Saturday, September 05, 2009

A post in Craiglist

 Προσπάθησα να βρώ τον εν λόγω κύριο και να ζητήσω την άδειά του για να ποστάρω εδώ το μύνημά του αλλά στάθηκε πολύ δύσκολο οπότε το κάνω ανευ άδειας:

Dear Christians

In the following argument of nine premises, I will aim to convince you that Jesus of Nazareth was a fictional character, and not a real person. I do not intend to sway the beliefs of many of you, nor even budge them - I know this to be an impossibility, for if the religious mind is well-trained at anything, it is circumventing rational argument. I only intend to sew seeds of doubt, in the hopes that perhaps some of you will nurture them and let them grow. Here goes.

1. Much, if not most, of the Bible is arguably fiction. Quit being so intellectually dishonest, Christians - this is the twenty-first century. That means the burden of proof is on YOU. If you make a claim about the universe, it is up to you to prove it is true, not the other way around. It is not up to us, the rest of the world, to prove your claims false - that is not scientific thinking, that is anti-scientific thinking. Because I am a man of my times, and believe in correcting ignorance, what I am doing here is out of courtesy to YOU, just as if I were to argue publicly that there is a Flying Spaghetti Monster orbiting Venus preparing to blow up Planet Earth, one of you would probably, out of simple human decency attempt to correct me and point me towards the truth. This is my way of doing that. Now, back to the Bible being fiction... that part's easy. Find me a snake with vocal chords, water that is dense enough for a human being to walk on, or a chemical process that converts complex carbohydrates to fish. Until then, you're out of luck, sucker. The evidence wins, and the evidence sides with me. These are invented stories... fictional dramas meant to impart some moral lesson. They are not real.

2. Following point two: from an objective, scrutinizing view, there is no reason to believe one story in the Bible over another. We cannot honestly engage shades of truth here - either the books in the Bible are historically true or they are not. Since they almost ubiquitously contain material to make the scientific person skeptical, we can chance to say the same is true of the entire book: either it happened, or it didn't. Therefore, it is no less plausible to disbelieve the Jesus myth than the myth about Enoch the nine-hundred year old man or the creation myth wherein God pats the first humans out of clay. Here's a hint: humans, like all other complex organisms, reached their present condition by millions of years of natural selection through the self-preservation of certain greedy genes. We can observe this happening today; anti-biotic resistant bacteria are a good example. Plus, we've mapped the human genome - we know our ancestry, and it's simian. Even Pope John Paul II said evolution is a historical fact. People did not come from clay.

3. By definition, intellect, or "reason" is the ability to revise one's beliefs in light of better argumentation. Taking simple, empirical data from the the world around you should make it easy to determine that the physical laws of the universe DO NOT CHANGE. It therefore stands to reason that "miracles" can only possible be one of two phenomena: A, an outside agent actually interfering with the laws of the universe; or B, hyperbolized coincidences. Considering the Bible was written in a time when allegory was the most common form of journalistic reporting and most people still believed spitting on a wound was an appropriate way to cure it, it is far more reasonable to assume the latter.

*Side note: Seriously Hoss, let me clue you in on something: things that are impossible to do now - like walking on water, resuscitation after days of biological death, and wine magically turning into blood - were just as impossible 2,000 years ago. There's a much greater power in the universe than "belief." It's called "observation."

4. To believe these stories, you must create strange rationalizations that do not hold up to true intellectual scrutiny. This brings us to the issue of honesty. Without deluding yourself, can you honestly answer the following questions? Such as, why doesn't God heal amputees? He heals everyone else miraculously, right? But neither you nor I have ever seen an amputee grow back a leg. Oh wait, God has a special plan for them. But isn't he supposed to be loving and just? What's with the discrimination, man? Or how about Jonah surviving in the belly of that whale? Wouldn't he be partially digested after three days? Maybe Baby Balooga had a slow metabolism?

5. Following four, and this one is my favorite: if Jesus is the one true messiah, the only God, whom you shall hath no other gods before him, yada yada, how come so many gods DID come before him having nearly identical biographies? There are no less than two dozen god-men of the ancient Mediterranean whose birth was heralded by a bright star in the East (Sirius, for those who don't practice astronomy), who were also adored by wise men, walked on water, fed the hungry, resurrected the dead, were crucified and rose again, etc. Many even had the same birthday as Jesus - December 25th! Not coincidentally, this was the Roman Holiday of Saturnalia centuries before the clergy decided to call it Jesus' birthday. Surprise! Christians plagiarized earlier religions. I cannot spell it out any clearer than that. Knowing that, how can one believe anything Christian doctrine teaches? How do you even begin to separate what was invented from what was borrowed? You don't. The cold, hard truth is, it was an old story then, and it's an old story now. These messianic archetypes - the man that is god, the man who conquers death - existed long, long before Jesus came around. They were old news when soap was a cutting-edge technology, before written language was even invented. They are ancient fucking history. Jesus was not the antitype of these messianic figures, he was their distillation.

