So Who Goes To Hell?

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

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

According to Muslims, all good 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.

Advertisements

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.

is-15

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.

Click here to return to main blog

Click here to read book

I’m Right! Therefore, You’re Wrong! QED

Th4100811989_42f1f0101ceists always rely on the same unconvincing and totally blinkered arguments. They assume everything consistent with texts found in their Holy Book is true, and everything that conflicts with this Holy Book is untrue. They do this because they actually believe their Holy Book is the word of their God.

snoopy_cartoon

It really is that simple. As far as theists are concerned, that’s just the way it is. They never bother  to substantiate their assertions. They just point to their Holy Book and claim they are right. In reality, they simply define what they think is right, and if you disagree, then by their definition you are wrong. QED.

Atheists run into this brick wall all the time. I use to stand my ground and fight back, but these days, more often than not, I’ll just move on and leave them to their delusions. I don’t even bother to steer them towards my book anymore. There’s no point. The few theists brave enough to read it, pick the book up thinking its rubbish, and then proceed to confirm they were right. Most theists it seems have great difficulty thinking outside of the box. Anything threatening their long-standing status quo is robustly dismissed, and all suggestions that they might be wrong are automatically rejected with the usual “I’m right, therefore you’re wrong” attitude.

Click here to return to main blog

 

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?

Click here to return to main blog

Still Deafened by the Silence

517IsBb0cZL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_This new re-interpretation of first century Christianity, questions both Christianity’s origins & 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 was simply the result of a 2000 year old misunderstanding on the road to Damascus.

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.

Click here to read  book  free of charge

Click here to return to main blog

Do I have to go to church?

Taken from the Isaiah 53:5 Project yet again.

“Do we have to go to church?” Any atheist reading this will automatically assume we are about to address issues related to religions in general and Christianity in particular, but they would be wrong. I chose to re-blog the following article, because it illustrates the importance of something which religious people take for granted, and secular people tend to overlook. All religions recognise the importance of nurturing their flocks and all religions recognise the benefits that accrue from safety in numbers and free association with like-minded people. That is why their flocks are encouraged to regularly attend their churches or their mosques etc.

Atheists can and do utilise the digital world to nurture the intellect,  but this will never entirely emulate the benefits accrued from gathering together in a physical sense. I have featured the following article because it demonstrates the benefits obtained, when like minded people gather together regularly, to promote a common interest. Atheists should take note and make more effort to “unite in the virtual world”, in much the same way as Christians unite in the real world, not to nurture the “spirit”, but to nurture the “intellect”. Our “spirits” can be nurtured in so many other ways. Atheists should be encouraged to regularly engage with other like minded people at least once a week, at a time to suit them. Consider it as the digital equivalent of “going to church”. It’s the best way possible to promote the ever rising tide of secularism, and we would be foolish to squander the opportunities presented by the digital age.

BY THE ISAIAH 53:5 PROJECT on AUGUST 6, 2015

Do I Have to Go to Church?   By:  Barry Cooper    © ExploreGod.com

I have better things to do than go to church. Do I have to go to be a Christian?

Church attendance in the West, even among Christians, is falling. According to a recent study, attendance at church services in any given week has declined among Christians by 9 percent since 1991. Now only a minority of Christians (47 percent) can be found at church during a typical week.1

In a culture that sees independence and self-reliance as hallmarks of a truly successful person, church can feel like an imposition on our time and energy. We ask if we have to go to church in the same reluctant way we might ask, “Do I have to go to the dentist?”

But what if followers of Jesus only truly flourished when in community with other like-minded believers? What if true fulfillment could only be found in serving them rather than ourselves?

via Do I have to go to church? | The Isaiah 53:5 Project.

Why I Can Never Be a Christian

As I understand it, all you have to do to become a Christian, is believe Jesus is the Son of God, and then accept him as your lord & saviour. You also have to believe Jesus was resurrected by God after his crucifixion in Jerusalem. Those able to buy into all this, automatically qualify for several intangible benefits. For example, in times of trouble & strife, Christians can wrap themselves up in the Christianity comfort blanket and wait for things to improve. Christians can also readily rid themselves of all feelings of guilt & helplessness by saying a few simple prayers for those less fortunate than themselves. Christians can even allay fears of their own eventual demise by contemplating the usual promises of eternal salvation. However, to access all these benefits, Christians have to stick their heads in the sand and ignore a few awkward details.

Christians have to ignore the growing mountain of medical evidence that suggests Paul just hallucinated on the road to Damascus. Paul’s recorded symptoms during his conversion experience are fully compatible with the symptoms of temporal lobe epilepsy and many similar religious conversion experiences are well documented in the medical literature.

