amusing example. They’ll whinge in fora like this one that people are criticizing their sacred text without taking the time to ‘appreciate’ it properly for themselves, but in fact the converse is generally true…

    That is: they tend to know it awfully selectively themselves, actually. Awkward theological weirdnesses such as those brought up here, amusing bits about iron chariots troubling the godhead’s combat skills, multiple and contradictory genealogies for the central ‘saviour’ figure, these, strangely enough, tend not to be noticed…

    And it’s not so much that they can’t read and notice this stuff. It’s more that they don’t, generally.

    They have, in essence, like those madrassa students, an idea of their own canonical book which they mostly receieve second and third hand, from a clutch of confused and vaguely reassuring rumours, and which actually doesn’t really have that much to do what’s actually in there. Yes, they’ve probably read passages themselves, and certainly heard them read, but see, what the words actually say, with all those warty, inconvenient, embarrassing bits–is so much less important to them than what they’ve been taught it means.

    Now, what their particular subsect has decided it means may vary, of course–from ‘God is a crazy fucking homophobe jes’ like me ‘n Cletus, here, with his lightning bolts an’ a 12-guage on his lap, and he sits on his big white porch in the clouds mostly just keeping an eye out for fags to shoot at’… through to ‘God is a warm, fuzzy energy field who just looooves everybody so much he makes the Care Bears look pretty lazy about that stuff… Wow, man, he’s like the cosmic Care Bear!’…

    But again, the point is: whichever it is, despite all this shit about those books being so terribly important, they aren’t, so much, really. Not except, perhaps, as a symbol one isn’t expected to look at too closely…

    ‘Cos, again, the fact is: they’re pretty stupid books. And even they know it. Just got different ways of working with that inconvenience, is all. Some go with the ‘it’s all this deep groovy metaphor, dig?… ya gotta, like vibe on that mystery for, like, ever man, just to get it’ dodge, some say ‘it’s all true, word for word, all y’all, exactly like it says it is’, but, oddly, continue to eat happily at Red Lobster…

    Now there is, of course, one more category of person we might consider, here: those who actually can read, and do so seriously, and thus do notice all this stuff, and possibly even comment in reasonably detailed fashion, maybe even talk in a more historiographic fashion about the text: try to suss out what contemporary political realities, say, made the Book of Isaiah a big deal in its day…

    Now these divide further into two subcategories: the first are those that only got ’round to said activity after they’d already bought in far enough that they still feel compelled to make excuses for this rather obvious fact that still in essence preserves the ‘this is your god’s book’ view of things their gramma probably passed along to ‘em–and they may even have a view sophisticated enough and informed enough to acknowledge that the bible is one hell of a polluted pile of shit, shot through with stuff loaded into it by various con men over its long history who found value in doing so–but they’ll still talk about how the god was behind it anyway, tho’ perhaps frustrated by the dreadfully imperfect, even treacherous humans he was using as scribes (deities, apparently, don’t ever do their own typing), ultimately, anyway, and because of this, you can still, wow, find this great wisdom in there if you squint just right… Or just say: it’s the process of looking for meaning in this fucking Rorschach blot of a book that’s actually important, see…

    The second subcategory don’t bother. They just call these books the human documents they so obviously are, and draw the obvious line between, say, Hubbard’s peerlessly stupid Dianetics and the old and new testaments and the quran. I like to call this subsect the ‘non-bullshiters’…

    … Or, also, the atheists. Same diff, usually.

    (/Anyway. Shorter: having horrible reading skills, in most so-called ‘book-based’ religions is actually generally a plus.)

  276. #276 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 6, 2010

    AJ:

    (/Anyway. Shorter: having horrible reading skills, in most so-called ‘book-based’ religions is actually generally a plus.)

    It’s more having little to no comprehension skills that’s the main problem, I think. They can read fine, but no one has ever taught them to actually think about what they are reading, and evaluate it.

  277. #277 Feynmaniac
    April 6, 2010

    Ultimatley, if you are a rationalist, you have to admit that your life is meaningless

    No, you don’t. Life is inherently meaningless, but after you figure that out you then realize that you are free to pick whatever meaning you want your life to take. Have friends, family, do science, make art, etc. You get to choose. I don’t need a cosmic dictator to tell me what to do in order to live a meaningful life.

    “Isn?t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?” – Douglas Adams

    unless you are dishonest or buy into the athiest “mental DNA” myth

    I have no idea WTF you are talking about.

    But most humans need myth to make life tolerable.

    No they don’t. That itself is a myth. Millions don’t need to rely on lies to get by.

  278. #278 Feynmaniac
    April 6, 2010

    If you are a rational person you have to admit that the Jesus “myth” or story as a rationalist would call it, is the most successful and widespread “myth” on the planet.

    And? The Ramayana also did very well, is that argument for Hinduism?

    Why in this battle between mythology and “reason” does mythology often win out in the hearts and minds of humans?

    It doesn’t. At least in the “West” myth has been fading and secularism has been rising for a while now. Even in the very religious US this is true.

    The answer is a cold, rational world view that does nothing to help them through life and which makes life, love, death, suffering and self sacrifice all ultimately meaningless.

    The truth is the truth, whether it makes you happy or not. Millions of people get by just fine trying to perceive the world at it really is. If you can’t, fine, but don’t project your insecurities and reliance on a cosmic daddy onto us.

    The “myth” answers questions many humans struggle with everyday, in a way relieving their real concerns and fears.

