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Christianity's Problems

    The following lists summarize some difficulties faced by believers. Many present serious challenges to Christian doctrine, but theologians often ignore them, preferring to debate minor points which do not threaten their faith. These difficulties are discussed extensively in my book Christianity in Ruins, where all claims are backed up with endnotes. I will add references in this site as I have time.​​ Sections below are:
1. History and Origin of the Religion
2. God
3. Jesus (points to The Myth of Jesus)
4. Christian Doctrines
5. About Women
 6. Branches, Schisms, etc.
 7. The Bible
 8. Believers Themselves
 9. A Summary of Christianity's Problerms
10. Another Summary
11. Christian Evil With Illustrations
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1. History and Origin

   1. Judaism was originally polytheistic and evolved toward monotheism.
   2. The OT stories were written long after the events they claim to describe. Their credibility is miserable.
   3. The Flood myth came from the earlier story of Gilgamesh. There is little original about Genesis.
   4. The Flood as described in Genesis was close to impossible, but young-earth creationists ignore evidence and believe it.
   5. Christianity and Jesus are offshoots of earlier myths. Jesus resembles Homer's heroes and the OT's Joseph and Moses.
   6. Christianity did not spread because of its "truth." Roman emperors installed it and ruthlessly stamped out competing beliefs .

2. God

   1. Original sin is not credible at all. Adam and Eve did not know where the voice came from until after they had "sinned."
   2. Jehovah, a psychopath, ordered or committed scores of murders and genocides. Theologians concoct silly excuses for him.
   3. Omnipotence and omniscience are both incoherent - and they contradict each other.
   4. Benevolence is refuted by the acts of the OT and NT Gods. The NT God orders eternal punishment for disbelief. Sick!
   5. A perfect god cannot create an imperfect universe, or even the best of all possible universes.

   6. Why did God allow so many Christian atrocities? He was probably asleep, did not care, or does not exist.
   7. Perfect justice and perfect mercy are incompatible. Absolute justice prohibits mercy and absolute mercy prevents justice.
   8. God punished himself by killing his son, a stupid, sick, unnecessary, and ineffective notion.
   9. If God "helped" to write the defective Bible, he’s not very bright. Literalists ignore the defects and claim biblical inerrancy.
 10. God made many mistakes: original sin, inherited sin, Noah's flood, Jesus' failure, etc. Fortunately, these are all fantasies.

 11.. God exposed humanity to major disasters which could have caused our extinction. Why?
 12. God made almost all of the Universe incompatible with life. That refutes "fine-tuning," a  mainstay of apologists.
 13. God made most of Earth hostile to life: oceans, deserts, polar regions, etc. Only 10%-15% of earth's surface is habitable. Why?
 14. God did not fine-tune our bodies. They are subject to many diseases, poisons, and accidents. We are at the mecy of nature.
 15. The first alibi for God’s hiding, that he wants to avoid overwhelming us, is only a wild guess about human psychology.

 16. The second alibi, that he wants us to love him voluntarily, is equally silly, because -
 17. Real love is impossible under the threat of eternal torture. The claim that God loves us and tortures most people is crazy.
 18. The free will excuse for the presence of evil is nonsense. God could have made a type of free will that never wants to do evil.
 19. The excuse for animal suffering, that they are "not aware" of it, is beneath stupid - unless it's a  conscious lie.


3. Jesus

     Many claims about Jesus, such as the virgin birth, the Crucifixion, the Transfiguration, Resurrection, Ascension, etc., have nothing to do with his main mission. They were fictional myths created to add to his luster. Each claim makes him even more improbable.


4. Christian Doctrines

   1. “Properly basic” can be applied to any belief system, including Islam, Hinduism, atheism, etc.
   2. The OT and NT gods are so different that believing in both is clearly polytheism.
   3. Polytheism is added to by the person of Satan, who, like God, has supernatural powers. Why doesn’t God eliminate him?
   4. Every monotheism needs a devil figure to explain the god's failures.
   5. The Trinity notion is not "hard to understand," it’s incoherent rubbish. 

