SHOULD WE ADMIRE JESUS?
by Jim Walker
- Originated: 26 Nov. 1996
- Additions: 05 Dec. 2007
- Red= the alleged words of Jesus
- Green= the alleged words of God
Christians have held the main character of the New Testament, Jesus "the Christ," in high esteem for centuries. Even many who do not believe in the divinity of Jesus think that he gave an admirable example of moral living. Although we have no evidence that the Biblical Jesus ever existed, we can still examine the words of the Bible to extract the wisdom and morality of this character, regardless of whether he actually lived or not.
Does the Biblical Jesus merit the honor bestowed upon him? Unfortunately, preachers, ministers, and clergymen have given us biased, one-sided stories, emphasizing and inflating what they see as positive while subverting or ignoring the negative. Biblical scholarship of the last hundred years has not reached the common man. Instead, we see political ministers and televangelists making absurd biblical claims without anyone calling them accountable. Although over 90 percent of households in America own a Bible, it usually goes unread, or at best sanitized or bowdlerized to what people want it to say.
Unbeknownst to many Christians, many times the Gospels of the New Testament portray Jesus as vengeful, demeaning, intolerant, and hypocritical. In one section Jesus calls for love of enemies, yet in another to slay them. He tells others to not use hurtful names, yet he called others fools, dogs, and vipers. He calls for honoring parents in one verse, yet demands hate toward family members in another. Some of Jesus' words against his adversaries depict what some would call anti-Semitism. Indeed, the verses of the New Testament have fueled the flames of anti-Jewishness for centuries.
The following gives a brief look at the Biblical evidence about the claims of Jesus with quotes from the King James bible (the most used bible in the world). The verses contain links to an online Bible where it provides the reader with the entire chapter, for viewing the full context.
If the reader utilizes self-honesty, the realization will come that the deeds and questionable wisdom of this Biblical character does not merit the admiration that so many have bestowed upon him.
In the last few years, Christians have pushed a political agenda for the concept of "family values." Nowhere does the Biblical Jesus ever mention the phrase "family values" nor does he even mention the word "family." On the contrary, it appears that the life style of Jesus contradicts the concept of modern Christian "family values." According to the Bible as well as Christian apologists, Jesus never raised a family, and never married or fathered children. Clearly, Jesus had no personal experience of a family. Furthermore, the words of Jesus expressed variance against family members:
For I am come to SET A MAN AT VARIANCE AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND THE DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND THE DAUGHTER IN LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER IN LAW. And a MAN'S FOES SHALL BE THEY OF HIS OWN HOUSEHOLD.
Not only does the Bible claim that Jesus came to set man at variance against members of the family, but he demanded that anyone wishing to become a disciple must hate them:
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
Note: A few apologists attempt to dismiss the verse above claiming that the word 'hate' here really doesn't mean what it says. The problem with this approach borders on complete deception and the ironic dismissal of the Bible and Biblical scholarship. The word 'hate' here comes from the ancient Greek word 'miseo' which means hate (from the primary 'misos' [hatred]). If any synonym could substitute for this word, it would come from a word like 'detest,' 'loath,' or 'despise.' Moreover, virtually all Bibles translate the term as hate. To deny this intent means to deny the Bible and the alleged word of Jesus.]
Whoever calls Jesus "Prince of Peace" obviously never read the Gospels, for he never claims to have come for peace sake, but rather to divide the family:
Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
And Jesus reveals the bribe and reward for forsaking your family:
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
Extolling the virtues of hate and division for family members can hardly serve as an example for admiration and one must dismiss Jesus as a teacher for family morals.
And what does Jesus say about marriage? Not much, but the following shows what he thinks of marriage in the resurrection:
The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.
-Luke 20:34-36 (bold characters, mine)
These verses show that sexual marriage does not happen in the resurrected world. One must face the fact that Jesus' sexual ideal represents chastity and celibacy, not marriage or having children (which involves the 'sinful' act of sex). In early Christendom, church fathers often interpreted the Luke 20 verses as referring to the superiority of celibacy to the married state. Indeed many priests and monks, for centuries, used these verses as part of the justification for their celibacy (better safe than sorry). Churches get around this by allowing marriage for their congregations as a way to control the sinful acts of lust, but this comes from Church dogma, not from the purported words of Jesus. Note, a few church fathers endorsed a form of spiritual marriage, a non-sexual union that would produce no offspring, but this hardly satisfies a family oriented kind of marriage. So if you desire not to die and to obtain worthiness in the otherworld, you'd better not marry anyone, and for "God's" sake, never, ever have sex.
