Proof that the scriptures are man-made and don’t convey God’s word

When you read this I’ll be over—or, if something goes wrong, in—the Atlantic. If all goes well, Grania will have done the Hili dialogue; please her a hand for repeatedly filling in for me when I’m traveling.

I woke up about 2 a.m. in the Warsaw airport hotel and this idea suddenly popped into my head. Usually, genius ideas I have in the middle of the night are forgotten by morning (and rightfully so!), but I still remember this one. I’m throwing it out here because I can’t remember anybody making this claim before, though given the tortuous history of theology, someone surely has.

One thing that every liberal Christian or Jew admits is that the morality laid out in the Old Testament (and, for liberal Christians, much that appears in the New Testament, like the existence of hell for those who reject Jesus as Savior and heaven for those who don’t) are to be ignored—that most Biblical morality no longer applies.  So, for instance, we no longer agree with these views of right and wrong, which the Wikipedia article on “ethics in the Bible” summarizes conveniently:

Elizabeth Anderson criticizes commands God gave to men in the Old Testament, such as: kill adulterers, homosexuals, and “people who work on the Sabbath” (Leviticus 20:10; Leviticus 20:13; Exodus 35:2, respectively); to commit ethnic cleansing (Exodus 34:11-14, Leviticus 26:7-9); commit genocide (Numbers 21: 2-3, Numbers 21:33–35, Deuteronomy 2:26–35, and Joshua 1–12); and other mass killings.Anderson considers the Bible to permit slavery, the beating of slaves, the rape of female captives in wartime, polygamy (for men), the killing of prisoners, and child sacrifice. She also provides a number of examples to illustrate what she considers “God’s moral character”: “Routinely punishes people for the sins of others … punishes all mothers by condemning them to painful childbirth”, punishes four generations of descendants of those who worship other Gods, kills 24,000 Israelites because some of them sinned (Numbers 25:1–9), kills 70,000 Israelites for the sin of David in 2 Samuel 24:10–15, and “sends two bears out of the woods to tear forty-two children to pieces” because they called someone names in 2 Kings 2:23–24.

Blackburn provides examples of Old Testament moral criticisms such as the phrase in Exodus 22:18 that has “helped to burn alive tens or hundreds of thousands of women in Europe and America”: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” and notes that the Old Testament God apparently has “no problems with a slave-owning society”, considers birth control a crime punishable by death, and “is keen on child abuse”.Additional examples that are questioned today are: the prohibition on touching women during their “period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev. 15:19–24)”, the apparent approval of selling daughters into slavery (Exodus 21:7), and the obligation to put to death someone working on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:2).

There are, of course, many more. Abraham and Isaac aren’t even mentioned!

These days nobody feels obliged to carry out such commands.

There are several ways to get around this rejection of Biblical morality; the first two assume that the Bible was somehow either the Word of God or divinely inspired by God.

  • God didn’t really mean what he said; it’s all metaphor. But that won’t wash because even if you see the Bible as just “divinely inspired,” these simply aren’t metaphors, but “historical accounts” of what God commanded or wanted and what his adherents did. There’s no rational way to construe it otherwise.
  • God did mean it, but times have changed; God dictated a morality appropriate only for Biblical times, but the times they have ‘a changed. This won’t wash either, and for several reasons. If God’s own morality is unchanging, and was laid down only once, but now no longer applies due to changing times, then anything goes; there is no longer any religious guidance for how to behave. And why would the rules change, anyway? If you could be killed for gathering sticks on Sabbath, why did that stricture go away? If slavery was okay in first-century Palestine, why is it now not only not okay, but morally reprehensible? Why did homosexuality suddenly become acceptable in God’s eyes? What changed?
  • My view: the morality “dictated by God” was really a reflection of a morality held by humans.  Those who accept Plato’s Euthyphro argument already realize that human morality must precede Biblical morality since God’s approval of an action can’t possibly be the sole criterion for determining whether it’s “right.” But the fact that the vast majority of Christians abjure Biblical morality like that above, combined with the fact that that “Biblical” morality was enforced Biblical times, can mean only one thing: God’s commandments were really made up by humans. It follows that we must not only reject the idea that Bible is the absolute Word of God a beneficent God whose laws were unchanging, but also accept that that morality was constructed by humans. In both cases the argument for morality based on Scripture fails.

Now we nonbelievers know this already. The priors for humans making up the Bible are surely higher than the priors for some Palestinian scribes channeling the word of a God who never left any evidence for His existence. (This is, of course, irrelevant to the issue of whether Jesus or Moses really existed as non-divine beings.)

I’m absolutely sure that religionists will say that my argument is naive, but who is more naive than someone who not only believes a book that has already proven to be wrong in many parts and a human construction in others, but also thinks their own scripture is the right one, invalidating, say, the Qur’an and the Bhagavad Gita? Who is more naive than someone who claims to prove definitively that humans can go to Heaven but dogs cannot?

Even neglecting the Euthyphro argument, which I consider one of the greatest contributions of philosophy to everyday human life, the fact that Biblical morality not only no longer applies, but is largely considered to be immoral, must certainly mean this: the precepts of behavior laid out in scripture were applicable only to their time, and were therefore constructed by humans. This, of course, completely destroys the argument that without the Bible, “Western” civilization would degenerate into anarchy and immorality. For if humans could make a workable morality for two millennia ago, they can surely construct one that works in our day.

Okay, tell me where I’m wrong.



  1. Posted August 16, 2016 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Having point this out myself to one fundamentalist in particular, she dismissed it soundly as a complete misunderstanding (or unawareness) of the New Testament, through which Jesus established a “new covenant” with man, rendering those ancient proscriptions in the Pentateuch obsolete. I suspect this is a common counterargument to the “Biblical morality” problem, and one that you haven’t directly addressed, so that’s worth exploring. Of course this move itself raises a whole host of new questions, all of which I’m sure she has ready-made answers to as well.

    • steve oberski
      Posted August 16, 2016 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      Matthew 5:17-18 King James Version (KJV)

      17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

      18 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.

