Monday, May 28, 2012

Still Alive

Just a quick note to answer the couple of people wondering if this project is still alive.
Quick answer: Yes!
Longer answer: Between work, minor surgery/recovery and a few weeks of enjoying NOT reading the bible, I'll be starting the Gospel of John in the next few days.

I have to admit that my interest in reading the New Testament is waning and the next few months could be a struggle.  But, we must all soldier on and face our burdens in life, and when we finish, we'll all get cake.  It's so delicious and moist!

In the mean time, enjoy some Jonathan Coulton!

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

More thinking leads to less god

Here is an article from Scientific American that correlates critical thinking ability to religious belief.
While I do think (and other studies have shown) that a person's knowledge of science, and their ability to think critically is proportional to their belief in unproven claims, I don't think this study was particularly strong.  Still it's worth a read for no other reason that it conforms to my belief system. ;-)

Analytic thinking can undermine belief

I'll be back reading the damn book this week.  The Gospel of John should be interesting because it's based on hearsay, based on hearsay.  At least that's what I heard.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Have you ever changed your opinion?

There's been a discussion in the previous post regarding our beliefs being prejudiced and biased.  I think this goes without saying, as we are the collective of what we are taught, think and observe.

But, have you ever had a deep held belief in which you've turned around on?
What made you change?
If you study a topic you believe in, do you also research/read the opposing opinions?

I was raised Catholic and went to church regularly as well as a Catholic grade school.  God/Jesus was an everyday thing for me. When I became a teenager, like many, I became interested in supernatural subjects like ghosts, ESP, UFOs, the Bermuda Triangle.  The movie The Exorcist came out when I was 13 and I was obsessed with demonic possession.  I read everything  I could on the subject.
I was convinced all these things were real and happening around me.  My parents chuckled and told me to think about these subjects critically.  They asked me to look for actually evidence and to look for other possible explanations to specific events.
They were very patient!
But, over the next 4-5 years, as I matured and learned, I did start asking the questions "Why?" and "How?"  I started learning about the world around me. With a little education, a lot of the supernatural disappeared.
One day I asked my mom why we should believe in a god when the natural world could be explained by natural processes (I probably didn't use those words.  And I most likely just didn't want to go to church.).  She didn't have an answer and gave me the official Catholic Church response.  "Don't ask questions." I found out that when it came to her faith, she didn't practice what she preached.

Long story short, I fell in love with science in high school and religion became less important to me.  I went to college wanting to become a NASA engineer and received AA degrees in Physics and Psychology before deciding that Video Production and Film History was the direction my career would lead.  I became an 'official' Atheist my last year in Catholic college when I took a class called Atheism and Religion.

But you ask, have I changed my mind on scientific subjects?  Yes.

In the past, I questioned man's impact on Earth's climate.  Our environment changes at a fairly slow pace and we have such a small data set of weather conditions over the last 125 years to draw on.  But, as more information is collected and as the amount of change has become (practically) logarithmic, it's became pretty clear that man can have a huge impact on his environment.

I also would like to believe in multi-verses and that idea that more then four dimensions exist.  It would make our 'uni'-verse infinitely more wondrous.  But, alas there is no actual evidence for them (yet).  They only exist in mathematical constructs which, like Zeno's Paradoxes, are open to logical errors.

When I look at the universe without a god, I see a place even more exciting and beautiful then the one I saw with a god!  Having no predetermined 'purpose' or 'meaning' give us infinite possibilities to explore and find our own purpose and meaning!

Morality is a human construct.  We've developed a social order over tens of thousands of years in order to live together and prosper.  Our values have shifted over the millennia.  It obviously doesn't work perfectly but it's gotten us this far.
A world with god and religion is indistinguishable but a world without (apart from the churches of course).  Just as many horrible, bloody acts of violence have been committed by the followers of gods as by those who commit horrible acts to fulfill their own needs.  And just as much good.  You can be good without god.