What would you think of a boss who rebuked a worker for wishing to bury his recently deceased father and instead, insisted that the worker follow him? According to the Bible, Jesus responded to a request from a disciple who wished to attend to his father's funeral:
But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury the dead.
When a man decided to follow Jesus, he wanted to say goodbye to his family (Luke 9:61), but instead of leniency, Jesus replied to him:
...No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
Jesus appears rude to his mother when he says:
Woman, what have I do to with thee?
You won't see anti-abortionists citing this verse. It applies to Judas; note how the last part plays right into abortion:
The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.
-Matthew 26:24 [bold characters, mine]
Considering that many atheist parents would teach their future children to betray a belief in Christ, abortion would certainly satisfy Jesus' words here.
The so-called morality of Jesus teaches hate, and abstinence against members of the family and advises against marriage. Indeed, if everyone on earth followed the virgin Jesus' life to a tee, not only would we have no families, but the entire human species would become extinct within a generation. Anyone who wishes to hold the concept of a family as a moral imperative must abandon Jesus' example.
Peace on earth?
Many Christians and non-believers alike extol the virtues of living peacefully, yet the Biblical Jesus makes it abundantly clear that he did not hold to this concept:
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace but a sword.
So much for the peace on earth stuff we keep hearing about from uninformed Christians.
Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
Although an all-powerful God could stop violence of man against man, Jesus accepted the concept of war with these admissions:
And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
During his "trial," Jesus explained to Pilate that if his kingdom came from this world, his servants (followers) would fight to prevent him from being delivered to the Jews:
If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews.
Jesus offers no advice for disarmament or how to achieve peaceful coexistence. Instead, throughout history one can find a plethora of examples of the Church using Biblical verses to justify wars, inquisitions, and violence against man. Anyone who comes with the intent of a "sword" instead of peace can hardly give an example of living peacefully on Earth. Jesus tells us not to feel troubled and that war must occur. Belief in these words virtually allow wars to occur. Although many extremists, racist groups, and terrorists may admire Jesus for his call for armament, the majority of people do not realize the influence that Jesus' words have on believers who accept violence after having studied the Bible. Jesus does not deserve the title of Prince of Peace* or our admiration for his war-like views.
* Note: The title, "Prince of Peace" does not appear anywhere in the New Testament and only appears once in the Old Testament (Isaiah 9:6). In spite of Christians who like to believe the Isaiah verse refers to a prophetic statement about Jesus, the Hebrew scholars tell us the Hebrew verbs in Isaiah 9:6 appear in the past tense. The title refers to the prophecy, not necessarily the man as it could refer to any number of kings, past or future (many other ancients also commonly referred to favored kings as the 'Prince of Peace'). It also bears importance that the title directly contradicts the Gospels own account of the alleged Jesus who claimed he did not come for peace (see the verses above), which would have made the alleged prophecy an outright falsehood. Moreover, nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus ever get referred to as Counsellor, or everlasting Father (Jesus represents the Son, not the Father), nor did he set up a government of peace (Isaiah 9:7). On the contrary, only intolerance and wars resulted from belief in Jesus. If you wish to see Jesus as a prince, perhaps Prince of Darkness describes him better.
Thou shalt not kill?
Many Christians believe that Jesus represents God, or God sent to earth in human form, or as a component of the Trinity. If people believe this, how many of them realize that the Old Testament gives many examples of God ordering or personally murdering innocent men, women, and children, along with the destruction of cities, buildings, and other religions? The following gives just a few examples:
...the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt...
Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree:
And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.
-God in Deuteronomy 12:2-3
Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
-God in I Samuel 15:3
Therefore, if you believe that Jesus equals God in the flesh, then Christ must hold responsibility for the death, destruction, and intolerance practiced throughout the Old Testament.
However, some Christians do not believe in the Trinity or that Jesus equals God but rather that he lived as a flesh and blood man created and sent from God. Unfortunately, this does not dismiss Jesus from his admission towards killing. According to the New Testament, Jesus upholds all the laws of the Old Testament:
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
To fulfill all the laws of the prophets means that Jesus must have approved of all the "lawful" atrocities, including Deuteronomy 12:2-3 or the killing of all unbelievers (Deuteronomy 13-5-9), and all the other intolerant laws of the prophets.
Killing appears quite acceptable to Jesus, not only for himself, but as ordered by him (as the nobleman) in this parable:
But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.
[Note some people have argued that Luke 19:27 doesn't constitute part of the parable of the Ten Pounds. I submit, however, that taken as parable, it becomes far more morally atrocious. To see why, read my explanation. Click here.]