      • boggy
        Posted August 16, 2016 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

        ‘I came not to bring peace but with a sword’.
        Matthew 10:34

    • BobTerrace
      Posted August 16, 2016 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      In the NT, Jesus said:

      “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest part or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” (Matthew 5:17)

      Which eliminates that "new covenant"

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted August 16, 2016 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      I’ve used this argument on a fundamentalist too with the same result – that everything changed with Jesus. Of course, not everything has changed. Her church still condemns homosexuality, believes Catholics are all going to hell for worshipping saints, and doesn’t approve of Harry Potter.

      There was much about her positions that were illogical, but she didn’t question what she was told by her pastor. She thought the Boxing Day tsunami ten years ago was sent by God as a warning. I gave her some religious-type reasons why it was unlikely His work. She came back a week later saying her pastor agreed with me. That happened with some other things too.

      She never asked me my religion – she assumed I’m a Protestant Christian because she considered me a good person put in her life by God as an example of how to cope with pain and adversity! She told me several times how worried she is about her elderly neighbour who she described as “the nicest, kindest, person you could ever imagine.” So why was she worried? The neighbour was a Catholic and therefore would burn in hell and at her age she didn’t have much time left to convert.

      She was my home help, and the best I ever had at the job. I always wonder how she’d feel if she knew she was helping an atheist!

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 17, 2016 at 2:57 am | Permalink

        “She thought the Boxing Day tsunami ten years ago was sent by God as a warning.”

        And the 230,000 people who died? What was it warning them of?


        • HaggisForBrains
          Posted August 17, 2016 at 3:54 am | Permalink

          And the 230,000 people who died? What was it warning them of?

          Just a good example of god’s morality, or bad temper. Or perhaps he thought they were all Catholics😉

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted August 17, 2016 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

          To accept Jesus into their lives. I asked her about all the Christians who suffered and died along with the supposed heathens. She seemed not to have even considered that some might be Christian and wondered if they had sinned in some way. I suggested it was unlikely all Christians in that area had sinned badly enough to deserve that, and to consider all the people elsewhere doing things like rape, murder, and terrorism. That’s when she decided to ask her pastor, who thankfully told her God hadn’t sent it.

    • Jeremy Tarone
      Posted August 17, 2016 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      Do a Google search: “What did Jesus fulfill”
      It’s a topic that has been addressed by many Christians, and answered in many, different ways. Which is not surprising since the interpretation is opposite to how the scripture reads. I particularly enjoy this one and the author’s ability to say nothing in so much text:

      They are all similar, in that they don’t really say anything, they just go round and round, some quote other scripture in an attempt to back up their claim. I noticed the vast majority don’t allow comments.

      Our friends at tell us the law does not mean the “the law”.
      “…the fulfillment of the Law means that Christ completed the sacrificial system that became necessary because of sin.”

      “the law” means the expulsion from Eden? How’s that for reinterpreting a word. One would believe the Son Of God could have made that clear if that was really the case.

      The only way to get it to mean what they want it to mean is to make words mean things they don’t mean, and never did.

      I once argued with six Christians who represented three sects, they all agreed that the Bible could only be interpreted one way. I pointed out the irony of their statement and position, and that at least two of them didn’t even have the same Bible.
      I was told I was an evil atheist (as if there is any other kind), doing Satan’s work and going to hell. Two of them used some pretty filthy language to get the idea across.

      I’ve only ever talked personally to one Muslim who admitted the Quran can be interpreted in many ways. All others (so far) said it can only be interpreted in one way. When asked why there are so many Muslims who believe different things I was told, there isn’t or they aren’t real Muslims. I had one Muslim who told me words mean only what they mean and can’t be interpreted in more than one way no matter what the text. That was the second most frustrating discussion I’d ever had.

  2. sabre422
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Robert Wright provides a similar take in his book “A History of God”.

  3. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Unless I missed it in the post above:

    Another view on the holy books I don’t hear and always wondered about – well, let me try like usual to blurt this out here while I’m in the middle of something : two parts ;

    1. We anti- and non- religionists sometimes assume that believers take the holy books as a prescription or instruction manual.

    2. This gives believers the counter argument that they interpret them like any other piece of fiction as a story with heroes and villains – so Job’s actions are t telling us to kill their own children but illustrating as in any other piece of fiction the power of god.


    • Newish Gnu
      Posted August 16, 2016 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      Re: your number 2

      Of course,that means the entire New Testament can be interpreted as a sunnier version of Job. God is tempting the Jews to abandon their God on the promise of eternal bliss.

      Like Job, they mostly don’t. Hooray for the Jews! They didn’t fall for god’s tricks!

  4. bluemaas
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    For all of your attentiveness to W E I T, to Dr Coyne and to Us Readers, IF I could perform miracles, then this — posted this morning on Twitter by that darling – est of its humorists, Swedish Canary — is the one that I would so “cause” to magically happen for you, Ms Grania !

    My thanks !

    • Kevin
      Posted August 16, 2016 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      SwedishCanary is worth a glance.

      • Peter Welch
        Posted August 16, 2016 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

        Swedish canary: some very funny posts, followed by tiresome drinking references, interspaced with virulent American right wing nonsense.

  5. Posted August 16, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    The evident superiority of humanity-based to religion-based morality, especially regarding homosexuality, has IMO been one of the main drivers in the UK of the rejection of religion

    • HNcroatia
      Posted August 16, 2016 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      I know that many, many people reject theism, and the Bible – because of Biblical morality… But Isn’t that terrible bad reason for rejection of the Bible? I don’t like what the Bible is against premarital sex therefore I will become an atheist? Or, I don’t like what the Bible is against homosexuality, therefore I will become an atheist? I would agree with you that this is perhaps the main reason why people reject religion, but it seems to me that this is a terrible reason.

