A Pre- Da Vinci Code Comment

  Believers Should Read The Bible--Word For Word

So long as the theistic language of the Bible and other scriptures is held in reverence instead of being studied critically and analytically, it will be impossible to distinguish the unfalsifiable from the verifiable.

When I wrote, Hey! IS That You, God? (Available at Sebastian Publishing Co., 118 Willis Avenue, Port Jefferson, N.Y. 11777), for fun and only for my children, I was persuaded by them and friends and relatives to publish it.  They, too, are concerned with theistic pap and abuse of language, especially as promulgated by the ultra conservative right.
To my amazement, when it appeared in print, the communications I received prompted me to respond in terms of the principles of critical analysis that are the basis of the book and which I have taught for all of my teaching career.  Those principles constitute most of the content of my homepage.  I would not normally offer arguments to dissuade irrational beliefs except that the criticisms of my book seem to demand a reply.  Hence, the following addendum to Hey! IS That You, God?.
Professional theists may find my replies of small interest.  They've heard it all before.  However, I do not wish to address them.  I am interested in reaching the believers who have never bothered to read or think about these issues that have been foisted upon them from when they were born and throughout their lives.
They are victims of the hawkers of unverifiable theistic claims and convoluted language.  The result is that the whole world pays a heavy price in:
      poor education,
      false beliefs,
     religion in politics,
     diminution of separation of church and state,
      religious wars, and
      moral support of religious terrorists, i.e.,
     man's inhumanity to man.                                      
Born-again Christians will give no weight or thought to any of the forthcoming arguments because they don't want to be bothered with facts and evidence.  Robert Green Ingersoll, a 19th century lawyer said, that people who believe they have received God's absolute truth have, 

". . .the arrogance of theological certainty and the tyranny born of ignorant assurance."

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. . .

The existence of things is confused with their causes -- just as some confuse metaphors with reality.
The existence of the earth is not verification that it was created.  What is verifiable is only that it exists, not how it came to exist.
The problem is that it is claimed, "'God' can make something out of nothing."  In the history of man, there has never been any evidence that anything can be made out of nothing.  Apparently such believers do not understand that "create" means to make something "new" out of something else.  No believer thinks to ask, "From where did God come?"  When the question is asked, the answer is,  "He always existed."  Yet, a non-believer is denied the right to claim that he has no reason to believe that the universe did not always exist in some physical form.
It can be verified that there is a universe.  It cannot be verified that there is an invisible, incorporeal creator of the universe.  One can only blindly believe that there is.
Moreover, no one believes in or loves a god.  All believers believe in and love their individual concepts of a god, however they were condition to have them.
And once they are conditioned, they claim there is a god who created the universe because, in their denial or ignorance of science, they believe that is the only way the existence of the universe can be explained.
Too many believers have the audacity to claim that scientists and analytic philosophers with all their degrees (from the best universities in the world), and with over two hundred years of study and research, thought, and discovery, are incompetent to speak on these issues and don't know what they are talking about.
Such a conviction comes from the inability to know the difference between scientific theory, which must include facts and evidence, and a creation  story borrowed from ancient myths and refurbished by people who understood nothing about the nature of the universe and the things in it.
Theists usually claim that scientists deal with the how but not the why (blind faith in a god) of things.  How ingenuous!  They neglect to say that they, themselves, postulate a why of things with not an iota of evidence or possibility to verify their claims.
Claims for the existence of some "gods," because of the way they are defined, can't even be falsified not alone verified.
When a claim is not able to be verified or falsified because of its definition, absolutely nothing can be said, epistemically,  about it except that it can't be verified or falsified.
Try verifying that Fido, which is defined not to be able to be seen, heard, felt, touched, or smelled, exists--or doesn't.  This is how God, the claimed Father of Jesus, being incorporeal, is defined.  As to the claim that Jesus is the physical manifestation of God, a divine being, determined by a vote of theistic "authorities," again we must reply that the existence of Jesus proves only that He exists, not that He is the Son of God.  But more of this later.
Such a description of something is only another way of saying, "It can't be known."  It was an 18th-century philosopher, Immanuel Kant, in answer to the theologians before him and of his time, who said that nothing substantive can be described [or voted -- my brackets] into existence.  Only things that exist as matter/energy can be described directly or indirectly.  This Kantian claim can be verified.
It is extremely easy to disprove such concepts of gods as the biblical god.  It is necessary only to show what linguistic and epistemic nonsense they are by exposing the contradictions of their defining characteristics.
It is no big deal to prove that a god that is incorporeal does not exist.  The theists say He's "Spirit," a term originating from "spiritus" which originally was used to "mean" "the moving air."  He has no brain, eyes, ears, etc.  He is not physical and if the term 'exist' means having dimensions, i.e., length, width, depth, and time, then, He does not exist.  Moreover, He is incapable of thinking, seeing, hearing, knowing, etc., since He has no brain, etc.
Anyone with fair training in science (biology) knows that only matter/energy (in Einsteinian terminology -- a brain, for example, or plant life, etc.) can react to light or sound, and/or texture -- all of which are some form of matter/energy.
After all, the concepts of proof and verification, to make sense at all, demand availability of evidence that is public and accessible to all, not to only a select few who confuse their ideas, feelings, and experiences with fact and reality.
All of the arguments that claim God exists have long ago been shown to be invalid and unsound by the great analytic minds of man.  Yet, some people, especially uneducated (though well-schooled, i.e., trained) students insist that God does not need such physical attributes.
Such a claim having been made requires that someone has verified it.  To date, according to available evidence, no one has.
In the history of man, though many (logical) "proofs" have been offered (and rejected) verification has never been forthcoming.  Such STORIES as the garden of Eden, the snake and the apple tree, Adam and Eve, Adam's rib as the source of Eve, and the like are examined by Joseph Campbell, the noted mythologist.  He points out in his MYTHS TO LIVE BY, (p. 24):

