Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Religion = Slavery and Conflict. Atheism = Freedom.

Sent to The Star, Johannesburg, Mon 18/10/2010 23:30

Elise D van der Pijl (Star Letters, October 10 2010) does not believe that the followers of what she calls "God's Word" over the centuries have been mislead by myth.  Arlene Chaperon (also October 10) is offended and maintains the Bible is the Word of God.

Indeed, over much of recorded history, mankind has believed in gods.  Not just one god.  Hundreds.  With divergent points of view.  Which, if any, was right?

If you are a Christian and believe that Christ is "the light, the Truth, and the way" and that no man comes to the Father but through him, you aren't allowed to believe with the Muslims that there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet.  Your three gods are also inconsistent with the Jewish belief that "the Lord our God, the Lord is One".

Yes, there is a slight-of-hand by which Christians claim a three-is-one god, to appear monotheistic, but I have yet to find one who will lend me three hundred Rand and accept repayment with one hundred since three equals one.

If you are a Christian, a majority of the world's population thinks you are wrong.  A Muslim? The majority of the world disagrees with your beliefs.  Likewise for Hindus, Jews, Pastafarians*, name any superstition you like.

How come you had the luck to find (usually to be born into) the one true religion, and everyone else is headed for damnation?

Why is it that no religion's followers are blessed more than those of any other?  How come your reward comes only after death, unverifiable by any objective means?

It is more likely that all religions are false; political creations used to manipulate the gullible.

Van der Pijl and Chaperon have personal relationships with their god.  People of religions around the world commune in many ways with their diverse gods.  This can involve altered states of consciousness of all sorts.  Trances, self-hypnosis, mass hysteria, etc. seem very convincing to the participants.  They show what the human physiology is capable of.  And how powerful self-delusion and wishful thinking can be.  They do not prove that there is a god.

Reality check: If gods, capable of creating the universe, exist and want contact with us, why do they not manifest in physical form?  Why not have residential and postal addresses, telephones, e-mail, and Facebook pages?  Where are their superhuman ambassadors to the UN and the nations?  Surely this would settle the controversy?

No.  If superior beings exist, as yet undetected by science, they do not seem concerned about our welfare nor care whether we worship them or not.  Stop living in fear of myths, and start living a life of freedom!

* Pastafarians = The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.  Not to be confused with Rastafarians.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Contradictions in Jesus's "Genealogy" show the Bible is False

Sent to The Star, Johannesburg, Tue 05/10/2010 22:38


This letter is addressed to those who still believe that the Bible is the infallible, divinely-inspired Truth.

Please read Matthew 1.  It starts with what the author claims is "the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham".  He traces the male descent from Abraham to "Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus".

Now see Luke 3:23-38, which traces the male line in reverse from Joseph back to Adam.

Luke and Matthew use opposite directions so they are difficult to compare, but if you sort their lists (or ask me for the Jesus spreadsheet) and then try to align them, some glaring differences emerge:

From Abraham to David the records agree.  From David to Joseph there are serious discrepancies.  Luke has 40 generations between the two; Matthew has 25, a difference of about 480 years.  Of the names between David and Joseph, only two match exactly, and two approximately.

You don't have to be a judge or a policeman to know that, if two people give you seriously conflicting accounts, one of them is wrong.  Or both.

So, if God inspired Luke and Matthew to write these lists, He's a liar.  Or maybe they weren't that inspired.

Worse is to come.

Remember, Matthew proclaimed "the genealogy of Jesus Christ", supposedly showing his descent from David, in fulfilment of prophecy.  But wait a minute: Isn't the Christian myth that God made Mary pregnant with Jesus?  Well, yes, Matthew later admits that Joseph was only the husband of Mary, not father of Jesus but just the cuckold who was conned into raising another's child.

With no genetic link between Joseph and Jesus, both genealogies are pointless.  Why have them at all?  To mislead the gullible?

Perhaps the original versions did have Joseph as Jesus' dad.  Then later editors grafted the "son of god" story in from older legends, but could not deal with the obvious contradiction.

Too bad that, to them, Mary was only a woman and not worthy of her own genealogy –even if she was left as the only link between Jesus and the human race!

Is this part of the Bible true?  Logically it can't be.

Can the Bible then be the Word of God?  Only if He is very confused...


Spreadsheet (contact me for a copy on Excel):

The Table below compares the Genealogy according to Luke 3, Matthew 1, and Genesis 5 &11.  The column headed "Match" indicates whether the names match (most don't). The last two columns estimate the number of years from Adam to Jesus according to Like and Matthew, giving a difference of 15 generations and around 500 years!

