So Who Goes To Hell?

Will it be heaven or will it be hell? A quick tongue-in-cheek assessment.

According to Christians, all Christians go to Christian heaven & everybody else, including Muslims, goes to Christian hell.

According to Muslims, all Muslims go to Islamic heaven & everybody else, including Christians, goes to Islamic hell.

So, if Christians say Christians go to Christian heaven, & Muslims say Christians go to Islamic hell, does this not imply that Christian heaven & Islamic hell are one and the same place?

Likewise, if Muslims say Muslims go to Islamic heaven, & Christians say Muslims go to Christian hell, does this not imply that Islamic heaven & Christian hell are also one and the same place?

So if Christian heaven & Islamic hell are one and the same place, and Islamic heaven & Christian hell are one and the same place, what happens when you die?

Well, according to Christians,  you would end up either in Christian heaven or Islamic heaven, and according to Muslims,  you would end up either in Islamic heaven or Christian heaven.

So who actually goes to hell?

At this point, a little common sense rides to the rescue and reminds us that all this heaven & hell stuff is just theistic bullshit.

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Are Christianity & Islam Fundamentally Different?

is-18Islam’s holy book is called the Qur’an. This holy book is a record of the many messages that Mohammed received from Allah, the God of Islam. These messages were relayed to Mohammed by the angel Gabriel. They started to arrive in 609 AD, and they continued to arrive at random intervals until Muhammad’s death in 632 AD.

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Christianity’s holy book is called the Bible, although technically, only the New Testament part is relevant to Christianity. This New Testament contains four Gospels, each of which records the life & teachings of a man called Jesus. Christians believe this Jesus was the son of their God. They believe he was first crucified in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, and then miraculously resurrected back to life shortly afterwards. Each of these four independently written Gospels maintains this Jerusalem resurrection was witnessed by many individuals.

Islam’s pedigree therefore seems to be based entirely on Mohammed’s unsubstantiated & unverifiable claims that he received messages from Allah via the angel Gabriel. Christianity’s pedigree on the other hand seems to be based on many witnesses to an alleged resurrection in Jerusalem. On the face of it, Christianity’s pedigree seems more robust than Islam’s pedigree. However, as I am now about to demonstrate, Christianity’s cornerstone, the alleged resurrection of Jesus in Jerusalem, may also be based entirely on one man’s unsubstantiated and unverifiable claims.

Most Christians will automatically disagree of course, but let’s take a closer look at the resurrection claims found in the four Christian Gospels and see what happens. This alleged resurrection was apparently witnessed by many worthy individuals, but unfortunately, the only supporting evidence, is the evidence found in the Gospels themselves. Obviously the original Gospel authors believed Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem, otherwise they wouldn’t have written their Gospels, but why did they believe this? The answer to this question varies, depending on who you ask.

Those wishing to maintain the existing status quo [Christian apologists, Christian theologians & some scholars of ancient history], claim the Gospel authors believed this because these authors actually witnessed the resurrection or were close associates of eye witnesses. Apologists therefore argue the Gospels are historically accurate eye witness accounts. They do this because it’s the only evidence they have and, therefore,  it’s essential they establish the authenticity of this Gospel evidence. All very well, but establishing this authenticity comes with a price tag.  The average life span  back then was less than 60 years, and the alleged resurrection happened c 30 AD. Therefore, if you claim these Gospels are based on eye witness accounts, you must also claim these Gospels were written before c 70 AD , otherwise your reliable eye witnesses were just children at the time of the alleged resurrection.

However, many other scholars of ancient history claim the Gospels were probably written between 65 AD and 100 AD. If  true, all eye witnesses of this alleged resurrection would have been long dead when these Gospels were written. This implies the resurrection accounts in the Gospels are based on second-hand hearsay evidence. This is not a problem because this second-hand evidence was provided by Peter & by Paul, both of whom Christians regard as impeccable sources. More knowledgeable Christians readily accept that Peter first told Paul about the Jerusalem resurrection when they first met. They also readily accept that Paul then relayed this information to his early Christian communities. Christian apologists even make a virtue out of the fact that Paul was actively preaching about the resurrection only a few decades after it allegedly happened.