   6. Blood atonement saving humanity is implausible. No mechanism is known.
   7. It is an immoral, primitive practice, deserving complete rejection.
   8. Condemnation of homosexuality has no moral basis. It is distaste or disgust, disguised.
   9. Why is God letting science replace Christianity in many areas?

  10. Religion, specifically Christianity, has told us nothing about the real world.
  11. Why is the symbol of Christianity a torture device? Compare that with images of the benign, smiling Buddha. 
  12. No miracles are seen today and ancient ones are unverifiable.
  13. Prayer is objectively ineffective. People who rely on it for cures often die.
  14. Creationism and intelligent design conflict with many areas of science.

  15. Eternity in Heaven is incoherent. Does time pass? Do its residents get bored? What do they do all day?
  16. How much praise does God need? Is he that neurotic? How can anyone believe the fantasy of flattering him endlessly?

5. About Women
   1. A woman praying with head uncovered must be shamed by having her hair shorn. 1 Corinthians 11:6 {There is no rule for men.]
   2. The woman was created for the  man, not the reverse. 1 Corinthians 11:9
   3. Women must not speak in church. The law forbids it. 1 Corinthians 14:34
   4. If she has questions she is to ask her husband at home. 1 Corinthians 14:35

   5. Women must learn in silence with all subjection. 1 Timothy 2:11
   6. Women must not teach or hold authority over men, because Adam came first. 1 Timothy 2:12
   7. Women are honorable only if they are widows over 60 who have been married only once. 1 Timothy 5:2-6

6. Branches, Schisms, etc.

   1. Why did God allow many mutually contradictory religions to spring up?
   2. Where does ultimate authority in Christianity rest? In the Bible or in the Pope?
   3. Why has Christianity split into innumerable branches? Is any of them God’s truth?
   4. Schisms appeared very early, unlikely if Jesus was real.

7. The Bible

   1. Adam and Eve could not have existed. A genetic bottleneck of two people would doom the species.
   2. God encouraged their “original sin” by entrapping them.
   3. The OT is wrong on many factual issues such as the cosmos and Earth’s geometry.
   4. OT prophecies have never been fulfilled, except by fatally distorting them.
   5. The NT blatantly copies the OT to a large extent.

   6. Where it does not copy it, it often conflicts with it.
   7 The Gospels are contradictory on major points.
   8. The Gospels are based on Mark. They are not multiple attestations of Jesus.
   9. The Bible is filled with errors, ambiguities, contradictions, and unclarity.

8. Believers

   1. In a conflict between faith and reason, many literalists choose faith, so they believe in falsehoods.
   2. For that reason and their emotional committment, they are.immune to fact-based arguments.
   3. Why is belief the criterion for salvation? Morality is a matter of behavior, not belief.
   4. William L. Craig does not reply to objections to his Kalam theory. Why?
   5. Alvin Plantinga fails to make a distinction between his religion and pure superstition.

   6. Richard Swinburne makes some of the silliest arguments for suffering that can be conceived.
   7. When theologians ignore obvious objections, they are lying by omission.
   8. Evangelicals approve immorality, e.g. Jehovah’s sadism, the Israelites’ slaughtering their neighbors, etc.
   9. Why do many believers reject findings of science, e.g. evolution, age of the Earth, global warming, etc.?
 10. They ignore Jesus’ order to sell your things and give the money to the poor.

 11. Christians using their own computers and dressed in anything but rags are hypocrites.
 12. Evangelicals ignore Jesus’ order not to judge. They judge skeptics, gays, Muslims, and other Christians.
 13. They emphasize sexual “crimes” but ignore doctrines about poverty and meekness.
 14. Religious leaders fail to condemn other leaders who break their vows.
 15. Leaders are more interested in gaining power than finding truth.