The red letter edition of the King James Bible has Jesus making a remarkable statement towards the killing of children:
And I will kill her children with death...
Not only does the Biblical Jesus make the claim to kill children but supposedly it serves to punish the mother (the prophetess as the metaphorical Jezebel) for committing adultery. Few people hold to the concept of punishing innocent children for the wrongful acts of their parents. This sickening performance by Jesus hardly gives us a reason for admiration. On the contrary, it appears loathsome and thoughtless.
Note: Some interpret Rev. 2:23 as a metaphor for the "children" (people) who followed the "heathen" religion (especially in Asia Minor). However, this would imply an even worse and deplorable atrocity. This would involve Jesus in the murder of hundreds, if not millions, of deaths of people who followed non-Christian beliefs, and of course would include children as well as adults.
As different societies learn to live with one another, they adopt the concept of tolerance towards each other. However, Jesus of the Bible never condones the tolerance for people of other religions or faiths; he wants them to blindly believe and follow only him and his god. This intolerance virtually guarantees prejudice and conflict.
Jesus never offers solutions for slavery, poverty, or women's equality. As for slavery, it appears he encouraged the beating of slaves:
And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
Note, the word "servant" here means slave. The Biblical Jesus lived in a time when slavery flourished, yet He never spoke or fought against it.
Many Christians admire Jesus for his healing powers yet few would go to a medical doctor today who used the diagnoses and treatment that he used.
Jesus believed that demon or Satan possession caused deaf-and-dumbness (see Matthew 9:32-33; 12:22; Mark 9:17-29, Luke 11:14).
A spirit of infirmity, according to Jesus, resulted from a bind from Satan.
He supposedly restored sight by spitting on the eyes of a blind man (Mark 8:23) or anointing them with clay made with spittle (John 9:6) or by telling them to have faith.
Note that Jesus failed to impart the scientific knowledge of germs or establish methods of preventing disease.
Although some Christian Scientists practice the methods of Jesus, the results have proved abysmal. If Jesus could cure disease and blindness, he failed to instruct men how to avoid these diseases.
Some Christians, in trying to extricate themselves from this difficult problem, claim that Jesus did not give us the medical knowledge because man needs illness and the chastisement of pain and grief. If this theory held, then disease and pain must come from God and permitted by Jesus. Either way, the failure of lack of information on Jesus' part or the allowance of suffering hardly imparts a feeling of admiration for this character.
Protection from harm?
According to Jesus, if you believe in him and if you drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt you.
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them...
Now this allows an excellent and clear way to test the power of Christian belief. If you really, really believe in Jesus and you want to prove to anyone the power of belief, you only need to drink a deadly poison and, according to Jesus, it will not harm you.
If you describe yourself as a believing Christian, I suggest that you drink a vial of cyanide or arsenic and prove to yourself (or any atheist) the power of your deity. If you do not feel willing to take this simple test, then what does that say about your religious claims? Do you feel up for the challenge?
Planning your life
The Biblical Jesus taught to seek the kingdom of God and to ignore future plans (Matthew 6:33-34). You don't need to work for food (John 6:27) or save your money (Matthew 6:19). Encourage people to persecute you (Matthew 5:11). Give away anything you own to every man who asks, and if he steals it, don't try to get it back (Luke 6:30). Sell everything you have and give it to the poor (Mark 10:21). If someone hits you, invite them to hit you again (Matthew 5:39). Don't ever marry a divorced woman because you'll commit adultery (Matthew 5:32). Don't even look at a women in a sexual way because that also constitutes adultery (Matthew 5:28). And don't think about your life, Luke 12:22).
If people took the advice of Jesus, it would guarantee a miserable life of uneducation, poverty, persecution and poor heath. Would anyone dare teach their children such conduct?
The alleged Jesus taught to give away anything that anyone asks and to sell everything and give it away. Although charity constitutes a great service to society, to give away all would put the giver into poverty himself, thus preventing any future charitable acts.
Naturally any beggar would value such advice because he would receive the benefits of the charitable acts. And since Jesus did not work for a living, it gives reason why he might reap the rewards himself. Think about it: Jesus (if he indeed lived) and the apostles had to live off something. (I find it odd that few Christians question how Jesus and his followers survived without any Biblical acknowledgement of their proceeds.). The churches throughout history have received the scrappings of donations from the poor and have grown wealthy as a result. Receiving advice about charity who stand to gain from it, beggars, professional or otherwise, does not inspire one to admire them. On the contrary, wisdom teaches that one should view such people carefully and with suspicion.
