President Carter Rejects Baptist Church

Jimmy Carter has written an surprising article for the Guardian UK newspaper called “The words of God do not justify cruelty to women.”

In his article he lists why he is severing his 60 year relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention, which is their penchant for using the Bible as a tool of discrimination and sexism against women.

I have been a practicing Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world.

So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service. This was in conflict with my belief – confirmed in the holy scriptures – that we are all equal in the eyes of God.”

He goes on to rail against the use of God and the Holy Scriptures, across many faiths, to justify abuses against women.

“The male interpretations of religious texts and the way they interact with, and reinforce, traditional practices justify some of the most pervasive, persistent, flagrant and damaging examples of human rights abuses.”

He quotes:
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)”

He further explains what the straw that broke the camel’s back was:

“…my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.”

Just think about how long and how far down the female has been held in chains for centuries.  All denominations of the Protestant faith, the Catholic faith, the Muslims and Jews, and even the Hindu’s  think of females as second class, unable to navigate the world without a male to help her. In many countries she is still property, she is sold into sexual slavery all over the world, she is raped and sexually mutilated without consequence; even in the US occasionally.  She can be killed, often without consequence, in some countries…for “family honor.”  In Saudi Arabia she is blamed and punished if she is raped or gang raped.

1 Timothy 2:11-16
“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” ***

This all comes from religion…religion enables cruelty–beyond measure–to women.  It has to end sometime soon, and I applaud Jimmy Carter for taking one small step for womankind.

The full story is HERE

***Regarding  1 Timothy
“Fourteen epistles are said to be Paul’s; but we must at once strike off one, namely, that to the Hebrews, which does not bear his name at all…. The two letters to Timothy and the letter to Titus were certainly composed long after the death of Paul…. It is more than possible that the letters to the Ephesians and Colossians are also unauthentic, and the same suspicion rests, perhaps, on the first, but certainly on the second of the Epistles to the Thessalonians” (Bible for Learners, Vol. III, p. 23).

Anything in the bible that disparages women is put there by man.  In the above case we don’t know who, but I’ll give you odds it wasn’t God.

Historical Criticism of the Bible

I finished reading Bart Ehrman’s new book “Jesus Interrupted” a few days ago and was surprised by quite a bit of what he had to say.  For those who don’t know Mr. Ehrman, he is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He reads the ancient languages of the Bible, and he is published widely and respected as a scholar.

He wrote a best seller in 2005 “Misquoting Jesus,” that so upset the Evangelical community that it spawned 3 books in rebuttal. He was raised as an Episcopalian and had a “born again” epiphany as a sophomore in high school and accepted Jesus as his savior.  Wanting to study scripture full time he entered the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, where all students and professors had to sign a document attesting that they believed the Bible to be the inerrant word of God, and was a divinely inspired document from beginning to end.

It wasn’t long before he ran into problems with what he was learning. One of his first classes taught that none of the original texts of the New Testament exist. All we have left are copies of copies that are written as much as a few centuries after the originals. He also learned they are filled with errors and intentional changes (thousands) made over centuries by scribes. This made Ehrman start a serious study of the New Testament. He finished his undergraduate studies at Wheaton College in Illinois where he studied ancient Greek language. He was on a quest to understand how we could know the word of God if all we had were error riddled copies.

He then enrolled in the Princeton Theological Seminary (A Presbyterian school) in the late 70’s and immersed himself in the study of the New Testament texts…being still a believer in the inerrancy of the Bible.  This was soon to change.

Many students enrolling in mainline Protestant seminaries are surprised by the challenge they face to their cherished warm and fuzzy views of the Bible. The seminaries now teach the “historical-critical” method of bible study, completely different than the “devotional” method taught in church.

For three hundred years German and English scholars have pored over the Bible and critiqued the writings for what the authors meant in the historical context, who the actual authors were, what circumstances were they writing in, what issues were they trying to address, what were their sources, when were the sources written, and many other questions.  These were the things taught in Mr. Ehrman’s school, the Princeton Theological Seminary.  They make students knowledgeable about the Bible, not just what is in the Bible.

