Another 95 Theses

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Another 95 Theses

33: Evolution profoundly contradicts the Bible and foundational Christian doctrines, but has been proven by overwhelming evidence, and theological imperative for creationism does not equal truth about science. (See also Price and Suominen, Evolving out of Eden.)

40: Contrary to the impression left by the church’s superficial readings, the Old Testament contains no hint of any coming sacrificial Messiah; every single supposed prophecy (including the famous “suffering servant” passage in Isaiah) contains material inconsistent with Jesus and really just concerns events of its writer’s own time.

41: The Old Testament’s depiction of God begins one step removed from primitive polytheism with a human-like deity having physical attributes, limitations, regrets, and insecurities, evolving into a fussy director of priestly regulations and temple worship, then a tribal warrior deity who terrorizes his people and directs the brutal conquest of their neighbors, and finally a distant, hidden God who isn’t much interested in sacrifice or feast days.

42: The church laments the way “God’s Word” is being questioned but has no answer for the Bible’s multitude of undeniable errors and contradictions, which are not just quibbling details but significant problems with the biblical accounts of creation and the natural world, God’s nature and desires, and a lot of the Jesus story—when and where he was born, his attitude about his own divinity, whether he taught entirely in public or kept some things secret for his disciples, the ideals of his preaching versus his own actions, and almost everything about his resurrection.

43: The New Testament provides no reliable historical witness of Jesus, just a few vague references by Paul and some accounts written by other devotees decades afterward that contain a great deal of copied material, significant contradictions, and mistakes about history, geography, and customs of the time.

46: It is absurd to claim that an omnipotent (all-powerful) God is perfect despite having needs and creating an imperfect universe, is loving despite allowing a world full of suffering, hates sin despite allowing it to flourish, and is righteous despite creating most people as fodder for the flames of hell.

47: God cannot be omnipotent and omniscient (all-knowing) because knowing the future makes him helpless to change it; the omnipotent ability to choose whether to make a change in course defeats the omniscient ability to know whether it ultimately gets changed or not.

48: For a jealous God who demands that people follow a very particular path to reconciliation with him, this God is certainly not exercising any omnipotence to clear that path, since almost nobody manages to get saved unless they have the good fortune of dying during childhood.

49: An omniscient God doesn’t need to try anybody’s faith—not with the cruel stunts that the Bible says were inflicted on Job and Abraham, not by allowing temptations, not by inflicting trials.

50: An omnipotent God could just overlook human faults by divine fiat and grant salvation to everyone (which is what various Bible passages say he wants), and an omnibenevolent (all-loving) God would not hesitate to do so.

51: It is meaningless devotional fawning to praise as “gracious” and “loving” a God who carried out the Old Testament atrocities, has allowed untold billions of people to die of starvation, disaster, war, and disease, and condemns billions of people to eternal torture in hell, which—depending on the preacher’s inclination—is even part of the divine plan.

52: God remains hidden to almost everyone, leaving them in the supposedly erroneous belief that they have experienced some sort of correct understanding or revelation of him, and allowing them to go to their graves damned by that false consolation.

53: According to the church’s Trinitarian doctrine, God in the First Person made a blood sacrifice of himself in human form (the Second Person) to appease his own displeasure with what he had created; the Second Person proceeded from yet was somehow co-eternal with the First, incarnated into a man by a Third Person of God (the Holy Spirit) impregnating a virgin after thousands of years of monotheistic worship.

54: The portrayal of Jesus expands in the decades over which the Gospels were written, beginning in Mark as a temperamental teacher and miracle worker with limited powers, no claims of divinity, and a great deal of angst about his execution.

55: There are no Greek or Roman records of Jesus, not even a mention until the second century; the only Jewish records outside the New Testament are two passages written by Josephus around 90 A.D., the most descriptive of which is widely discredited as at least a partial forgery.

56: The Gospels describe Jesus performing extraordinary miracles, sometimes before throngs of people, and say his fame spread through the land, yet none of the authors and observers of the day—Pliny the Elder, Josephus, the hundreds of anonymous writers whose personal letters and mundane records have been preserved, even Paul—had any of those events brought to their attention and thought them worth recording.

79: Prayer offers only the illusion of influence to the one praying, since an omniscient God knows both the future and our innermost thoughts, and his perfect will about the course of the universe is not subject to change by the typically self-centered petition of some puny human.

80: Preachers pray for the repentance of unbelievers, to a God who has either predestinated everyone from the beginning of time or has proven unable (perhaps unwilling) to do anything about all the damnation that is going on, despite many prayers from the seeking and the self-satisfied alike.

86: With its preachers flying around a world that wasn’t supposed to be round, in jet aircraft burning fossil fuels from reservoirs that weren’t supposed to be millions of years old, immunized against microbes that aren’t supposed to be evolving, the church and its predecessors have lost every one of their battles with science, and “faith” is in full retreat from its former position of authoritative teaching about the natural world.

87: Ever since Laestadius, the church’s preachers have been anticipating an imminent end of the world in their time, misled by the same shortsighted apocalypticism as Luther, Christians of the first centuries, Paul, and yes, even Jesus.

88: The God who was constantly making threats of bodily harm against his chosen people and fussing about endless details of their behavior declined to offer a single warning about any eternal punishment until late in the Old Testament, leaving ambiguity about the subject even into the New Testament; he allowed it to appear that there really is no hell at all, not even really an afterlife, with several different parts of the Bible describing the end of human existence in the grave, of good and evil all going to the same place.

89: Preparing an eternity of horrible torture for most of the people you have created, without providing any means of avoiding it or rehabilitation once they are there, is the worst possible evil, an act of the most unimaginably cruel and pointless sadism.

91: Both the Bible and the church contradict themselves about predestination, saying that God is omnibenevolent (all-loving) and wants all to be saved, yet at the same time saying he is omnipotent and reveals salvation only to his elect, chosen few.