Thus there are really two possible scenarios to be considered. For convenience I will label them the “Early Gospel Scenario” and the “Late Gospel Scenario”. The “Early Gospel Scenario” asserts the resurrection accounts are historically accurate eye-witness accounts, implying the Gospels were written before c 70 AD. The “Late Gospel Scenario” asserts the Gospels were written between 65 AD and 100 AD, implying the resurrection accounts are based on second-hand hearsay evidence provided by Peter originally and then later relayed by Paul.

In the “Early Gospel Scenario”, Peter’s original claims are automatically validated by the independent eye witness accounts, and it becomes all too obvious why Christian apologists continually strive to convince us their Gospels really are based on historically accurate eye witness evidence. However, in the “Late Gospel Scenario”, you cannot use the Gospels to validate the veracity of Peter’s original claims. The Gospels accounts are themselves based on Peter’s claims, and thus they cannot be used to validate these claims. Therefore, in the “Late Gospel Scenario” Peter’s claims have to be accepted at face value. Presumably, this is what the original Gospel authors did 2000 year ago. They just accepted Peter’s claims, as passed on by Paul, and then simply immortalised these claims in their ensuing Gospels. This “Late Gospel Scenario” therefore implies that Christianity is also based entirely on one man’s unsubstantiated & unverifiable claims, in this case, claims that Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem. We should therefore think twice before claiming Christianity’s pedigree is more robust than Islam’s pedigree. As I’ve just demonstrated, it could be just wishful thinking.

My past experience with Christians leads me to conclude that most Christians will just rubbish these suggestions and continue to claim their Gospels are historically accurate eye witness accounts that can be trusted, but at least you now know why they do so. Christians, however, should note the implications of the “Late Gospel Scenario” and start acknowledging the tacit nature of their assumptions that Peter told Paul the truth about the Jerusalem resurrection. Until Christians can demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that their Gospels were written before c 70 AD, there will always be the possibility that Peter simply lied to Paul about this Jerusalem resurrection. If he did lie, we would never know, because Paul would simply relay Peter’s lies unknowingly, the Gospel authors would simply immortalise Peter’s lies unknowingly, and the world would end up with Gospels portraying a Jerusalem resurrection that never actually happened.

517isbb0czl-_sx311_bo1204203200_Christians will no doubt bulk at any suggestion that Peter lied about this Jerusalem resurrection, but I can think of several reasons why he may have done so. I’ve addressed this issue in The Christianity Myth, which you can now read free of charge. So there you have it. A distinct possibility that Islam is based entirely on the psychotic hallucinations of a chronic epileptic suffering from Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, and another distinct possibility that Christianity is based entirely on simple lies told by a simple peasant fisherman from Galilee. In my humble opinion, it’s about time we consigned both these ancient belief systems to the dustbin of history.

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A Very Simple Choice?

This very short post is inspired by that small band of theists, notably Christian theists, who seem to have great difficulty understanding why most non-theists and atheists are intrinsically just as moral as most theists.

Imagine yourself in a small room. You have never heard of any god and you are asked to make a simple choice. There are two doors A and B, each of which lead to a secular world. Door A leads to secular world A which is governed by two simple rules. Rule 1 of this secular world A is dog eat dog. Rule 2 of this secular world A is survival of the fittest.

Door B leads to secular world B which is governed by three simple rules. Rule 1 of this secular world B is love your neighbour as yourself. Rule 2 of this secular world B is treat others as you want to be treated. Rule 3 of this secular world B is failure to observe either of the first two rules results in instant transfer to world A.

You have free will. You have all the information you need to make a choice. The choice is yours. Which world would you choose to live in?

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Still Deafened by the Silence

517IsBb0cZL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Click here to read  book  free of charge

This new re-interpretation of first century Christianity, questions Christianity’s origins, and challenges Christianity’s credibility, because it requires no divine-intervention of any sort.

Made possible by recent medical advances, this new re-interpretation implies that Christianity is nothing more than a simple 2000 year old misunderstanding.

The Christianity Myth demonstrates why Christianity is probably nothing more than a simple pagan belief system, first started by Paul, after his simple hallucination on the road to Damascus was inadvertently reinforced by a simple lie told in Jerusalem. These seemingly outrageous claims  are fully compatible with the evidence currently available.

When I made this book freely available some time ago, I fully expected a Christian push-back, but so far, I’m deafened by their continued silence.

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Why the Deafening Silence?