This method used asks the hard questions about scripture; is it possible that the books of the Bible have internal contradictions, are there irreconcilable differences, and what if we don’t have the original words…over the centuries the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament was copied by hand by scribes and some of the words were changed by well meaning but careless copyists, or those with a agenda of supporting a particular viewpoint.

Mr. Ehrman learned in his classes taught in the historical-critical method that the Bible is filled with discrepancies, many of them irreconcilable, Moses did not write the Pentateuch, and Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John did not write the Gospels, the Exodus certainly did not happen as written in the Bible, the promised land is based on legend, maybe Moses never existed, and we probably don’t know what Jesus actually taught.

The historical narratives of the Old Testament are filled with mythical fabrications and in the New Testament we find it contains historically unreliable information about the life and teaching of Paul.  Other than the Gospels already mentioned, many of the other books of the New Testament are pseudonymous…that is written by someone other than the Apostles, claiming to be the apostles

Mark says that Jesus was crucified the day after the Passover meal was eaten (Mark 14:12, 15:25) and John says he died the day before it was eaten (John 19:14)

Ehrman’s inerrancy belief was broken many times and he eventually came to believe that the Bible was a “human book from beginning to end.” That it was written by different authors, at different times, and for different needs.

Mr. Ehrman points out; none of what he is saying in his books is the least bit academically controversial. Even scholars who are devout Christians agree, and have for decades. The field of biblical historical-critical textual studies is 300 years old.  Ehrman’s book simply presents the accepted findings of the field for the lay audience.

In his book, “Jesus Interrupted,” Ehrman goes beyond textual problems to look at deeper doctrinal inconsistencies and contradictions. Ehrman points out that Mark and Luke had much different attitudes toward Jesus’ death: Mark saw him as in doubt and despair on the way to the cross, while Luke saw him as calm. Mark and Paul saw Jesus’ death as offering atonement for sin, while Luke did not. Matthew believed that Jesus’ followers had to keep the Jewish law to enter the kingdom of Heaven, a view categorically rejected by Paul. The conventionally recited response to this is to try to “harmonize” the Bible by smashing all four Gospels together. But as Ehrman argues, this only creates a bogus “fifth Gospel” that doesn’t exist.

He points out that many of the books in the New Testament were not even written by their purported authors: only eight of its 27 books are almost certain to have been written by the people whose names are attached to them. He thinks that scholars have tended to avoid the word “forged” because of its negative connotations, but argues convincingly that much of the Bible is, indeed, forged.

Surprising, even to readers who have some familiarity with biblical scholarship, is Ehrman’s argument…which is the mainstream position among biblical scholars…that Jesus did not teach that he was divine. In only one Gospel, John, does Christ call himself divine, but John’s theology is radically different from that in the other three Gospels. Mentioned also is that “some of the most important Christian doctrines, such as that of a suffering Messiah, the trinity and the existence of heaven and hell,” were not held by Jesus himself and were not contemporaneous with him.”  The doctrine of the trinity only appears once in the New Testament, and the doctrine that Jesus is equal but not identical to God is found in none of the four Gospels.

Ehrman argues that we must remember who Jesus was: a radical millenarian Jew. Like the other Jewish prophets in the Palestine of his day, Jesus taught that a cosmic judge, the Son of Man, was coming soon to earth, but he did not regard himself as the Son of Man.

Jesus was not a Christian, but a Jewish apocalyptic prophet and rabbi. It was only from his followers that “Christianity” became a reality. Jesus preached a profoundly Jewish religion, It was the later self-proclaimed Christians (including John and Paul) who turned Christianity into the virulently anti-Semitic religion it was to become. Ehrman’s own attitude toward Christianity, evolved in a long and complex process. His realization that the Bible was merely a human document ended his literalist faith, but did not cause him to leave the church. Instead, he embraced Christianity as a “beautiful myth.”

What ultimately led Ehrman to leave the church was a more fundamental issue: the problem with evil, what theologians call theodicy. In his 2008 book “God’s Problem,” Ehrman explained that he could no longer believe in an all-knowing and all-powerful God in a world in which an innocent child dies of hunger every five seconds.

Overall the book is exceptionally writen and answers and explains many little known facts about the Bible and Christianity…most of which I’m sure many fundamentalists will disagree with.