    Before you start lecturing us consider that many of us were raised religious. We understand the need (maybe even better than you), but we don’t let that get ahead of what is true.

  279. #279 Owlmirror
    April 6, 2010
    or buy into the athiest “mental DNA” myth

    I have no idea WTF you are talking about.

    Meh, he’s probably trying to refer to memes, and getting it wrong.

  280. #280 Aquaria
    April 6, 2010

    Ultimatley, if you are a rationalist, you have to admit that your life is meaningless

    I don’t have to do anything, certainly not anything that’s about to come out of a brain poisoned by stupid.

    unless you are dishonest

    Breathtaking arrogance and mendacity. People asking for evidence of superstition are dishonest, but the promoters of it who believe it and have zero evidence to back it up…aren’t?

    Fuck you too, buddy.

    or buy into the athiest “mental DNA” myth.

    Citation seriously fucking needed for a scientific claim of “mental DNA.” The only people flinging that term around are corporate motivational dimwits and new age con artists.

    And it’s athEist, not athiest.

    I agree your life has meaning while you live but when you die, if you cease to exist, how could your life have any meaning? Please explain that if you could.

    You just made zero sense, because you’re trying to say simultaneously that life has meaning and it doesn’t unless some celestial lunatic assigns it after appraising the sum total of it, So which is it?

    And I’m not saying that everything good comes from religious myths. Lots of bad things come from them as well.

    Nothing good comes from living your life for a myth, because it automatically erects an unnecessary and stupid barrier between the people who believe it, and the people who don’t.

    But most humans need myth to make life tolerable.

    Do they really need it, or do they think they need it because they had it drilled into their heads from birth that they needed it?

  281. #281 Owlmirror
    April 6, 2010

    CJO @ #184:

    I go back and forth on the whole Jesus-as-myth thing. I think I may have raised these counter-objections before, but if you answered them, I don’t recall.

    So, ask yourself: if the Jesus narrative was based on a real person, why does the earliest tradition (Paul) present us with a cosmic savior figure who is only later (in the gospels) given a narrative involving a “rabbinic” career as a teacher and healer?

    If the later written gospel narratives do not reflect an earlier source (“Q”) or oral tradition, why do the narratives contradict Paul in some important areas of theology?

    Why does the cosmic saviour even have to be brought down to earth in the specific times and places mentioned, and have conflicts with specific named people? An abstract narrative could have had him running afoul of a priesthood and a ruler whose names are simply not given.

    If Jesus was really crucified as a dissident in Jerusalem, why are his followers allowed to go about proclaiming his name, seemingly with impunity, a few years later in the same city, under the rule of the same implacable military authority that put him to death?

    A possible pragmatic reason is that Pilate was bought off — if either the survivors of the group pooled their resources, or they had a wealthy sponsor or two among their number, and made a large donation to the Pontius Pilate retirement fund, combined with strong collective oaths of meek subservience to the Empire, they could have bought themselves the right to continue existing as a group and been allowed to preach a meek credo (render unto Caesar, etc.). This might also go a ways towards explaining the rehabilitation of Pilate in the gospels — basically, he may have been harsh and corrupt, but once bought by the disciples, he stayed bought.

    I see that Joseph of Arimathea is suggested as having been fabricated so as to bring about the fulfillment of prophecy, but positing him as a genuine wealthy early convert or sympathetic ally does not seem to me to be outside the realm of possibility.

  282. #282 Aquaria
    April 6, 2010

    The “myth” answers questions many humans struggle with everyday, in a way relieving their real concerns and fears.

    Yes, because Leviticus 25:45-46 provides so much insight into coping with struggles and relieving human fears:

    Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.

    You must be using “struggle” and “concerns and fears” in a way I’m not familiar with.

  283. #283 Cosmic Teapot
    April 6, 2010
    If Jesus was really crucified as a dissident in Jerusalem, why are his followers allowed to go about proclaiming his name, seemingly with impunity, a few years later in the same city, under the rule of the same implacable military authority that put him to death?

    A possible pragmatic reason is that Pilate was bought off

    Or Jesus, causing a fuss in the temple gets crucified without a trial (he wasn’t a Roman after all) for simply causing mayhem in front of some nervous Romans.

    Maybe he was not crucified for any religious claims, and the rest of the story, from the last supper onwards is pure invention.

    For example, the trials of Jesus certainly does not sit well with either Roman or Jewish legal practices as I understand them, and the invention of releasing one prisoner, regardless of the crime, should be a red flag to any historian.

  284. #284 Owlmirror
    April 6, 2010

    Maybe he was not crucified for any religious claims,

    Well, you have to keep in mind that religious claims and political ones were inextricably intertwined. The whole point of being the messiah — the anointed one — was that it meant that that person was the true king chosen by Yahweh to rule all of Israel and Judah, and in more extreme eschatology, the entire world.

    Think about how that would fly with the Romans and the Roman-backed government and the priesthood and the Sanhedrin.

    and the rest of the story, from the last supper onwards is pure invention.
    For example, the trials of Jesus certainly does not sit well with either Roman or Jewish legal practices as I understand them, and the invention of releasing one prisoner, regardless of the crime, should be a red flag to any historian.

    Sure, it’s wrong on lots of levels.