Although many think of Jesus as a teacher, the Biblical Jesus never had any experience with the main difficulties in life-- earning a living, sex, marriage, and sickness. To take the word from such a man for advice on marriage, health or career would guarantee misleading answers. The Biblical Jesus lived for only about 33 years and his life ended in a horrible death. Who would want to emulate such a tragic and barren life? Imagine taking the advice of a virgin about sex, or a beggar for job advice. Emulating the immature life of Jesus hardly gives us solid foundation to live a prosperous and happy life.
Celibacy and chastity
Priests (and nuns) throughout the world take oaths for the renunciation of marriage and to uphold vows of chastity. Where did the Christian priests get this dangerous idea to sacrifice their sexual life? They got it straight from the words of the alleged Jesus (and St. Paul) from the New Testament (see the Catholic Encyclopedia):
For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
Priests throughout the history of Christendom have also interpreted Luke 20:34-36 as an insurance to get into heaven, where sexual marriage doesn't exist (celibacy insures that they will arrive resurrected in an unmarried
Consider that if a Jesus did exist, he would have had to live as a virgin, either as a born eunuch, a forced castrated eunuch, a self-castrated eunuch, or from self imposed celibacy. Many health workers have observed that suppression of the sex drive goes against human nature and eventually produces an unnatural outlet at some point in their life. This appears most clearly in the thousands of child molestation cases that occurs within the Christian hierarchy and in millions of religious followers who consider sex a sin.
Who knows how many children throughout history have lived damaged lives or died as a result of this insane practice. As an example, many ancient Christian European cathedrals contain dark secrets within their foundation which consist of the concealment of buried infant bones born from nuns impregnated by the clergy. Many cathedrals, to this day, offer a view of the burial sites to the curious tourist. And who knows the extent of the damage that has occurred because millions of the faithful in the past and present believe that sex represents a sin.
No doubt some of you might wonder about the nuns who marry Jesus. Of course this kind of marriage doesn't involve sex at all (at least not admitted). One can only wonder about the psyche of a sister who's main image of Jesus consists of a tortured naked male nailed to a cross. How can it not produce hidden desires that would embarrass the most jaded sadomasochist? Marrying Jesus also brings up a question about Jesus with all of his sex-suppressed wives. Would it not make him the most notorious polygamist of all time? In spite of this hilarious revelation, the real-world consequences of a sex-starved human being do not appear so hilarious.
In what manner should we admire the unnatural notion of sexual sacrifice when it does absolutely nothing for the clergy or their congregations except produce pedophilic tendencies? Consider the harm it has created from the thousands-of-years practice of raping male and female children (and adults). In what admirable light should we view Jesus' chastity? Does this resulting sexual damage resemble the will of a divine being of good or does it better match the actions of an evil agent, or more likely, the wrongful ideas born from faith and ignorance? You decide.
Most Christians see Jesus as an example of supreme kindness and forgiveness, but many instances the Bible has him lacking in leniency nor did he advocate forgiveness for certain offenses.
Whosoever shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness.
Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
What an extraordinary declaration. All manner of sin would include lying, murder, rape, wars, and holocausts. These would be forgiven, but if you speak against or curse the Holy Ghost, you will not be forgiven. In other words, a philanthropist who does great service to humankind but curses the Holy Ghost will not be forgiven, but you can live like Hitler and slaughter millions, as long as you don't blaspheme the Holy Ghost, and you'll be forgiven. I trust the reader (if you own any semblance of reason) will see the problem here.
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
In other words, Jesus does not condone freedom of speech. And for those of you who suffer from Tourette Syndrome, prepare for an afterlife in hell.
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee... tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.
In the parable of Dives and Lazarus, Abraham gets represented as justified in not forgiving the rich man tortured in hell, or even in saving the rich man's brothers as requested by the victim of Jesus' policy of punishment. As Jesus said:
Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father. . .
All the deniers and blasphemers get condemned by Jesus to eternal punishment with no chance of forgiveness. So much for Jesus' idea of forgiveness.
The character Jesus had such selfishness and intolerance that he demanded belief from others or else he threatened them with eternal damnation:
Whosoever shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.
The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
...except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.
Ye serpents, ye generations of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
Anyone who uses threats in this manner gives no indication of tolerance, humility or forgiveness, and thus, deserves no admiration.
Many think of Jesus in a gentle and loving sense. Yet he gives vehement examples of name calling:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
Ye fools and blind:...
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
O generation of vipers! how can ye, being evil, speak good things?
. . .If I should say I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you. . .
Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward parts is full of ravening and wickedness.