What's your story?
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Monday, April 9, 2012

Gospel of Luke 21-24 You don't say

Luke 21-24

The re-retelling of parables and end times predictions.

Once again Jesus sets up the prophesy of his death and resurrection by pissing off the powers that be and getting himself arrested

We learn that Judas was possessed by Satan before he betrayed Jesus and didn't do it willingly.
This feels like a  huge cop-out on the part of the storytellers in that it takes the human element out of the story.  Jesus wasn't really betrayed by an apostile/friend.

Jesus shares bread and wine with his followers.  Two thousand years later, some literalists believe that bread and wine blessed by a priest turns into the body and blood of Jesus.  Still, it's not as stupid as believing that if you trust in god hard enough, you won't die from a viper bite...

I need to bring up something that's kind of bugged me for a while.  Jesus tells Peter that he will deny knowing Jesus three times.  But, Jesus denies himself repeatedly when on trial!

22:70 Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.

23:3 And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it.
23:9 Then he (Herod) questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.

What did Jesus have to gain by being snarky to these questions and not being upfront about his "Son of God" status?  If he said he WAS the messiah, they still would have killed him!

Oh, and what the hell is wrong with Christians who hate the Jews because "They killed our Lord".  Did they not read the bible?  Are they just really stupid?  Both?  If the people of Jerusalem (the Jews) didn't call for Jesus' crucifixion, Christians wouldn't have a religion, or, more ironically, they'd be Jews themselves!!!

But I digress.  Jesus doesn't defend himself in court and is sentenced to death.  He is mocked and beaten on the way so that Catholic churches would have something to hang on the walls (The stations of the cross for those non-Catholics reading this).

Getting nailed to a cross is a heinous act, but I find the part where the soldiers give Jesus vinegar to drink while he's hanging there, dying to be almost as horrid.  The Romans were dicks.

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus says;
23:41 ... for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
I'm guessing that a dying man nailed to a cross didn't actually say this!  

Jesus dies and is taked by Joseph of Arimathaea and his maidens.
23:56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.

They must have missed the part when Jesus said you no longer have to observe the sabbath, or did that just pertain to eating corn?

But, all is well that ends well.  Jesus comes back from the dead, is reunited with his friends, tells them 'I told you so!' and then rises to heaven.  We all live happily ever after until God decides it's time to kill all of us non-believers.

The Skeptics Annotated Bible has several interesting lists of contradictions regarding the crucifixion and resurrection in the right margin.  What do you think?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Rebirth Weekend!!!

Happy Ishtar, Eostre, Astarte, Ostera, Easter, Passover to all the supernatural believing folks and a happy Sunday to the rest of you.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Gospel of Luke 16-20

Luke 16-20

So, A rich guy dies and goes to hell and a poor guy goes to heaven.
Why? because the rich guy was rich and the poor guy was poor.  At least that's the only information we get from the parable.
The rich guy also seems like a nice guy, trying to warn his family of the horrors that await.

This line seems to say 'Forgive those who do wrong against you only if the they say are sorry.'  I'm I mis-interpreting this?

17:3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

Jesus tells us we don't have to be gracious to others (and he seems to endorse slavery).
17:7 But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?
17:8 And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?
17:9 Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.
17:10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

Jesus is a little disappointed that only one leper in ten thanked him for being cured.  I would be too.

The Son of Man tells us that we won't see the end of the world coming.  Just like humans before the flood and the good folks in Sodom, we'll be happily going along with our daily lives when all hell breaks loose.  maybe literally.

I think Jesus' message is clear, 'Eat, drink, go shopping and be merry because today could be your last."

I found this nugget very interesting;
18:20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.
Jesus list five commandments of the ten.  Which ones?  The ones that have nothing to do with god.  
Jesus was a Humanist!!!

19:30-37 repeats the story of Jesus taking something that doesn't belong to him, breaking a commandment that HE JUST SAID we should keep!  

