Jesus and Adam and Eve

Jesus comments in the Bible that he knows of Adam and Eve.  If you go with the Trinitarian view of Christianity that would actually be God commenting on them…which of course “proves” that the Christian religion is true.  At least that is what evangelical fundamentalists would have us believe.

There is just one BIG problem with that belief (along with hundreds of little ones).  Adam and Eve, as described in the Bible, never existed.  There is no doubt among earth scientists, at all, that the earth has had real humans, living all over it,  for tens of thousands of years. There is not one bit of doubt among earth scientists that Neanderthals were living on earth for about a quarter of a million years.  There is no doubt among real biologists that evolution has been going on for millions of years.

You can go back 6,000 or 10,000 years and there was at the very least a million or two people living on this planet.

Think of the consequences of no Adam and Eve;  NO fall from grace, No expulsion from the Garden of Eden, NO original sin, NO need for Jesus to expiate our non-existent sins.

Think of where this leaves St. Paul…all that made-up theology is not needed any more.

Where does this leave the rest of the stories in the Bible?

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Truth Saves

Early Christianity VI

Why Jesus? How did he get that kind of following?  That’s the real quest of people who work in the field of religion. It’s little wonder that the most popular explanation over the ages has been that this is the work of God.

Historians don’t work from divine theories though. Historians can only look at what did happen in time and space. What we can say with some certainty is that the early followers of Jesus came to believe that Jesus had been raised from the dead and they were able to convince other people that Jesus was raised from the dead.

At a time of its rise there was much instability and merging danger in the Roman Empire It was overextended, there was clearly incredulity in the traditional gods of the Empire, and Christianity offered something that appeared to be utterly and beautifully coherent about everything from the smallest detail of your daily life…through to eternity.  Some scholars say it was ultimately earthly power politics, with an emperor recognizing the power of the people and their faith and getting behind it.

What really made the difference, the turning point, was the whole Greco-Roman world turning to Christianity.  Christianity was spreading and it was getting bigger and bigger, but without that decision on Constantine’s part, what we know of as Christianity, as a world religion, probably wouldn’t have happened.

The church that arose from the Nicean Council was the Catholics and they managed to have a strangle-hold on Christianity for nearly 1200 years.  The history of this church is as much evil as good.  There is much evidence that they changed many original tenets of the faith, and their management style was not even close to being holy. The church was, and is, greedy and full of sexual criminals and those that would kill off dissent. They probably hold the single largest and most valuable amount of extralegal booty in the world.

Whatever accounts for Christianity’s success, the debates, over what the faith in Jesus is and what organized religion should be are far from settled. In the beginning of Christianity there is diversity and different points of view. There are different interpretations of Jesus and ways of understanding God and the world. In the beginning, there is no Orthodoxy and heresy. Much of the first 300 years of Christianity were spent defining that faith. The struggle regarding orthodoxy and heresy seems to never come to an end, and battles about truth and inclusion and exclusion are still with us today.

Some think if we could just get back to New Testament Christianity, then the church and people would live in unity. In reality, when we look at the pages of the New Testament, we find that from the very beginning, diversity and hostility characterized the believers. The Christian message and the Christian church have always lived in this tension and never seem to settle their differences.

Although Christianity has survived many powerful attempts to kill it off, today all religions faces what may be the toughest challenge of all…science.  Science seems to constantly invading the religious beliefs by proving that many things they speak of are either not true…or impossible.  This probably started in the early 1600’s as the naturalists, who were the scientists of the day, started to notice that the stratigraphic column that they were exploring was not consistent with the Biblical stories they were familiar with.

Most of the men of early science were men of letters and religion…and some were even ministers or priests. They started out trying to reconcile what they were finding, with their knowledge of the stories from the Old Testament.  The naturalists that were most religious probably just ignored the contrary evidence that was being found all about them as their understanding of the rocks and the greater world about them grew.  The sciences grew and grew while the religions tried to ignore it.  By the 1800’s almost all the sciences of the day were showing that the biblical stories were untrue and most likely just folk stories of a tribe of people trying to forge a common spiritual identity, and establish a homeland.