 16. The Catholic Church responded to sex scandals by protecting its priests and itself, and ignoring victims.
 17. Theologians often engage in circular “reasoning,” but they do not admit it.
 18. Christian sects feel free to invent doctrines that have no evidence, e.g. Christian Science, Mormonism, and the Catholic Church.
 19. Even with a complete lack of evidence, many Christians assume that atheists cannot be moral.
 20. The behavior of Christians is no better than people of other religions or no religion. Many are intolerant and exclusivist, claiming that followers of other gods are doomed to hell. 

The Myth of Jesus
   9. More  Problems in  Christianity​​​​

    Many more problems are discussed by Bufe and Zuersher. See reviewsof their books.

Book Authors, A-B
Authors, Q-Z
10. Another Summary of Christianity's Problems
 
    Bill Zuersher’s Seeing through Christianity thoroughly refutes Christianity. It is the source of some
of the following material. My summary is not a substitute for the book, which I recommend you read. 

10.1 BELIEFS

Beliefs and Evidence (p. 13) The nature of beliefs and evidence merits rejecting Christianity, despite the 2000 years in which apologists have futilely worked on making it plausible.

God’s Love and Purpose (p. 19)
    1. “God is love” (1 John 4:8) is contradicted bysuffering we see every day. What would the world be like if God was hate? Or indifference?
    2. Free will, valued by God, allows us to sin and cause suffering. But much suffering results from God’s natural disasters.
    3. A lame excuse: humans are too stupid to grasp God’s purposes.

Adam and Eve (p. 23)
    1. If Adam and Eve were created perfect, they could not sin or disobey.
    2. If A&E did not know good from evil, so why did God put the forbidden tree in Eden? That’s entrapment.
    3. An omniscient God would already know what A&E would do.
    4. A&E’s disobedience condemns their descendants forever unless they accept Jesus. Belief and morality are unrelated.

God’s Irrationality (p. 26-28)
    1. God changed his immutable mind and decided to kill everyone. This stupid act did no good because sin continued as before.
    2. God created the world but does not cause anything bad. Unbelievable.

God’s Helpers (p. 30, 48-49) An omnipotent God would not need help from preachers, churches, books, or even Jesus or the Bible.

Atonement and Justification (p. 34-40) Explanations of how the death of Jesus forgives our sins all fail:
    1. Ransom: Satan owns us so God buys us back by killing Jesus. Ridiculous; is God omnipotent or not?
    2. Victory: Jesus liberates us by defeating the devil. But Jesus is dead!
    3. Moral: Jesus’ death shows God’s love for us. That's an insane way to show love. How would  he show hate?
    4. Recapitulation: we are united in Jesus so mankind’s fall is reversed. That's crazy.
    5. Satisfaction: Jesus’ sacrifice is our restitution. Too stupid to deserve a comment.
    6. Penal: The old, worthless idea of substitutional punishment.
    All these notions are failed attempts to explain the mess that’s Christianity. God killed his son but Christians call God good!

Hiddenness and Free Will (p. 50-52) A standard Christian argument: if God’s existence were unmistakable, our free will would be compromised. Wrong. If we were sure, acts and decisions would still be under our control.

Pascal’s Wager (p. 56-57) It is better to believe in God than not, because if you don’t believe but he does exist, you will fry forever, but if he does not exist, you’re no worse off. What if you believe in the wrong god or cannot change what you believe?

Salvation Through Belief (p. 55, 59-61) The claim that getting to heaven requires only belief in Jesus trivializes conduct, the real test of morality. Why did God let almost everyone be ignorant of Jesus and condemned to hellfire? If salvation depends on behavior, Jesus is superfluous.

Christianity is Sadistic, not Loving (p. 64, 68) Christianity turned the Zoroastrian concept of Hell into eternal punishment, which is immoral even for a lifetime of sinning. Given that, and God’s killing his “son,” Christianity is clearly a religion based on sadism, not love. “God is love” is a lie.

The Trinity (p. 68) If God is omniscient and omnipotent, there is no need for Jesus or the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is a silly attempt to have both monotheism and a form of polytheism. It is not “hard to understand,” but incoherent, not worth considering.

Heresies (p. 73-75, 99-100) Gnosticism rejected the physical Jesus and his resurrection. Other heresies included Arianism and Monophysitism. When a religion is based on nothing objective or real, heresies abound and cannot be disproved.