Today we know--and know right well--that there was never anything of the kind:
           no Garden of Eden anywhere on this earth,
           no time when the serpent could talk,
           no prehistoric "Fall"
           no exclusion from the garden,
           no universal Flood,
           no Noah's Ark.
The entire history on which our leading Occidental religions have been founded is an anthology of fictions.

From time immemorial, man has invented thousands of gods many of whom were defined to be creators of the universe.
Finally, in our culture at least, we whittled the concept down to a supernatural divine oneness on the fanciful suggestion of the pre-Socratic Xenophanes.
Even Aristotle, for all his factual errors and belief in fifty-five gods, understood that to talk of a beginning or end of the universe is unintelligible.  If the meaning of the term, 'supernatural' is examined, it will become clear that talk of supernatural entities is also unintelligible.  There is no way anyone in the world can know anything about what is claimed to be beyond it.  We can merely claim and BLINDLY believe that there is a supernatural realm and that we know what goes on in it.  It is akin to claiming that God is unknowable, as the Bible clearly and often says, and then proceeding to describe Him in detail.
Fundamentalists, for instance, are so fanatical and zealous they cannot accept the gods of other religions that conflict with theirs.  In India it is believed that there are DIVINE rats and SACRED cows.  This is a concept, I wager Christians, Jews, and Muslims will not accept.  In turn, their theistic beliefs are rejected by other religions.  Yet, there is little tolerance, if any, about this conflict in beliefs.  Each school of believers is convinced that its is the chosen one and all others are wrong.                                    
Born-again Christians often speak of a "spiritual rebirth that has resulted in peace, joy, and purpose that one cannot imagine unless he is a believer."  It is a shame that they do not give themselves credit for this marvelous development in their lives.  They so lack self-confidence, they believe they cannot have accomplished this themselves.  No doubt the teachings attributed to Christ -- that is the positive, not negative ones -- may have played a role in finding that contentment.
Those teachings and His promises of "life ever after" are not justification for worshiping and attributing divinity to Him -- or to any person.  Why do we not attribute divinity to all teachers who have contributed to our schooling and moral upbringing?  If we were to do this, we'd have gods beyond counting  -- as did early man.
Christ did not conceive the moral principles that all good people cherish.  They were already in existence, floating around in various cultures for thousands of years, long before the baby Jesus presumably was found in "Mary's arms" by the "three wise men" in Joseph's "house."  Jesus merely borrowed the principles and preached them as if He were the sole possessor of moral "truth."  Historians believe even the Golden Rule of Confucius (born around 550 BC) was borrowed and re-worded by Christ.  Moreover, if it is thought that He was so saintly, one should read: Matt. X, 34:

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword."
"For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." (Matt. X, 35)   
"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." (Luke XIV, 26) 
He did not hesitate to condemn all who would not believe in Him, to eternal fire and damnation.
It's a pretty sick mind that would do that.  It's called "overkill."  That's worse than cutting off hands that steal apples.  It's hardly the sign of a rational and humane personality.  In St. John II, 4, He even shows contempt for his mother, Mary.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee?  Mine hour is not yet come.

Consider how all that reflects on those who worship a man who was capable of such cruelty.  It is a shame that believers don't bother to read the Bible to discover for themselves what it says instead of listening to the hawker's carefully selected passages that support the axes they are grinding.
I, too, experienced a spiritual rebirth -- when I discovered philosophy.  I came face to face with a staggering awareness of my areas of ignorance that could not but be spiritual in nature.  It dispelled many certainties with which I was burdened and answered many doubts I had prior to my studies.  I discovered that there is not, and never has been, evidence that there is absolute truth or knowledge (as believers claim they have found in God and in Jesus).  I had a new vision based on probability supported by available evidence.
There was the sudden realization that what one becomes is dependent upon what one does with his life.  On that day, I became, as the trite saying goes, "captain of my own ship."  There was no need for the crutch, or as Freud said, "opiate," of blind belief in non-existent, i.e., incorporeal, beings.  It was up to me to guide my own life with or without advice and/or help, in spite of an ample supply of adversity.  However, one thing the evidence indicates is that help did not come from divine beings.  It came from here on earth.
Believers seem to think that only they can have spiritual experiences.  That is because they claim that the source is supernatural.  How wrong they are.  Even Einstein's spirituality lay in his awe of the mysteries and beauty of the universe.  He was not alone in this.
This sentiment is beautifully expressed by Joseph Campbell, (Ibid p. 5):
. . .the occasion for an experience of awe before the wonder of the universe that is being developed for us by our scientists surely is a far more marvelous, mind-blowing revelation than anything the pre-scientific world could ever have imagined.  The little toy-room picture of the Bible is, in comparison, for children--or, in fact, not even for them any more. . . .