Christians have to ignore the fact that there are no independent historical records whatsoever to back up Christian claims that Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem. Josephus confirms the crucifixion of Jesus in Jerusalem, but the only evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is that found in New Testament itself, and you can be forgiven for thinking “well. It would say that wouldn’t it?”

Christians have to ignore the fact that we still have little idea who actually wrote the Gospels, and ignore the fact that we only have estimates of when they did so. Christian apologists would have us believe the Gospels are historically accurate eye witness accounts, but many other scholars maintain the Gospels were written by unknown authors well after the death of all concerned. The Gospels could therefore be nothing more than second-hand hearsay accounts.

Christians have to ignore the distinct probability that the veracity of Jesus’ resurrection in Jerusalem depends entirely on the veracity of what Peter told Paul when they first met, some three years after Paul’s conversion experience on the road to Damascus. Christians now readily accept that Peter told Paul all about the Jerusalem resurrection when they first met. But Christians then just tacitly assume that Peter told the truth.

And finally, Christians have to ignore all the Gospel inconsistencies & contradictions that make a mockery of any suggestion that the Bible is the inerrant word of God.

Well, that’s it. Rant over. So what’s your excuse?

Click here to return to main blog

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 .

Click here to return to main blog

 

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.

Click here to return to main blog

Part 2: Is Christianity Just a Simple Misunderstanding?

A central tenet of Christianity is the Christian claim that Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem 2000 years ago. The only evidence supporting this claim is the evidence found in the New Testament itself. Many people have questioned the veracity of this evidence, and from time to time, various theories have been forwarded by disbelievers attempting to offer more rational explanations. At the very least, any credible alternative explanation had to account for the existence of four independent Gospels, each of which proclaimed Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem. It also had to account for the Gospel claims that various people then saw this resurrected Jesus.

In 1950, Professor Sir Norman Andersen published “The Evidence for the Resurrection”. Even today this book is still one of the most definitive books ever published in defense of the Jerusalem resurrection. Andersen systematically examines each of the alternative theories offer by disbelievers and, after pointing out their various weaknesses, he systematically rejects them, leaving the orthodox Christian version of events as the one and only legitimate explanation. Andersen also states in this book that “Easter is not primarily a comfort, but a challenge. Its message is either the supreme fact in history or else a gigantic hoax”. But Anderson’s book fails to consider a third far more plausible alternative, namely that everything stems from an honest to goodness mistake, made 2000 years ago by a man on the road to Damascus.

Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus is portrayed in the New Testament as a divine revelation which leaves Paul believing he had met with the resurrected Jesus. Paul’s interpretation of his experience is not surprising, because 2000 years ago, Paul lived in a pantheistic pagan world, and miracles and super-naturalism were part and parcel of his everyday life. It was therefore perfectly natural for Paul to rationalize his experience on the road to Damascus as best he could, in terms that were then culturally acceptable.

But Paul’s world was oblivious of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy or TLE for short. In more recent years, many have pointed out that Paul’s symptoms, as described in the New Testament, are very similar to the symptoms of TLE, and some have even suggested that Paul may have just hallucinated on the road to Damascus following an attack of TLE. This fairly common form of epilepsy is caused by localised seizures in the temporal lobe region of the brain, and today’s scientific literature contains many reports of experiences similar to Paul experience on the road to Damascus. Even today, those experiencing these temporal lobe aberrations are always totally convinced that their hallucinations are real.

This hallucination idea therefore offers us a very plausible, alternative explanation of what happened to Paul on the road to Damascus, but expecting Christians to educate themselves about TLE is a bit like expecting turkeys to vote for Christmas. The scientific evidence, however, is pretty conclusive, and in my opinion, it suggests that Christianity is just a simple by-product that was produced because Paul misinterpreted a simple hallucination as a divine revelation. If a simple TLE induced hallucination hadn’t converted Paul on the road to Damascus, then he would never have visited Peter in Jerusalem and Christianity would never have seen the light of day.

After dismissing all existing alternative theories as non-viable, Andersen outlined the requirements needed for any alternative theory to be both plausible and viable. He conceded that “when trying to refute this resurrection, the only rationalistic interpretations of any weight, are those that admit the sincerity of the records, but try to explain them without recourse to the miraculous”. This is precisely what The Christianity Myth now does. It refutes the resurrection and it offers a more rational interpretation of events that admits the sincerity of the records and explains the records in a very sympathetic manner without recourse to the miraculous. And, for the first time ever, The Christianity Myth explains why we have four Gospels proclaiming a Jerusalem resurrection that never actually happened.

517IsBb0cZL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_If you want to know more you’ll have to read my book.

Click here to read book free of charge

click here to return to main blog.