The fundamentalist believers of the 1900’s and later try their best to  explain the evidence in terms that are religion friendly, but the tidal wave of new knowledge is overwhelming and just keeps coming.  Some evangelical establishments such as the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), Answers in Genesis (AiG), and the Discovery Institute are actively recruiting members who hold higher science degrees to put on their letterheads and add prestige and credibility to their announcements that the bible is 100% in alignment with science and 100% accurate in all matters.

Whenever the established church has argued with science, the church invariably comes away the loser. The Bible and Scripture and science should not try to find common ground, as the effort is doomed to failure.  The proponents of religious explanations for earthly natural phenomenon tend to base their favorable beliefs on trivial evidence and sometimes ignoring large bodies of evidence contrary to their position.

People of religion that practice biological or earth sciences in their day job, such as Prof. Michael Behe of Pennsylvania University, and others tend to search for some small particles of information that can be slanted to their advantage.  Prof. Behe came up with the term of irreducible complexity to try to explain that many things in the natural world show signs that they had to be designed and created fully functional by a higher intelligence, and not naturally produced piece by piece over large amounts of time.  Although later research unrelated to Prof. Behe’s original examples proved this was not what was happening and that nature really could produce the complex pieces and systems that were in our bodies and the world around us.

Religion in Europe is quickly declining as the old world has come to recognize how much their world has suffered in the wars of century’s past and finally realize that a institution that has so many flaws cannot be for real.  American fundamentalists keep churning the waters and doing their best to keep that ‘Old Time Religion’ alive.  Because there are so many people that want to believe (and so many jobs at stake) or who are gullible and trusting that can be convinced by esoteric argument, religion continues to spread its suffocating pall over rational thinking in today’s American society.

Youngsters are being raised in evangelical fundamentalist homes to believe in a Literal truthfulness of the Christian Bible and spreading the ‘word’ in all their relations with the real world. They build and organize their world around religion and seem to think that they will ascend to heaven at any time; indeed they are wishing for it to happen. Although this kind of nihilist thinking has gone on for centuries among the religious nothing has ever shown that what they intellectualize about the Biblical is real and will ever happen.
Fitna – Documentary about Islam – Watch more

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Early Christianity V

It was another Roman emperor, Constantine, who came to the rescue. But was his vision of Jesus, just before battle, a miracle or just smart politics? Constantine vowed to convert to Christianity if he won a battle. For centuries, his victory at Milvian Bridge was seen as a turning point for Christianity. But did Constantine really convert to the faith his empire had tried to destroy? Most historians doubt whether Constantine actually converted in the year 312. And there is some evidence that he retained a devotion to some Roman gods.

By that time Christian numbers ran into the millions. And Constantine no doubt thought, “If you can’t beat them, join them.”

Constantine’s influential mother, Helena, was a devoted Christian. She traveled to the Holy Land and located the most important sites from the Christian story. She was instrumental in the building of great shrines that remain among the holiest Christian places of all.

Constantine was ruthless. He killed his son, his wife, and several relatives. He had in the past persecuted and tortured Christians. Yet, with numbers now in the millions, they were crucial to keeping his fragile empire together. He made Christianity legal in the year 313, thereby ending decades of brutal persecution. But it marked the start of fierce internal battles in the church, the biggest of which went to the heart of Christianity.

Once Constantine legalized the church, long-standing doctrinal questions broke into the open, the biggest of them concerned the very core of Christian belief: was Jesus truly the son of God or just a wise man?

Constantine really didn’t care which side won this debate. He wanted a unified Christianity because he wanted a unified empire. And he wanted Christianity to help him unify his culturally-diverse empire. So he wanted Christians throughout the empire to agree on all major theological issues. In the year 325 AD, Constantine called the world’s bishops to the small town of Nicea just outside the imperial city of Byzantium to grapple with the foundations of Christian theology.

What we now call the Nicean Creed: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth” those tenets of faith come down from the fourth century and are still the bottom line of Christianity.
At the heart of the Nicean Creed and Christian faith is that Jesus was both God and man. The very earliest community had already giving Jesus the worship that could only be given to God. This happened within 30 years of Jesus’ death. However to find a philosophical language in which to say it took nearly 300 years.

The Council of Nicea was called in order to decide in what way Jesus is divine. Is Jesus a secondary deity, a subordinate deity or is he equal with God the Father. It was called in order to decide, and the side that won out was the side that declared that Jesus was equal with God the Father, that he had always been God.