The Pharisees, representing the Jewish leaders in Luke, get treated as enemies of Jesus.
Note, the Ku-Klux-Klan and other right-wing groups have used these verses to justify their hatred for Jews. Martin Luther (the Protestant reformer) used many of Jesus' words to justify his anti-Semitism in his book "The Jews and their lies."
If Jesus had "all knowledge" he should have expressed his ideas in a more logical, tempered and clear manner to avoid the hated beliefs of so many Christian zealots. Nothing in Jesus' name calling gives us a reason for respect, nor should we admire his viperine statements.
Get thee behind me, Satan
Many believers think that when Jesus said "Get thee behind me," he had spoken this only to Satan (as in Luke 4:8). Not so.
Many Catholics feel honored to belong to the original church established by Jesus (or so they believe). To this day, Catholics acknowledge Peter as the first Pope. From the Bible we have:
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church...
But in just five verses later, amazingly, we have Jesus calling Peter, Satan:
But he turned, and said unto Peter. Get thee behind me Satan: thou art an offence unto me. for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of man.
Did Satan really pose as the first Pope or did Jesus simply vilify again? Can you imagine a business owner promoting a man to a job, and then just after the promotion, arguing about his job qualifications? Jesus seems to have a poor sense of delegating duty to the right person here. Furthermore, soon before Jesus died, Peter denied knowing Jesus (note, according to Mark 14:66-68, the cock crowed on the first denial, not after the third as Jesus wrongfully soothsayed in John 13:38). If the faithful should believe the Church's beginning came from someone who offended and denied Jesus, then perhaps it should also give them reason why the Catholic church seemed to act so demoniacally in their instigation of holy wars, inquisitions and anti-Semitism throughout history. In any case, we have no reason to admire Jesus' choice for the "rock."
The Gospel of Matthew has Jesus saying:
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
This verse instructs the apostles to act "wise as serpents." Since Christians hold that the serpent represents Satan, one might wonder about this. In Genesis 3:1 it describes the serpent as "more subtil than any beast..."
It seems odd that Jesus would use the term "sheep" instead of sheep-dogs, or some other noble animal. Note that men raise sheep to either fleece them or to kill and eat them. To send them as prey in the mist of marauders hardly seems advisable.
Note that wild doves don't actually behave peacefully or harmlessly in nature. Doves, many times, act aggressively toward other birds (even of their own specie), sometimes killing their own young.
But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
This nonviolent principle does not originate with Jesus. Lao-tse and the Buddha taught this five or six hundred years before Jesus. Regardless, few Christians hold to this principle. On the contrary, Christians throughout the centuries have violently attacked anyone who dared threaten them. Although one should not overly react for a smack on a cheek, it might prove prudent to defend yourself or at least leave the scene of trouble to avoid conflict.
Pray in the closet
Many religious extremists wish to turn public prayer into law. How many Christians realize that the Biblical Jesus strongly opposed public prayer?
The wall of separation between Church and State, actually protects the religious liberties for all of us in the United States and here we have Biblical justification for keeping prayer private:
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hyprocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Praying in private may constitute the most admirable statement the alleged Jesus ever made. Unfortunately, few Christians pay heed to this command.
Most Christians do not realize that Jesus' promise of his second coming did not apply to our generation or to a future generation, but only to the generation of his time. As the alleged Jesus said to his disciples:
Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.
Unfortunately, every disciple died without seeing the "coming."
Behold I come quickly...
Those poor people of early Christianity! They thought the texts got written for them, yet Jesus never fulfilled his promise.
Over 2,000 years have rolled by and yet many "true" believers still await his "quick" return. Just how many more centuries have to pass before it finally dawns on Christians that Jesus just might not come back? As any school child knows, anyone who does not keep promises does not deserve our trust, much less our admiration.
Furthermore, to believe in a second coming and the end of the world gives no reason to feel concerned about the long-term future of Earth. Why should we care about the environment, wars, or suffering if we believe that the world will come to an end soon and that everything will get taken care of in heaven?
The Golden Rule (the Selfish Rule)
From Luke 6:31, we have the Jesus formulation: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This gives an example of perhaps the most admired and quoted
Most people do not realize that Jesus did not originate this saying. K'ung-Tzu (also known as Confucius) also expressed a similar idea, ironically called the Silver Rule. In fact, Golden Rule type thinking occurs in many ancient texts, written long before the invention of Christianity. Michael Shermer (The Science of Good and Evil) claims that the Golden Rule served as the first moral principle, evolved through our Paleolithic ancestors long before religions co-opted, and codified it. However, does this seemingly worthy moral directive live up to its billing?