By Luke 3:23-38 by Matthew 1 by Genesis 5 & 11 Age at 
Verse Gen Name Generations Name Match? No. Verse Name birth of son
38.3 God.
38.2 1 Adam Yes 1 5.1 Adam 130 130
38.1 2 Seth Yes 2 5.3 Seth 105 105
38 3 Enos Yes 3 5.6 Enos 90 90
37.4 4 Cainan Yes 4 5.9 Cainan 70 70
37.3 5 Maleleel Approx 5 5.12 Mahalaleel 65 65
37.2 6 Jared Yes 6 5.15 Jared 162 162
37.1 7 Enoch Yes 7 5.18 Enoch 65 65
37 8 Mathusala Approx 8 5.21 Methuselah 187 187
36.4 9 Lamech Yes 9 5.25 Lamech 182 182
36.3 10 Noe Approx 10 5.29 Noah 500 500
36.2 11 Sem Approx 11 5.32 Shem (& Ham, and Japheth) 100 100
36.1 12 Arphaxad Yes 12 11.10 Arphaxad 35 35
36 13 Cainan Genesis 9:18   ...and Ham is the father of Canaan.
35.4 14 Sala Approx 13 11.12 Salah 30 30
35.3 15 Heber Approx 14 11.14 Eber 34 34
35.2 16 Phalec Approx 15 11.16 Peleg 30 30
35.1 17 Ragau NO 16 11.18 Reu 32 32
35 18 Saruch Approx 17 11.20 Serug 30 30
34.4 19 Nachor Approx 18 11.22 Nahor 29 29
34.3 20 Thara Approx 19 11.24 Terah 70 70
34.2 21 Abraham Abraham Yes 20 11.26 Abram $ 100 100
34.1 22 Isaac Isaac Yes Isaac # 60 60
34 23 Jacob Jacob Yes Jacob @ 30 30
33.4 24 Juda Judas Approx Judah 30 30
33.3 25 Phares Phares Yes 30 30
33.2 26 Esrom Esrom Yes $ -Genesis 21:5 30 30
33.1 27 Aram Aram Yes # - Genesis 26:26 30 30
33 28 Aminadab Aminadab Yes @ - Ages from here 30 30
32.4 29 Naasson Naasson Yes on are estimates. 30 30
32.3 30 Salmon Salmon Yes 30 30
32.2 31 Booz Booz of Rachab Yes 30 30
32.1 32 Obed Obed of Ruth Yes 30 30
32 33 Jesse Jesse Yes 30 30
31.4 34 David 1 1 David Yes 30 30
31.3 35 Nathan 2 2 Solomon NO 30 30
31.2 36 Mattatha 3 3 Roboam NO 30 30
31.1 37 Menan 4 4 Abia NO 30 30
31 38 Melea 5 5 Asa NO 30 30
30.4 39 Eliakim 6 6 Josaphat NO 30 30
30.3 40 Jonan 7 7 Joram NO 30 30
30.2 41 Joseph 8 8 Ozias NO 30 30
30.1 42 Juda 9 9 Joatham NO 30 30
30 43 Simeon 10 10 Achaz NO 30 30
29.4 44 Levi 11 11 Ezekias NO 30 30
29.3 45 Matthat 12 12 Manasses NO 30 30
29.2 46 Jorim 13 13 Amon NO 30 30
29.1 47 Eliezer 14 NO 30
29 48 Jose 15 14 Josias Approx 30 30
28.4 49 Er 16 15 Jechonias NO 30
28.3 50 Elmodam 17 (in Babylon) NO 30
28.2 51 Cosam 18 NO 30
28.1 52 Addi 19 NO 30
28 53 Melchi 20 NO 30
27.4 54 Neri 21 NO 30
27.3 55 Salathiel 22 16 Salathiel Yes 30 30
27.2 56 Zorobabel 23 17 Zorobabel Yes 30 30
27.1 57 Rhesa 24 18 Abiud NO 30 30
27 58 Joanna 25 19 Eliakim NO 30 30
26.4 59 Juda 26 20 Azor NO 30 30
26.3 60 Joseph 27 21 Sadoc NO 30 30
26.2 61 Semei 28 22 Achim NO 30 30
26.1 62 Mattathias 29 23 Eliud NO 30 30
26 63 Maath 30 24 Eleazar NO 30 30
25.4 64 Nagge 31 NO 30
25.3 65 Esli 32 NO 30
25.2 66 Naum 33 NO 30
25.1 67 Amos 34 NO 30
25 68 Mattathias 35 NO 30
24.4 69 Joseph 36 NO 30
24.3 70 Janna 37 NO 30
24.2 71 Melchi 38 NO 30
24.1 72 Levi 39 NO 30
24 73 Matthat 40 25 Matthan Approx 30 30
23.2 74 Heli 41 26 Jacob NO 30 30
23.1 75 Joseph 42 27 Joseph Yes 30 30
23 76 Jesus 43 28 Jesus* Number of years (Luke vs Matthew) 3696 3216
Difference: 15   generations 480  yrs

*Matt 1:16 "Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus".  No genealogy is given for Mary. So descent of Jesus is not known, only his "step-father". 

