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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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.

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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.

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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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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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Why are humanities students more likely to give up faith than science students? | Fatheism

I’m re-blogging this because, as Emily points out, the findings of three separate studies, highlight an interesting side effect that is somewhat counter intuitive, and therefore initially surprising.

Why are humanities students more likely to give up faith than science students?

Posted on September 24, 2015 by Emily on Fatheism

College students who study social sciences and humanities are more likely to lose their religion than those who study science (particularly biology and physical science). Weird, right? This runs completely counter to what we’d expect. In fact, when I asked readers/viewers on Periscope whether studying the sciences or humanities is more likely to produce atheism/agnosticism, nobody said humanities. Many viewers requested the citations for these findings because of course studying science pokes holes in religious dogma–it provides a natural, evidence-based, replicable way of understanding the world. But alas, we’ve been ignoring the hole-poking abilities of the humanities and social sciences. A number of studies have looked into this sociological phenomenon.

Source: Why are humanities students more likely to give up faith than science students? | Fatheism

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