Our natural world is permeated with the sources of true spirituality.  It is the source of my profound reverence for life, even insect life and botanical life.  For all the misery and suffering that exists on this world, I am still in awe of the beauty and mystery of the nature of things.  But I need to understand their inner processes.  My impression is that believers merely enjoy them as "God's work."  As Einstein said metaphorically.  "I want to know God's thoughts," translated to mean that he wants to know what makes things, in the universe, "tick."
I am deeply moved by an understanding of what makes things "tick" and by great art, including religious and theistic art such as I've seen in the Vatican.  Such spirituality is found in viewing a starry sky, a beautiful sunset, beautiful flowers and foliage, especially in the Fall season, the writing and reading of poetry, books, literature in general, particularly the mythology of gods and other worldliness, not to be confused with reality or fact, playing and listening to music, the laughter of children, family, and friends, and the dignity of man (which cannot be achieved on bent knees to kiss a man's ring or by lying prostrate to unseen and unhearing gods).
The one thing that can dampen a positive attitude is the recognition of the terrible suffering (which, for one who believes in God, his god permits -- not alone creates, that blankets the earth.  In accepting the advice and admonitions of theists, we lose our sense of self worth, dignity, identity, and self respect.  If we need a god, it should be someone like Socrates -- not the god who would condemn non-believers to eternal suffering in Hell.
One believer responded, "In your zealous, angry, and pompous attempt to obstruct God's desire for all men to, 'come unto Him', you place yourself in serious jeopardy."  Theists often use intimidation to make non-believers believe in their gods.  They appeal to the fallacy of fear (through "God's punishment").  They instill a deep sense of guilt in people who would otherwise be content of mind.  They appeal both to authority and to fear for our lives (in the hereafter?). We all die some time and return to the inanimate matter from which we emerged.
That's one reason why no one ever sees "a luggage rack on the roof of a hearse."
There is no hereafter, "ashes to ashes," etc.  I would say, "atoms to atoms and quarks to quarks," or strings to strings, all which, if they are more than constructs, re-combine again some time in the future to become something or someone else: another person, a rock, a plant, whatever.
Our God-oriented society, through its rote-teaching, schools, clergy, churches, and conditioning indoctrination has done damage beyond description to our minds under the guise of saving our immaterial souls and guaranteeing that we'll live eternally in Heaven, wherever and whatever that is, happily ever after.
Mother Teresa said that Peter told her in a dream that there are no slums in Heaven.  What kinds of societies are there?  Schools?  Buildings?  Factories?  Would we still enjoy ice cream?  Cake?  Symphonies?  Big band or classical music?  Our favorite movies?  Are there as many religions there in Heaven as on earth?  Who tends the gardens?  Who oils Peter's gates?  Who improves the minds of our immaterial souls?  How do we communicate?  Mental telepathy?  Souls don't have brains, eyes, ears, tongues, etc.  Are our pets' souls there too?  How do we pet them without hands?  What is offered as entertainment?  Or, do we just "stand" around soulfully looking at each other with our immaterial eyes?  Don Juan, had it right, Heaven has got to be the most boring place imaginable!
What is this heavenly eternal paradise we are promised if we will only continue to believe in and love this unknowable God?

Behold, God is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out. (Job, IIIVI, 26)

For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? (I Corinthians, II, 16)
No man hath seen God at any time; (St. John, I, 18 and I John, IV, 12)
Not even Jesus Christ?  None of the biblical scribes bothered to give us a detailed description of Heaven.  We are just supposed to take their and Jesus' word for it.  Why do not believers ever ponder and reason about these specifics, the details of what "life" after we die would be like in the hereafter?
Even if the claim that the non-existence of a personal (biblical type) god may be questioned, it's a shame that theists do not take the history of philosophy and the history of how man created his gods seriously.  Many thinkers have easily disproved the validity of claims for the existence of personal (intelligent) gods.  Because of theistic conditioning and probable lack of training in analytical philosophy, epistemology, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind, theists cannot conceive or wish to believe that it is possible.  However, I suspect they feel they can easily disprove the existence of divine rats and sacred cows.  Then, someone in India would scoff at them as they do at religious beliefs foreign to them.
Followers of Christ brand with the same iron every philosopher and theologian, from Plato to Hans Kung, who dares to examine claims of divinity or the existence of supernatural entities.  Haven't they heard of Hans Kung, the great theologian excommunicated by the pope?  Kung does not believe in the divinity of Christ.  Haven't they heard of the many believers in the Methodist church who also do not?  Haven't they heard of Epicurus who considered the concept of "God" over three hundred years before Christ was born?  He expressed it this way:
Is Deity willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then He is impotent.
Is He able, but not willing?
Then He is malevolent.
Is He both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is He neither able nor willing?
Then why call Him Deity?