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Debate around Religion: The Bible is Fiction.

Sent to "The Star, Johannesburg" on Sat 02/10/2010 22:14, Published Tue Oct 5 2010, except for the sentence in blue.

We have a nice crop of responses to my letter of Sept 27 2010 criticising the Bible.  How sad that the critics appear not to have read the "Good Book" itself!

Jaco Bruwer (Sept 29, "There's no reason to trash biblical explanation") and Niki Christie (Sept 30, "Being sure of what we hope for") imply that the "days" referred to in the Creation Myth are not 24-hour days but "ages".

Please read Genesis 1:  It says the world was created in literal, 24-hour days, made clear by repeating "and there was evening, and there was morning" for each day.  Why evening first?  Because in those days (and still in Jewish tradition), the day was taken to start at sunset.

Daniel Spangenberg (Sept 29, "Confusing personal view with fact") can observe for himself that the earth did NOT arise in 144 hours by looking at geological processes, the speed of formation of elements in stars, and other natural phenomena.  These have convinced scientists that the six-day creation story is just a myth.  This is scientific fact, not just my opinion.

Jaco Bruwer agrees, saying "the earth's atmosphere cleaned up over millions of years".

Niki Christie says that it all has to start somewhere.

In a paragraph edited out of my original letter, I pre-empted this by saying: "If some god were the creator, who created the god?  If that god was always there, why not cut out the middleman and accept that the universe itself was always there?  The simpler explanation is the most likely, by Occam's Razor."

If Niki Christie would like examples of contradictions in the Bible, she should compare the two creation sequences in Genesis 1 and 2, and the differing stories in Matthew and Luke about the birth of Jesus and particularly their radically conflicting genealogies of Jesus.  I can expand on this in a later letter.

My point is that the Bible is not true.  Hence it is not possible that it is the work of a truthful divine creator.

Conclusion: The Bible is fiction steeped in the mythology of its time.  It is no more reliable a handbook –on god or anything else– than Grimm's Fairy Tales.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Time for a Balanced Debate around Religion!

Sent to The Star, Johannesburg, Wed 22/09/2010 18:08, published without the parts in blue on 27 Sept 2010.

"The Star" always gives the last word on religion to Bob Holcombe, making it seem that there is no answer to his shallow arguments.  Will Sol Makgabutlane be sufficiently unbiased this time to break with tradition and publish my letter, as he has failed to do on several previous occasions?

Bob Holcombe's letter (Sept 17) "God only knows if there is life elsewhere" should not stand unchallenged.

He says that scientists are going beyond their field.  Not at all.  Anything that can be objectively investigated is the province of science.  If it can't be scientifically tested, it's speculation, superstition and nonsense.  As is Religion.

Mr Holcombe talks of a reason and a cause.  This is typical mumbo-jumbo.  Things just are, they don't need a reason and a cause.

If some god were the creator, who created the god?  If that god was always there, why not cut out the middleman and accept that the universe itself was always there?  The simpler explanation is the most likely, by Occam's Razor.

He says "God makes himself approachable" –what, through a hundred different religions that contradict each other and a Bible that contradicts itself?

And "God ... provided a logical account of how it all started".  Really?  We know from previous letters that Mr Holcombe believes the Bible.  Pity he appears not to have read it.  If he had, he would know that the Biblical account of Creation is both illogical and contradicted by observable facts.  The universe clearly did NOT arise in six days of 24 hours.  A schoolchild can tell you that day and night could not have existed before the sun.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

"Bible-based" Religion is Founded on Lies

Sent to "The Star", Johannesburg, on Mon 21/06/2010 21:54; never published.

Bob Holcombe (The Star Letters, June 17 2010) concludes that "Each responsible individual must avoid false religion and heed the consequences of not living a Bible-orientated life".

This is a contradiction in terms.  The Bible itself includes serious falsehoods.
Allow me to prove it:

If an authority makes two conflicting statements then, logically, at least one of them must be false.

Let me take two glaring examples from the Bible.

Firstly, the tales of Creation.

Genesis 1 says the "beasts of the earth" were created, then male and female humans. Genesis 2 contradicts this, saying that a man was created, then (in a quest for a "help meet for him") all the beasts of the earth arose (which Adam named all in one day!), and finally, woman.