I'll also again point out that Jesus is deliberately and consciously fulfilling the known prophesies.
'This is what the OT prophets said would happen, therefore, that's what I'm going to do.'  Hardly a sign of divinity.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Here is a short NPR interview with Bart Ehrman, historian and professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, who wrote a book called
Did Jesus exist? A historian makes his case

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Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Creationist Method

This has almost nothing to do with what we're reading right now but I thought it was funny.

My friend Hemant's recent post at The FriendlyAtheist.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gospel of Luke 11-15 The paps which thou hast sucked

Luke 11-15

The thing that caught my attention right off was that the "Lord's Prayer" really has it's origins with John the Baptist.

Jesus doesn't feel that his mother is worth being blessed!

11:27 ... a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked.
11:28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

We are reminded that Jesus doesn't practice proper hygiene and tries to deflect criticism by accusing others of an even worse transgression.
11:38 And when the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that he had not first washed before dinner.

11:39 And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.

You can see from the exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees (11:37-54) that this relationship wasn't going to end well!

I'm sounding like a broken record but, why do religious leaders live in opulence when Jesus clearly tells them not too?
12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

12:33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.

I like this line;
12:49 I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?

We get parables and actual events mixed up.  Did Jesus curse the fig tree or was it just a parable?
Luke 13:6 says; He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

13:7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

13:8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:
13:9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

Matthew 21 and Mark 11 tell us that Jesus damned a fig tree for not bearing fruit.  Clearly the story was mixed up over the ages.

Jesus seems to tell us that even though you try to follow God to get into heaven,  you may not qualify;
13:23 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them,
13:24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

Jesus uses sarcasm!!! I love it!
14:1 And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.

14:2 And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.

14:3 And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?

14:4 And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;

This passage has me totally confused.  Is this Jesus speaking or are we still hearing the parable from the unpopular rich man at the wedding? It doesn't logically connect to the wedding story so I'm thinking Jesus said it.  But it doesn't sound like something he'd say...
14:25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
14:27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

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God is a lousy designer

A rather entraining website with examples of God's shoddy workmanship.
Centre for Unintelligent Design

Monday, March 19, 2012

Gospel of Luke 6-10 Jesus is Elijah Spelled Sideways

Luke 6-10

More of the same from Jesus.

Did anyone (as in actual scholars) consider that Jesus, who most surely knew of Elijah the Prophet was just mimicking his act?
Healing, making zombies, exorcisms, multiplying the number of things in a container...  This stuff isn't unique to The Son of Man.

8:10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

Sounds like Jesus doesn't want people to know what he's talking about.  Or does he consider his followers to dim to follow what he's really trying to say?

8:33 Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked.

Jesus kills a herd of pig, destroying the livelihood of the pigs owners.  Pretty thoughtless act for the Son of God. But then, Jesus was responsible for many LESS killings than his dad!

Also, I have to admit that when I read about people being possessed by demons I find it hard to take these stories seriously.

Along the same lines of believability, Jesus talks with two fictional characters from stories in the Old Testament;

9:29 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.
9:30 And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:
9:31 Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.

One of my favorite bits from That Mitchell and Webb Look;
9:52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.

10:1 After these things the LORD appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.
I'm surprised Jesus had this many people in his service.
He commands them to live humbly and only take what is offered to them for their service.  I again ask, Why do modern Christian preachers dress in expensive suits and have 'Mega-churches"?  Why does the  Catholic Church revel in ornate material objects and wear expensive clothes and jewelry? Tom gave an explanation here but it didn't satisfy my question.

10:21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.

Why is Jesus happy that intelligent people haven't received the word of god, but those with minds of a child have?  I get why the wise and prudent wouldn't listen to him but for Jesus to be happy that some folks did not receive the word seems rather odd, petty and counter-productive on his part.

As an aside, I get a kick out of the Zemanta add-on that helps you with research for your blog.  It will sometimes recommend an earlier blog post of mine as a reference!  Proof that you must be very careful about what to trust on the internet!

