I became an atheist in the 6th grade. My teacher was expounding upon the ancient mythologies of the Greek and Roman gods. This may seem unusual for a 6th grade class but our school was large enough to have one 6th grade class with the “smarter kids”. The teacher was tasked with keeping the class interesting and she thoroughly enjoyed Greek and Roman mythology. My first introduction to Greek and Roman mythology came at age 6 or 7 when I saw the fabulous Neptune statue in Madrid. My father gave me a brief introduction to the mythologies at that time. The movie Jason and the Argonauts came out in 1963 and I learned more about the Greek mythologies. I created a bit of panic for my 6th grade teacher when I asked her why the Bible stories about angels with wings should be believed, but Pegasus was a fictional mythology.
You can gues how the rest of the discussion went. The teacher said that horses with wings don't exist. I said humans with wings do not exist. I added that since ancient people thought the gods lived up in the clouds, giving them wings was perfectly rational. But now that we know that gods do not exist in the clouds, why do we believe in ancient stories about gods with wings? What is so different about Christian stories than the Greek or Roman stories?
My 6th grade class became very interested in discussing my question but the lessons in Greek and Roman mythology ended abruptly that day. Having grown up attending Sunday school classes and learning the Bible stories, I had previously questioned the validity of stories such as Jonah and the Whale and Noah's Ark. I learned the meaning of the word allegory at a young age. That was my father's answer to everything. But that day in my 6th grade class, I came to the realization that my Christian religion had no more credibility than the Greek and Roman mythologies. What proof was there that the stories of angels, Satan, Heaven, or Hell had any validity. Should we simply accept as facts everything our parents teach us?
I realized that I was an atheist. Everything I have learned about religions has solidified my conviction that all religions are simply mythology. But at a young age I learned a simple truth, that people do not want to hear any argument which makes them question their religious beliefs. My father ended our discussions, and my mother said I was going to hell. Later in life my mother told my oldest daughter that her father was going to hell.
Now I am in my sixties and I think there are important reasons to open the eyes of the billions of theists who cling to absurd mythologies. My website is a very short book that starts with the illogical nature of belief in supernatural entities , walks you through the development of religions, and then covers a brief history of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
My book has a definite purpose, and I start and end with the major reason I feel religions should be rejected universally. Religious beliefs are founded on fictional stories. When people can be convinced to kill other people based solely on differing fictional stories, the world has a significant problem. The most horrific example is the Holocaust. Few people understand how Christians could have slaughtered millions of innocent Jews, but the story is rather simple.
The Inquisition, Martin Luther, and the Holocaust
The treatment of Jews by the Roman Catholic Church varied over centuries. In the 12th century the church established an office of inquisition which was tasked with the goal of rooting out and punishing heresy. Punishments, tortures, and executions took place all over Europe. One may ask how could one person treat another person so inhumanely? The answer is that the Catholic Church looked at Jews as being subhuman. The Spanish inquisition lasted for 200 years, and 32,000 people were executed. Records for how many were executed in other countries are sparse, but it is believed to have been in the thousands.
A pogrom is a mass execution of a religious or ethnic group. The first pogrom of Jews in Germany occurred in 1241 in Frankfurt and 180 Jews were murdered. In 1288 108 Jews were murdered in Bonn.
Martin Luther is famous for being a priest who started a protest against some rules of the Catholic Church. His followers were called Protestants. After he separated from the Catholic Church he started a Protestant Church which later became the Lutheran Church. In 1543 Martin Luther published a 65,000 word treatise named "On the Jews and Their Lies". Luther wrote that Jewish churches should be burned, Jewish property confiscated, and all Jews should be expelled from the country or forced into slave labor. There is a line where he wrote, "we are at fault for not slaying them".
The Lutheran Church never repudiated Martin Luther for his treatise. Adolph Hitler made Martin Luther's anti-Semitic views a part of his Nazi Party dogma. Jews were blamed for the World War I defeat and the economic collapse after the war. Intense hatred of Jews was common place in Germany before World War II. Adolph Hitler simply stoked the flames of antisemetism which had been part of European culture for many centuries. Adolph Hitler was simply carrying out the wishes of Martin Luther when he confiscated Jewish property and sent people to slave camps. Martin Luther's words,"We are at fault for not slaying them", were used as justification for Hitler's final solution.
Over the past few decades an increasing number of historians have concluded the knowledge of the mass murders taking place was much more widely known than admitted to in many textbooks. The only explanation for the minimal opposition to the actions of the Nazi Party was the intensity of the antisemitism that was rampant in Europe. The antisemitism was the culmination of centuries of propaganda from the Roman Catholic Church. Putting the blame for the Holocaust on the Roman Catholic Church has been the conclusion of many scholarly books. One can understand why these books receive very little attention in the worldwide media.
What is a religion?