Genesis 1 says the world was created in six days. "Day" and "night" were created on day one, and the sun, moon and stars on day 4.  Everyone knows that "day", "night", "evening" and "morning" are nonsense without the Sun.

Secondly, the genealogy of Jesus.

Matthew 1 claims Jesus as "the son of David, the son of Abraham".  He traces the male line from Abraham through David to "Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus".  He gives 27 generations inclusive from David to Joseph.

Luke 3:23-38 gives the male line going back from Joseph to David to Abraham to Adam.  Alas!  He fits in 42 generations from David to Joseph!  Except for David and Joseph, only four of the names he cites are similar to Matthew's list.

How could they diverge so radically if the Bible is divinely inspired truth?

Luke's list from Adam to Abraham disagrees in places with Genesis 5 and 11. Not only was Luke NOT divinely inspired, he didn't even read his Old Testament...

It gets worse:–

Matthew and Luke list the male line to give the impression that Jesus was descended from David, in fulfilment of prophecy.  But, oops, it's also claimed that Jesus was not the son of Mary's husband, but of God himself, who cuckolded poor Joseph!  They can't both be true.

Did God fib to Moses, Matthew, or Luke, or all of them?

As anyone with a Bible and an open mind can see, the Bible contains lies.
The Bible is grand literature and majestic mythology, but its morality is debatable, its history is inaccurate, its science is wrong, and on the subject of gods and an afterlife, it is pure fiction.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Why Must Religion be Protected from Humour?

Sent to "The Star", Johannesburg, on Wed 09/06/2010 20:08; published Fri June 11, 2010 as “Seriously, all religions are a joke”, except for the paragraph in blue.

AR Modak wants his or her faith respected ("Even People of Other Faiths Dislike the Cartoon" in The Star, June 8, referring to a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed).

Why should religion, unlike any other human activity, be shielded from humour?

Is it because religion is so open to mockery?

Consider the outrageous claims of religion: There is an invisible being (or several), the existence of which can not be proved, that can read your mind.  The nature and names of these beings are in dispute.  What they want of us varies from religion to religion, but generally involves massaging their egos and enriching their priests.

Several religions are rooted in the Bible, a flawed compendium of doubtful accuracy.  Important parts of it disagree with science and even common sense.  It is not even internally consistent: Some passages flatly contradict others.

Most religions claim to know what happens after death: Pity they don't agree.  Several promise damnation if you don't follow their brand, threats that should be illegal in a democracy.  If I threaten to burn your house down unless you vote for me, I will end up in jail.  Yet a priest can tell you that you will burn in hell forever (a much worse fate), and no action is taken.

Property used for religious services and housing religious officials pays no municipal rates.

Why indeed is religion privileged?

Religion is a con-job, and people have been taken in.

I suspect that many have a superstitious twinge that "God" will punish them if they speak up against religion.  Does it really happen?  Would some Muslims use violence if they really believed that Allah would do it himself?

Saturday, 30 January 2010

The Bible as Natural History? Pull the Other One!

Sent to "The Star", Johannesburg, on Sat 30/01/2010, published in abbreviated form.
Bob Holcombe (The Star Letters, January 29 2010) waxes lyrical as to our uniqueness.

Has he heard of the Anthropic Principle?  This says that the reason we are on a planet and in a solar system hospitable to life, is because life would not survive in a place hostile to life.

If the Tau Ceti system (for example) were more hospitable to life, we could have been on Tau Ceti IV waving our tentacles in the methane in praise of our tantacled god who placed us in such a life-giving environment instead of on barren Earth.

Mr Holcombe goes on to credit his god with the design of the solar system and suggest that we look at the account given of our origins in the Bible.

Has he read the tale of Creation in Genesis?  Every fact about the origin and structure of the universe contradicts it.

Genesis 1 says the world was created in six days.  Not symbolic "days" of millions of years: literal, 24-hour days, as made clear by repeating "And the evening and the morning were the n-th day" (in those days, and still in Jewish tradition, the day was taken to start at sunset).

Based on hard evidence, science says that the universe is about 13.73 billion (USA billion = 109) years old, the sun only about 4.57, and the earth a bit younger at around 4.54 billion years (source: Wikipedia).

The Bible says that the sun, moon and stars were created on day 4, some days after the earth, and well after the creation of "day" and "night".

Today everybody knows that day and night are due to the rotation of the earth, which exposes sequential parts of the globe to the rays of the sun.  "Day", "night", "evening" and "morning" are meaningless without the Sun.

I'm sorry to offend, but the Biblical account of our origins is not merely inaccurate, it is nonsense.  It is not possible that it is the work of a (truthful) divine creator.

Along with the very nasty god it portrays, the Bible is fiction steeped in the mythology of its time.  It is no more reliable a handbook than Grimm's Fairy Tales.