Constantine’s Nicean Council was also a major political turning point for the church. Constantine declared Christianity a legal religion and that stopped the persecution. He made it a favored religion and he started giving lands to Christian bishops and supplying funds for the building of churches. This made it very easy to become a Christian, and especially to become a Christian leader. So it went from being a persecuted small sect to an important religion that was favored by the emperor.
Ultimately the vote of the Nicean Council had to do with power and with politics. And that’s how people decide who is on the inside and has the right way of thinking, and who is on the outside and should be excluded as a heretic. So 300 years after Jesus, Christianity was now the dominant religion of Europe and it would spread around the world.
In the span of three centuries, the life and death of a Jewish rabbi from Nazareth had become the basis of the favored religion of the Roman Empire and spread to millions of others.

Christians vs. Muslims

Most people in the US are aware that there is an amazing diversity of religious beliefs and forms and observances not only in our country, but all over the world. Religions come and go over time and their continuity depends mostly on how ardent they are, and how strongly they proselytize their beliefs to others.

Most of us also know that Christianity and Islam are the top religions. Christianity leads the pack with an estimated 2.1 Billion adherents, followed closely by Islam with an estimated 1.5 Billion believers. What may surprise some though is that Secular Humanists, Agnostic, Atheists as a group fall in third place with an estimated 1.1 Billion people professing that they believe there is no God. Hinduism follows in forth place with about 900,000 to 1 Billion faithful. What surprised me was that Judaism is in 12th place with only about 14 Million believers.

Another thing that continuously amazes me is each of the primary religions splits into many, sometimes hundreds, of smaller groups with different practices, and each one of them believes with every fiber of their being that theirs is the only ‘True’ belief and expression of that belief. Past beliefs or religions now tend to be labeled ‘Myths’ although at the time of their heyday many of those people would swear theirs was the only ‘True’ belief.

One thing we do know though by logic alone…only one or none could be true. That is true for the whole of religious beliefs…now or in the past. Christianity now has the upper hand in the United States, but Muslims are increasingly poking their heads up and asking for recognition and for consideration of their religious views and practices. Not too many people know that Muslims are reproducing at a rate at least double of that of Christians.* and if we can refrain from killing each other off, Muslims will surpass Christianity as the largest religious body in the world probably in this century.

England is already experiencing problems with their high percentage of Islamic followers. They are asking for their own court system and want to be the ones who dole out justice to their Muslim brethren for a number of offences such as wife beating and intolerance of homosexuality. How England will deal with this problem is up in the air at this time, but one needs to remember that as the population grows, these people will be able to elect their own into the political body now in power.

Now I am not writing this to knock the Muslims, I am only using them as an example of religious ambition to political control. They think (know?) that theirs is the only true and real religion on earth…and they want everyone to acknowledge and bow to their God. Connected to this recognition is following their religions laws and practices.  How should we as a country deal with this problem when it finally hits us (and it will)?

When this country was forged our founders had the good sense to separate the church and state in political affairs…this has benefited this country more than most people know.  Think back to your history classes in school and remember what life was like under religious state control in Europe in the Dark Ages.  The churches, Catholic and Protestant and Muslim made miserable leaders, and the worst of what they have done isn’t even well known…except to scholars.

The religious right in this country (Evangelical Fundamentalists Protestants) has taken over the Republican Party and although they no longer control the White House (soon) they control many local, state, and national political positions. This in itself is not a problem with me, what bothers me is that they are slowly using their power to move us closer to their own outmoded or just flat wrong religious interpretations of law. Since most of these people believe that the Bible is totally inerrant they think everybody should live and think ‘their way.’

Does this not sound creepily similar to the Islamic way of thinking? The Christians are already doing in our country what the Muslim’s are trying to do in England and meanwhile the US population of Muslim’s continues to grow…and they proselytize their faith just as much as Christians do…or maybe more.

No religion of today has arguments which are unequivocally superior to any other. None of them have any supporting empirical evidence which is stronger than any other. I was brought up in a Christian environment so I tend to follow a Christian ethic, with all the baggage that entails. People that are brought up in different religions are going to follow their own ethic, with all that entails.  Problem is that Christians and Muslims don’t see eye to eye on anything and there is a long-long-history of conflict (killing each other).