    But getting back to a putative maybe-it-happened-something-like-what-the-gospels-say, it occurs to me that if Jesus was seen as being the charismatic leader of a messianic movement, Pilate may have seen it most efficient (in terms of results for effort) to just execute the charismatic leader, and he then expected the followers to fade away simply because they had no-one to follow — and didn’t care that they continued to (meekly) “follow” a dead man; an absent leader.

    And of course, the hefty bribes and promises by the followers to be good and meek that I posited could only have helped in this regard.

  285. #285 JonSolo
    April 6, 2010

    My only comment: Easter is good proof that the Romans forgot Rule 2.

    Double Tap.

  286. #286 CJO
    April 6, 2010

    If the later written gospel narratives do not reflect an earlier source (“Q”) or oral tradition, why do the narratives contradict Paul in some important areas of theology?

    Well, Paul was a mystic. His theology looms large for us because the Marcionites preserved the letters and made them the foundation of their theology, to which other elements had to react and ultimately to co-opt. It may be that the majority of late first century Jewish Christians thought Paul was as nutters as you and I do. (Certainly the ideology espoused by the legendary founder-figure portrayed in Acts bears only superficial resemblance to the Pauline theology found in the genuine epistles.) No doubt there was greater diversity than is reflected in the literature that survived. Think of it like a phylogenetic tree, where Paul and the synoptics are distant cousins rather than Paul being “an ancestor” to the first narratives.

    Why does the cosmic saviour even have to be brought down to earth in the specific times and places mentioned, and have conflicts with specific named people? An abstract narrative could have had him running afoul of a priesthood and a ruler whose names are simply not given.

    What gets written is not necessarily what had to get written. More and more, I subscribe to the thesis that the author of Mark invented Jesus, that is, the tekton from an obscure corner of the Galil who follows the career outlined in the synoptics. I imagine that just such an abstract narrative was “in the air” when that author wrote, perhaps in the form of a “Passion sketch,” hitting the high notes, as it were, of texts like Psalm 22 and Deutero-Isaiah. Maybe such a sketch was in use in a liturgical fashion, a la the Stations of the Cross. The author of Mark took this and fleshed it out, and in the process, “historicized” it with names and places, perhaps for no more than narrative reasons. i.e., the abstract mode was fine for the prior narrative of limited scope but a pseudo-history in an apocalyptic idiom inspired by Daniel et al served the aims of the author better, and figures of the recent past made good foils for his socio-political critique without having to dress up wholly fictional personages in a bunch of heavy allegorical drag.

  287. #287 CJO
    April 6, 2010

    A possible pragmatic reason is that Pilate was bought off — if either the survivors of the group pooled their resources, or they had a wealthy sponsor or two among their number, and made a large donation to the Pontius Pilate retirement fund, combined with strong collective oaths of meek subservience to the Empire, they could have bought themselves the right to continue existing as a group

    Were these people poor Galilean followers of an apocalyptic prophet figure, or not? If so, they would have been personae non gratae to the Roman and Jewish power structures alike regardless of any profession of meekness, and it’s hard to see them coming up with the dough to buy off a Roman patrician.

    and been allowed to preach a meek credo (render unto Caesar, etc.).

    The standard reading of this is a misreading (of Mark, anyway). Jesus in Mark is not saying “go ahead and pay your taxes.” He’s setting a trap (as he does in practically all the so-called controversy, or pronouncement, stories in Mark). He’s saying “if you believe that a man can make something his own, and not God’s, by stamping his likeness on it, then, by all means, render it unto him.” That’s why his opponents never have an answer: they’re all “when did you stop beating your wife” questions.

    This might also go a ways towards explaining the rehabilitation of Pilate in the gospels — basically, he may have been harsh and corrupt, but once bought by the disciples, he stayed bought.

    Once again, the lapse between the putative events and the narrative rehabilitation is too great. I know I follow a fairly idiosyncratic reading of Mark, but Pilate is not a sympathetic figure in it. Too much to go into here, but the author wants to make it clear that the Roman and Jewish authorities are equally to blame for the quite deliberate injustice and that “the crowds” are dupes in the whole saga, bending in the wind and never understanding what is at stake. Instead of puzzled concern on Pilate’s part when he addresses the crowd, “Why, what has he done?”, imagine cynical mock-innocence.

    So any rehabilitation happens in the course of the development of the synoptic narrative from Mark to Matthew and Luke. By then, two or three generations on from the events in 30s-40s Jerusalem, it’s hard to see why a ret-con of a long-dead figure’s attitude toward Jesus would make any difference.

    I see that Joseph of Arimathea is suggested as having been fabricated so as to bring about the fulfillment of prophecy, but positing him as a genuine wealthy early convert or sympathetic ally does not seem to me to be outside the realm of possibility.

    All I can say is that seldom do actual events lend themselves so neatly to the demands of narrative plotting. Could be, sure. But the passion narrative is a parade of these prophesy-fulfilling elements.

  288. #288 sydneycarton
    April 6, 2010

    reesshelley at 89,
    My boyfriend asked me if I made your post, and if not was I sure? He got a similar spiel over coffee yesterday morning, and he couldn’t believe there were two people who associated Easter with Tale of Two Cities.

  289. #289 Paul
    April 6, 2010

    The standard reading of this is a misreading (of Mark, anyway). Jesus in Mark is not saying “go ahead and pay your taxes.” He’s setting a trap (as he does in practically all the so-called controversy, or pronouncement, stories in Mark). He’s saying “if you believe that a man can make something his own, and not God’s, by stamping his likeness on it, then, by all means, render it unto him.” That’s why his opponents never have an answer: they’re all “when did you stop beating your wife” questions.