It astounds me that people who profess to be rational today could still believe the theistic pap foisted upon them from childhood as when mothers exclaim, "God!  She's/He's beautiful!"  The first step in the conditioning process.
Greater minds than mine have said that it is fruitless to try to prove that God exists. Yet, believers seem to think that man makes no progress in the attainment of knowledge, or evidence, related to the use and misuse of language.  It just isn't possible to talk, to define, or to think anything into existence.  Despite the song, wishing will not make it so.  It may, however, make believers feel better, as prayers sometimes do.
Theistic propaganda ought not be accepted blindly.  We must learn to ask penetrating questions about all language, whether theistic or not.  Thereby we may succeed in becoming rational human beings taking credit for our achievements and being willing to take responsibility for our own actions and mistakes.  We have a moral responsibility to ourselves and to our fellowman not to fall prey to the unexamined claims and words of theists, TV evangelists, Bible thumpers, fundamentalists, news reports, politicians, and poorly educated  (even if well trained) teachers, especially in the Bible-Belt states of America, and the like.  Such an approach can lead to a contented, fulfilled, purposeful, and happy life.
Believers do themselves an injustice giving credit to pie-in-the-sky for something they deserve credit for doing themselves.  Their peace and contentment is their doing.  Still, they need to give credit for it to an unknowable god or "His Son."  If believing in the teachings of a man dead for almost two millennia is comforting, that's great.  But it does not follow that He still lives and is personally guiding lives.  Believers should have more confidence, trust, and faith in themselves.  God didn't get them the jobs they hold, the money they earn, the family they have, the success they've achieved.  They did all that themselves.  And if they sin, do evil, as Bakker is reported to have done, they're to blame, not some unseen god.
I am not alone in concluding that proving the Biblical God does not exist is quite a simple task.  Great thinkers, past and present, have denied and do deny the existence of a personal god.  And one fifth of the people on earth (over 1,000,000,000) do not believe in a god.  That does not even include the closet non-believers.  Informed people, in this 21st century, know that any claim of an invisible, incorporeal, unknowable entity, knowing us, seeing us, hearing us, being all-knowing (in the past, present, and future) all-powerful, all-good (in the face of the monstrous suffering, hurt, misery, etc., man has experienced from the day of his cave existence) is impossible.  In fact, such scriptural claims are a morass of hidden contradictions, sheer gobbledygook despite many linguistically beautiful passages.
Some men, even great ones, especially politicians and others in the public eye, do not have the courage or honesty to say openly what they believe regarding gods.  And there is reason to believe that more than a few religious leaders are among them.  Even some of the popes were atheists.  It is public knowledge about the lives, in contrast to their teachings, that some of those leaders (like, reportedly former convict, Jim Bakker, and Catholic hater, Jim Swaggert) lived rather immoral lives in secret.  They didn't dare say what they really thought in their heart of hearts.  They were aware of the wrath of the believers (except the gullible followers) and of the other religious institutional satraps who would descend upon their heads.
Even David Hume, the 18th century philosopher, after proving that the existence of our universe is not evidence that an infinite and perfect god created the universe, for his own safety from religious zealots in power "admitted" to believing in God.  Galileo, too, was forced to submit to the religious authorities of his time declaring what he knew to be true, to be false.
Einstein, contrary to general misinformation, said "I am a deeply religious non-believer."  How more definite than that can intelligent people speak.  Few seem to understand his use of the term, 'God.'  Einstein always used it metaphorically and never as if he believed in a personal god.  Certainly, being a Jew, he did not believe that Jesus was divine.
I don't know how much philosophy or study of language, truth, knowledge, and mind believers have had.  Of one thing I'm sure, if they had studied as many philosophy courses (which includes much philosophy of religion and the language of religious theism) as have most Doctors in analytic Philosophy, they, too, would probably no longer believe unverifiable theistic claims.  It is unfortunate that all our "educators," molding the minds of our young, were and are not required to study analytic philosophy, philosophy of language, truth, knowledge, and mind.
Surely anyone in this enlightened age should be able to understand that any claimed entity that does not have eyes, can't see; ears, can't hear; a tongue, can't taste; a nose, can't smell; a brain, can't think.
The problem with fundamentalists all over the world, and other theistic groups as well, is that they accept scriptural claims to God's existence.  They are documents written by many people almost two thousand pre-scientific years ago who made conflicting claims, borrowed liberally from ancient myths, and sought power over the peoples' minds.  Each was concerned to set up a political, moral, ethical, and chauvinistic social structure whose principles women were to live by with men as their lords.

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. (Genesis, III, 16)

God's scribes, to whom, it is claimed, He sent His revelations, show a rather unflattering picture, to say the least, of His treatment of those women whom He perceived as evil and the wives of men that He felt He had a case against.  Nowadays, we consider such treatment to be atrocity.
  Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. (II Samuel 12, 11) 
Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. (Numbers XXXI, 17) 
But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. (Numbers XXXI, 18)
Other scribes, particularly Ezekiel, depicted God even more vividly, too much so for this homepage.  However, for those who may be interested, check out: Ezekiel, XXIII, 10, 32, 34; Exodus, XXI, 7; XXII, 18; Hosea, II, 3, 5; III, 2; Leviticus, XXI, 9; Judges,V, 30; XI, 31-39; XIX, 29; Deuteronomy, XXV, 11-12; XXVIII, 57; and so very much more too extensive to list here.
In the Christian school of belief, if it is going to be claimed that Christ is God, the Bible should be read more carefully.  According to biblical scholars of the original Gospels, Christ never made that claim Himself.  Some of the later scribes contradict each other.  Check out the King James version, a later revision: St. John X, 30.  He's God in the flesh:

I and my Father are one.                                                

In St. John, XIV, 28, however, He's only a man:

 My father is greater than I,

through whom God is presumed to have done miracles -- which as David Hume proved, can't exist.  It takes only a normal mind to see the contradiction.  The Bible, in which so many put so much LITERAL stock is full of such contradictions.  But, of course our preachers will rationalize them away for uneducated minds.
Please understand, I am adamantly opposed to anyone denying a person his legal right to believe as he chooses.  It's his business so long as he's willing to bear the consequences of those beliefs.
As a human being, however, concerned with how the beliefs of others affect my life and that of others, I am bothered greatly when I learn of someone believing claims without evidence, particularly unverifiable claims.  This is, after all, the twentieth century, not the Dark Ages.  Certainly it is not the age of myth, magic, witches, demons, and gods lurking around every corner and even in the movement of the wind.  There is nothing immoral in believing that the biblical God can't exist because of its definitional contradictions anymore than believing that flying horses can't exist.
Using the Bible as "evidence" that God exists puts into question one's scientific, philosophic, linguistic, and analytic education.  Moreover, it is apparently not understood what circular reasoning is.
If believers are generous of heart, they fear for the safety of disbelievers who are placing themselves in "serious jeopardy."  Such concern is misplaced. They do not seem to realize the hidden implications of such a belief.
Considering the vastness of the universe, is God so immature as to take vengeance against even a youthful disbeliever merely because he doesn't believe in Him?  What an insult to God!  Is He really that vain?
If I were a god, I'd wait until a person died.  When his soul appeared at my Pearly Gates, I'd greet him, with a sympathetic smile, pat him on his immaterial soul-head and say, "See, you were wrong.  I do exist."  Then I'd let him into Heaven since having seen the proof, he would no longer disbelieve.  What's the big deal if one doesn't believe in Him for a few seconds of His life -- the total of a human life?  Once the proof is presented, belief in Him will last eternally.
If He's the all-good god He's claimed to be, instead of passing violent "justice" on His unbelieving "children," He'd do better to spend His time and attention on preventing earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, plane crashes, car accidents, suicides, rapes, robberies, the crimes of terrorists, and unethical behavior of business men and leaders of our nations; He could prevent diseases, cruelty, pain, wars--in general, man's inhumanity to man with a snap of His non-material ethereal fingers.
Why did He bring such horrors into existence?  The believer says, "to show the difference between good and evil."  That's ludicrous.  Why would man need to know about evil if God would make the world devoid of evil?  Where is He looking that He lets and/or does not see all this happening?
Nothing moves me to shame and horror so much as when I see evidence of man's monstrous inhumanity to man.  It is usually performed in the name of and under the presumed protection of his gods.  "My god" protects me, as a soldier, against my military enemy who is protected by "his god" (who is also "my god") against me, his enemy.  When one of us is to be killed by the other, whom, of the two of us, does "our common god" protect?
It doesn't seem as if we've progressed much beyond the Greeks' theism of Zeus and his warring company or the gods of other historical and national theisms.
Even the great theologians, such as St. Anselm, St. Thomas Aquinas, Bishop George Berkeley, and many more, according to their various "proofs," not verification, and criticisms of each other, could not succeed in verifying God's existence.  And they were considerably more philosophically equipped to do so than most of us--including our local clergy.
We should be aware that of all the people in the world who are believers of one kind or another, followers of Jesus constitute a small minority.  There are hundreds of millions of non-followers of Jesus.  And there are millions who had more than one "savior" as did the Germans who followed Hitler; Italians, Mussolini; Russians, Stalin; Iranians, Khomeini; etc.
As to "the reality of Jesus" in our twentieth-century lives, we know, if He ever existed, that He died on the cross; as history shows, so did thousands of others in His time.  And if God is Jesus (or vice versa) then God died with Him.  Or else Jesus never died and only appeared to, in which case someone was mistaken or lied.
Hence it is not Jesus in our lives.  It is rather some CONCEPT of a Christ-legend embellished upon through hundreds of millions if not billions of minds and blown all out of proportion to the truth as it originally existed.   'Christ' is a term which today represents "teachings" He is presumed to have taught (that which few people did or do follow).  Few share all their wealth, if any, with the poor as He admonished (following His own advice) all to do and as the great philosopher non-believer, Bertrand Russell, did.
As to prayers to gods, they are not really answered.  One person prays for rain; another prays for no rain.  Only one can win, but not because of his prayers.  Rather, it is because of the weather conditions.  If praying gives a sense of security, by all means pray.  But, as a twentieth century rational person, don't confuse events coincidental with prayers with the idea that "God" fulfilled them.
After all, in an airplane crash in which 299 people died and one person was "saved," it's egotistic to believe that some intelligence (monitoring an "infinity" of events in the universe, from the formation of an "infinity" of atoms out of that number, raised to the zillionth power of quarks to the formation of billions of galaxies) has his attention on saving that one person out of the total of 3OO people when he could as easily have saved all 300.
Please, please don't cite: "God has His reasons."  "There is no questioning the wisdom of God."
These are COPOUT claims.  It must first BE VERIFIED that there is a god, before "His" "reasons" and "wisdom" can be postulated to exist.  BELIEVING, having BLIND FAITH that He and they exist verifies nothing!
If belief in God is presumed to make life better here on earth, then believers should take a long hard look at the world.  Since the dawn of man such beliefs have failed abysmally to do so; and belief in a divine Christ, since his presumed unnatural birth, has faired no better.  I wish it were not so; but beliefs in supernatural powers are doomed, unhappily, to continued profound failure.  All one has to do is to study the world to witness that failure.  Instead of improving our lives, these beliefs have caused
      a succession of wars,
      prejudices, (anti-Semitism, anti-Baha'is, etc.),
      hates (Ireland's Catholics vs Protestants, Palestinians vs Jews),
     the holocaust,
     to mention only a few.
As for the presumed abilities of our gods to make our lives better, we never have been free of diseases, illnesses, maiming, hunger, rape, pillage, murder, pain,  and suffering beyond imagination.
With the increase of the population explosion, the earth is being denuded. Crime, and immorality are rampant and man's many forms of inhumanity to man are on the increase.
Man has followed our gods' examples of evil, murder, rape, cruelty, etc., which are clearly depicted in scriptural works and other religio-mythical writings.  Apparently our Biblical God had no aversion to using evil to end man's evil and their refusal to do his bidding.  Nor did he have an aversion to the brutality of war as Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini correctly indicated when he said, "God . . . incites men to fight and to kill . . . ." and that "A religion without war is an incomplete religion."
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it. (Jeremiah IX, 1 .
And, behold,  I, even, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. (Genesis: Ch.6, verse 17).