Is the solution to the coming problem to let one side rule over the other? We all know how well that works in the Middle East. Perhaps a better, more civil and less deadly answer would be to keep ALL religion out of politics. Is that even possible?

When we look at the many diverse religions we should notice that they are all incompatible. To put it bluntly; they can’t all be true, but they can all be false.
*In 1997 futurist John Gary stated that Islam is the fastest-growing of the major world religions. This is mostly driven by the higher birth rates in the third world. 1-22-09 corrected typo

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Texas, Schools, Creationism, and God…redux

“The Bible has been used for centuries by Christians as a weapon of control. To read it literally is to believe in a three-tiered universe, to condone slavery, to treat women as inferior creatures, to believe that sickness is caused by God’s punishment and that mental disease and epilepsy are caused by demonic possession. When someone tells me that they believe the Bible is the ‘literal and inerrant word of God,’ I always ask, ‘Have you ever read it’?” Bishop John Shelby Spong.

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“…Bush called himself a “simple president,” implying that he does not feel qualified to speak authoritatively on scientific matters. Few people do, since American science education, under the guise of “separation of church and state,” has for decades hindered students from understanding even basic science by limiting their studies to the evolutionary worldview and forbidding an open exploration of the evidence. This effort to suppress sound science continues as special interest groups pressure the Texas State Board of Education to drop the teaching of evolution’s “strengths and weaknesses” from the state science curriculum requirements, which the Board will review in early 2009.” From the Institute for Creation Research Here all emphasis added.

Am I missing something here, or are they trying to say that the schools are not teaching real or adequate science by leaving out creationism in classes?  Do they really want to teach the Christian God and Bible as science and totally screw-up these students?  The western world has tried for over a thousand years to stand up to this insanity and tell it to go away.  If Christianity were ever to gain control of the US society (and it almost has) and political power (it now controls a lot of the Republican Party) we will see a depression like never seen before. Think of a literal Modern Dark Ages.

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Early Christianity

The holy city of Jerusalem is teeming with pilgrims for the springtime feast of Passover, many of them looking for an earthly king, a messiah who will deliver them from the yoke of Roman oppression.

Jesus of Nazareth walks into this city. His protests against the Romans make him a popular hero. To some, he is the messiah. But to the Romans, he is nothing but political trouble. So they crucify him.

Jerusalem had been the holy city of Judaism for more than 1,000 years, a place that the Romans had occupied since 63 B.C. When the Romans killed Jesus, somewhere around 30-33 AD, scholars say, the Jews were desperately looking for a messiah to free them from Roman oppression, to liberate them and their promised land.  But there was disagreement as to who that messiah might be.  There was no messianic checklist. Some people would have followed Jesus. Others followed John the Baptist. Others followed additional figures.

Jerusalem, with its massive temple, was the holiest site on earth for Jews and its priestly caste; would many have even noticed Jesus, the wandering rabbi from the Galilee?  Who knows whether many Jews in Jerusalem at the time would have even known about the sect of Jewish Christians, people who believed that Jesus was the messiah? He would have looked and dressed the same as everyone else. He probably had some people following behind him.

Jesus was betrayed by his own disciple, Judas. And as Jesus had foretold in the gospels, Peter, had publicly denied him three times.  Only a few women, led by his mother, Mary, stayed at the foot of the cross.  Outside of the women who remained there watching, most of his followers actually ran away and hid, because they were afraid for their own safety.

That should have been the end of the Jesus story and it might have been if not, the gospels tell us, for the women, namely, Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of Jesus.  Three days after his death, they discovered his empty tomb. As he had promised, Jesus had risen from the dead.

The resurrected Jesus appeared to his disciples. According to the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus told them to stay in Jerusalem, where they would soon get a sign from heaven.  So they sit in a state of anticipation and expectation.

Then on the Jewish feast of Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus died, the sign came suddenly.  From heaven, there came a sound of the rush of a violent wind. It filled the entire house where they were sitting, divided tongues, as of fire appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages.

So that Jews who were in Jerusalem, whether they were from Egypt, Syren, Greece, or even Rome, they would be able to understand this new proclamation in their own dialect.