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ancient Words Still Ring True

Fables should be taught as fables, myths as myths, and miracles as poetic fancies. To teach superstitions as truths is a most terrible thing. The child mind accepts and believes them, and only through great pain and perhaps tragedy can he be in after years relieved of them. In fact, men will fight for a superstition quite as quickly as for a living truth — often more so, since a superstition is so intangible you cannot get at it to refute it, but truth is a point of view, and so is changeable.
Hypatia of Alexandria

Friday, March 16, 2012

Gospel of Luke 1-5 The Devil is in the Details

Luke 1-5

We get the third version of the Jesus chronicles.  Rashomon anyone?  Just kidding, Luke tells the same story as Matthew and Mark.

So far, Luke seems (to me) to be a better storyteller.  It's nice to get a little more background on Jesus.

I'm amused and confused by chapter 2.  Mary and Joseph don't notice that their 12 year old kid isn't with them on the way home?!?!  Someone call DCFS!

Then we get this line from Jesus in the temple;

2:49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?
It's my understanding from reading Matthew and Mark that Jesus didn't know he was the son of God until he was baptized by John.

We do get a ton of historical references, which some state is proof that the events in the book are real.  But we have to keep in mind that these gospels were written well after the events occurred and these names could have been inserted to add credibility.

The last part of chapter three gives us another asinine listing of begats.  Useless information. 

While reading chapter five, I was struck by something that I didn't pick up on while reading Matthew and Mark.  The story of the fishermen Peter, James and John seems more like one of Jesus' parable and less like an actual event.  Did the author(s) confuse the fiction with the non-fiction?  Was it lost over the time between the life of Jesus and the writing of the books?

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Gospel of Mark - The Cliff Notes

Gospel of Mark

Mark copies off Matthew's paper and gives us an abbreviated version of the story of Jesus.
For the millionth time I question the editors of the bible.  Why is this in here?  It's obviously just a cut and paste job.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

What are you giving up for Lent?

Lent starts today as a run up to Easter, when we'll celebrate God's plan to kill his son so the humans he cursed with eternal sin will be free of that sin and be able to get into heaven, but only if they believe that Jesus was God's son and that his death freed them of the sin they didn't know they had until someone told them that they were sinners and would go to hell for ever so they better repent.  Got it?

Anyway, it's traditional for Catholics to give up something they enjoy as a symbolic nod to the above sacrifice.
For the rest of us, and those Catholics that want to do more then give up coffee or McDonalds for a few weeks, how about giving up a part of yourself?  Give up something of actual value, give blood.

I propose a skeptics lent, that we should all donate blood to the Red Cross for lent as a way of showing that skeptics/atheists use actions and not faith to make a difference.  Believers are strongly encouraged to participate!

Go to the Red Cross website and sign up today!  It's quick and it's relatively painless (compared to what Jesus went thru it's a holiday in the south of France!) and it will make a difference in someones life.

Ash Wednesday

For some reason Catholics like to get ashes rubbed on their foreheads once a year.
To honor this sacred tradition, I bring you...  Ash

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Gospel of Matthew 26-28 Thy will be done

Matthew 26-28

I'm busy with work but want to get done with this chapter before Jesus shows up again.

The big climax (first version anyway)!

It almost passover and Jesus knows the end is near.  He blames society.  Society made him.

He tells his disciples to eat his body and drink his blood metaphorically (although the metaphor is totally lost on me.  What does this symbolize?).
Catholics seem to take this almost literally for some reason.  I personally find that pretty absurd.
Here's the lawyer speak explanation.

He asks his dad if he can get out of this dying for the sins of others plan.  It doesn't make sense. But God/Father doesn't answer so he's screwed.

While the other followers sleep off the celebration, Judas gives Jesus up for 30 pieces of silver and seals  the LORDS fate with a kiss.  A Judas Kiss.

When the law comes knocking, Jesus' pals go running but that's OK, it's all part of the master plan.  The Jews smack Jesus around before taking him to see the governor.