How did Christianity really start? Was in the result of a virgin birth in Bethlehem, a supernatural resurrection in Jerusalem and a divine revelation on the road to Damascus? Or is Christianity just the logical end product that was produced when a simple hallucination on the road to Damascus was reinforced with a simple lie told in Jerusalem?

A few weeks ago, I posted what I thought was a very provocative 3-part series suggesting how I think Christianity actually started. I fully expected it to stir up a bit of a hornet’s nest. Instead, I’m now deafened by the silence. Not a single comment from the Jesus is a myth fraternity and, even more surprising, no reaction whatsoever from Christians. Why this deafening silence? I’m basically claiming that all you really need to explain Christianity and the New Testament is a simple hallucination on the road to Damascus and a simple lie told in Jerusalem. Put these two simple ideas together, and voila, Christianity without any need for a resurrection in Jerusalem.

I fully accept that I can’t prove Paul hallucinated on the road to Damascus. Likewise, I accept that I can’t prove Peter lied to Paul about the Jerusalem resurrection. But then again, Christians have to accept that they can’t prove Paul didn’t hallucinate on the road to Damascus and they also have to accept that they can’t prove Peter didn’t lie to Paul.

We, therefore, now have two explanations of how Christianity started. One is the 2000 year old orthodox explanation, with all the super naturalistic explanations you would expect from an ancient pantheistic culture. The other is a simpler, more pragmatic, 21st century reinterpretation of the same basic facts. If my version of first century events seems far too simple, just remember Occam’s razor which states:“When you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better.”

You can find out why Paul hallucinated on the road to Damascus by clicking here, but you’ll have to read The Christianity Myth if you want to know why Peter lied to Paul about the Jerusalem resurrection, and why Peter’s lies were later immortalized in the Gospels .

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But Where’s The Proof?

Four people called Matthew, Mark, Luke & John turn up at a police station claiming some guy called Jesus had been murdered. They were all interviewed in separate rooms. Each was asked if they actually witnessed the murder. Each said “Well no, not exactly. A guy called Paul told me about it, but don’t worry Paul is a trustworthy guy. He wouldn’t lie about a thing like that”.

So Paul was taken in for questioning. He was also interviewed in a separate room, and when asked if he actually witnessed the murder he said “Well no, not exactly. A guy called Peter told me all about it. But don’t worry, I trust Peter implicitly. He wouldn’t lie about something as serious as this”.

So Peter was taken in for questioning. He was also interviewed in a separate room, and when asked if he actually witnessed the murder he said “Yes, of course I witnessed the murder. I was there and saw it all happen. So did a lot of others. Ask my mate Paul. I told him all about it when we last met.”

“OK” said the interviewer, “you claim a guy called Jesus was murdered, and you say you saw it all happen. Fine, but I can’t just take your word for it. I need evidence that this Jesus guy was murdered. So if there’s been a murder, where’s your proof?”

“Well that’s the awkward bit” said Peter. “We all saw Jesus murdered, but unfortunately, just after the murder, his body disappeared without trace. I’m guessing Paul has already told you the names of the others who  witnessed this murder. Anyway, don’t worry, the guy who lives in the Vatican will vouch for my integrity, as will 2 billion other Christians  out there”.

If the penny hasn’t already dropped, try reading this piece again, substituting the word resurrection for the word murder.

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Part 3: Christianity’s Achilles Heel

The Christian claim that Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem is one of the central tenets of Christianity. If you ask a Christian why they believe Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem they will usually tell you because it says so in the Bible. Ask them why it says so in the Bible, and they will usually tell you because he was resurrected in Jerusalem. Most Christians fail to see the fallacy of this simple circular argument. They also fail to appreciate that the only evidence supporting this Christian claim is that found in the New Testament itself. This New Testament evidence consists of four independent Gospels, all of which claim Jesus was resurrected after his crucifixion in Jerusalem.

But who wrote these Gospels, and when, and why is this momentous event portrayed in these Gospels as a near invisible event noticed only by a handful of Jews? In short, was Jesus really resurrected in Jerusalem? Can these Gospel accounts be believed? Christian scholars claim these Gospels can be believed, because they are historically accurate eye witness accounts. But are they really eye witness accounts that can be trusted? There is still great uncertainty around this issue, because scholars still contest both the authorship of the Gospels and the actual dating of these Gospels. Mark, the earliest of the four Gospels is generally thought to be dated c 65-75 AD, Matthew & Luke c 75-85 AD and John is thought to be dated c 90-95 AD. Many scholars therefore suggest the Gospels are second-hand hearsay accounts written by unknown authors well after the death of all concerned.