God is not Moral (p. 82-83) The Judeo-Christian god is no example of good morality. In the OT he mandates the death penalty for many acts that are not crimes. In the NT he insists that all who disbelieve in Jesus are burned forever. But “God is good!” The Ten Commandments, esteemed by literalists, are more about religious observance than morals.The Bible was correctly used by the Christian Confederacy to excuse slavery.

Christian Behavior (p. 84) Evil behavior of Christians is OK because all will be made right in the afterlife. And any amount of evil can be forgiven, even Hitler’s acts, if he accepted Jesus before killing himself.

Christian Morality (p. 87-88) Bible believers get morality from verses they carefully select. Their morals are largely the same as those of skeptics, and the Bible contributes nothing. Genuine morality aims to reduce suffering and increase well-being, but Christians confuse morality with sexual behavior. The faith has little claim to morality.

God and Humans (p.94-95) God creating humans to glorify him is silly. Why would a perfect God create an imperfect universe or human species? He would know that most of his creations are doomed for eternity. Maybe he loves watching suffering.

The Meaning of Life (p. 96) Craig and other dogmatists say that our lives are meaningless without God. If so, why would extending those lives give meaning? Incoherent. We make our own meaning in this life by loving, creating, and doing good.

Saved by Faith, Works, or What? (p. 101) Are we saved by works (James) or faith (Paul)? The Bible mentions at least 12 conflicting ways. One example: Jesus said to sell everything and give the money to the poor. Probably less than 1% of believers do that.

Getting to Heaven (p. 104)
Catholics believe that you must be purified in Purgatory before entering the presence of God, who apparently is easily soiled or annoyed. Protestants disagree. How can there be confusion about this essential issue?

Prayer (p. 105-107) Christianity says that if you pray, you can get and do anything, but prayer fails all tests. The "effectiveness" of some prayers is an unprovable delusion. Believers say you can’t test God (Matthew 4:7), but every prayer is a test of God.

Miracles (p. 109-111) Jesus’ tricks were temporary and small-scale, things a stage magician could do. Most likely, the Gospel writers just made up the miracle claims, like they made up other stories about Jesus. There is no reason to accept Christian miracles and reject those of other faiths.

Prophecies (p.115-118, 120-122) A powerful god could send his lessons simultaneously to everyone, but the Christian god decided not to. Also, it's obvious that the NT writers made their verses "fulfill" the OT. Many specific prophecies failed, such as the coming of world peace, universal awareness of one true god, the return of all Jews to Palestine, etc. Jesus, in his apocalyptic prophet role, often said that he would be back in a few decades or sooner. No one has seen him for 2000 years, but some are still waiting.

10.2: EVIDENCE

Divine Births and Resurrections (p.127-130, 131-135, 198-206) It was common in ancient times to believe in demigods who were the offspring of a god and a mortal: Minos, Gilgamesh, Achilles, Aeneas, others are cases. Jesus was just an unoriginal example of the hero archetype. “Dead” gods coming to life was another common element. In the Jesus tale there is almost nothing truly original. If God originated Christianity, why did he let it be so similar to other myths? Accounts of the resurrection differ drastically, e.g., the central doctrine of the empty tomb was not mentioned by Paul or Mark. Jesus could have made people believe in his resurrection by doing it in front of witnesses, rather than in a tomb.

Paul (p. 136-139) He was the main founder of Christianity but not its central figure. He never met Jesus in person and says almost nothing about his mortal life, probably not believing in a physical Jesus. Paul never quotes him, although if he had it would have strengthened his claims among contemporary skeptics and competitors. He modified the faith, extending it to non-Jews by rejecting circumcision and most of the Jewish laws. He held that faith made the laws superfluous.