Wow! Talk about mass murder!!!!
What would we do to a person today who would drown all the people on earth, except a "saintly" man (Was there not even one other saintly person besides Noah?) and his family?                                            
Such overkill for base instincts and propensities that God, Himself, instilled in us!  If we are going to blame it on the freewill with which God is supposed to have imbued man, let's realize that man does not cause nature's catastrophes, i.e., "acts of God."
Remember, too, that "zillions" of non-years ago, before the measurement of time was created, we were created, as it is said, by our all-knowing, all-good, and all-powerful god, who, through His laws of the universe, designed us and knew we'd behave badly.  He created us anyway.
Nothing in this universe happens unless He wills or permits it; this includes even the existence of the diabolical Satan whom God refuses to nuke.
Why nuke almost everyone but not Satan who "is" by far, believers claim, the incarnation and source of evil?"

However, in order to protect animal and human life from extinction, in Genesis, VI, 19, 20, God commanded Noah:

And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.
Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.
But, in Genesis, VII, 2, 3, God contradicts himself and commanded Noah:
Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. 
Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.  
That's quite a task!  Out of the hundreds of thousands of kinds of creatures, Noah was to pick two of each kind not alone seven:
dinosaurs, pterodactyluses, apes, chimpanzees, giraffes, lizards, alligators, crocodiles, whales, fishes, clams, oysters, elephants, hippopotami, tigers, lions, panthers, pythons, snakes, birds, rats, cats, dogs, squirrels, wolves, moths, butterflies, mosquitoes, wasps, bumblebees, slugs, ants, termites, flies, beetles, cockroaches, caterpillars, bacteria, germs. Need I cite more?
But more than that, consider the food to feed them all for forty days and nights.  And how did he manage to keep them from fighting and eating each other?  Did he build wooden cages and build water tanks?
Unfortunately, the scribes don't tell us how Noah accomplished all this.  Did he roam the whole earth on foot and speak to each and every creature?  Or did he have telepathic powers?   Did all the creatures understand human language?
But what of Noah's biggest challenge, building an ark that God commanded him to construct according to His specifications?
And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. (A cubit is about 18 inches.)
Poor Noah!  He was required to fit two or seven or nine of all of God's creatures excluding human beings (except, of course, the saintly Noah and his saintly family) into an ark no larger than 450ft by 75ft by 45ft.
Wow!  Why lay such an impossible task on Noah, a mere human being?
Why didn't our omnipotent God just snap His incorporeal fingers to rid the earth of its whole evil population -- (including the new born evil babies?)--and then re-snap his non-fingers to recreate all-good forms of life?
Can any intelligent person believe such a story?
People have a legal right to believe what they wish.  However, they have a moral obligation not to believe or to teach or to proselytize any claim that cannot be verified or falsified.  I do not mean "cannot now."  I mean CANNOT.
It is immoral to believe blindly and is clearly a detriment to one's character.
Such behavior sets the stage for the rise of Genghis Khans, Hitlers, Mussolinis, and every other person with an insatiable need for power over the people of the world.  We must realize that the way some beliefs are arrived at can do harm to billions of people.  My concern is about the conditioning techniques of theists and Bible thumpers.  When "God's" bully boys condition defenseless children with the passive consent of unenlightened societies, to believe in an immaterial, all-good, all-knowing, all-powerful Santa Claus in the sky before they are ten years old, the capacity to learn to reason about abstract ideas that go beyond rote manipulation is enormously diminished.
Followers of Jesus do not usually rely on their brains to understand theistic issues.  They refuse to use the reasoning power that their god presumably gave them.  They can thank Paul (originally Saul) for that:
  If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. (I Corinthians, 3, 18).
Paul conditioned his followers, as surely as Pavlov did his dog, to rely on emotions, feelings, and personal experiences such as aspiration for Heaven, fear of Hell, or a love of God (that is, a love of Paul's or one's own concept of a god).  He knew that if brain power were appealed to, he'd be a loser.  That would be the end of his pied-piper power to collect followers.
Remember that old dictum: Love is blind?  It applies here, too.  Such personal, subjective, or psychological experiences as Paul encouraged his followers to depend upon are reinforced by early conditioning concepts, promises of reward (Heaven) or threats of punishment (eternal damnation in Hell).
Personal experience should never be taken as grounds for truth and knowledge unless it can be verified that such experience in everyone in the world is subject to the "same" external circumstances, facts, and events.
If a person truly wants to understand the sources and content of his beliefs, instead of accepting those beliefs on blind faith, he should stop listening to the local pied-piper preachers and research the origins of the concept of gods himself.
A seriously interested investigation into the history of where our gods come from instead of an appeal to the circular reasoning of theists: "God exists because God says He does in His own scriptures," can be very enlightening.
Then let us EDUCATE ourselves about the fundamental concepts that one must understand before one is competent to make claims about a god's alleged existence.  I doubt that such advice will be heeded.  Most believers are victims of their hopes and fears.
Believers are not psychologically free to examine evidence before they accept an idea, a concept, a social, religious, or theistic belief.  They are captives of ideas that originated with the cave men and are still being reinforced, refurbished, of course, by their local, national, and international theists.  Some of us are fortunate enough to have escaped the strangling tentacles of the preachers of theism.  We are free to examine the evidence before we accept any idea, concept, or belief.  We are advocates of rational, critical, and analytical thinking.
None of these precludes loving, caring, and feeling for one's fellow man, nor entails belief in divine beings.
Believers are a captive audience for the theistic pap instilled in them from their day of birth as they lay defenseless in their cradles.  They have been robbed of the ability to think for themselves in important aspects of their lives and have been told, commanded, cajoled into what to feel and what to think.
The mind and the heart of man ought to be appealed to through reason, not through blind faith; for, there is no greater achievement than to become a rational, analytical, spiritual, caring, human being.