The  Four Cats of the Apolcalypse and Muffy
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The Old Testament Prescribes Death

The Old Testament prescribes death as the punishment for breaking any of the Ten Commandments, including heresy against God, adultery, premarital sex, worship of other Gods, and disobedience to your parents.  Also God is presented as giving a death sentence for homosexuality and harassing old bald men.  Keep in mind that Jesus and his followers never repudiated such teachings in the New Testament.

Several quotations in the New Testament attributed to Jesus himself that clearly do uphold adherence to the Old Testament prophets. Remember Jesus was a Jew and he was upholding his faith as derived from the Septuagint he knew.

Now many Christians have told me that the New Testament represents a new covenant between God and the people and the old laws are no longer (I think Paul was the architect of this little bit of chicanery) impressed upon us.  OK then, why are the fundamentalist Christians using the Old Testament injunctions against homosexuality today, and why do we still follow the 10 Commandments, and doesn’t the Bible and modern day preachers teach that God never changes.

Something I think of occasionally is the fact that Christianity picks and chooses what scripture they will follow and believe in and how they will often make up stuff that isn’t even in the Bible–Triune God/Jesus/Spirit—perpetual virginity—Mary immaculately conceived herself–you know, the usual human trait of making stuff up, and following only the rules they agree with.

While some feel that religion is necessary to give life meaning, and to instruct humanity on moral behavior I would counter that the Golden Rule (which was conceived of well before Christianity), works just as well, if not better, than Biblical injunctions, and has worked over a larger populace and longer time. I think humans innately understand that you have to treat others well if you expect the same from them, and this doesn’t come from some godly decree in a book of myths.

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Fastest Growing Religion in US

What is the fastest-growing religious group in our country?

A. Catholics

B. Southern Baptists.

C. Methodists

D. Lutherans

E. Non-denominational Christians.

F. None. As in…no religion at all.

I’ll give you a hint…I’m in that group, although I wouldn’t call it a ‘religious’ group…even though a lot of evangelical Christians like to tell me it is.

Go to the USA Today website HERE to find a state by state roundup of how the many various religious denominations or sects are getting along today.

There are 2 states that show ‘not-religious’ as the largest group.  Several states have not-religious as the number two on the list, and most all of the rest show that non-believers are the third largest group.

I view this as a positive sign that maybe humanity is waking up and moving into the present age and finally realizing that the 2000 year old book they call their Bible, is nothing but ancient nonsense written by men describing a phantom dream. There is no truth there…only myths.

Isn’t killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity?? Arthur C. Clarke

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Darwin Was Right…of Course

Charles Darwin was one of the first to propose that all of mankind had a common ancestor who originated in Africa.  In his book the Descent of Man he writes:

“In each great region of the world the living mammals are closely related to the extinct species of the same region. It is, therefore, probable that Africa was formerly inhabited by extinct apes closely allied to the gorilla and chimpanzee; and as these two species are now man’s nearest allies, it is somewhat more probable that our early progenitors lived on the African continent than elsewhere.”

The prediction was prophetic, because at the time, in 1871, there were very few human fossils of ancient hominids available. About fifty years later Darwin was vindicated, as anthropologists began finding numerous fossils of ancient hominids all over Africa.

Nowadays we know about many dead end semi-human models that didn’t make the cut.  They have names such as Homo ergaster, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Homo Neanderthal, etc., and they are precursors to fully modern Homo sapiens…or us.  Unlike the apes and chimps and Bonobos we see today these early precursors walked upright and made and used tools. Their time on earth ranged from a little over 2 million (some say 3 million) years ago to about 25,000 years ago for Neanderthals.

Modern humans like us have been roaming around the earth for about 200,000 years, so we overlapped some of the old species and possibly interacted somewhat with the Neanderthals. With the advent of modern DNA science we now have the ability to trace bloodlines back in time many tens of thousands of years and we can determine times-lines and histories of migrations of our human ancestors.

Wikipedia says:
“Because DNA collects mutations over time, which are then inherited, it contains historical information and by comparing DNA sequences, geneticists can infer the evolutionary history of organisms, their phylogeny. This field of phylogenetics is a powerful tool in evolutionary biology. If DNA sequences within a species are compared, population geneticists can learn the history of particular populations. This can be used in studies ranging from ecological genetics to anthropology; for example, DNA evidence is being used to try to identify the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.”  Go Here

Using DNA studies scientists have been able to trace our male and female blood lines back to the last common ancestors in our remote past.