The Gospels (p. 144-147) The Gospels fail as proper biographies of Jesus for several reasons:
    1. They are all anonymous;
    2. They were hearsay, written decades after Jesus died;
    3. The authors never claim to have met Jesus;
    4. They have irreconcilable disagreements;
    5. Jesus’ supposed sayings are often inscrutable;
   Matthew, Luke, and John are dramatizations of Mark, the earliest; and
    7. The miracles and prophecies they contain have fatal difficulties.
Many experts claim that the Gospels were not intended to describe the life of a person, but were propaganda for the new religion. And there are no secular reports of Jesus, despite his Gospel-claimed fame.

The Canon (p. 151-158) Like other books, The NT was selected and edited by people. That accounts for its contradictions, forgeries, ambiguities, and other errors. God, unless he’s a moron, would be expected to produce something far more clear and correct. Of the 27 NT books, only eight have known authors, and none of the OT do. Apparently the omnipotent God needs the Bible to communicate to humans, but why can’t he just tell us directly? The defective Bible is responsible for the heresies and schisms.

The Gospel of Mark (p.159-162) This gospel lacks credibility because it relates private thoughts and conversations. Mark lifts much of his writing from the OT; for example, chapter 15 comes directly from Psalm 22. Did he think that no one would notice blatant copying?  Plagiarism was quite common but that does not make it trustworthy. Mark’s defects carry over to the other Gospels, which were modeled after it.

The Gospel of Matthew (p.162-163) Matthew has been called the NT's liar-in-chief . Some of his claims are so silly that it’s a wonder that anyone believes them. A good example is the Star of Bethlehem: no heavenly object can lead people to an exact location (unless a big meteorite lands there). If the location of Jesus’ birth was so well known, Herod would have had his men go there and kill the baby rather than the extreme measure of killing all boys under two years old. That “crime” is not reported in any other Gospel or by any secular writers. And Matthew has corpses rising from their graves upon the resurrection, not mentioned elsewhere. Today, Matthew would be a Hollywood hack writer who adds violence to a script to attract a bigger audience.

Luke - Acts (p.163-166) Luke gives conflicting dates about Jesus’ birth year. Other discrepancies abound, such as his report of Paul’s travels conflicts with Paul’s own. Luke also gives inconsistent accounts of Paul’s conversion, and of Jesus’ ascension, in which he physically rises into the air. That tale does not appear in the other Gospels. Luke is no more a reliable reporter than Matthew.

John’s Gospel (p. 167-168) The final Gospel is the most theological. John identifies Jesus with God several times but also denies the identity. He wrote so late (about 100 CE) that all witnesses to Jesus were dead, so he could not be contradicted and could write whatever he wanted.

Evolution of the Gospels (p. 169-173) No original copies of the Gospels exist. Copyists tried to correct “errors” but they could introduce new ones. If God didn’t assure accuracy in the copies, we can't be sure he assured accuracy in the originals. "Biblical inerrancy" is a fatuous claim.

Errors (p. 174-189) Matthew mistakenly used "virgin" for a Hebrew word that means "young woman." Did this cause the Catholic obsession with virginity? Another problem is the irreconcilably different genealogies of Jesus in Matthew vs. Luke. (See Christianity in Ruins, Chapter O5.) Other errors concern identity of the apostles, how Judas died, and contradictory accounts of the resurrection. These are only a tiny sample.

Lack of Corroboration (p.190-196) Despite Jesus’s alleged miracles and fame in Galilee (Matthew 4:24-25), no writer outside the Bible ever mentions him, although there were many at the time who would have. Also, the apostles performed healings and other magic long after Jesus died, but there are no reliable reports of their doings, even Peter’s.

Paul’s 500 (p. 208-210) In 1 Corinthians, Paul claims that when Jesus rose after three days in the tomb, he was seen by 500 witnesses. This is a typical biblical myth: there is no supporting information. We have only Paul’s word, but:
    1.  He does not say where the event occurred.
    2. He does not mention the women who were the first to see Jesus.
    3. How did he know? He wrote long after the event and no one else reported it, even Peter or James, who presumably told him.
    4. He names none of the 500, who are all anonymous.

