Month: March 2015

Balaam’s Talking Donkey

talkingdonkeyThere is a lot of irony in religious belief. To me the funniest irony is the religious’ utter skepticism of scientific investigation and discovery while the simultaneous complete acceptance of Biblical historicity and inerrancy.

Take for instance the talking animals in the Bible. The first and most famous is the talking “Serpent” (with legs originally) in the Adam/Eve story. In that case, although it isn’t mentioned there, Christians believe the serpent to be a manifestation of Satan. But there is another talking animal in the Bible (a donkey). But in this case, the donkey isn’t a mouthpiece for a supernatural being but rather speaks for himself (once God “opens his mouth”).

The entire story can be found in Numbers 22:21-39 but here’s the exciting part:

26 Then the angel of the Lord moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. 28 Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”

30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”

“No,” he said.

31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.

So as usual, let’s become Christians and believe this story to be historical literal fact. If there were cell phone cameras back then we could see this play out on youtube.com. I have a few questions:

  • Is the only thing preventing donkeys (or other animals) from talking some sort of physical limitation? Are they thinking coherent thoughts and complete phrases like this but are simply unable to express them verbally?
  • After this story occurred, did Balaam’s donkey continue to talk? Did he become like the talking frog in the cartoon? Did Balaam take him around to various ancient carnivals showing off this amazing talent?
  • Why did Balaam answer the Donkey as if he was having a conversation with a person? He doesn’t seem to be the least bit impressed that his donkey is talking to him. He threatens the donkey with death even AFTER the donkey speaks to him.

Why doesn’t God do this now? If my pet started talking to me, I would have a pretty hard time explaining it rationally. But then again, why doesn’t God say anything himself? Maybe he should open his own mouth instead of Balaam’s donkey.

Advertisements

Hitler’s oven vs God’s oven

nazi-preterist-ovens-largeIt seems to me that almost every debate devolves into absurdity when Hitler is brought into it. But I really feel compelled to make this point in spite of the devolution of the argument.

Let’s start with some assumptions about the evangelical view of God, Heaven, and Hell:

  • God is loving and wants all humans to go to Heaven
  • Because God is just, he cannot allow sinners who haven’t been redeemed to be saved
  • Although Jesus’ forgiveness is freely granted to all, those who do not accept it will not go to Heaven but will go to Hell
  • Hell is eternal conscious torment (most often discussed as eternal burning in a lake of fire)

If you ask them doctrinally, Christians almost universally agree that Jews are going to Hell when they die. Although Christians are very supportive of Jews as God’s chosen people and Israel as a nation, they think Jews who don’t accept Jesus as the Messiah are Hell-bound.

So what happens if we assume that the Christians are right in their beliefs? Any Jews who were forced into Hitler’s ovens to be killed would immediately upon death find themselves in God’s oven (Hell). But whereas they could escape Hitler’s oven by dying, there is no escape from God’s oven.

So the logical implication is clear. Which is worse? Hitler’s oven or God’s? And is either one justice or an atrocity?

SETI: The search for extraterrestrial intelligence

04073978-photo-seti-logoStraw men are common in arguments. A solid piece of advice is to go after an opponent’s best argument and topple that rather than create a straw man to topple.

One of the favorite straw men of theists is that scientists conspired to pretend that various scientific theories are true because they are atheists who don’t want to believe in God. But in making such claims they undercut their own agenda.

It’s complete and utter nonsense to believe that scientists wouldn’t be ecstatic to find evidence of God. I don’t know a single atheist who wouldn’t point his telescope at the sky if God was up there somewhere making himself visible.

Case in point, we are actively searching for extraterrestrial intelligence. We spend a good deal of money scouring the skies for any signal there is someone else out there in the universe besides us. And by definition, God would be extraterrestrial intelligence.

If God wrote some decipherable message in DNA claiming “I am Yahweh, I created all of you!” scientists would be thrilled and amazed.

I think where theists get confused is when they hear atheists (like me) talk about what a ludicrous monster the God of the Bible is and we would rather live under Kim Jung Un than that God. At least we could escape a dictator by dying. But atheists know that the Bible is an ancient book written by people claiming to describe God. It’s not actually God.

So I’m making a plea here to theists to come up with some good arguments and evidence and stop maligning the motives of scientists. Pray to your God to show himself. We’d all like to see him.

Your myth is real

your-godDuring the holidays, it was interesting to read some of the parents on Facebook discussing kids at school revealing the truth of Santa to other kids. The gist of the discussion was, “My kid loves believing in Santa Claus. Tell your kid to stop bursting my kid’s bubble!”