      I think that almost every argument is better than this one – from all arguments against theism (or the Bible) it’s quite shocking and disappoint for me that this might be the main reason why people reject religion. Of all arguments – problem of evil, divine hiddenness, historical errors in the Bible, etc. etc. For me it is quite worrying that the main reason for atheism is – “I’m gay, the Bible is against homosexuality, therefore I will become atheist”

      I personally think that this is wishful thinking. That is basically the atheistic version of theistic argument : “I want to live forever, therefore, God exists”

      • SRM
        Posted August 16, 2016 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        I disagree. I suppose distaste with some edicts in the bible might eventually lead one to atheism but only with one predisposed toward atheism in the first place. For one predisposed toward faith, it will simply lead them to a different religion or form of spirituality. An atheist at root is just someone who finds the whole notion of a devine creator and manager highly unlikely to be true. Revulsion at biblical morality has little to do with it from any sort of fundamental perspective.

        • HNcroatia
          Posted August 16, 2016 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

          I don’t think that is the case. I think that quite a large number of (for example) gay people will say that the reason why they become atheists is because the Bible is homophobic book- or because God is a homophobe. Of course, this is not the case for everyone, but I think this is the case for not a small number of people who identify themselves as atheists. I think it is possible to do an ‘experiment’ to find out what is the case. Ask the (gay) atheists: “If someone proves that there is a deistic kind of God with 100%, would you change your opinion”. Almost everyone would answer yes. And then ask different question “If someone’s proves with 100% that the Biblical God exists (God who is against homosexuality) would you change your lifestyle – i.e. would you stop having sex and many, many people will openly answer no. For example, if 99% of people answer yes on 1. question and 50% of people answer no on 2. question, it seems to me that this would show that the ‘driving’ force for their atheism is “I don’t like God, therefore, God does not exists”

          And there are people who do what you said. About 23% of US population identify themselves as unaffiliated, or without any religion in particular (according to PEW), but only about 7% identify themselves as atheists/agnostics. That means that there are 16% of people who believe in God but do not believe in any God of religions. Of course I’m not saying that every who does not believe in the Bible or Quran or in God does not believe because he doesn’t like “Morality of the Bible or Quran”. Obviously that is not true, plenty of people do not believe in God or Bible because of logical arguments, but I think that plenty more people who do not believe in a personal God (or Christian God for example) do not believe precisely because of Biblical rules about sex – and maybe other ‘moral rules’ as well, and that is I think the reason / argument from wishful thinking. It is no better than theistic form of the argument which says “I want that there is a God who cares about me, therefore God exists/therefore I will be theist”, the only difference is that atheistic form says “I don’t want that there is a God who is against my lifestyle, therefore, God does not exist/therefore I will be atheist”

          • SRM
            Posted August 16, 2016 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

            Well, I am not convinced. The idea that “god is a homophobe therefore I do not believe in god” is not only an exceedingly poor reason for not believing in god(s) as you suggest, but it just doesn’t ring true. Most people, for whatever reasons, tend to believe in devine agency of some sort. The gay person who is religiously raised and/or inclined who is put off by a homophobic god is much more likely to assume that god, while existing, cannot really be that way. Or they may become what most theists think atheists are: god haters. But most likely they may abandon traditional religions in favor of a less structured version of spirituality.

            This is a related issue that I have often noted. That is, that there are a lot of people who suggest they are atheists. But start askiing a few questions and what you find is that they have merely rejected the conventional religions yet they remain as spiritually inclined as any religionist.

            I would be suspicious of the convictions of anyone who claims that they are atheist merely because of moral objections to the supposed nature of god. Though I suppose that such a scenario may account for some people who self-identify as atheists.

            • HNcroatia
              Posted August 16, 2016 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

              I think it is true, and I believe I am not the only one who thinks that. Perhaps we have seen/talked to very, very different people. Not everyone is spending hours and hours on rational arguments for/against God. I think that the majority of people, on both sides- believe what they believe mainly because of emotional arguments, and not rational arguments. I got the feeling that many people really do not care about truth, what they care about is themselves, and their lives/feelings.

              Very often I hear something like: “If the Church would care less about abortion and gays, more people would be Christians”. But at any case I think that those 2 questions are a good way to show (taught not prove) that emotional arguments are driving force for why some people are not theists. If on a 1. question, 99% people answers yes, and if on 2. question, 50% or less answers no, that does not prove in my opinion that emotions are driving force for leaving church- Christianity- theism, but I think it gives a good argument that they are.

              Again, I’m not saying that every gay or other person does not believe in God – because they are gay, or because they do not like moral rules in the Bible, obviously that’s not the case, but I think that for very many people this reason number one.

              Maybe we will not agree on that for now, but at least we agree that this is terrible reason/’argument’ for atheism.

              • SRM
                Posted August 16, 2016 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

                Yes we agree on that for sure.

                I’m not sure your questionnaire scenario tells you what you think it is telling you, however.

      • Posted August 17, 2016 at 12:28 am | Permalink

        No; recognizing that the commands to rape and murder innocent people are reprehensible leads one to conclude that the theistic claim of an omnibenevolent god is ridiculous. If there is a god, one who commanded those things, it is not worth our worship.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted August 17, 2016 at 3:03 am | Permalink

          I agree. God is good, omniscient, omnipresent, benevolent – and a complete and utter bastard from start to finish.

          That just makes no sense at all.

          The only logical conclusion is the obvious one – that there is no being with those attributes.


  6. YF
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I vaguely recall that Vic Stenger or Sam Harris (and possibly other ‘Horsemen of New Atheism’) made a similar argument in one of their books or debates, but your presentation of it is well done and convincing.

  7. BobTerrace
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink


  8. hnCroatia
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    If I understand you correctly (and perhaps I don’t, perhaps I am missing something) Isn’t your argument basically: majority of Christians reject Biblical morality, therefore, Biblical morality is not from God. Perhaps I have missed something, but if that is your argument, I’m not quite sure if that works.

    First, in a sense, from the Biblical point of view, shouldn’t we expect that people will reject Biblical morality – because of sin? According to the Bible, (in some sense) “humans are rebels against God and against his rules” – and if that is correct, then I think we should expect that many people, including Christians will be against Biblical morality.