At first glance, the rule appears justified. Who wouldn't want to receive treatment the way we wish? And who wouldn't want to give the same treatment to others? However, upon further consideration we come upon problems. Who says that the receiving person wishes to always get treated the way "we" wish? Would most people like to get treated like a masochist from a masochist? Would an atheist like to get treated like a Christian? Would a Christian like to get treated as an atheist? Clearly, the Golden rule can cause severe incompatibilities with the other person involved. The Golden Rule only seems commendable because we impart our own individual concepts without realizing that "doing unto others" can have various meanings to other people who do not think like you do. The Golden Rule actually describes a selfish rule because it reflects upon selfish in-group motives instead of incorporating a system that can work for a diverse society. Therefore, when Jesus uses this incomplete and illusory command, he deceives the believer into a false sense of morality. Consider that in some cases, treating people the way they would like to get treated works better than the way you would like to get treated. Think about it.
Golden Rules work best when applied within in-group thinking where its members share common beliefs (religious dominations, armies, political parties, clubs, etc.), but when applied across differing belief-sets, the Golden Rule can have devastating results that can lead to hurt feelings, anger, and violence. For example, imagine an Islamic group doing unto Christians the way Islamics do unto themselves or try to imagine what Islamics might feel when other people treat them like Christians.
Note: many studies of rule based systems (including ethics, game theory, and computer simulations) reveal two rules that always lose: the Golden Rule and the Iron Rule. The systems that work best involve Tit-For-Tat strategies that include many situational rules.
[For more information on game theories, refer to the works of Robert Axelrod (for example: 'The Evolution of Cooperation,' and 'The evolution of strategies in the iterated prisoner's dilemma') and Douglas R. Hofstadter's, Metamagical Themas)]
A beatitude such as "Blessed are the peacemakers" appears honorable until one realizes that it comes with certain conditions. Creating peace by blessing does not rely on caring about peace for others but because the do-gooder thinks he'll receive a future reward (going to Heaven, for example). One should do peacemaking acts or charitable works, not because of the candy one will receive but because it serves as the proper and decent thing to do. A peacemaker has my admiration for creating peace, not for the blessing bestowed upon him. Ironically, Jesus did not give an example of a peacemaker (Think not that I am come to send peace on earth... Matt. 10:34) Rather, his words give frightful justification for war and division.
Love God, neighbor, and enemies
Curiously, Jesus does not give a command to love all people, only neighbor's and enemies, and above all, to love God (but not the other thousands of gods and goddesses). And although it might sound admirable to command one to love, the problems here stem from the fact that humans simply cannot turn on the emotion of love at will from a command. Love does not work like a light switch where one can simply turn it on at will. Love describes a complex emotion, a biological feeling, not a correct method of morality. Love can generate jealousy and greed just as easily as it can selfless acts. If, instead, the Biblical Jesus had requested us to respect, this would have stated something that might work. Respect does not require unreliable emotions but yet allows tolerance to flourish. Many times respecting others will in time lead to affection or even love. The character Jesus never even used the word respect and abstained from the concept of tolerance.
The command to love your enemy also does not fit with human nature. Just how can one will oneself to love an enemy of yours that threatens you or your family with death or destruction? Of course one can pretend to love or act as if one loves, but this cannot possibly serve as actual love. How many American Christians, priests or ministers have you known that claimed to love Osama bin Laden, Hitler, or Pol Pot? And those that do claim to love their enemies, do they do it with sincerity or do they simply act as if they do?
Some theologians try to escape this problem by claiming that Christian love doesn't mean the feeling of love but the will of love, but people can't turn on and off will any more than they can any emotion. Moreover, even the will has everything to do with mental faculty. You simply cannot separate any form of love (however you want to define it) from brain chemistry.
As for love of God, the Bible's description of its jealous God and his vengeful actions which include the slaughter of men, women, children, and animals, hardly inspires one to love him. If you can't understand this, try to imagine your father treating you like a dog, offering you love or reward only if you obey his commands and demanding that you ritually flatter him every day, killing your friends, and sometimes ordering you to kill, and all the while threatening you with everlasting fire if you speak ill of him. Do you really think such a father deserves respect? Do you actually think that this would make you love him, even if your father held ultimate power over the universe? Even if such a god existed, it would not inspire love. Rather, it would trigger fear and loathing and I would do everything I could to stay away from such a monster. Moreover, given that many Christians believe that no one can know or understand the mysteries of God, how can an unknown entity inspire the human emotion of love? And given that virtually anything can fit into that unknown (including devils, falsehoods, and deceivers), what moral advantage can love of an unknown possibly give to its believers?