These earliest followers of Jesus considered themselves to be Jews. They thought that Jesus was the Jewish messiah who had been sent from the Jewish God to the Jewish people in fulfillment of the Jewish scriptures.

They were not, at least in the beginning, interested in starting a new religion. They were interested in preparing the world for its final consummation said by Jesus to be coming before many of the people of that time died.  But that kingdom doesn’t come. That message it seems was false.

Then they get two messengers who could not be more different, Peter, a simple fisherman from Galilee, who was Jesus’ chief apostle, and Paul, a sophisticated Pharisee. Together they will create a religion that would change the world.

People have called Paul the second founder of Christianity.  The religion is about Jesus. It’s a religion founded on Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Old Testament God was gently pushed aside and the light was focused on His Son.  This is kind of confusing, since according to the Trinitarians, God and Jesus, are one and the same. However, now Jesus/God was a mild and gentle deity unlike the killer warrior God of the Old Testament.

People listened to Paul because he was the perfect man for the job, able to speak to both Jews and Gentiles in their own language. He’s one of the first powerful intellects to convert to Christianity in the first century.  Paul said this is the one who could heal your child, if your child was sick. This is the God who could raise the dead; this is the one who could end the drought, who could end the famine. This is the god who could do miracles, and so this was the only God to be worshiped.

Delivering the Jesus message put Paul and Peter in conflict. Peter thought the resurrection of Jesus was for the Jews only. If you wanted to be a follower of Jesus you needed to convert to Judaism and obey the Jewish laws. Paul was preaching that the Gentiles were welcome without conversion.

Peter wielded considerable power in Jerusalem, power given to him by Jesus.  According to the gospel of Matthew, Jesus says to Peter, “You are Peter — the Greek term for rock, petros — and on this rock, petra, I will build my church.”  Peter became the head of the small Christian church that was centered in Jerusalem itself. So Peter was a key player in early Christianity, and according to tradition, was the one that converted Jews early on to believe that Jesus was the messiah.

There was another critical leader of the early followers of Jesus. His name was James and he seemed to have the ultimate trump card in the new faith as he was Jesus’ earthly brother.  He was raised in prominence among the Christians of Jerusalem and eventually became the leader of the Jerusalem church. James agreed with Peter: Jesus was for the Jews.

Within two decades of the crucifixion of Jesus, Christianity faced a life or death moment. The major dispute in early Christianity was whether followers of Jesus have to become Jewish in order to worship the Jewish god.

Around 48 to 49 CE, the first apostolic council is called in Jerusalem to resolve the issue of Gentile Christians… do they have to convert or not.  Paul argues that the Holy Spirit had descended upon the Gentiles apart from the Law of Moses. Therefore there was no reason to insist that those Gentiles be converted to Judaism in order to be a member of the church.  James, the brother of Jesus, presiding over this Jerusalem council, agrees with Paul.

It was a huge triumph for the new faith, and for Paul, whose arguments had won the day. The message of Jesus was for the whole world, and those who believed in that message could win eternal life.

But the biggest test was yet to come. How will the Jesus message go down in the heart of the pagan Roman Empire?

…Continued…

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Early Christianity II

The Roman Empire was home to more than 60 million people and dozens of religions in the first century CE.  Rome was a city of a million+ people. To spread the word of Jesus, the missionaries now had to spread through that empire, and the first into Rome was the Galilean fisherman, Peter.

Pagans were asking question, “What was going to happen to me when I died? How do I get forgiveness from sin?” The Christian church was saying, “We can provide you with those answers.”  If you believe in the resurrected Jesus you will win eternal life. That was the message that had huge appeal across the Roman Empire.

The Romans had built roads throughout the whole empire. They had gotten rid of most of the pirates that were on the seas. They had a common currency throughout the empire. Travel was possible and relatively safe, so it wasn’t unusual for someone like Paul to be able to travel to different places.

There were over a million Jews in Egypt and Alexandria; there were Jews in Damascus, Antioch, Athens, and Rome.  For the early Christian followers of Jesus, some of these Jews would have provided missionaries a home, a base from which they could reach other Jews…as well as Gentiles.

Paul never stopped. He traveled on foot across the great land mass of Asia Minor and by sea, across the Aegean.