  If ever there were an example of the “battle” between informed reason (by humanists, atheists, and agnostics) and uninformed blind faith, (by theists and believers in general) it is exemplified by the nonsense, such as Pope John Paul’s (the II) declaration on TV, years ago, that “Faith is the highest form of reason,” now being foisted upon us through the news media relative to the horrors of the Tsunami of December 26, 2004.      
Consider the perennial responses to the question, “Why would and how could an all good God visit such horror, suffering, and misery upon mankind?” a question frequently asked during the holocaust, and many of history’s “Acts of God."
The typically ridiculous and recurrent use of language, pretending to know an unknowable God’s nature and thoughts, that organized religion and the theists of the world have foisted upon us from time immemorial, has been disseminated with the cooperation of the various media because the theistic authorities, have learned how to manipulate the news, TV, and the Internet to advantage to freely market their self-serving epistemic nonsense.  They do so under the guise not only of it’s being newsworthy but also as acts of giving comfort to the victims of the horrors of  “Acts of God.
The acceptance of such medieval and mystical rationalizations in this supposedly enlightened century would leave me “gasping for breath” were it not for the fact that I understand, so well, how beliefs are acquired and how we have been conditioned to accepting blind faith as a substitute for fact, truth, and knowledge.
Consider the rationalizations, below, as they appear coming from the minds of the gods’ advocates for getting them off the hook for such horrors.  Bear in mind that these “explanations” have been countered in philosophical examination of them not only in my “Critical Analysis vs Theism,” above, but repeatedly through the ages, to no avail demonstrating once again conditioned convictions, mainly because of marketing techniques, extremely poor education about the functions of language as sources of our beliefs, blind faith in the absence of evidence, in spite of evidence (and logic), and in spite of the fact that the language of such theistic claims is clearly unfalsifiable, consequently unverifiable, and untestable.
Bear in mind also that there is no doubt that such claims do, in fact, bring comfort and ease of mind to those who look to their gods for protection, from such horrors, once they have been “indoctrinated,” i.e., conditioned, to believe that God has his attention on “me, personally,” not alone on each of the billions of individuals on this planet but on the countless quadrillions of intelligences that may exist in the universe.
Consider, also, that some religious authorities teach that it is not God but, rather, the eternally existing Satan who imposes these horrors upon us, ignoring, of course, the fact that God could nuke the evil god, Satan, but for His own reasons refuses to.
However, that is not the issue being addressed here, which is whether those claims can be shown to be true or make epistemic sense.