The priests want Jesus dead for personal/political reasons and Pilate knows this.  He tries to scare the population straight by letting the crowd decide between releasing either Barabbas, a generic bad guy,  or Jesus, destroyer of the status quo.  The crowd picks Barrabas and condemns Jesus to death by crucifixion.

So it is true that the Jews killed Jesus.  But, if they didn't the world wouldn't have all those great churches, and the cast of the Jersey Shore and rappers wouldn't have shiny crucifix bling to wear around their necks.

Do you think Snooki reads the bible?

If the Romans chose to kill Jesus, would we be hating Italians now?

Jesus gets beat up and mocked some more .  Then nailed to a cross.  He dies and is put into a followers tomb, where he supposedly raises from the dead a day and a half later.  Everyone that believes this goes to heaven and lives happily ever after.  The end.

While I can believe that someone named Jesus may have existed and that he may have pissed off the high priests of the temple and gotten himself killed, the whole reasoning falls flat.
Once again I question god's thinking.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Gospel of Matthew 24-25 The Best Thing Jesus Ever Said

Matthew 24-25

We start off with some information that must have creeped out the disciples.

24:8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
24:10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
I'm guessing some of the guys were thinking of leaving the Jesus camp and joining the Roman army.

More proto-revelations in chapter 24.  I'm finding myself glossing over these parts because I know all the gory details will come out at the end of the Bible.

Chapter 25 gives us a couple more weak parables.  I think Jesus started getting pre-occupied with his impending death/resurrection and started phoning in his teachings.  Would like to see an improv group spoof the 10 virgins.

The parable of the lord, his servants and the talents really bothered me.
The servant that took care of his masters property and didn't risk it is punished.  Those that risked the money that they were entrusted with were rewarded (only because they were successful in making more money).  I know it's a parable for getting into heaven, but this really hits home these days as a horrible message.  I've never heard this used as an excuse to invest money but I can see a Christian right wing candidate like Romney using it.

But, right afterwards we get to what I believe is the best part of the bible.  It's a Humanist message of taking care of each other.  Watching out for our fellow man.  It doesn't need to be about being good to get a reward at the end.


25:35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
25:36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
25:37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
25:38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
25:39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

'nuff said
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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Jesus Hates Figs

From my cousin Mike;
How timely!

Matthew 20-23 ...a den of thieves.

Matthew 20-23

Chapter 20 starts off with a rather lame parable.
Then, once again Jesus prepares the gang that his time is short.
20:19 is a little suspiciously too detailed for my taste.  I think there may have been just a little embellishment by the scribe. ;-)

20:19 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.

Is Jesus talking about himself in the third person?  Always a sign of an ego-maniac.

We get an admission of a self fulfilling prophesy.  Jesus knew how to play to Old Testament to his advantage.

21:2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.
21:3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.

21:4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,
21:5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

Quote of the day from Jesus;
21:13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

This sounds (to this Atheist at least) like what every TV preacher and mega-church does today, selling prayers, trinkets, books, and healing for a 'small donation'.
I would love to see Jesus show up on the 700 Club, recite this passage and then kick Pat Robertson in the balls!

Jesus returns to the temple the next day and again heals and teaches, pissing off the priests.  They want to take Jesus down but fear the massive posse of the LORD.

Jesus himself advocates the separation of church and state!!!

22:17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
22:18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?
22:19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.
22:20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
22:21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.
22:22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

This is an awesome line!  Jesus/Matthew could turn a phrase couldn't he?
23:25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Friday, January 20, 2012

Matthew 17-19 So, anyway...

Matthew 17-19

This is my busy season at work.  Postings will be irregular  for the next month or so.

Turns out John the Baptist is an alias for the prophet Elais.
Scattered amongst more miracles, Jesus tells his friends that he's got enemies and that he's going to get caught and killed.  But fear not, he'll rise from the dead in three days.  Why three days?  If Jesus died on Friday afternoon and rose early sunday morning (at least he was found then, he could have risen Saturday night and hung around until early Sunday), that's barely 36 hours.  But I'm getting ahead of the story, hope I didn't ruin the ending for you.
The answer of course is that the numbers 3, 7 and 40, among others, were important in the 'bible days' so that's what they used.