Religiously speaking, Paul was a genius. Paul set up Christian communities; he directed them from afar by writing letters, or epistles, to keep them on the message of Jesus.  He preached everywhere, from small towns to the center of world culture, Athens.  He convinced philosophers and common men alike that God had sent his son, Jesus, to die and save everyone from sin.  Paul’s epistles to the various Christian communities are the earliest surviving Christian documents; they are older than the gospels.

Emperor Nero famously fiddled when a fire destroyed much of imperial Rome. When the city burned the Christians fall under suspicion. Nero realizes the Christians are the scapegoats, the natural scapegoats.
He had some of them burned as human torches in his gardens. He had others wrapped in animal skins and set wild dogs upon them. This was the first persecution of Christians by a Roman emperor. The reasons Christians were persecuted was not because it was illegal to be a Christian; they were persecuted because they were known to be troublemakers and would not give their allegiance to the Emperors.

Among Nero’s victims were the two most important leaders of the early Christian church. Peter had been living and preaching in Rome. Paul had been living under house arrest. Now, they were both condemned to death for their faith.  Peter is not a citizen of the Roman Empire and so he is able to be crucified. He is crucified upside down, because he did not feel that he was worthy to die in the same manner that Jesus did. Paul, who had spread Christianity throughout the empire, was beheaded.

Two years earlier, James, the brother of Jesus, was stoned to death in Jerusalem. Now, Peter and Paul were gone. The very hearts and souls of early Christianity were now gone. If Jesus/God hadn’t saved these three, what was ahead for Christianity?

Christians weren’t the only ones facing martyrdom. In Judea, the birthplace of Christianity, Judaism was about to undergo the most horrific trial in its tortured history. Rebellion and war with Rome loomed. The terrible outcome would further open the growing rift between Jews and Christians for the next 2,000 years.

In the year 66 AD, the Jews of Israel had had enough of their Roman masters and they launched a revolt that would permanently divide them from their Christian brothers. This was a serious uprising in which Jews decided to throw out the Roman oppressors and establish a sovereign state of Israel.  The Romans sent in legions from Assyria and fought their way south through Galilee to Jerusalem, the fortress of the Jewish rebels.

The Jews made the tactical mistake of all assembling in Jerusalem around that temple. Then they started to fight among themselves about what to do, and how to defend themselves. Then, according to the Jewish historian Josephus, the Roman general, Titus, surrounded Jerusalem and cut off the city’s food and water in an attempt to starve the people out.  Then Titus and his troops breached the walls of Jerusalem. They attacked the temple and slaughtered more than half a million Jews with sword, fire and crucifixion.

The Temple Mount was a huge area. Much of it was plated with gold and with fine wood.  Every Jew had an obligation to make three pilgrimages a year to the temple in Jerusalem, and people who lived in Judea took that obligation very seriously. The idea of pilgrimage was central to Jewish identity. The temple’s importance to the Jews made it the perfect target for the Romans to make clear exactly who was king of the Jews…Rome. The Romans burned the temple to the ground and Titus and his men seized the spoils of war.

As all conquerors do, they took the wealth for themselves. The gold and silver were melted down, and these precious metals were actually used in the facing of the Roman coliseum, Jesus had prophesied the end of the temple. “Truly, I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another. All will be thrown down.” The destruction of the temple was symbolic and devastating to the Jews. For the Christians, the destruction of the temple was punishment on the Jews for their rejection of Jesus.

Some of the Jewish rebels managed to escape and made their way to a hilltop fortress called Masada. But that also ended in tragedy when the Romans built a ramp to penetrate the fortress. The Jewish insurgency within the walls made a suicide pact. They killed one another until the last ones committed suicide. When the Romans finally surmounted the fortress, all they found were dead bodies.

With their rebellion crushed, hundreds of thousands dead and their temple gone, the Jews were in real danger of disappearing altogether. There was no Temple, no leadership.  This had been in place for nearly  a 1,000 years. Now all was lost.

It wasn’t quite over though. A  rabbi, Yochanan ben Zakkai, had escaped besieged Jerusalem by being smuggled out in a coffin. He made an appeal to the newly appointed emperor, Vespasian, asking to set up a peaceful rabbinical academy in the town of Yavneh, promising that it would be purely religious and not military or political in nature. Surprisingly, Vespasian agreed and a year later, in 70 A.D., the rabbi’s academy opened and was Judaism’s last hope.