    What do you use as a basis for supporting your reading instead of the more common “misreading”? I do not doubt, specifically, I am just rather curious. I’ve never heard your suggested reading before. I did always think it odd that the pronouncements in Mark go unanswered, but I simply wrote it off as being the Biblical equivalent of a Terry Goodkind book.

  290. #290 Owlmirror
    April 6, 2010

    but a pseudo-history in an apocalyptic idiom inspired by Daniel et al served the aims of the author better, and figures of the recent past made good foils for his socio-political critique without having to dress up wholly fictional personages in a bunch of heavy allegorical drag.

    I see a problem with creating an analogy to Daniel — that work is at its most specific in naming names when referencing events centuries earlier; when discussing events in more recent history, it posits them as a “vision” related to the narrator.

    For Mark to describe specific events happening in times and places in the recent past invites immediate rebuttals from older persons who are in the audience, or who can be consulted by those in the audience — “I was in Jerusalem every Passover while Pilate was in charge, and I never saw any such thing, nor heard of it!”

    And so on.

    It does not pay a prophet to be too specific, to paraphrase somebody or other.

    =====

    Were these people poor Galilean followers of an apocalyptic prophet figure, or not?

    All he has to do is attract one rich person for the scenario to work.

    Another alternative that occurred to me is that Jesus could have attracted the child of at least one rich person. Wealthy (and possibly even politically powerful) dad might roll his eyes at his child’s feckless obsession with a probable heretic, but doesn’t want to see the kid killed as a political rebel, and intervenes with Pilate.

    He’s setting a trap (as he does in practically all the so-called controversy, or pronouncement, stories in Mark).

    I’ll have to re-read those with a more cynical eye — but I can certainly see it as at least potentially plausible. Even a casual reading of parts of the gospel bring up more than one place where Jesus really is not at all nice.

  291. #291 CJO
    April 6, 2010

    Hi Paul.

    Basically just the absurdity of the idea that an ultra-pious figure such as the Jesus presented in Mark would cede anything to Caesar over and above God. I think asking whose likeness was on the coin puts a barb on it, as well, given the cult of the Emperor and the Jewish emphasis on aniconic worship.

  292. #292 Maldoror
    April 6, 2010

    Ever since I became an atheist, the whole Easter justification has always struck me as a kind of mafia deal. “But Jesus died for your sins!” So? I didn’t fucking ask or want him to die for my sins. Why do I owe him anything? What? I’m going to go to hell for not returning a favor I didn’t ask for nor want? Not to mention, the favor didn’t cost him shit, while returning it is a life of indentured servitude. It’s reward is only to get to play in God’s eternal playground. Sounds a bit like the robber baron idea of “payment” where they would give their exploited workers an exclusive currency that could only be spent in a special company market. Thanks, God.

    Anyway, somone mentioned Crass – the track is called “Reality Asylum.” Awesome experimental/spoken word piece. I highly recommend it. Here’s a youtube link for it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_HOYk9ED9Q&aia=true

  293. #293 CJO
    April 6, 2010

    @ Maldoror
    Heh.

    “This is a really nice immortal soul you got here… Be a shame if somebody were to, say, torture it for all eternity.”

  294. #294 Owlmirror
    April 6, 2010

    A few months ago, a creobot creeped me out by sounding like a mafia thug, which led to a similar sort of response as #292. Jadehawk followed up by linking to The Offer.

    Just so youse guys know, ya know?

  295. #295 Dave
    April 6, 2010

    Just a few points to respond to the responses.

    First, I did not say I value the Jesus “myth” over any other tradition’s myth. The Hindu religion has worked for millions of people for thousands of years as well. I think it is obvious from a historical perspective the most pervasive and powerful “myth” is Jesus and “Easter.” And, while I agree that secularism is growing in the west generally and in the “religious US” as well, still it is a small minority position in the world. All human cultures have created myths to give purpose and meaning to life and to explain life’s mysteries like birth and death. I understand that on a rational level most of these “myths” can be proven false. But this ignores the truth that most people still need myth [For example, why come up with the “Happy Hunting Ground” if you could just say “when you die you cease to exist” and that would some how make the tribe feel just as good.] Several of you commented on the value of learning that life is meaningless and the freedom it gives you to choose what life means. However, any choice you make to give meaning to your meaningless life is also a lie as sure as the Jesus “myth” or reincarnation is lie. I also find it comical that several of you agreed with me that life was meaningless and several of you bristled at the concept. I admit that for any person or organism alive, life has meaning while you are alive. What I meant to say is that most humans long for some sort of cosmic meaning for their lives. A meaning outside themselves and their “mortal” condition. For example, a dog’s life has meaning for a dog while it is alive. But most humans desire to live more than a dog’s life. Honest athEists have always admitted the idea of extinction at death sucks and it is usually a hard sell. Many athEists, when facing death, comfort themselves by creating a sort of myth. I think someone mentioned one of the “hive mind” theories. This is just a way to get around having a meaningless life. Also the one reference to Heroin. Appropiate analogy since “religion is the opiate of the masses.” I agree that perpetual or chronic drug abuse is wrong, but I bet many of you have had morphine or other powerful painkillers (or maybe you drink to excess) prescribed by a Dr. Why would you take those drugs? Don’t they just mask the “true” pain your body is feeling? Don’t they cloud your judgement as they dull the pain? Next time you have an operation tell the Dr. “Doctor, I believe in the truth goddammit no matter how painful. I’m not going to hide behind a chemical lie and avoid the painful truth that you are going to cut open my body. I will do this so I can look down my nose at all of the sick weaklings that need anesthesia, and know that I stood for the truth while everyone else bought into a lie.” (Even though it doesn’t really matter because when I die I will cease to exist).