Jesus infamously advocates for self mutilation;

18:8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
18:9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

18:15-18 would seem to be the reasoning the Catholic Church uses for not reporting the sex abuse cases.  
I'm only half kidding.

19:6 is the classic line used in every religious wedding I've ever been to;
19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Jesus also condemns divorce and has strong words for those who participate.  Seems Moses was wrong.
Also seems Newt Gingrich and many other christian right don't feel this teaching of Jesus is very important as divorce in the christian community is only slightly less then the general population.  38-42% vs 50%.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Matthew 13- Farmer Jesus

Matthew 13

I'm sorry I passed this chapter up.  I read several chapters and then broke them up into consumable bites and ended up leaving this one out.

The basic premise of this chapter is that Jesus preferred to speak in parables to illustrate his lessons.
He also seems to like seeds.  Perhaps if he lived inland he would have been a farmer instead of a carpenter/savior.

I/We WILL be cast into flames!!!

13:41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
13:42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I didn't think a fiery hell was actually mentioned in the Bible until Revelations.

So, did Jesus have brothers and sisters or is that how they referred to his friends and followers?

We finish with people in the synagogue (the priests I assume) not being to happy with Jesus teaching these new fangled ideas to the masses.  They still think a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Matthew 14-16 O thou of little faith

Matthew 14-16

John the Baptist meets his maker?  Did he accept Jesus as his personal savior before he died or wasn't that an option yet?

Jesus then performs a variation on Elisha's bottemless vessel trick, feeding the multitudes with a couple fish tacos.

I like the symbolism in the Jesus walking on water piece;

14:29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
14:30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
14:31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

I knew Jesus walked on water but the rest of the story is so much more compelling with a great message about having faith in his actions.  Why isn't this more well known?

I have to give Jesus and pals a big thumbs down in Chapter 15 for not washing their hands before eating.  Even worse, he goes to great lengths to justify his poor behavior.
If Jesus had died of food poisoning, would he still have risen a day and a half later?

A great line;
15:14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

Jesus again does the loaves and fishes bit.  This looks suspiciously like a retelling of the first version in a different location.  Poor editing?

Another great line;
16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Two important lines finish off chapter 16.
16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
This seems to say that God will judge man on what he does, not what he professes.  Do good deeds matter?

Atheists like to use this line, indicating that the timeframe given by Jesus for the end days was WAY off.
16:28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.


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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Science, Reason and the Bible

There is a fairly fruitless debate going on in the comments section of an earlier post regarding science and logic.  Those educated in science are on one side and those educated in religion are on the other.  The classic, timeless debate.

But I don't think it has a place on this blog. We've gone round and round on this a couple times before and it just breaks down into personal arguments after a while.  I'll be the first to say that I'm guilty of having a low threshold when dealing with those that aren't well schooled in the sciences.

Therefore, I decree by virtue of me being the LORD of this blog, that all science/religion discussions should be confined to this post.  If the topic comes up in future posts, I will kindly remind the poster to move the debate here. if they don't, the comments will be erased.
I hope you will hold me to the same standard.

I'll start us off and then step back;
Why is science so great and religion so horrible?  Discuss! ;-)
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Matthew 9-12

Matthew 9-12

Jesus continues his healing tour and rounds out his apostile line up.

Is there a timeframe that is given anywhere that tells us how long Jesus was wandering around healing people and collecting his entourage?  From the reading so far I get the impression that is was over a very short period of time.

10:32 to 10:38 is the classic 'I don't come in peace, I come with a sword" line that many Atheists like to use against the peaceful Jesus.  Sadly (to some, but not me), within the context of the rest of the chapter, it fits and is not the horrible statement it's made out to be.  It's not nice, more Old Testament like actually.