Obviously, nobody can be absolutely certain about any of this, including the dating of these Gospels, and Christian apologists often exploit this uncertainty. A classic example can be found on page 165 of Jim Wallace’s book Cold Case Christianity. Here, Wallace tries to prove that Luke’s Gospel is a very early eye witness account. He does so by first comparing two almost identical accounts of the Eucharist [Lord’s Supper], one in Luke’s Gospel, the other in 1-Corinthians, and then he claims that Paul must have copied an earlier Luke, thus implying that Luke was written quite soon after the crucifixion. Wallace totally ignores mainstream opinion that Paul had died well before Luke was written, and thus Luke must have copied Paul. Apologists get away with this sort of thing all the time because their readers don’t recognize when they are being duped.

The consensus view of the Gospel’s dates suggests the Gospel accounts of the resurrection in Jerusalem are second-hand hearsay accounts rather than first-hand eye witness accounts. We thus need to ascertain the origin of these resurrection accounts. This is not as difficult as it may seem. The Gospel authors obviously learned about the Jerusalem resurrection from Paul [1-Corinthians 15: 3-9] and Paul in turn obviously learned about the Jerusalem resurrection from Peter, when they first met in Jerusalem some three years after Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. Thus Peter simply told Paul all about the resurrection when they first met in Jerusalem. Paul then simply passed on this good news to his early Christian communities, and hence to the Gospel authors. The Gospel authors then immortalized in their Gospels what Peter had told Paul about the resurrection .

This chain of events implies the resurrection accounts found in the Gospel are second-hand hearsay accounts, rather than first-hand eye witness accounts. “So what?” I hear Christians say. “Peter actually witnessed the resurrection, and both his and Paul’s credentials are impeccable. So effectively, the Gospel accounts of the Jerusalem resurrection are as close to being eye witness accounts as makes no difference”.

But that’s only true if you do what Christians always do, namely take it for granted that the resurrection of Jesus in Jerusalem actually took place. What if the resurrection  never happened? What if Peter simply lied to Paul about this Jerusalem resurrection? All Christian claims that the Gospels really are eye witness accounts, are thus based entirely on two tacit assumptions, the tacit assumption that the resurrection actually happened, and the tacit assumption that Peter told Paul the truth.  These tacit assumptions are Christianity’s unacknowledged Achilles heel. If there was no Jerusalem resurrection, and Peter simply lied to Paul when they first met, then Paul would never know Peter lied. Paul would, unknowingly, simply propagate Peter’s lies, and the Gospel authors would then,unknowingly, simply immortalize Peter’s lies in the ensuing Gospels.

So, simply by making two reasonable assumptions, one that the Gospels were written after the death of all concerned , and the other that Peter lied to Paul about the Jerusalem resurrection, it is possible to deny the resurrection and still explain the Gospel claims that Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem. All the other basic facts remain unchanged. Paul is still converted on the road to Damascus. Paul still visits Peter three years after this experience. Paul still leaves Jerusalem believing that Jesus is the son of God, and with his belief now turbo-charged by Peter’s news that Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem. Paul still passes on the good news to his early Christian communities. The unknown Gospel authors still propagate the good news in the ensuing Gospels and we still end up with Christianity and a New Testament. However,in this scenario, there is no need for any resurrection in Jerusalem.

Of course this is all pure speculation on my part, because we can never know for certain if Peter lied to Paul about the Jerusalem resurrection. However, this scenario  does better explain the known facts, and it does so without affecting the final outcome. My scenario not only explains the total lack of independent corroboration of this resurrection. It also explains the need to forge an entry in Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews. It also explains what Christians always fail to explain, namely why the alleged resurrection is portrayed in the Gospels as a near invisible event noticed only by a handful of Jews, despite the fact the resurrection allegedly occurred in a Jerusalem teeming with Jews. This is because the Gospel authors could only propagate in the Gospels what Paul told them when he established his early Christian communities. Paul summarizes this in 1-Corinthians 15: 3-9.