    Truth is relative and there are many things in life far more important than “truth.” Human happiness and comfort are more important than truth. Love and affection trump the truth frequently. Sometimes belief in a false “myth” can reveal a greater truth about the human condition or inspire humans to overcome great challenges. Myth is medicine for the human condition. Most humans need it. Like all medicine it can be abused or misused and when it is it can harm people. But like medicine it can be used “rationally” and carefully to improve the human experience, especially when a crisis or hardship occurs. To sum it up.

    1. Life is ultimately meaningless.
    2. It is the quality of your life that counts.
    3. Many human lives are improved and/or given meaning by myths.
    4. The fact that the myth is false is irrelevent (see #1)

    I have never understood the way many athEists aggressively seek converts to their worldview. Often their tactics are offensive, rude and mean. They take delight in insulting others and question their ability to think, reason or spell. I know most athEists are not assholes but many of them are. I do think there is a bitterness or sadness associated with the rationalist worldview that tends to cause assholery. It’s like you plucked all the pretty and sweet smelling flowers from your own chains, and now, realizing the chains didn’t magically fall off your psyche, you are pissed off at anyone who is still enjoying the flowers on their chains. Well, I’m happy with my flowers.

  296. #296 Becca
    April 6, 2010

    1. Life is ultimately meaningless.

    I’m so sorry you feel that way. Possibly a competent therapist could help you with your existential crisis?

    2. It is the quality of your life that counts.

    for varying definitions of quality, I suppose. I think that lots of other things count, too.

    3. Many human lives are improved and/or given meaning by myths.

    yes, and I find that a very sad statement, because of your point 4 – because the myth is false.

    4. The fact that the myth is false is irrelevent (see #1)

    That the myth is false is the whole point – because truth matters.

  297. #297 Jadehawk OM, Hardcore Left-Winger
    April 6, 2010

    For Mark to describe specific events happening in times and places in the recent past invites immediate rebuttals from older persons who are in the audience, or who can be consulted by those in the audience — “I was in Jerusalem every Passover while Pilate was in charge, and I never saw any such thing, nor heard of it!”

    And so on.

    It does not pay a prophet to be too specific, to paraphrase somebody or other.

    revisionism of the 50’s; Holocaust denial; Fox News; Rapture Ready.

    I mean, you really can’t imagine how this could be believable to people back then, when it’s believable to a lot of people now, despite the global availability of documentation, TV footage, witness reports etc?

  298. #298 CJO
    April 6, 2010

    For Mark to describe specific events happening in times and places in the recent past invites immediate rebuttals from older persons who are in the audience, or who can be consulted by those in the audience — “I was in Jerusalem every Passover while Pilate was in charge, and I never saw any such thing, nor heard of it!”

    If, as most scholars agree, the composition of Mark was during or closely following the Jewish War, the chaos and disruption surrounding that conflict could easily have given events ~40 years prior a “dilation” effect, that is, a screen, if you will, from the other side of which a mythic past could have been imagined, even though it doesn’t seem like enough time would have passed.

    I also think your response here labors under certain assumptions that may not have been true of ancient persons. Primarily I think it is a mistake to assume that an average person of that era would have easily adopted an empirico-rationalist stance toward a historical claim of the kind we’re discussing. It was more natural, when confronted with a narrative one did not believe or like the implications of, not to deny outright the possibility that something occurred, but to construct a counter-narrative against the extraordinary claims made regarding the significance of the event. So, we find ‘Jesus was the bastard of a Roman soldier’ and ‘the disciples stole the body,’ both attested very early, but not ‘Jesus was never crucified.’ Remember also that Asklepios and Osiris, and a host of other mythological figures were generally granted existence as kings and heroes of long ago. What was disputed were the claims to cosmic significance, not bare earthly existence. (Still subject to the objection that Jesus was said to be a much more recent figure, but, again, we may not assess that horizon the same way an ancient person might have.)

    Finally, we don’t really know for whom Mark was written. If the original, intended audience was comprised of persons known to the author to be ignorant of the time and place in which his narrative is set for whatever reason, then rebuttal on those grounds may have simply been a non-issue for the author. I sometimes think that Mark, as dark and enigmatic as it is, was never really intended for mass consumption, and certainly the authors of Matthew and Luke didn’t think so either, at least not without a heavy redaction/revision.

  299. #299 Feynmaniac
    April 6, 2010

    But this ignores the truth that most people still need myth

    Again, this is an unproven claim. Sure most humans in recorded history have had myths, but that’s hardly proof of its necessity. You could have said exactly the same thing about gender inequality. The growing number of secularists show that that conclusion is more and more untenable.

    However, any choice you make to give meaning to your meaningless life is also a lie as sure as the Jesus “myth” or reincarnation is lie.

    No, it isn’t. Saying that Jesus rose from the dead is a factual claim, and one that is false. Saying ‘I want to do science for a living’ or ‘I want to be happy’ is a personal decision.

    I also find it comical that several of you agreed with me that life was meaningless and several of you bristled at the concept.

    What’s so funny that a group of people having different opinions and/or interpretating a phrase differently?