Before discussing religions, one must agree on the definition used. What is the definition of religion? The most common definition of a religion includes a belief in supernatural entities or supernatural events. Anything supernatural is outside the realm of the natural world. A supernatural entity or event can not be explained or proven by science which tries to explain everything in the natural world. No one can prove the existence of angels any more than the existence of leprachauns. One believes in supernatural entities only because someone else has convinced them they exist.
Many times Confucianism will be included in a list of religions. Confucus was an ordinary human who advised people on how they should live. Confucianism is not a religion. An argument is often made that Buddha was an ordinary man who preached how to live. Unless you have ordinary friends with the power of telepathy, I would say that Buddha's power of telepathy puts him in the supernatural department. Buddha also told followers that humans can be reborn as animals.
People are taught to believe in supernatural entities or events. People today are very skeptical. If I said that I witnessed a man walking on water, everyone would be highly skeptical. If I asked a Christian if he believed Jesus walked on water, the answer would probably be yes. Why do people accept the veracity of an ancient text? We like to think of humans as being rational creatures, but there is a large body of scientific evidence that says man is more of an emotional creature than a rational creature. Some people tend toward more rational behavior and some toward the emotional.
David Hume and the Burden of Proof
David Hume wrote about the battle between the logical mind and the emotional mind in his book, A Treatise Of Human Nature, published in 1739. As a thoroughly rational man he rejected all beliefs in religious dogma on miracles or supernatural entities. Because there was no proof that anything written in the Bible was true, he rejected it. His book laid the foundation for the field of psychology which has proven many of his theories to be valid.
Atheists are deeply rational. Despite what you might read, atheism is not a religion. Atheism means no beliefs in supernatural entities of events, hence no beliefs in any religion. I do not believe that humans can walk on water. I do not believe that angels exist. But I cannot prove that such an event never occurred or that such a creature never existed. If I approached the matter in the scientific tradition I would say that the probability of angels existing is very low, and the probability that ancient texts describing angels are pure fiction is very high.
Science is founded on the concept of burden of proof. I like the use of the term burden, because if you want to convince me that angels exist, it is your burden to show me the evidence. The rational mind rejects stories that don't meet the burden of truth. The emotional mind favors an emotional opinion over facts and rejects a discussion about the probability they could be wrong. Science is built on providing the burden of proof. Isaac Newton changed the way people looked at planetary motion, but said he expected someone in the future to make his theory obsolete. Albert Einstein did make Newton's theory obsolete, but said the same thing about his theory. There are no absolutes in science only the preponderance of evidence.
Take any religious belief in a supernatural entity and ask what scientific facts support a belief in this entity. The answer is always none. All religions are mythology passed down generation after generation. No one has proof that an angel exists. As David Hume said, just because someone wrote down a story many generations ago, this doesn't count as any proof.
Curiosity Demands Answers and Religions Begin
Anyone who has raised a child understands the natural curiosity of humans. Adults are expected to give the answers. But what happens when the adults do not have the answer? The first step in developing religions was solving the problem of answering questions when no one knew the true answers. And the answers were fictional stories. This is an important point, religions started with fictional stories from the very beginning to give answers to naturally curious humans.
Travel the world and examine religious beliefs and one will universally be given a story about the creation of the Earth. Some curious human in every community eventually would ask who created the Earth. Eventually there would be a need for an answer.
What is thunder? Why do winds blow very hard at times? What happens when a person dies? If I have a spirit do animals have spirits? It is very easy to understand how religions began.
One solution to answering the question of who created the Earth would be to answer truthfully, we really don't know. Obviously taking into account the known history of the world, this solution was rejected and the fictional mythology solution was adapted.
Morality, Rules, and Religious Dogma
Morality is a society's opinion on whether a behaviour is either good or is bad. Morality can vary from one society to another, and moral values can change drastically over time. At one time it was deemed a good behaviour to own another person as a slave. Clergy worldwide owned slaves. Society changed its opinion on slavery and now in most societies it would be bad behaviour to own a slave. For every group of people to exist cooperatively it is necessary to adopt standards for morality. The dogma accepted by the group sets the standards for behaviour.
In small societal groups the dogma would have been very simple. Hunter gatherer tribes have been studied and researchers have found as few as ten strict rules for a tribe. Most hunter gatherer groups are communal and the concept of personal possession is absent, this greatly reduces the necessary rules. Another common feature of rules of behaviour in hunter gatherer tribes was when a rules were broken, the person could expect punishment from the god or gods of the society. Rules on morality became part of the religious dogma.
Bonobo Apes and Rules
The bonobo ape is our closest relative in the animal world. They live in groups which are rarely larger than 100. Hunter gatherer tribes followed a similar pattern with groups separating after reaching numbers very close to the size of bonobo colonies. With the development of agriculture came the development of cities. It is frequently said that religions played a crucial role in maintaining cohesion in very large groups, and were fundamental to the development of larger cities. I believe that rules on behavior are important, and larger cities require more rules. How important telling people that the rules came from gods is debatable.