    And even without that I don’t quite see how it follows that because the majority of people reject something- and therefore- this something does not exist. Obviously that is not the case in any other scenario. If the majority of people reject evolution, that does not mean evolution is not true. If the majority of people reject that 2+2=4 that does not mean that 2+2 isn’t 4… Since it is completely irrelevant what the majority of people think in every other case, I don’t see why it wouldn’t be irrelevant in this case.

    Again, perhaps I’m missing something huge, but in a case I’m not missing anything, I don’t think this is a very good argument. In general, I don’t think that arguments against the Bible based on morality are very good. I think the best arguments against the Bible are based on history, science, etc. (for example: exodus).

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted August 16, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      That’s not how I read the argument. What I read (and how I’ve used it myself) is that Christians say that the crimes and punishments of the OT only applied in Biblical times. That slavery, for example, was okay then.

      But they also say that God is unchanging, all-knowing, all-powerful. So if slavery was okay then, why isn’t it okay now? It’s the same God. Has he changed his mind? The same can be said about lots of “sins” that God previously said deserved the death penalty but don’t now, like working on the Sabbath.

      So if God changes his mind on morality, as He clearly does frequently, how can He or the Bible be used as a source of morality?

      Either God isn’t an unchanging constant, or the morality of OT times simply reflects the time and not God’s opinion. You can’t have both. Whether or not God exists, it shows that the Bible was written by man and not divinely inspired.

      • HNcroatia
        Posted August 16, 2016 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

        It could be the case that Jerry meant on this, but in that case, this is not a new argument. I’m not quite sure that he meant on your argument, but that’s not so important right now.

        I’m not so sure if your argument works as well. Let’s try to see if it works.
        God is unchanging, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good etc. I think what (many) theologians mean by unchanging is that God will always to the best possible thing in every situation, and not that he always does the same thing in any situation.He might do different things in different situations, and I don’t see that as a problem, in fact, I see this as a requirement.

        For example, let’s imagine that God always has a smile on his face, and that some person comes to him with tears in the eyes and says that his/her parents died. If he [God] wouldn’t change (in your meaning of the word) he would continue to smile while that person would cry, and that is not a perfection, he must change in this situation and put a sad expression on his face in order to be perfect. Not only that God can change (in your meaning of the word), in my opinion, he needs to change his behavior sometimes in order to do the best possible thing, and I don’t see that as a problem…

        And if you agree with that, if you say that there is nothing wrong when God changes his facial expression, then the question is, why would be wrong for God to give different moral orders in different situations, in fact that might be necessary. Let me give you one scenario: For example, if God says smoking is wrong, and there is one group of people who would stop smoking only if they can smoke for the next 30 days, I think it would be necessary for God to say to those people, “Okay, you can smoke for the next 30 days” – because if he does not say that, he would allow greater evil to flourish (and if you agree with that, the similiar thing could be said for OT laws, he allowed those laws for some greater good) Or perhaps better example (with humans): Allowing your child to suffer even for 1 hour is a bad thing, but if you have to decide between making/allowing your child to suffer (for example: on operation table) or letting your child to die – if you are a good person you will decide to deliberately make your child suffer for the greater good, so I don’t see this argument as a big problem for the Bible or theism.

        In few words: God does not change in a sense that he will always do the best thing in every scenario, but doing the best thing in every scenario does not means doing the same thing in every scenario, quite the opposite, if you want to do the best thing always, you must do different thing in different scenarios (conditions… Example: facial expression)

        By the way, I apologize for my grammar mistakes, but English is not my main language, as you can tell.

  9. Alex
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Typical Catholic: But we don’t take the Bible literally! That’s all the other fundamentalists who are not true Christians!

    Of course not, you revere the Catechism more of your personal “Bible” than the actual Bible itself despite cherry-picking verses from the latter in your first and second Readings along with the Gospel to implicate in your final homily product at every session of Mass, all the while ignoring the finer print not mentioned to the Catholic layman attending via Mass.

    And the Catechism is no better in the degrees of its immorality, faulty theological logic, and its pseudoscientific advertisement of performing prayer “correctly” to the Catholic customer than its Biblical counterpart. And this was all promoted and published in the year 1992 by the “saintly” pope John Paul II.

  10. Kevin
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    If anyone reads this posts with a modicum of intelligence they can, at worst, leave a Deist.

    There is however, the Alien Problem. A god-like advanced race comes to earth and informs us there are no gods. The most faithful will ignore. I do not know how to solve this problem, except kidnapping the children of the faithful and raise them without religion. And this would be proof, too, that religion is man made. In as little as one generation the whole of humanity would unsubscribe to faith.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted August 16, 2016 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      I say religion is alien abduction stories from when nobody knew about space.

      • $G
        Posted August 16, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        Wasn’t this the premise of the sci-fi movie Stargate? Aliens not only built the pyramids but they were themselves the gods depicted on the walls, or something.

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted August 16, 2016 at 12:07 pm | Permalink


          No it wasn’t.

        • Dragon
          Posted August 16, 2016 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

          Largely. The aliens enslaved the humans thousands of years ago, and forced the humans to build the pyramids. The people depicted on the walls were either the alien Goa’uld, parasitic/symbiotic snakes that burrow into humans, or the Jafar, wearing armor. The armor covered the humanoid heads with various other beast heads.
          And Goa’uld morality had nothing to do with the best interests of humans. It didn’t even have the best interest of other Goa’uld in mind.
          Stargate: SG1 expounded on it in more detail. SG1 had many episodes which examined concepts in all faiths. It was not pro-faith.

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted August 16, 2016 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

          I was joking saying “no”, but now I’m being serious when I submit that Christianity and other original religions have elements that are equivalent to the modern alien abduction stories made popular by “Communion”. Jesus coming from the heavens is equivalent to the alien abductee returning to us with enlightenment. Of course there’s the modeling of the AA story to Christian myth, but why aren’t there any alien visitor stories from the Bronze Age? Instead of aliens, the religions used God…. because who heard of aliens… this works better when I explain it in person.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 17, 2016 at 3:10 am | Permalink

      “And this would be proof, too, that religion is man made. In as little as one generation the whole of humanity would unsubscribe to faith.”