    I admit that for any person or organism alive, life has meaning while you are alive. What I meant to say is that most humans long for some sort of cosmic meaning for their lives. A meaning outside themselves and their “mortal” condition.

    First of all, why isn’t a “mortal” condition enough? Secondly, we do has effects even after our death. No person is an island, and all that. If I choose to have children part of me will go on through them. I can also have a tremendous affect on friends and other family. Most here do care about the future, even after aren’t here to see it. That’s why we are so concerned with climate change. Its real damage my not even occur until aftrer we are gone, but we are concerned with the future of humankind.

    Truth is relative and there are many things in life far more important than “truth.”

    No, it’s really not. While there are other important thing in life either than truth, you don’t need to form your raisin date raison d’Ítre on a lie.

    1. Life is ultimately meaningless.
    2. It is the quality of your life that counts.
    3. Many human lives are improved and/or given meaning by myths.
    4. The fact that the myth is false is irrelevent (see #1)

    For the last time Kierkegaard, you don’t need religion to be happy. 3 is at best unproven at worst completely false. As for 4, (to borrow an example for Sam Harris) if a friend told you that they were going to marry Angelina Jolie, and that this idea makes them happy,, wouldn’t you consider them delusional? Wouldn’t you question whether it’s really making them happier?

    I have never understood the way many athEists aggressively seek converts to their worldview

    Yeah, because we are the ones sending mionnairies out and have rituals to signify conversion……

    (Off to watch Lost, no time to proof read. Apologies for any errors in this post.)

  300. #300 CJO
    April 6, 2010

    Oh, and I left out: on the hypothesis that something answering to the events surrounding Jesus’s crucifixion must have happened, or the author of Mark wouldn’t have risked the possibility of refutation by contemporaries, it’s telling that he wasn’t shy about reporting the darkness at noon, surely the most widely observable phenomenon and easiest claim for such a person to deny.

  301. #301 WowbaggerOM
    April 6, 2010

    Dave, #295 wrote:

    Well, I’m happy with my flowers.

    I’m fine that you’re happy with your imaginary flowers.

    But there are people in the world who don’t realise that flowers are imaginary; we believe those people should have the right to know there are good arguments for not believing in imaginary flowers – and that those who making a living selling (and fertilising) imaginary flowers should stop lying about imaginary flower-power – which is demonstrated false.

    We’re also not fine that those who do believe in imaginary flowers lie and say that those who don’t believe in imaginary flowers are evil; that those who believe in imaginary roses rather than imaginary daisies should be killed for it; or that the imaginary flower-sellers are right when they say that gay people can’t marry each other because that’s what their ancient pressed-flower album tells them.

    Feel free to believe in whatever imaginary flowers you like. Just don’t complain when we point out that they’re imaginary and can be dispensed with entirely.

  302. #302 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 6, 2010

    Dave:

    However, any choice you make to give meaning to your meaningless life is also a lie

    Not at all. It’s rather pitiful you can’t see the difference between real and pretend. Choices I make affect other people all the time – that’s real, it’s not a lie and it’s not some sort of unnecessary nebulous myth.

    but I bet many of you have had morphine or other powerful painkillers (or maybe you drink to excess) prescribed by a Dr.

    That’s quite the assumption. You should watch those broad brushes you’re painting with.

    Why would you take those drugs? Don’t they just mask the “true” pain your body is feeling? Don’t they cloud your judgement as they dull the pain?

    Speaking for myself, I take meds for my spinal condition because I don’t care to be in pain all the time and those medications increase my quality of life. Frinst., with my meds, I can still hike and sit in a blind for hours on end which is part of what I do as a photographer.

    Next time you have an operation tell the Dr. “Doctor, I believe in the truth goddammit no matter how painful. I’m not going to hide behind a chemical lie and avoid the painful truth that you are going to cut open my body. I will do this so I can look down my nose at all of the sick weaklings that need anesthesia, and know that I stood for the truth while everyone else bought into a lie.” (Even though it doesn’t really matter because when I die I will cease to exist).

    You’re being idiotic here. There’s no reason to be backward or eschew scientific and medical advancements. Pain certainly is a part of life, that’s the truth. Some of us end up having to live in pain every day. That’s the truth. Medicine and medical procedures can help us live better quality lives. That’s the truth. There’s nothing difficult to grasp there. Not having an afterlife of some kind does not negate meaning in life or the quality of that life, which you keep insisting is the case.

    I have never understood the way many athEists aggressively seek converts to their worldview.

    Seems to me you came here. No one from Pharyngula went and hunted you down, knocked you over the head, sat you down in front of a computer and made you type. You certainly don’t seem to be doing any reading or comprehending what people have taken the time to write, so you’re aren’t being forced in that regard either.

    It’s funny, but every time someone comments on just how aggressive we “new atheists” are, it always turns out to be a theist who tried to pretend they weren’t a theist. What our so-called “aggression” amounts to, every time, is simply existing. Simply being open. Simply refusing to bow down and stay in the closet. Simply being outspoken about our views. You know, like theists have been doing for ages on end. Goodness, how horrible for the theists! They have to live knowing other people don’t buy into their delusions. Tsk.

    Well, I’m happy with my flowers.

    Hey, if delusions float your boat, have at it. Just keep them where they belong – in your head, your house and your chosen place of worship/fellowship. Keep them the fuck out of schools, state and law.