Jesus gives his men marching orders and lets them know that it's going to be a rough job and some of them aren't going to be coming back.
To paraphrase Jesus, 'Don't fear the men that will destroy your body.  Fear me, the man who will destroy your body AND soul!
I'm guessing some of them are now wishing they had stayed on the boat.  ;-)

John the Baptist, still sitting in prison, sends out his own disciples to check in on Jesus.  I got the impression that maybe John was having second thoughts on Jesus being the messiah.  Did he think that Jesus couldn't possibly be doing all these great things,  or was there some professional jealousy going on?

I find chapter 12 very interesting in that Jesus had earlier stated that men should keep the laws of Moses;

5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven...
And yet not working on the sabbath isn't important anymore.  I believe that killing the man for collecting wood on the sabbath was the first judgement that man did in defense of the 10 commandments.  Can someone explain the seeming contradiction?

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Matthew 6-8 O ye of little faith

Matthew 6-8
Been under the weather for the last few days and once again this entry wasn't auto-posted.

Jesus continues his lessons.

6:9 gives us the Lords Prayer.  How many thousands of times have I had to recite this in church and at home?  I'm finding it quite fun to see where the Catholic Church gets the content for it's mass!   I also love reading all the phrases and saying that have become so common it todays world.

Jesus rightly tells us to do good deeds without the need for reward.
But, he also gives us this load of poop.

7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
7:8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

We don't get everything we want. Even the most holy don't always get what they pray for.  Do they?*

Chapter 8 is the 'Healing Chapter".  Jesus shows off his variety of powers to cure lepers, the sick, those possessed by demons and even calm rough seas!

We get another example of Jesus saying that we should keep the laws of Moses after he cures a leper;

8:4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

Once again I have to say that I really like the writing from Jesus over the Old Testament.  Other then the more positive attitude, it's also much better written and more engaging.

*Please don't answer this with "God answers every prayer and gives us just what we need."  That's just a cop out.

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Matthew 3-5 Jesus Becomes a Preacher

Matthew 3-5

NOTE:  I set this post to automatically post on December 30th.  It obviously didn't.  I apologize for the delay.

I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays and looking forward to a happy, healthy 2012.  Celebrate safe!

So, when we last met Jesus, he was being born, becoming a wanted fugitive and hiding from the law.

He now meets up with John the Baptist, a charismatic locust eater working in Jordan.
John seems to think Jesus is the Messiah and reluctantly baptises him.

3:13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
3:14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

Jesus comes out of the water and is the first person to suffer from Jerusalem Syndrome.

3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

He too thinks he's the Son of God and starts to collect his entourage.  He then goes on a speaking tour with some leper healing on the side.

I'm taken aback by how sparse the information is on Jesus and his actions.  He suddenly appears fully grown, becomes the "Son of God" and leaps into the role of teacher/healer immediately.

Chapter 5 is pretty much everything that Christianity is based on.  The Dos and Don'ts that we all know so well.  The good stuff.   As I read this all I can think is "Why didn't God/the Bible start out this way?"  After 4000-6000 years of god being frustrated and angry and instilling fear into humanity, why not just send Jesus down to lead the Chosen People out of Egypt instead of Moses?

Even better, after Adam and Eve "sinned" for eating from the tree of knowledge, why didn't God come by and say "Whoops, you guys messed up by listening to the serpent.  I know I forgot to teach you right from wrong so here's my son Jesus to fill you in on how to behave while you're here."

But, I digress.  I'm so happy to be reading this now.  The Old Testament was such a bummer and the New Testament is a breath of fresh air.  I can see why people were ready to follow him and (eventually) convert to Christianity.

My only question(s) to you is, Jesus explicitly says:
5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
5:18 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.
5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

So why do people feel that Jesus broke from the Jewish faith?  Christians still follow (in theory) the ten commandments given to Moses but others seem to have gone away (the treatment of slaves/women, stoning transgressors of the law, resting on the sabbath, etc).
Bonus question, why is a service in a Jewish Temple so much different then one in a Baptist Church?

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