The rabbi brought scholars together in Yavneh and for the first time built what would become the basis for a new type of Judaism that would run parallel with the beginnings of Christianity. From the ruins of the temple, two separate, distinct faiths would emerge…

continued…

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End Times, Armageddon, Second Coming. etc.

Got to thinking about the ‘End Times’ today (this being Sunday and all) and was wandering how close we were to the fabled ‘Battle of Armageddon.’ all the Christians keep talking about and wishing for. Seems there are still a few items from Biblical prophecy that need to happen before the actual ‘End Times’ are upon us.

“Megiddo was a site of great importance in the ancient world, as it guarded the western branch of a narrow pass and an ancient trade route which connected the lands of Egypt and Assyria. Because of its strategic location at the crossroads of several major routes, Megiddo and its environs have witnessed several major battles throughout history. The site was inhabited from 7000 BC to 500 BC.” From Wikipedia, go: HERE

This little fact about Megiddo’s being occupied 3000 years ( Jericho is even older) before God supposedly created Adam & Eve, makes one wonder, and maybe think that the writers of the Bible were just making up stuff.

“After the destruction of the Beast at the Second Coming of Jesus, the promised Kingdom is set up, in which Jesus and the Saints will rule for a thousand years. Satan is then loosed **”for a season” and goes out to deceive the nations, specifically, Gog and Magog. The army mentioned attacks the Saints in the New Jerusalem, they are defeated by a judgment of fire coming down from Heaven, and then comes the Great White Throne judgment, which includes all of those through the ages and these are cast into the Lake of Fire, which event is also known as the “second death” or Hell.” See Wikipedia HERE

Premillennialism is a doctrine very popular among Evangelical Fundamentalist Protestants in North America. Other premillennial groups include Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh Day Adventists. Premillennialists believe the Second Coming of Christ will be the start of the ‘Millennium’ (the 1000 year period when Jesus (God for you Trinitarians) rules the world). Before this period will come a time of destruction, war and disaster on earth, called the ‘Tribulation’, which will be ended by God defeating evil (Those pesky Russkies maybe, or politicians?) at the battle of Armageddon.

During the ‘Tribulation’ the Antichrist (Satan’s emissary…probably a politician) will torture humanity, and God will go to war against him. The tribulation will end in seven years when God defeats the Antichrist and we will enter the ‘Millennium. One thing to wonder about…why would a omnipotent God take seven years to defeat evil? Another thing that is troubling to me is that some Christians think they will be caught up in a ‘Rapture’ and miss all the Tribulation. Just like the Trinity, the Rapture doesn’t seem to be mentioned in the Bible…and some Christians build a whole church/sect on these things.

Hard core Premillennialists also don’t see much point in Christians trying to improve the world, since God is about to destroy much of it…and then remake it…again…think Noah’s Flood. I could kinda’ see their point here, but since all this is just very weird and wishful thinking, and old myth’s, they really aren’t very good world citizens…and kind of downers to be around socially.

**Whats up with letting Satan loose again…does God have no mercy?

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Many fundamentalist Christians believe that the building of the Third Temple is one of the prerequisites for the second coming of Christ. Some Christian fundamentalists in the United States support arms sales and military aid to Israel in the belief that these actions will help Israel rebuild its Temple and thus bring about the End Times. Critics say the actions of fundamentalist Christians in Israel and Palestine, which includes providing material support for Jewish settlers in what was formerly Palestinian lands, is building dangerous tension in the area. However the Temple Mount is now controlled by Muslim’s, and is considered its most sacred (Dome of the Rock) site, so its unlikely that the Jews will attempt to build a new Temple there for a very long time…if ever.

Well, I think we can count out the fulfilling of this Temple3 prophecy for the immediate future. I don’t think the Muslim’s will give up the site and Israel so far looks like they don’t want to start WWIII.

All this sounds pretty scary, but since there is already lots of doubt about the stories I don’t think I’m going to worry about these Biblical myths very much. And people openly and loudly wishing for the end of the world need to go suck eggs. 🙂

Actually the Battle of Armageddon was fought in 1918, British Christianity…against the Ottoman Empire. We won.