      Well they would abandon the faith of their fathers, obviously, knowing nothing of it.

      But I’m afraid they would probably invent something else to take its place (possibly though not necessarily even worse). I think there is in the human character a predisposition to *believe* in something, beyond what can be justified by rational thought.


      • Posted August 17, 2016 at 8:51 am | Permalink

        However, after once becoming secular, Europeans rarely turn to fundamentalism except when influenced by imported Islamic fundamentalists.
        It is another matter why they find Islam a nice thing, and the more of it, the better.

  11. Kevin Meredith
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Although they don’t acknowledge the dilemma the way you do, Christians have an implied understanding of the contradiction and have developed a workaround: Jesus’ sacrifice changed human’s relationship with God. Under God/Jesus 2.0 (New Testament), the basic rules of God 1.0 (Old Testament) were tossed out.

    Which rules? Dilemma returns.

    It’s okay to eat pork and wear clothing of different fibers because Jesus’ resurrection negated all those those rules. But walk up to a pork-eating, cotton/polyester-wearing Bible thumper and ask about homosexuality and they’ll say nope because Bible.

    • Charlie Jones
      Posted August 16, 2016 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      The New Testament gets you out of some of the out-dated morality, but not all of it. For example, the New Testament also regards slavery as a perfectly OK practice requiring just a little light regulation.

      It also condemns homosexuality.

      And it says women should wear hats in church because whereas man is created in the image of God, women was created from man. As a copy of a copy, women are less perfect and need to cover their heads. Yes, this implies that God was not a good copyist.

    • Posted August 18, 2016 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      Yup, religions are like parasites and diseases. The suffering population quickly develops immunity (rationalizations, etc.) to most of the worst effects. Or else they perish, and so does the meme that has infected them.

  12. Posted August 16, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Thanks very much for this wonderful summary. However, most believers are “true believers.” Facts don’t matter to them. But it is an excellent development that we atheists are becoming more and more vocal.

  13. Draken
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    If the morals as depicted in the Old Testament were all accepted by the tribe represented by the scribes, then that must have been one of the most vile, violent, repugnant and hypocritical tribes ever in the history of mankind.

    It’s easier to see the OT as a contemporary form of rageblogging.

    • Posted August 17, 2016 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      We have no reason to think that the religious commands of other tribes were any better. Many cultures have practiced human sacrifice and God-sanctioned genocide, rape and slavery. The difference is that the Old Testament has survived and is well known. I admit that I blame the Romans for destroying Carthage, but from what we know about the child-sacrificing customs of Carthaginians, I do not really wish their culture to have survived.

  14. Posted August 16, 2016 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I’ve begun to argue that only evolutionarily derived morals are universal and objective. They change slowly if at all and come from within whether you like it or not. Your description is perfect for showing that religious based morals aren’t universal and unchanging. They change all the time. Nor are they objective. They require the believer to subjectively choose from a long dinner table of morality which they like and which they don’t.

  15. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Well, you know I don’t truck with religion, but maybe I can pretend to be religious to mount a counter-argument.
    I would rebut by saying that God did mean it in the OT times, but seeing how his Laws were not making men holy He then tried something new and wonderfully generous. He sent his only son, Jesus, to absorb our sins , and in His death he has given us a way to save ourselves. The Lord made it clear (!) that the only way to be saved was to choose to follow Christs’ path and to live by His example. So it was once required that we not work on the Sabbath, and not wear clothing made with different kinds of cloth, and so on. But now we must accept Jesus as our savior, and follow His teachings to attain everlasting life.
    You ask why would God command us to follow one set of laws and later apply new laws for man to follow. But don’t you see that the constant here is that God wants us to worship Him and mold our lives around His will. That has always been His goal. But man is far from perfect and is in fact generally sinful. Finding that the laws laid down for the descendants of Adam to follow were not working as planned, God resolved to destroy nearly all of humanity in a Great Flood. The descendants of Noah later proved to be similarly unworthy of God’s love, but rather than correct things by punishing us all again, He gave us His only son and a clear path to salvation that we can choose to follow, else suffer eternal damnation like those before. The means to find favor in Gods’ eyes have changed (because they did not work), but once again the constant has always been that He wants us to believe and worship in Him.

    Ok, that was weird. Where the hell did that come from? Feel free to give it a shellacking.

    • Posted August 16, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      I think the proposal is formally heretical in most denominations, as it implies that god changed his mind, which is supposedly impossible. This is why Paul has to say that Jesus has been around and doing stuff since the beginning of the world and all that.

    • J.Baldwin
      Posted August 16, 2016 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      God’s been running a trial-and-error experiment on humans from the start? That’s more plausible than the infallible God thesis but, as already pointed out by Keith Douglas, I doubt most Xtians would agree that God makes poor predictions about the future.

  16. Mike Lyons
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Surely this exact argument can also be made for the Quran .

  17. Posted August 16, 2016 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Answer I think you’d get is that the battles in the old testament were *then* moral, not relative to morality in the “under aspect of eternity” sense, but relative to the depravity of those being killed. Both WLC and some Catholics I’ve debated long ago made this claim.

    Unfortunately, as Muslims also discovered when it comes to following “the prophet as example”, this creates an example whereby people can claim that god is telling them “this situation is like that”, and *even on their own terms* they have no means to criticize it.

  18. Fez Arbitrage
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Telling you where you’re wrong is going to be tough when you regularly choose not to post comments from religious readers (and often go beyond that to mock them publicly). Which all but guarantees you nothing but an echo chamber here, or at most a forum with tactical differences.

    If you want serious debate around religion there are many forums on the Internet. Reddit is an easy place to create a user; try that and post your question in DebateReligion, and I guarantee you you’ll at least get a few thoughtful and well-informed answers.

    (For the record, I agree with you. I’m just unsure why you’d expect anyone within this self-selected and heavily-controlled forum to do otherwise.)