From Wikipedia:
Mitochondrial Eve (mt-mrca) is the name given by researchers to the woman who is defined as the matrilineal most recent common ancestor (MRCA) for all currently living humans. Passed down from mother to offspring, her mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is now found in all living humans: every mtDNA in every living person is derived from hers. Mitochondrial Eve is the female counterpart of Y-chromosomal Adam, the patrilineal most recent common ancestor, although they lived at different times.  Mitochondrial Eve is believed to have lived about 170,000 years ago, or roughly 8,000 generations ago…” Go Here

Y-chromosomal Adam In human genetics, Y-chromosomal Adam (Y-MRCA) is the patrilineal human most recent common ancestor (MRCA) from whom all Y chromosomes in living men are descended. Y-chromosomal Adam is thus the male counterpart of Mitochondrial Eve, although they lived at different times, approximately 100,000 years apart.

By analyzing the Y-chromosome DNA from males in all regions of the world, geneticist Spencer Wells has concluded that all humans alive today are patrilinealy descended from a single man who lived in Africa around 60,000 years ago.  Go Here

Both the genetic (DNA) and fossil evidence merge and tell us that ancient Homo sapiens evolved into modern humans in Africa only, about 200,000 years ago.  It is thought that one branch left Africa about 60,000 years ago and replaced earlier humanoid populations such as the Neanderthals and Homo erectus, etc. ( this is disputed by a small faction of scientists who feel that there was an earlier Diaspora).

From Wikipedia:
“In paleoanthropology, the recent African origin of modern humans is the mainstream model describing the origin and early dispersal of anatomically modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens. The theory is known popularly as the (Recent) Out-of-Africa model, and academically also as the recent single-origin hypothesis (RSOH), Replacement Hypothesis or Recent African Origin (RAO) model. The hypothesis originated in the 19th century, with Darwin’s Descent of Man, but remained speculative until the 1980s when it was corroborated based on a study of present-day mitochondrial DNA, combined with evidence based on physical anthropology of archaic specimens.”  Go Here

So here we are with very strong circumstantial evidence from DNA, archaeology, paleoanthropology and other earth sciences telling us that the earth wasn’t formed 6,000 or 10,000 years ago and there was no Adam and Eve as described in the Bible.  Our habitation of this earth and history of our growing to adulthood is nowhere near to what the Bible says happened.  This science quoted above is mainstream and excepted by most all scientists working today.  It holds up to scrutiny and is testable and repeatable.

If Adam and Eve are not true…Think about it…Christianity just falls apart.

“…Darwin is confirmed, triumphantly, by genetic research. That’s a fact. Species, even the praying variety, evolve. Secondly, by implication and inference, there is no God. The non-fact is exhausted whenever someone takes a peek at the human genome…”  On the Origin of Ignorance, by Ian Bell, The Sunday Herald, July 14, (Scotland) Here

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How True is The Bible

Go to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs official website at this address and you will find a rather interesting article regarding the historicity of the Hebrew people, the Exodus, Joshua, Moses, the Monarchy, and early  exploits of David and Saul.

“The Bible is not – and was never intended to be – a historical document. A work of theology, law, ethics and literature, it does contain historical information; but if we want to evaluate this information we should consider when, how and why the Bible was compiled.

Until comparatively recently, the Bible was accepted as the word of God by most Jews and Christians, and therefore scholarly works dealing with it, such as the Talmud, rabbinical commentaries, and the work of Christian scholars, concentrated on its interpretation.

In the 19th century CE, the “Age of Reason,” scholars began subjecting the biblical texts to linguistic, textual, and literary analysis, noting inconsistencies and interrupted rhythms, comparing styles, and placing the text within the archaeological, historical and geographical background. There are still many differing opinions regarding the origin of the Bible, when it was written, and under what conditions; but it is fair to say that, outside fundamentalist circles, modern consensus suggests that the assembling and editing of the documents that were to constitute the Bible began in the seventh century BCE, some three centuries after David’s time. (The earliest actual material in our possession, part of the Dead Sea Scrolls, dates to the second century BCE at the earliest).”