Jesus' command to love and his lack of knowledge about human emotions deserves no reverence, and inspires no love.
Just what did Jesus sacrifice on the cross?
Many Christians believe that Jesus "the Christ" came to redeem man to God by His death on the cross and to forgive man's sins. In some instances we have the death of Jesus, yet at other times you see the same Christians making the claim that Jesus "lives." Did he actually die or does he live? It cannot work both ways. Even if the death means a temporary death, it gives little value for an eternal sacrifice. But regardless of which way one believes, the morality of such an act deserves questioning.
If Jesus equals a god, then he could not have sacrificed his life, simply because an infinite god cannot die. If Jesus died as just a man, then he committed what we would today call, suicide:
Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.
If anyone believes his prediction, then Jesus must have known of his upcoming crucifixion. Jesus fulfilling his own prophecy says nothing about miraculous predictions for such self-fulfilling prophecies tend to carry themselves out. But if he lived as an all powerful being, he would have the power to avert his death. But he chose not to. Instead he consciously committed himself to allow his own death. In another word-- suicide. This act of self destruction, especially in light of a horrible disfigured and bleeding torso nailed to a cross hardly gives an exemplary act of the expression of life. On the contrary, such a scene equals that of horror movies designed to scare people out of their wits. Who knows how many children have experienced psychological problems after witnessing an image of a tortured man nailed to a cross at Sunday school. (By the way, any graven image of Christ violates the second commandment [Exodus 20:4]).
As to the sacrifice, just what did Jesus sacrifice? According to the Bible, he certainly did not sacrifice his life. Jesus went to Heaven, (and sat on the right hand of God) supposedly a place of peace, calm and everlasting joy. But as a man on earth, Jesus received death threats, attempts at stoning, and condemnation by his enemies. Exiting the problems on earth for the joys of heaven hardly gives an example of noble sacrifice. On the contrary, it appears that Jesus escaped his problems, leaving his disciples to fend for themselves while he opted for a life in perfect heaven. Should we teach our children to emulate such a selfish act? If Christians held to the consistency of their beliefs, shouldn't Christians best render Jesus' suicide as a cowardly act similar to the way they describe the Islamic terrorists who killed themselves
Did Jesus redeem man from his sacrifice? History shows that violence of man against man has increased since the "sacrifice." Wars, terrorist acts, murders, and suicides have occurred because of beliefs in Jesus. It appears that the sacrifice resembles the curse of a demon rather than that of a savior. Furthermore, believing that his death forgives sins only provides reason for committing them in the first place. Why should anyone feel so disagreeable about committing sins when they feel that Jesus has already forgiven them? No wonder jails contain so many Christian zealots. Regardless of how "Caesar's" laws treat them, they think of themselves as specially forgiven.
Christ with horns
And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
Biblical scholars agree that "a Lamb" refers metaphorically to the crucified Christ in heaven. Strangely, and regardless of how symbolic one tries to make it, Jesus here appears to resemble a devil with horns and multiple eyes. How can this description of heaven inspire an image of a peaceful afterlife with all these ghastly beasts and spirits running about? (See also Rev. 4)
It should come to no surprise where some early Gnostic cults got the idea that, not only the Church, but Jesus represented Satan and the embodiment of Evil (read below).
Jesus, Satan, or both?
The following will no doubt upset many naive Christians, but if anyone wishes to indulge in Christian lore, the image of Jesus and God has an amazing twist that few Christians realize or want to think about. It begins from two incredible verses from the Old Testament :
AND Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.
AND again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
Either the above examples give evidence for a grand error (or fiction) in the Bible or else we have Satan and the Lord as the same entity! Also from the Old Testament we have the revelation of the creator of evil:
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
-God in Isaiah 45:7
How many Christians realize God as the creator of evil? And if you believe that Jesus equals God in the flesh, then Jesus must also hold responsibility for the creation of evil. (See also evil and good from God: Lamentations 3:38 )
Now here comes an even more shocking Bible realization: the name "Lucifer" (another name for Satan) means light bearer, or morning star.
On the very last page of the Bible Jesus reveals himself and provides the amazing kicker ending of the entire "Holy" Bible:
I am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
And the very last words of Jesus in the Bible, makes it the greatest and longest lived lie of all time (something only a devil would say):
Surely, I come quickly.
Perhaps the reader will now understand why some Satanist cults use the same Bible as the Christians.