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted August 16, 2016 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      I can only speak for myself and also summarize conclusions from some others about debating theists. It gets pretty frustrating pretty quickly when the other side continually argues from delusion, and blithely ignores huge mountains of facts that say they are wrong. They of course will say the same for us regarding things like intelligent design, but their ‘facts’ to support their side are again wrong although they don’t see it, in my experience. So I no longer get into online discussions with theists. There is no serious debate to be had, imo. Only the feeling that i am banging my head against the wall. It feels pretty good when you stop.
      If I were to manage a web site that covers science and religion, like this site, I would be sorely tempted to also strongly limit commentary from theists. Their premises are wrong and they will not concede it when that is shown to them. So I would prefer to run a site that ‘take discussions to the next level’, as it were, rather than get bogged down in tiresome and long settled discussions about a subject without an object.

      • Posted August 17, 2016 at 9:01 am | Permalink

        I have reached the same conclusions. Although, as a teacher, it is my job to hold asymmetrical discussions, those with theists are too asymmetrical for me.

  19. Ignominious Sheep
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 11:59 am | Permalink


    I really appreciate your work. As well as your recent advocacy not just for good science but also your critiques against the regressive and censorious elements of the left.

    That said, I’m completely bewildered by this controversy over free will. And so much of this topic seems to involve talking past eachother.

    There is so much in this world that we don’t distill down to just physics. Though of course it’s entirely based on it. When a lion stalks a gazelle, we don’t refer to that in terms of physics. We refer to that scenario as a lion being driven by hunger and a proclivity to hunt engaging in one behavior and a gazelle being driven by fear and a disposition towards self-preservation engaging in another behavior. We don’t go down to the level of quantum mechanics to understand what is truly going on. Same as when a chimpanzee problem solved. Or a human for that matter. Again, we don’t default to understanding what is going on at a base quantum level.

    Same with “free will.” What we are really interested in is agency. Is there such a thing as agency. In the same sense as is there such a thing as any of what I mentioned above.

    I suggest there is. If you disagree, then the alternative would have to be something like epiphenomenalism. And then we should focus the conversation on that. Do mental events that come into play in conscious deliberation have absolutely no direct role in our decisions? Rather we make our decisions without agency prior to any deliberation and only experience the illusion of having deliberated after the fact. I suggest the answer to this is no. For most higher order decisions. With the caveate of perhaps yes for life automatic, lower level ones.

    But if we admit to the role of agency, then there is no reason to have this debate. Yes our agency is still underlied by physics. But it is still “our” agency. Even if there is no magic outside of that which could cause our agency and its associated values and proceeded to be “other than it is.” If we don’t accept this, then we might as well throw everything else out as well. There is no “problem solving.” There is no “creativity.” And so on. And personally I see no need for that at all.

  20. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    In the early days of Christanity, a heresy known as Marcionism held that some or all of the Old Testament was the work of an evil imposter God, and Jesus’ mission was to expose that false deity.
    As Wikipedia puts it “Study of the Hebrew scriptures, along with received writings circulating in the nascent Church, led Marcion to conclude that many of the teachings of Jesus were incompatible with the actions of Yahweh, the God of the Hebrew Bible.” (WP both has an article “Marcion” and “Teachings of Marcionism”)
    Ironically, Marcion also published the first proto-canon of the New Testament and had definite influence on the the formation of the New Testament canon.

    On the more traditional front, in early Christianity the phrase “Word of God” was more frequently applied to the person of Jesus rather than to the words of the Bible which were considered inspired, but not totally inerrant.
    I entirely agree with John Shelby Spong that the Bible has far too much barbarism to be described as the Word of God, which he argued especially vehemently in his book “Sins of the Scripture”.

    Western ethics is heavily informed by the civilization of ancient Greece and especially Aristotle, so civilization is not dependent on the Bible.

    Outside of the Gospel of John, it is not clear that the New Testament holds that only Christian believers go to heaven. The New Testament is an overlay of documents from multiple branches of Christianity. (Bart Ehrman even goes so far as to describe the four Gospels as representing four different religions, not just four theologies.) The Gospel of Matthew, focused on Jesus as Jewish Messiah, is devoid of any sense of Jesus as savior of the world by performing a substitutionary sacrifice, and Paul makes overt allowance for the redemption of pagans and Jews in Epistle to the Romans (evangelicals have tortuous workarounds for these passages). Ben Goren’s least favorite passage, Luke 19, is targeted specifically at the Jewish rejection of Jesus, not unbelievers in general. In early Christianity, both Origen (184/185– 253/254) and St. Gregory of Nyssa (335-395) believed that eventually all sentient beings would be redeemed, and the Eastern Orthodox churches have never believed that all non-believers are per se condemned to hell. (In particular, neither Tolstoy nor Dosteovsky as Russian Orthodox believed this.)

    Even the Gospel of John is held by many to be a re-edited redaction of material from multiple previous sources.

    Given the absence of archeological evidence for the Exodus story, it seems unlikely that Moses is a real fellow, but he may be loosely based on a Spartacus like figure who worked entirely in Canaan leading a slave revolt during the period that Egyptians held territory in Canaan.

  21. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    I believe what you are saying in a more sophisticated and reasonable way is that the bible, both old and new parts, is mostly an immoral load of crap, fashioned by men who lived over 2000 years ago. People with obvious lack of understanding in basic treatment of other human beings that have been known since the end of the dark ages. And to establish any of it as lessons in modern behavior is only a pathetic joke.

    So the only question is, how could anyone see it in a different way or believe in any sort of g*d without better evidence.

  22. rickflick
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    The bible is true like Kipling.

    Why do women suffer during childbirth? We can reverse engineer that little puzzle and make if fit in with the rest of the carefully crafted script. But of course! it’s her own damn fault – don’t ya know. For misogynists as well as out-and-out Sadists out there, this creative writing exercise is sounding more-and-more fun.