    Here’s a little narrative for ya, since you can’t handle existence without pretty little stories:

    THERE IS NO GOOD ORDER EXCEPT THAT WHICH WE CREATE…

    THERE IS NO HOPE BUT US. THERE IS NO MERCY BUT US. THERE IS NO JUSTICE. THERE IS JUST US.

    ALL THINGS THAT ARE, ARE OURS. BUT WE MUST CARE. FOR IF WE DO NOT CARE, WE DO NOT EXIST. IF WE DO NOT EXIST, THEN THERE IS NOTHING BUT BLIND OBLIVION.

    – DEATH, Reaper Man

  303. #303 Owlmirror
    April 6, 2010

    revisionism of the 50’s; Holocaust denial; Fox News; Rapture Ready.

    I mean, you really can’t imagine how this could be believable to people back then, when it’s believable to a lot of people now, despite the global availability of documentation, TV footage, witness reports etc?

    I’m not saying that it’s impossible… but I don’t find the argument merely that it is possible to be that compelling, in and of itself. There are plenty of naturalistic scenarios involving a real human that actually lived at that time that could have led to the same stories eventually being told.

    Sure, people are gullible — but how gullible they are, is exactly the question that needs to be addressed. Do they just believe anything at all? Or is there a psychological profile of the sort of things that people tend to believe more than others?

    ==========

    If, as most scholars agree, the composition of Mark was during or closely following the Jewish War, the chaos and disruption surrounding that conflict could easily have given events ~40 years prior a “dilation” effect, that is, a screen, if you will, from the other side of which a mythic past could have been imagined, even though it doesn’t seem like enough time would have passed.

    But it’s about events in a city that people throughout the area visited on a semi-annual basis as part of their religious obligation. They would have been able to call on their own memories, or those of their elders, about events in that city that took place during one of those religious pilgrimages. And so on.

    To re-ask your earlier question — why would there have been a movement in Jerusalem (the Peter-led one) twenty-ish years after the (putative) events, if those events had no basis whatsoever in the reality of the memories of those who lived in or visited Jerusalem?

    Primarily I think it is a mistake to assume that an average person of that era would have easily adopted an empirico-rationalist stance toward a historical claim of the kind we’re discussing. It was more natural, when confronted with a narrative one did not believe or like the implications of, not to deny outright the possibility that something occurred, but to construct a counter-narrative against the extraordinary claims made regarding the significance of the event.

    Sure, which is something I/we as empirico-rationalists do as well. There’s a whole suite of different possibilities and scenarios, none of which actually require miracles from a God that most likely doesn’t even exist. And for that matter, saying that Jesus never existed as a human being is also itself a counter-narrative.

    Finally, we don’t really know for whom Mark was written. If the original, intended audience was comprised of persons known to the author to be ignorant of the time and place in which his narrative is set for whatever reason, then rebuttal on those grounds may have simply been a non-issue for the author. I sometimes think that Mark, as dark and enigmatic as it is, was never really intended for mass consumption, and certainly the authors of Matthew and Luke didn’t think so either, at least not without a heavy redaction/revision.

    Hm. I can’t really see how this is supposed to work. Is an enthusiastic description of “good news” (The time of the kingdom of God is near!) really meant to be whispered in a cellar?

  304. #304 Owlmirror
    April 6, 2010

    Oh, and I left out: on the hypothesis that something answering to the events surrounding Jesus’s crucifixion must have happened, or the author of Mark wouldn’t have risked the possibility of refutation by contemporaries, it’s telling that he wasn’t shy about reporting the darkness at noon, surely the most widely observable phenomenon and easiest claim for such a person to deny.

    Hm. I don’t have a good comeback for this, other than suggesting melodramatic exaggeration.

    “Darkness” is sufficiently imprecise that it could have been understood and/or intended as being heavy cloud cover.

  305. #305 MAJeff, OM
    April 6, 2010

    I do think there is a bitterness or sadness associated with the rationalist worldview that tends to cause assholery. It’s like you plucked all the pretty and sweet smelling flowers from your own chains, and now, realizing the chains didn’t magically fall off your psyche, you are pissed off at anyone who is still enjoying the flowers on their chains. Well, I’m happy with my flowers.

    blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

    The last few weeks have been insanely busy for me, and incredibly fulfilling. Just this weekend, I had one of the best meals of my life. Accompanying the intensely pleasurable and complex food was a wonderful conversation with a dear friend.

    I also spent an afternoon at the Art Institute of Chicago. Monet’s London series. Van Gogh’s artist’s room. Hopper’s Nighthawks. A couple week’s earlier it was Mendelssohn and Rossini at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. I cried in each of those spaces. Beauty for all the senses. Too fucking bad I’m so bitter that I can’t enjoy beauty because I reject some ontological truth inhering in fairy tales.

    It’s also kind of funny to see Dave taking the Marxist position: religion is little more than a salve, an opioid that masks the pain of life. Marx thought that maybe alleviating the conditions that led to said pain–and the industrial shop-floor can be a pretty dehumanizing, dangerous, and deadly space–was worth pursuing, whereas Dave decides that continuing to mask the pain rather than addressing its root causes is the preferable course of action.

    Believe the fairy tale and take your fuckitall.

  306. #306 Owlmirror
    April 6, 2010

    And, following on #304, I note that at least Mark does not have Matthew’s zombie apocalypse dead rising and wandering around.

    He has the veil in the temple splitting, but how is the average audience of the story supposed to know whether that did or did not happen?