In reading this I couldn’t help but see the irony in the Santa Claus fairy tale and the beliefs of most Americans. Many, many Americans are having a good time believing that they are immortal, that nothing bad can happen to them because they have a friend in Jesus, the universe is 6,000 years old, and on and on. And then evil atheists come along and tell them it’s mythology. Want to lose Facebook friends fast? Start poking holes in these beliefs.

Researching holy books and archeology reveals with clarity that all religions are completely man-made and mythological. It’s also clear based on what we see today that there is no evidence of god(s) actively participating in any measurable way in the universe (and don’t think people haven’t searched for it). Gods used to have so many jobs: lighting, thunder, stars, moons, life. Now we find out that the universe is a star, planet, moon, and maybe life making machine. That life can evolve over billions of years to appear designed. God’s jobs have been reduced to spawning the universe and spawning life. If there are natural explanations for that, believers are in trouble. In the Bible, God is constantly interfering in reality. He’s walking with people, he’s talking with people, he’s carving stone tablets. Now, he’s implied in DNA, he’s implied in physical constants. He’s more subtle today apparently. He needs apologists to prove he exists. Thanks William Lane Craig!

So I ask myself, why should I think Yahweh (Bible God) and Jesus are real but Zeus and Hercules are just myths? Because all my friends and neighbors believe it? Is that evidence? Didn’t all the friends and neighbors in Greece believe in Zeus and Hercules just as much? What experiment (reading the Bible isn’t an experiment) can I run where the test result conclusively reveals Yahweh is God?

We laugh at the gods of Olympus now. How could those ancients be so stupid and backward? Of course, lightning is caused by atmospheric pressures and turbulence and water vapor, not Thor and Apollo. Of course planets revolve because of gravity, not some god dragging them around on strings. Hahaha. Now, let’s bow our heads and pray that our new God (Yahweh) heals Aunt Mary’s cancer. And tomorrow, I’ll pray he helps me find my car keys.

Christians are having so much fun going to church and reading books that support their beliefs (and not much else) that they don’t realize how silly their beliefs sound to a non-believer. And furthermore, their myths are no different than any other myths that we laugh at today. They are worshipping the demigod Jesus after all.

To prove my point, here are just a smattering of myths that evangelical Christians believe actually happened:

  • A snake with legs spoke (Genesis 3)
  • A donkey spoke (Numbers 22)
  • Lions, tigers, dinosaurs were all vegetarians at one time, before the “fall” (Genesis 1)
  • A man lived to 969 years (Genesis 5)
  • Sons of God were procreating with humans (Genesis 6). Actually I think they don’t like this story because it’s polytheistic.
  • Noah, a 500 year old man and his three 100+ year old sons, with no modern tools or electricity, built the largest wooden ship ever (Genesis 6-9)
  • Animals from all over the earth including sloths, kangaroos, penguins and polar bears trekked to the middle east to climb onto Noah’s boat (Genesis 6-9)
  • The organization of fossils just happened to sort taxonomically by age and complexity by receding flood water (Noah’s ark and other Bible Nonsense). This is the Christian argument against biological evolution.
  • A man survived living inside a “great fish” for 3 days (Jonah 1)
  • All the worlds races and languages were created in one day because people built a tower too high for God’s liking (Genesis 11) How tall could it have been really? Taller than the World Trade Center towers?
  • City walls fell down after soldiers marched around it for 7 days (Joshua 6)
  • The earth stopped its rotation and the moon stopped orbiting the earth and then restarted after Joshua’s battle (Joshua 10)
  • A man killed 1000 men single-handedly with the jawbone of an ass (Judges 15)
  • The sun went dark for 3 hours (Matthew 27) Keep in mind the longest solar eclipse is 7 minutes and that just darkens a relatively small spot on the earth.
  • Many dead saints came back to life and climbed out of their graves (Matthew 27)
  • A man was born of a virgin – the definition of a demigod (Matthew 1)
  • A man ascended to heaven – which apparently is “up there” (pointing skyward) (Acts 1)

Does this list sound like history? Or mythology? Even a believer may admit that these sound like mythology. But they believe these stories are true historical accounts. But to a non-believer, they sound just as mythological as Thor throwing down lightning bolts.

Zeus is myth, Apollo is myth, Hercules is myth, Yahweh is myth, and surprisingly even Jesus is myth. I think that most people with an open mind, especially if not indoctrinated as children, who do the research will discover the truth. That these gods are all human creations and myths and they survive today, even with all the knowledge we have gained from scientific discovery, because we are all afraid – we are scared to death of our mortality. And I can prove it. No one jumps for joy at their terminal diagnosis (even believers convinced they are going to heaven). We are willing to believe in talking donkeys and snakes if it means we don’t have to die.