Was Jesus God? (p. 211-215) There are several possibilities:
    1. Jesus never existed physically. This view is called mythicism.
    2. He was a charismatic rabbi wandering around Galilee annoying people.
    3. He was a somewhat crazy human. (Mark 3:21)
    4. He was a unique person, born of a virgin, died, and was resurrected.
    5. He became legendized, common with other mythical heroes.
    He became divine during his life, according to the synoptic Gospels.
    7. He was eternally divine, as John says in the fourth Gospel.
    8. He was a false prophet, since his most important prophecy was wrong.

Why Did Christianity Spread? (p. 216-218)
    1. It recruited women, who then as now, were more likely want religion.
    2. It made no distinction between social classes, so it appealed to many.
    3. Its doctrines were more humane than those of paganism.
    4. It appealed to Jews without circumcision, an obstacle to converting.
    5. Most important, 4th century Roman emperors installed it by force.

Summary: Christianity is False Because: (following p. 220)
    1. It fails the objective examination that we should require of all beliefs.
    2. Its claims are unprovable or disprovable, even the existence of God.
    3. It relies on faith, believing things you know are not true.
    4. The Bible contains no verified prophecies.
    5. Prayer has never been proven to work.
    “God moves in mysterious ways” excuses Christianity’s many failures.

    Christianity is being examined with more perspective and objective knowledge than ever. This will nail its grave shut. 

11. The Illustrated Guide to Christian Evil
    My aim here is to shock naive believers and skeptics by showing that Christianity advocated and performed violence throughout its history. The doctrine of eternal torture in Hell is often denied by Christian leaders trying to make the faith more palatable, but the Bible is unambiguous. In particular, Jesus spoke often about fire and its use in punishing unbelievers:

Matthew 5:22 ...and whoever says, You foolish one, will be in danger of hell fire. [But in Matthew 23:17 Jesus calls people fools.]
 Matthew 13:42  all those who do wrong will be them into the fire; there will be weeping and cries of sorrow.
Matthew 18:8  it is better for you to go into life missing a hand or a foot than to go into the eternal fire with two hands and two feet.
Matthew 25:41 Go from me, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire which is ready for the Evil One and his angels:
Mark 9:43 (Copied in Matthew 18:8)
Mark 9:44-47  it is better to go into the kingdom of God with one eye than to go into hell with two eyes, where ... the fire is not put out.
Luke 16:24 ... put water on my tongue, for I am cruelly burning in this flame.
Revelation 14:9-10 Anyone who worships the beast will have cruel pain, burning with fire ...
Revelation 21:8  But those who are without faith, the unclean and takers of life, those who do sins of the flesh, and those who make use of evil powers or who worship images, and those who are false, will have their part in the sea of ever-burning fire ...
ooo
    The following images depict Hell, the crucifixion, and burning at the stake. Most of these artworks were made by believers. We are so used to grisly images of Hell, etc., that their power is lost on us. But imagine the actual pain of burning or being crucified.
  A. Typical painting of living bodies, with miscellaneous amputated body parts including heads. The victims are neatly stacked, like cordwood, and no genitals are visible. Let it never be said that Satan maintains Hell in a sloppy or pornograhic state. 

  B. Frying Jews, who deserved it for not accepting Jesus. The iron pot says "Judet" and the pointed hats were required wear for Jews in the Middle Ages. Maybe the Jews are smiling because justice was finally being done for their killing Jesus, and it alleviated their guilt. But it's more likely that the happy demons made them smile with a joke. Let it never be said that Christianity lacks humor.

  C. A mass auto-da-fe ("act of faith") with heretics being roasted. Two are already dead, having escaped a slower death, which God prefers. The guy with the rake needs new pants, so let it never be said that Christian torturers waste money on fancy clothes.

  D. Innocents being shoved into the fire by an animal-headed, clawed demon. I saw one just like him on Wilshire Boulevard. 
  E. A realistic expression on a man experiencing burning. God and Jesus say that this goes on for billions of years - or longer.
  F. Jesus on the cross, crotch hidden, with scourge marks. (Nails through the palms, as shown, would rip out.)

    Remember, God loves everyone.
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