So there is dissent; when was it written, assembled, edited, put together.  It did not just spontaneously appear in final form; it was worked on, edited, and played with for centuries.

“The saga of the Israelites, as told in the Bible, was designed as a morality tale to prove the importance of faith in the One God. The stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and Joshua demonstrate that the Israelites were rewarded when they obeyed God, but were punished when they strayed.

The historical evidence to back up these events is sparse, and, in some cases, contradictory. In particular, the account of Joshua’s conquest of Canaan is inconsistent with the archaeological evidence. Cities supposedly conquered by Joshua in the 14th century bce were destroyed long before he came on the scene. Some, such as Ai and Arad, had been ruins for a 1000 years.

The Book of Judges, which directly contradicts Joshua, and shows the Israelites settling the land over a prolonged period, is nearer historical reality; but even it cannot be taken at face value.”

So now we know the stories were morality tales, maybe some truth in them maybe not. There is sparse evidence for actual historicity. It mentions the lack of archaeological evidence for Joshua’s conquests…most scholars are now in agreement that the Biblical stories are myth and nothing else…a product of later authors who did not realize that scientists would eventually sift through actual evidence and find them out.

“Around 1200 bce, semi-nomads from the desert fringes to the east, joined by elements from Anatolia, the Aegean, and the south, possibly including Egypt, began to settle in the hill country of Canaan. A large proportion – probably a majority of this population – were refugees from the Canaanite city states, destroyed by the Egyptians in one of their periodic invasions.

The conclusion is somewhat startling to Bible readers who know the Canaanites portrayed in the Bible as immoral idolaters: most of the Israelites were in fact formerly Canaanites. The story of Abraham’s journey from Ur of the Chaldees, the Patriarchs, the Exodus, Sinai, and the conquest of Canaan, all these were apparently based on legends that the various elements brought with them from their countries of origin. The consolidation of the Israelites into a nation was not the result of wanderings in the desert and divine revelation, but came from the need to defend themselves against the Philistines, who settled in the Canaanite coastal plain more or less at the same time the Israelites were establishing themselves in the hills.”

So now we find out that the Hebrews were actually Canaanites fleeing from those pesky Egyptians and their war machine.  They didn’t come out of Egypt, led by Moses, they didn’t wander the desert for forty years, and God did not part the Red/Reed Sea.

“Thus the founders of Israel were not Abraham and Moses; but Saul and David. It was apparently Saul who consolidated the hill farmers under his rule and created fighting units capable of confronting the Philistines. It was David who defeated the Philistines and united the hill farmers with the people of the Canaanite plains, thus establishing the Kingdom of Israel and its capital city.”

After several years of serious part time study of religion, the Bible, and the Holy Land, and all the stories and myths floating around about God, Jesus, Paul, the early church fathers and all, I can only come to one conclusion…It’s all fake.

The archaeologists and other scientists whose work in any way relate to religious myths, the Bible or other matters pertinent to Christianity  are in almost unanimous agreement…the real evidence is not there.  Practically everything relating to the Bible, God, Jesus, etc. can be called into question and I have wrote about much of it here.

The only possible way that believers can still believe, is to just ignore science and its findings in the last fifty years or so.  I don’t think anyone with a fair mind can look at the evidence surrounding the 2500-3000 year history of the Hebrews and later Christianity and believe it to be true.  It’s all made up by con-men preying on the common folk.  Pretty lucrative business it is, the Catholic Church is the single largest/wealthiest institution in the world.  Talking about con-men…pry into the history and inner workings of the Mother Church sometime.

I can find no evidence that an all-knowing, all-powerful godly entity is working, or has ever worked, magic here on earth, or been involved in the production of the Bible in any way. Almost all of the OT is discredited in one way or another and with all the questions of the authorship and the thousand year exclusive custody of ‘the Bible’ by the Catholic Church there is powerful doubt of its veracity or Truth.

Israel Finkelstein, chairman of the Archaeology Department at Tel Aviv University, “The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Text.”

“The Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land [of Canaan] in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the twelve tribes of Israel. Perhaps even harder to swallow is the fact that the united kingdom of David and Solomon, described in the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom.”

pope benedict xvi and patriarch bartholomew i
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