Others, ministers of various religious persuasions, teach the following particularly through the cooperating news media that conspicuously fail to give equal news space to non-theistic concepts opposing them.
 We need pain to recognize the difference between good and evil and to know when we are ill.  
God is not really omnipotent and is not responsible for evil.  
God does not control everything going on in the universe.  
God is not responsible for the catastrophes we attribute to Him as “Acts of God.”
God FEELS our pain  
God shows his love for the (not His) victims, thereby comforting them.  
Some theists claim that God created the universe but is not concerned with what occurs in it.
 Hence, it is not His responsibility to protect us from harm.                                        
God does not want the universe, he created, to harm us but is aware that pain and suffering is an inevitable aspect of the course of astrophysical and planetary events; but it is up to man to meet the challenge of such events.  
Some theistic religious pundits insist that such horrors are God’s way of punishing us for our “sins."  
Other pundits insist that these are “natural” disasters, not “Acts of God” and that we should stop blaming God and concern ourselves with caring about the misfortunate and how we can alleviate their suffering.  
Some theistic pundits teach that God possesses a perfect will and a permissive will and that the horrors visited upon mankind are a result of his permissive will and Adam’s sin, encouraged by Satan, eating the fruit of knowledge.  
Hence, the horrors of nature’s chaos are Adam’s fault, not God’s, and the machinations of Satan tempting mankind to do evil.  
There are believers who claim God cannot be known.   
Others claim He can and that He exists as a non-physical, personal god who is presumed to have created the universe [out of nothing].  (How he did it has never been made clear.) 
 It makes me wonder if such believers have access to "God’s" cell phone number. 
Of course, in their naivety, they would respond they have no need of it because God has revealed and does reveal all that to them.)
They haven’t a clue of the fact that they don’t worship a god.  Rather they worship the concepts of the gods that their respective descendents bequeathed to them. 
Some admit that they know there is an unknowable god through blind faith, failing, of course, to use the modifier or to recognize the contradiction in their language.
Elsewhere, I’ve written of other such theistic and religious abuses of language.  However, many more examples of such nonsense exist exemplified in the multitudinous versions of the natures of their gods.  Anyone who would deign to study the history of theistic religion could discover all this for oneself, but I offer a short summary by quoting from the dust jacket of my book, Hey! IS That You, God?.
Depending on who is coming from where, God is all things to all people.
He is an all-good god responsible for all that is, good or bad – some say only good.
He sees us, hears us, punishes us, rewards us, warns us, listens to us, and answers our prayers.
He is a gentle god,
a brutal god,
an understanding god,
a jealous god,
a patient god,
an angry god,
a willful god,
a rational god,
a protective god,
an indifferent god,
a powerful god,
a limited god,
an infallible god,
and a fallible god.
He is spirit.
He is human.
He is a white god, 
a black god or
some other color god.
He is plural. 
He is singular.
He is male.
She is female.
Some even say, "He is a liar,
a chauvinist,
a rapist,
and a mass murderer.

After all He did kill all life on earth except Noah, his family, and two, seven, or nine of lower life specimens, excluding, of course, dinosaurs of which the writers of the Bible had no knowledge.
If you are in search of a god, take your pick.
It is unfortunate that the media encourages theistically religious advocates to use its pages and the horrors of the Tsunami, and other such “Acts of God” to foist nonsense language upon uninformed readers while it gives only token space to rational responses to such nonsense through Letters to the Editor.
As an educational instrument, the media is sadly wanting.   In fact, it caters to the ignorance and misinformation foisted upon the public.  One would hope that it would be the watchdog of truth and knowledge to a far greater extent than it is.  Instead it is a willing partner in disseminating ignorance; it makes life more interesting.  Of course, all ignorance does.
More shameful, however, is that it consistently ignores the failure of our schooling systems to emphasize acquiring critical and analytical attributes in deference to teaching the means for preparing our students to enter the commercial world.  The media caters to what it believes the public wants to hear and to the public’s craving for titillation, sports, entertainment, and the needs of big business -- being big business itself.
Moreover, it too frequently passively ignores horrendous actions of our leaders that undermine our nation’s fundamental ideals, and security.  If Thomas Jefferson were alive today, I wager he would be the first to condemn the failings of the media he so admired in the past.  Having said that, we must, nevertheless, give credit for the crumbs of sanity it does parcel out.
Being a theistically oriented nation, it is obvious that most of our citizens are quite incapable of discerning the idiocy, the concoctions, the self-serving declarations and contradictions inherent in the abuse of language.
Who is to blame for such lack of development of critical and analytical thought resulting in the acceptance of such unfalsifiable, unverifiable, transcendental, supernatural, and metaphysical uses of language particularly when they are conflated with fact?      

It is difficult to understand how the lesson George Orwell taught in his book, 1984 that “who controls language controls our minds, our actions, and our knowledge of history,” could be so tragically ignored.
  Obviously, the answer is:

“our schooling systems,” particularly our colleges and universities and those in power to control them, 

our politicians, vying for votes, 

uneducated parents and teachers, 

our theistically oriented society and culture, 

the media, giving voice to manipulating theistic use of language with little equal time to those who would expose it, 

theistically religious leaders held in such high esteem, 

out scientists too preoccupied with their own pursuits,

our philosophers,  who, to too great an extent, seem to prefer interesting use of language over verifiability,

and above all the majority of the world's population so oblivious or uncaring  as to how they are being manipulated. 
Until our politicians, leaders, and parents insist that schooling institutions teach that words (i.e., language) have no inherent meanings and should not be conflated with, reality, being, ontology, and existence, but only refer to and name, "things," concepts, and perceptions, the world will continue to flounder in ignorance, misery, suffering, and horror -- only for one hundred years, of course -- as Stephen Hawking is reported to have predicted will be the case. 

That is to say, the human race will be extinct by then.  




© 1987 by Pasqual S. Schievella