    How did the leopard get her spots anyway?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 17, 2016 at 3:28 am | Permalink

      I think you’re maligning Kipling. Not that I’ve read much of his, but I believe he was capable of putting together a competently written, reasonably interesting, self-consistent story which, even today, we would not find utterly morally repugnant.

      In other words, almost 100% unlike the Bible.


  23. peepuk
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    “the precepts of behavior laid out in scripture were applicable only to their time, and were therefore constructed by humans”

    You are not wrong.

    I think, in general, morality improves for a large part by removing unjustified beliefs from our worldviews like f.i. women are inferior; people of race X are inferior to people of race Y; people from family X have more rights than others; ideology X is better than ideology Y; etc….

    Therefore morality of old unchangeable books cannot be taken seriously anymore; they are simply outdated.

    The liberal humanistic rules we live by today protect the individual from the morality of others like for example those in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    The other important worldview these days is socialism/communism; trying to optimize equality and the common good for humans. The freedom of the individual human is less important than the community as a whole. This gives us things like basic income, positive discrimination and “safe spaces to protect us from free speech”.

    Chances are that at some time these two humanistic worldviews will also become obsolete and replaced by something else.

    I suspect that further scientific and technological progress will be the main force for future change of our morality.

  24. Posted August 16, 2016 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    The way religionists answer JAC’s challenge above is that they usually dont: they go on the offensive. They say that whatever flaws the Bible has, we all know there is an ‘objective morality’ and that the only way you can have an objective morality is with a God. Otherwise everyone can choose whatever morality they like. I think this is a terrible argument but I’ve never seen a good refutation of it in a stand-up debate.
    I’d say the error begins by conflating two different definitions of the word ‘objective’ It can mean 1. arising from a higher level or 2. transcendent. The first definition applies to morality because it comes from the interactions of large groups of people but the second doesnt. Morality isn’t written into the fabric of space-time or in stone by a God.

    • Kiwi Dave
      Posted August 16, 2016 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      The only debate I’ve had with a Christian, who apparently had some philosophical training, was on this issue and eventually he conceded that his justification for a god-based morality required circular reasoning, though he preferred this to my allegedly subjective morality.

      IIRC, I used a sort of Euthyphro (sp?) argument with Christian assumptions – how can you, a fallen and imperfect human, know that your god’s morality is a good morality? Isn’t your judgement that God’s character is goodness itself conditional on your prior knowledge of goodness?

  25. Jedrzej
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    “Usually, genius ideas I have in the middle of the night are forgotten by morning (and rightfully so!), but I still remember this one.”

    A little to much HuffPo?🙂

  26. Posted August 16, 2016 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    “Okay, tell me where I’m wrong.” Talk to the Ham.

  27. Robert G. Volkmann
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    One answer to this problem is dispensationalism:

    “According to dispensationalist interpretation, each age of the plan of God is thus administered in a certain way, and humanity is held responsible as a steward during that time. Each dispensation is marked by a cycle. God reveals Himself and His truth to humanity in a new way. Humanity is held responsible to conform to that revelation. Humanity rebels and fails the test. God judges humanity and introduces a new period of probation under a new administration.” (from Wikipedia)

    See also, hyperdispensionalism and progressive dispensationalism.

  28. Dan Fromm
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Posteriors, Jerry, not priors.

    • Posted August 17, 2016 at 12:44 am | Permalink

      All about dat posterior, bout dat posterior…

  29. Steve
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    I can’t teLl you where you’re wrong.

  30. tombesson
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    I’m a fan of Joseph Campbell. In his essay called ‘The Way of Art’, Joseph claims that all religions are mythical in nature. He defines a myth as, “An organization of symbols, images and narratives that are metaphorical of human experience and human fulfillment in a given society at a given time.” The denotation of the metaphor is human experience and human fulfillment. The connotation we humans have taken to represent our human experience and human fulfillment is what most religionists call God. We take our experiences and dreams, conjure up symbols, images and narratives to represent them and invent this thing we call God. The Bible is all man made because it is man who invented what we have chosen to represent our thoughts.

    “Homo sapiens is the species that invents symbols in which to invest passion and authority, then forgets that symbols are inventions.” – Joyce Carol Oates

  31. Posted August 16, 2016 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Religious morality = cultural morality.
    Has the opposite ever occurred?

    The absence of physical evidence for mythical super beings has always done it for me. (God scats orbiting Jupiter – wait, maybe earth is a God scat?).

  32. Posted August 16, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Of course I do t think you’re wrong, but I do think that this:

    “…[if] the precepts of behavior laid out in scripture were applicable only to their time, [then they] were therefore constructed by humans”

    would be something theists would consider a weak point. To be sure, their attack would be an unfounded rationalization, but I think that would be a likely part of the argument they would start with in trying to defend themselves.

    • Posted August 16, 2016 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      To clarify: I don’t think most theists would see this argument as something that refutes divine authorship/inspiration; at most they’d maybe agree that it refutes the claim that god-given moral edicts are eternal and unchanging. But then many theists have no problem with admitting that god’s moral edicts have been different from age to age. I think this is part of the idea behind “dispensations”.

      I think a stronger argument is simply pointing at the actual content of those edicts. Okay, so maybe there’s a reason an alleged god would rescind some commandments and issue new ones. But what, dear theist, is the good reason for your lord of love to have commanded rape, murder, and genocide, in *any* dispensation?

  33. Posted August 16, 2016 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    What rzzzy1 said, the absence of any physical evidence that any god-like thing has any effect on the universe sums up why I’m an atheist. As I’ve told some goddy friends, if you find one, grab it by the tail, bring it into my office, set it on my desk, and I might change my mind. And someone should point out to some of our political leaders that the Constitution is the basis of our laws, not a compendium of bronze and iron age myths.

  34. Posted August 16, 2016 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    I recommend the following two books:

    The Trial of Jesus of Nazareth Hardcover 1988 by S. G. F. Brandon

    James the Brother of Jesus by Robert H. Eisenman

    I do not agree with Eisenman’s claim that Paul was featured in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Rather it was one of the High Priests.
    Nevertheless, Eisenman makes a convincing argument concerning the political nature of the Christian-Jewish sect.