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Original Sin

The idea of Original Sin is based on Paul’s supposition that all humans are born sinful. It is not a theological concept that is brought up or mentioned in the original text of the Old Testament.

In the fifth chapter of Romans, according to Paul, humanity was cursed because Adam and Eve sinned when they ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. As Paul puts it:

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. Rom. 5:12

…or as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 1 Cor. 15:22

17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
Rom. 5:17-19

Now we have to remember that Paul saw Jesus in a beam of light on the road to Damascus. He never studied with him or listened to him, though he was alive at the same time. And Jesus, when he was alive, was preaching a pro-Hebrew apocalyptic message. Paul saw fit to subtly change the thrust of Jesus’ teaching to what we have now, one-size-fits-all, believe in us or die.

At no point in the OT do we see anything that might qualify as a curse of “Original Sin” to be handed down to all of Adam and Eve’s descendants. Yes, their lives are supposed to become more difficult than they had heretofore experienced; but where is all of that is the “Sin” being passed along?

Perhaps more importantly, there is no indication that this sin must be “redeemed” eventually by Jesus? Christianity is anxious to portray itself as the logical and theological offspring of Judaism, but if Paul simply invents a concept and tacks it on to Jewish stories, it’s hard to see how that makes it true. If I went around claiming that Jesus spoke to me in a ‘beam of light’ and he conveyed new theological concepts to be accepted by all Christianity…how far would I get before being locked up in the funny farm?

In Genesis and all of the way through to the ending of Malachi, there isn’t the slightest hint of there being any sort of Original Sin inherited by all humans through Adam and Eve. There are stories of God getting angry at humanity in general…and at the Jews in particular…offering many opportunities for God to point out how everyone is “sinful” because of Adam and Eve. Yet we find nothing about that.

Also, there is nothing about how everyone who isn’t “right” with God will go to hell and be tormented… another staple of Christian theology connected to Original Sin. You would think that God would have the civility to mention something this important to us.

Not even Jesus is quoted as having been concerned with Adam and Original Sin. Paul’s interpretation is not really warranted by the actual story. This is a big problem. If this interpretation is not right, the whole Christian scheme of salvation falls apart.

Just as the Trinity is made up by later ‘Christians’, so too is ‘Original Sin’.

Christians however, have a uncommon ability to ignore facts.

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Is God Omniscient and Omnipotent?

“Once there was a time when all people believed in God and the church ruled. This time is called the Dark Ages.”

Hi Dove124, thank you for your reply.

“The story lacking in Logic” That is your point of view concerning the bible. FYI, a) It is not the intention of God that Lucifer should turn up the way he is.”

Well, yes it is my point of view and I am not alone in that view. Your point (a) was answered in the body of the original post. Repeated here: Since God created the whole shebang, so to speak, I would assume he is also responsible for evil. People have told me nothing exists in this world, except by God. If in fact He is all knowing He would surely know right away that his creation of Satan was wrong…in point of fact, an all knowing God would have realized it immediately. He should have corrected it then, not allowed the melodrama to start.

“b) the word Trinity was not in the bible c) God is not all knowing d) God is not everywhere e) there are things that God can’t do ( as some people perceive to be )”

Your point (b). Yes I know that, I have argued that there is no Trinity. The post you were looking at was an answer to someone who was arguing for a Trinity
Your Point (c and d). Every Christian I have EVER talked to has said that God was omnipotent and omniscience. The general definition of a God is such.
Your point (e). The general definition of God is such. If you know something I don’t in this matter, I would love to hear about it.

“And your thought that human need no biblical source to tell them what is evil, and just follow the “Golden Rule” is contradicting yourself. Golden Rule is a biblical source. And another thing is, you can’t tell what is right and what is wrong if there is no law telling you.”

Well if it’s in the Bible, then men thought it up. Men go around all the time making up rules and laws…consider Murphy’s law. I could tell right from wrong when I was 5 years old…didn’t need Bible to tell me that.

“Because sin is the transgression of the law. The law in the first place was created for the wicked and not for the just.”

So, if I jaywalk…I’m committing sin? What is your definition of wicked?

“So, if your interested to know the answers of a-d , just ask me . Until next time.
God bless”

Answered in reply to point (e).
Thanks for your reply Dove124

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