517IsBb0cZL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Thus, the proper answer to the second question posed at the beginning of this post is

“Because Peter said Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem”

Christians tacitly assume Peter told the truth about the Jerusalem resurrection, but in The Christianity Myth, I assume Peter lied . If you want to know why Peter lied, you’ll have to read the book.

 

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Christianity Myth Book Trailer

517IsBb0cZL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_The Christianity Myth examines first-century Christianity and concludes that there are two ways of explaining how Christianity started. The traditional way, with divine intervention, and Thackerey’s way, without divine intervention. Thackerey’s way is both novel and intriguing, and his provocative ideas are destined to ruffle a few feathers. Both Christians and non-Christians alike will find it a very interesting read.

 

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The Christianity Myth Polarizes Opinion

517IsBb0cZL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Amazon reviews of The Christianity Myth are very polarized. Click here to see reviews

Some like the book and others hate it. No prizes for guessing which particular mindset hates the book. Personally, I don’t blame Christians for hating the book. If I was a Christian I’d probably hate it too, because it takes Christians way outside of their comfort zone, and offers them a stark reality devoid of their Christianity comfort blanket.

I still remember the first time it finally dawned on me that I’d never again be able to wrap myself in this Christianity comfort blanket. Initially, it was a very unsettling thought, but intellectual satisfaction eventually prevailed, and today I can look my own mortality directly in the eye and not blink. Today I am perfectly comfortable knowing that I will eventually die to make room for future generations. Death is just the price we pay for that brief glimpse of reality preceding an eternity of oblivion. Such is the nature of the beast.

I therefore fully understand why Christians feel a pressing need to denigrate this book. Will you be one of them? Will my book challenge your beliefs and be a bridge too far? Or will it open your eyes to a stark new reality?

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Book Reviews

 

517IsBb0cZL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Dr. Steven Stoller [@theagingathlete, Twitter DM Received 28/3/2016] K A G Thackerey, I just read your book and think it is absolutely brilliant. You tackled a complex subject and with research of religious and historical facts came to an enlightening conclusion that I always felt but could never elucidate like you have done. Being a physician, you are so right with temporal lobe epilepsy but could of added schizophrenia as well. I have seen many patients who are convinced that they are God or are messengers to tell mankind. I never understood why out of all the people they could be the President, Superman by far the most common was God. You are a talented intellectual who should continue with your writing. I look forward to your next book.

By the way I wrote a tremendous review but it never went through. I tried twice so feel free to use this as my review.

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The Christianity Myth

Reviewed by Michelle Anne Schingler [Clarion Reviews February 1, 2016]

Thackerey analyzes the tension between blind faith and available proof, and sides with doubt as the more scientific choice.

The Christianity Myth traces a layman’s journey from an inquisitive agnostic to a definitive atheist, proposing major theological shifts along the way. K. A. G. Thackerey’s brief book is a forceful example of principled moves away from biblical literalism.

Though he regularly attended church services with his wife, Thackerey was never fully persuaded that claims about Jesus’s resurrection had a firm and logical foundation. In the name of open inquiry, he decided to engage in some active research, first by attending a catechism class called the Alpha Course to find out what proofs believers offered, and then by reading a popular book from a Bible scholar who fell away from the faith. Both experiences left him convinced that New Testament claims, particularly related to resurrection and revelation, have no basis in reality.

The Christianity Myth works to relate those convictions to others concerned about biblical veracity. For those who have never questioned the absolute truth of biblical texts, these assertions stand to shock: outside of the Bible, there’s little proof that Jesus existed, and none that he was resurrected. The vision on the road to Damascus isn’t scientifically verifiable; there are inconsistencies between the various gospels.

The alternative explanations that the book offers for scriptural stories are both creative and provocative. The suggestion that Paul hallucinated his Damascus vision is interesting, if ultimately as unverifiable as Paul’s own claims, but it is forwarded emphatically, with contemporary studies on hallucinatory religious experiences used to highlight the credibility of the proposal. This tension between blind faith and available proof exists throughout, and the book sides with doubt as the more scientific choice.

There’s not much new here for those well-versed in biblical exegesis, but the exercise is a worthwhile one nonetheless. Those who are just beginning to study biblical texts from an academic perspective will certainly sympathize with the frustrations outlined in Thackerey’s The Christianity Myth, which presents many initially surprising theories well.

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