    Both authors make the case that ancient Judea and neighbouring Palestinian territories were hotbeds of rebel groups engaged in activities that we now call terrorism.

    Whether or not the Christian-Jewish sect was actively violent, the Romans believed they were and so did the Sanhedrin.

    Just a couple of points:

    Why did Peter carry a sword in the Garden of Gethsemane?

    The word “cohort” was used in at least one account of the capture of Jesus. A Roman cohort was 500 men. If that was the number, then there was a major insurrection expected or underway.

    Several years later Paul was attacked by a mob after making a speech within the temple precincts. He was escorted to Caesarea (the Roman capital of Palestine) by 200 Roman soldiers. Why were so many troops needed to escort one prisoner?

    Apart from the fact that Paul was a Herodian, as he said himself in one of his epistles, cited by Eisenman and the subject of an essay.

  35. Shwell Thanksh
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    You’re not wrong, and your concluding sentence sounds like it could be carefully rephrased as one that might be approved for a Templeton Foundation grant!

    “For if humans could make a workable morality for two millennia ago, they can surely construct one that works in our day.”

  36. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted August 17, 2016 at 2:48 am | Permalink

    “if humans could make a workable morality for two millennia ago, they can surely construct one that works in our day.”

    I’d agree with the second part, I think I’d flatly reject the premise of the first part, at least insofar as it refers to Biblical society. (A few other societies from time to time may have had a social order that we could regard as tolerably innocuous). But the Biblical social order could only be regarded as ‘workable morality’ in the same sense as Nazi society ‘worked’ – it’s evil, it’s loathsome, it’s intolerable, but it ‘worked’. I’d deny that it was ever ‘moral’ except in the degenerate sense that ‘morals’ are whatever somebody says they are.


    • Posted August 17, 2016 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      However, the Biblical social order “worked” better than the Nazi order (I mean, much longer than 12 years).

      • Posted August 17, 2016 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        On the other hand, the “biblical order” was not directly challenged from the outside by almost the rest of the world. Imagine what would have happened if a Mexican empire sent invasion forces at the same time of the Turkish one, from the other side … that Atlantic Ocean works well!

        (I was going to write China rather than Mexico, but I realized they’d have to do the same thing, at least assuming easiest route, as the Turks to invade Europe, more or less, so …)

        • Posted August 17, 2016 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

          I cannot imagine the Mexican empire as a naval power and trans-Atlantic invader. It was based on a far more idiotic religion than Christianity, impeding the military power of its adherents by forcing them to capture enemy soldiers alive (for sacrifices) and preventing the government from making neighbors allies (again, because they were used as source of captives for sacrifices). These weaknesses allowed the empire to be destroyed by a surprisingly small number of Christian invaders.

          I am comparing the “Biblical” society to contemporary societies, not to modern secular societies (which btw seem quite unstable and may be doomed) and not to a perfect society that exists only in our dreams.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 18, 2016 at 2:23 am | Permalink

        Yes, but the Nazi order collapsed due to external forces (i.e. the Allied invasion). Not due to any internal weaknesses.

        Just suppose Britain had lost the Battle of Britain (and it was a very close thing). Germany would have invaded Britain. With Britain out of the picture, and German forces concentrated on the eastern front, Russia may well have been defeated. The US would not have tried to invade Europe without Britain as a springboard. So a stalemate/cold war would have eventuated with US and German Europe/Japan as opposing sides. Under those conditions, Nazi rule could have lasted for many decades.

        Or consider the southern US states with slavery – that ‘worked’ for over 200 years.

        I guess it depends on the definition of ‘worked’ – is a stable society (no matter how unpleasant) ‘working’, or is ‘workable’ taken to imply that it must ensure tolerable conditions for everyone?


        • Posted August 18, 2016 at 2:59 am | Permalink

          I used it more in the 1st sense, a stable and surviving society, no matter how hideous. In this respect, I agree with you that the Nazi society could last for decades, particularly if Hitler hadn’t jumped into his Soviet adventure. (I don’t agree that Russia could have been defeated – if history is any guide, it defeats invaders by its sheer surface area. This is one of the reason why rogue regimes can last indefinitely in Russia.)

          I wonder why the US South survived for so long and needed a war to collapse. To me, a slave-based economy in the 18th-19th century is the definition of anachronism.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted August 18, 2016 at 3:30 am | Permalink

            On reflection, I tend to agree with you about Russia. I guess what might have happened is the Nazi war machine would have ground to a halt, having (possibly) occupied Moscow, and a stalemate would have eventuated. Something like the 38th parallel in Korea. With the Russian government-in-exile never powerful enough to try and take back European Russia and Germany sufficiently bloodied by its Eastern Front campaign to not wish to do it again.


  37. Posted August 17, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    At no time were all Jews in agreement about God, God’s commandments or the Old Testament. If they had all followed the law, according to the Old Testament, God wouldn’t have punished them.

    At the time of the purported Jesus, there were a number of Jewish belief systems under Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, Sicariis, etc. Some didn’t believe in a hereafter; some did. Some believed that the End Times were imminent, some didn’t. Some worshipped other Gods. The Old Testament wasn’t even written down and codified during the history of the Jews covered by the Old Testament (in addition to which, not all of the Old Testament is history but laws, poetry, stories, mythology, etc.)

    (Why are most Jews and Christians not
    aware of the transitions of their God from a mountain/weather God to the only God to be worshipped? Also,the female companion of God or the feminine characteristics of God? When did the snake in the Garden of Eden change into Satan and the Devil? Why do they not know of or acknowledge the transition to animals and agricultural products from the sacrifice of people?)

    Believing that the Old Testament is the word of God that must be followed explicitly would be akin to believing similarly in Greek and/or Roman mythologies (or that of any/many other cultures), Aesop’s Fables, the poetry of e e cummings or any other poet, innumerable versions of revisionist histories,the works of Tolkien, etc.

    Jews and Christians couldn’t agree on their religious requirements in the beginning and have not agreed ever since.

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