Note: The idea of the name Lucifer as synonymous with Satan goes back for centuries. In Isaiah 14:12, St. Jerome, translated the Hebrew word for "morning star" into the Latin term "Lucifer" (light bearer), a name commonly ascribed to Satan by Christians, and represents the fallen star, an ancient symbol for the fallen or evil one. In the NRSV Bible version, Isaiah 14:12 describes the fallen as "O Day Star, son of Dawn!" The Day Star, or morning star actually refers to the planet Venus, although, of course, the ancients did not know that Venus represented a planet. Venus always appears low on the horizon and the ancients thought of it as a star fallen from heaven (fallen angel). Venus also appears as the brightest "star" in the sky, thus the reference to the "bright and morning star" in Rev. 22:16. Although the Isaiah verse describes the fallen king of Babylon, Christians have, for centuries, ascribed Satan as taking many forms (for example the serpent). Thus, a conclusion, based on Christian beliefs of Satan, and the belief in the "inerrancy" of the Bible, one must conclude that Jesus has revealed himself as Satan!
Although a believer might find comfort in some of Jesus' words, it should serve as a reminder that just because a man appears righteous does not necessarily mean he always practices it. Imagine observing a man who tells the truth most of the time but occasionally tells a hurtful lie. Should we not feel wary of such a person? Or if someone breaks his promise, should we not feel cheated? Especially if that person calls himself the Son of Man, we should expect him to act perfectly all the time, not just some of the time. His saying should reflect consistency, giving no hint of hypocrisy. However, the main character of the gospels, Jesus "Christ," gave no hint of consistency. The performances of Jesus describe the actions of a con-artist, gives obvious half-truths and then promises them salvation for their sacrifice. Moreover, the Biblical Jesus gives wrongful information, breaks promises, lies, calls people unsavory names, orders killings, and threatens to kill children. He gave questionable advice about income, marriage, and future plans and he ended his short life in tragic suicidal death. As David Hume wrote, "A man delirious, or noted for falsehood and villainy, has no manner of authority with us."
Many Christians object to any criticism of their religion where they see only the bad without the good. But imagine that I saw a friend about to drink a poisoned glass of milk, even if the poison represented only a small percentage of the whole. Should I include the nutritious aspects of the milk in my warning? Of course not. And although I might replace my friend's poisoned milk with a glass of pure milk, this cannot be done with the Bible without acting dishonestly or ignorantly to the alleged infallibility of its words. And mind you, the problems do not come from a small percentage of the whole, but the majority. One obvious solution exists: reject the Bible as an honest attempt to get at the truth. It must come with an honest and brave look at the flaws of its central protagonists, Yahweh and Jesus.
Jesus claimed to have performed miraculous cures, turned water into wine, raising Lazarus to life, etc., but even a mediocre magician could perform the same "miracles." The education and world knowledge of Jesus does not remotely compare with that of an average high-school graduate of today. Although the peasant Jesus supposedly read and spoke Aramaic as well as Hebrew and possibly Greek, no writings from the alleged Jesus exist. He originated no new information, no new morality or solutions to the world. His most original aspect, perhaps, went towards expanding the horrific idea of the damnation of Hell, a dubious honor to behold. He had only rudimentary knowledge of his world and certainly no scientific sophistication. In short, nothing about Jesus appears extraordinary and the words of the Bible give no reason for any special esteem.
Belief and faith can have such a powerful hold on many Christians that it sometimes resembles an addiction to a powerful drug. In such cases, nothing can shake the addiction to their belief in Jesus, regardless of the teeth of Biblical evidence against him. But remember that just a few decades ago, a man named Hitler also held a fascination by faithful followers. Although, Hitler fought against Jews and created war, many followers dismissed these things for what they saw in him as "good." Hitler himself said "I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord." (Mein Kampf). He held a love for the German people and brought them out of poverty, acted kindly towards pet dogs, and ate as a vegetarian. Should we ignore the atrocities from Hitler and honor him? Of course not. And neither should we do the same from a character from any book, including the Bible.
The problems of belief do not come from Bibles, Jesus, or Satan but rather from human gullibility. We have a tendency to believe that ideas and words equal great truths. But words cannot convey ultimate truths anymore than a map can serve as the territory. All words, written or spoken, represent abstractions. Beliefs play out a dangerous aspect of humanity and the responsibility for them must lie with those who believe. Megalomaniacs like Hitler could not have gotten into power without the faith of millions of people. So also, the beliefs in the Biblical Jesus can influence the trigger of the greatest destruction of all: the self-fulfilling prophesy of the end of the world. Let us hope that we gain the ability to use our reasoning ability instead of naive unexamined belief for such a flawed character in a book.