  307. #307 Sili
    April 6, 2010

    I didn’t hear it in full, but Philip Pullmann was on Radio3 tonight, talking in part about how easy it woulda been for a true believer to sex up the story of Jesus back in the day to bring in the punters.

    Hence virgin birth, miracles and zombies walking the earth.

    Ah. Here we go.

  308. #308 Menyambal
    April 7, 2010

    I find it slightly amusing that Christian folks talk about not caring if Jesus is a myth.

    When I was in high school back in 1975 or so, I was told that Communism was WRONG and to be FEARED!!! When I asked why it was wrong, I was told that its basic premise was false. When I asked what was false about the basic premise, I was told that it was as wrong as “2 + 2 = 5″.

    Nobody seemed to know what the basic premise of Communism was, but it was scary. I learned more about Communism a few years later, and, a few years after that, found something about “having possessions in common” in the Christian bible. Which was strange, because all the people who warned me against Godless Communism had been Christians. It seemed that they didn’t know much about Communism or about Christianity.

    So now, the same Christian folks say that it is okay to love and live the myth of Jesus, true or not.

    I, now a godless non-communist, say that the basic premise of Christianity is false, and that the Christians would have me do unto them as they did unto the Communists. To do other than try to topple their evil empire wouldn’t be respecting their religion.

    (By the way, the first time I flew in a Russian helicopter, the old fear came flooding back. Damn Christians had me shaking worse than that old Mi-8. (Link to a take-off vid.))

  309. #309 Harry Varty
    April 7, 2010

    Christian theologians have had their own difficulties with the Easter story. Wikipedia shows the variety available. These include ‘Satan was tricked into kiling an innocent man to save the rest of us’, ‘What sacrifice is sufficient to satisfy an all-powerful God? Another all-powerful God’ and ‘God may not be able to inervene but he can suffer with us’.

    But remember, these are only theories.

  310. #310 CJO
    April 7, 2010

    Probably railing at the ether here, but it helps to get thoughts down in words.

    To re-ask your earlier question — why would there have been a movement in Jerusalem (the Peter-led one) twenty-ish years after the (putative) events, if those events had no basis whatsoever in the reality of the memories of those who lived in or visited Jerusalem?

    Well here’s where the assumption of historicity leads you astray. This is endemic to the professional guild of Historical Jesus Scholars as well. Remember, ex hypothesi, the “events” are largely the invention of the author of Mark, outside of Jerusalem and two generations after the putative events. So whatever Peter and the Jerusalem gang was preaching, it wasn’t that anything specific had occurred in Jerusalem, at least not within living memory. It was a pious revival movement based on visions of the Risen Lord and other ecstatic “visitations of the spirit” similar, one suspects, to the Pauline creed.

    And for that matter, saying that Jesus never existed as a human being is also itself a counter-narrative.

    Mmm. Counter-metanarrative, perhaps. I meant by counter-narrative one that grants the “facts on the ground” but denies their significance as cosmic or divine or supernatural events. The narrative that says “the disciples removed the body,” for instance, grants the (perhaps minimal, demythologized) career of Jesus, the crucifixion, even the empty tomb.

    Hm. I can’t really see how this is supposed to work. Is an enthusiastic description of “good news” (The time of the kingdom of God is near!) really meant to be whispered in a cellar?

    Well, it has a great deal of explanatory scope. It makes sense of the “secrecy motif” in Mark, much commented upon, variously explained, never satisfactorially. It explains the hostility toward their source on the part of the authors of Matthew and Luke. It explains why Mark, the first gospel to be written, is nevertheless the least represented in the earliest manuscripts and why Matthew was vastly preferred by the late second and third century ekklesia. It explains why the text was considered so unsatisfactory that at least two scribes felt the need to add more satisfying endings. Mark is dark, enigmatic, and troubling. It paints “the way of the cross” in extremely stark terms and makes plain the expectation that not many will “bear fruit.” It could well have been secret indoctrination material for the fringe of 1st Century proto-Christianity, the fringe of a fringe.

    Also, it should not be surprising to find seeming expressions of universality in a sectarian text that was not necessarily intended for wide dissemination. It’s the same with nearly all cults and conspiracy theories: “We’re the only ones with the truth, and the fact that all those tools of the devil/the establishment don’t believe us just proves how right we are.” This is a powerful reinforcer of fringe-group identity and cohesion. We see it in the sectarian texts from Qumran as well.

  311. #311 listener
    April 13, 2010

    aratina cage (#346), as far as I know, everything imaginary – or something that might as well be there – is beyond the senses and measurement.
    And, yes, monado (#390), that is exactly my point: that scientists don?t have to allow for that variant invisible pink unicorn, the soul, to weigh into their calculations. Though there is an infinitesimal chance of invisible pink unicorns existing, we don?t spend time arguing for their existence or otherwise, or including it in calculations. In fact, you don’t even expend time on derision when it can be better spent elsewhere.
    Truth machine (#394) addressed some of what I am saying when he wrote that “science isn’t in the business of “utterly” dismissing anything [by which he clarified elsewhere he means ideas], and can’t, because you can’t prove a universal empirical negative.”

  312. #312 aratina cage
    April 13, 2010

    aratina cage (#346), as far as I know, everything imaginary – or something that might as well be there – is beyond the senses and measurement.

    Wrong thread → go here.

  313. #313 listener
    April 13, 2010

    My mistake, aratina. Thanks…

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