7. Following point 6. If you are skeptical of this information (and you should be, as doubt is the seed of all knowing), investigate the matter for yourself. One hugely recurring problem I find when debating with Christians is that they either know very little about other religions or are ignorant of their existence entirely. This is counter-intuitive to me, and perhaps my own fault in failing to understand the religious mind. Shouldn't it be fairly crucial to make the most educated decision in choosing a religion, if practicing the "right" one is important to you? For example, you wouldn't want to choose a religion based on plagiarism, would you? Or one that literally absorbed every earlier belief system it encountered through endless politicizing or the diplomacy of the sword? Well, better crack those books then - there's a whole heap of gods who fit the Christ mold long before Christ. I suggest you begin by researching Mithra of Rome, Attis of Frigia, Dionysis of Greece, Krishna of India, and Horus of Egypt. The last should be of particular interest to you, as his mythology is almost an exact carbon copy of Jesus', right down to the twelve apostles and three-day rebound time after being murdered by jealous clergy. Though, I should point out that Horus was worshipped nearly 1000 years BEFORE Christianity began spreading through the Hebrew-populated Roman colonies. This should come as no surprise to you, as it's written right in the bible that the Hebrews came out of Egypt.

8. On a more serious note. Western civilization may have been "built" on Judeo-Christian values (at least the "don't kill" and "don't steal" parts), but we have become a modern society and have adopted the scientific way of thinking. While the aforementioned values have indisputable merits, maintaining the dogma in its entirety is no longer necessary, especially when we consider the violence and segregation it has caused throughout the ages. Furthermore, philosophically speaking, Christian ethics are severely outdated. Since the Enlightenment, the Western World has seen far superior ethicists to Jesus of Nazareth. Kant and Mill, for example, created life-affirming ethical systems that can be applied to a wider range of people without destroying their culture or beliefs about where the universe came from and what kind of sex they should consider perverse. Truly, there is no reason to cling to the old way any longer. We have adopted science and reason in every other aspect of our lives... yet somehow we have retained Bronze Age ethics? It makes no sense. Why should we continue to believe it is better to be tribalists than to be humanists? This mentality is not compatible with a just, egalitarian society. Besides, Jesus may tell us to love one another, but he also says we should maintain the Old Testament in its entirety - no cherry-picking - which means we technically must condone rape, incest, slavery, and genocide (!). If we can do away with these parts (and we have), why not do away with the whole thing?

9. In the grand scheme of things, it would be generally permissible for one to believe in Christian ethics if it were readily understood that Jesus was not a historical person, and the story is allegory. However, if you are a Christian, you probably do believe that Jesus was a real human being. This is a threat to both the advancement of science and the absolution of religious conflict in the world, two issues that are paramount to our survival as a species as our planet nears carrying capacity and is dangerously on the brink of overheating. It creates too slippery a slope for other theocratic nonsense to take hold; for example, tthe mindset that human beings can literally live after death (how many soldiers would we send to die if everyone believed this is the only life?); or that preserving the existence of cell clusters which bear no conceivable human traits is somehow a better aim than alleviating actual human suffering; or that sex is harmful, but killing, bigotry, and total obedience to clandestine authority are healthy practices; or that blood sacrifice is a value modern societies should endorse. But Jesus WAS a real person, you say! There's a plethora of evidence! No, not really, outside of the gospels. And those hardly count as "evidence." They are secondary sources at best. Here's why: if a historical Jesus really lived and died between 0 and 33 CE, then we know beyond a doubt that at least forty years passed before the earliest gospel - the one written by Mark - was scribed. Because the aforementioned gospel discusses the destruction of Solomon's temple, we know it was written in or sometime after 70 CE. Given the lifespan of the period, that means the author or authors were at best infants or young children when Jesus of Nazareth was supposed to have been crucified. Moreover, the gospel writers are not themselves mentioned in the gospels, and they make no claim to actually having met Jesus. None of the apostles who walked with Jesus nor anyone who even met him wrote accounts to that effect. Granted, there are certain mentions of a "Christ" in the writings of Mediterranean historians from that period (not Justin Martyr or Pontius Pilate - sorry, but those are proven forgeries). However, if are a serious Christian, these should be of little consideration to you, as you know "the Christ" is really a title that simply means "the Anointed," and was taken up by many rabbis of that time. In not ONE of these documents is a man named Jesus, or Yeshua of Nazareth mentioned.

In conclusion, the gospels which discuss the life of Jesus of Nazareth are at best hearsay, almost certainly hyperbolized, and at worst complete fabrications. What we can determine beyond a doubt is that for at least four decades after his death, everyone in the world, including his sworn followers and students, simply forgot their messiah existed. If that doesn't cast on you a serious shade of doubt, then nothing will, and perhaps I'm not "the fool".

- A

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