Bonobo colonies have rules, and researchers have been surprised by the complexity of colony norms of behavior. It is a contoversial area of research, but researchers feel many aspects of behavior are taught and are not genetic. Smarter animals in large groups need rules of behavior to keep the group together. When the groups of men increased from only 100 in a hunter gatherer tribe to 1000 in a city the list of rules needed to be longer. The trend has continued throughout history with number of rules increasing as populations increased.
Religious rules on behavior have been found in almost every ancient civilization in history, so there may be truth to the idea that adding the threat of divine punishment helped maintain adherence to rules at one period in time. Except for a handful of Muslim countries, laws are now based on societal morality and not ancient religious texts. Religious leaders no longer write the laws and decide punishments. Laws still serve the purpose of keeping the society from breaking apart, but the laws bend to the mores of the people and not the clergy. Any attempt to base a law on texts containing ancient mythology should be rejected. As David Hume pointed out, the religious leaders have not met the burden of proof that their texts are anything more than fiction.
Religious Law Codes
Clay tablets from Sumerian cities containing lists of laws have survived, and reveal the role religions played in the ancient cities. The oldest text is called the Code of Ur-Nammu and was written in 2100 BC. In all of the early law codes discovered these tablets start of by thanking various gods for giving the people these laws. The laws did not come from the ruler or the head priest. It was made clear to the people that these laws came from gods.
The first laws are very standard. 1. If a man commits a murder, that man must be killed. 2. If a man commits a robbery, he will be killed. The laws become more complex as you go down the list and the Code confirms that legal marriages existed, and divorces took place. 9. If a man divorces his first-time wife, he shall pay (her) one mina of silver.
The moral codes of the society were presented to the people as laws handed down to the people from their gods. The priests would have the final say on the punishment. The head priest of Sumerian city states was often the ruler of the state. Religions acted as the legal system and the courts. Lying to the people by saying the laws came from gods was equivalent to the creation of fictional mythology which answered difficult questions. There were justifications for these lies in that period of time. But that period of time is over.
Humans have one trait appearing frequently in religious beliefs. We are an amazingly egocentric animal. Until science proved otherwise, humans were at the center of the universe. In Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, god looks like humans. The texts say that humans were made in the image of god, but that means we look the same as god. There are about 300 billion stars in our galaxy, and there are 100 billion galaxies. The god that made the universe looks like an advanced ape. I prefer the term human narcissism rather than being egocentric, but we certainly think that we are very special.
Having an afterlife is a common feature in many religions. Homo-sapiens are the lucky beneficiaries of a larger neocortex due to a genetic change. This is estimated to have occurred about 500,000 years ago. What we don't know is when god started sending humans to another place called heaven. The big bang (or god) created the universe 14 billion years ago, but 500,000 years ago we came on the scene and are privileged among all creatures on the planet to have a place arranged for us to go after our mortal death, so we can be immortal like god who looks like us.
There is an argument that God exists because we are proof of god's intelligent design. Which happens to be the most egocentric line of reasoning ever spoken. I suppose the dinosaurs were designed to go extinct along with thousands of other creatures designed by god that went extinct. When the next genetic mutation occurs making homo-sapiens look more like bonobos, do we get kicked out of heaven?
Gilgamesh and the Flood Myth
Sumer was one of the world's earliest civilizations. It developed in Mesopotamia which is Iraq today, cities grew along the shores of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers around 5000 BC. Initially there were separate city states, each with its local ruler. The ancient city Uruk was located on a branch of the Euphrates River named Erech. In 2900 BC Uruk was possibly the largest city in the world with 50,000 to 80,000 citizens in a walled city. King Gilgamesh ruled Uruk around 2700 BC. Posthumously he was deified and legends about Gilgamesh became very popular.
One of the first written languages, cuneiform, was developed in Uruk around 3200 BC. At that time the language was inscribed on wet clay tablets. Despite being written on fragile clay tablets, it is estimated that 1,000,000 tablets have been discovered by archaeologists. In 1849 British archaeologists discovered the greatest treasure trove of tablets in the ancient city of Nineveh near the modern city Mosul, Iraq. King Ashurbanipal ruled the Neo-Assyrian empire from 669 to 631 BC. The king built a great library which included older tablets he had collected and tablets written for his library. The archaeologists had discovered the King Ashurbanipal library. Twelve tablets contained portions of a narrative which has been named the Epic of Gilgamesh. The Gilgamesh tablets from the ruins of the library of Ashurbanipal were written around 1300 to 1000 BC.
The Epic of Gilgamesh is the world's first recorded fictional narrative. Although the tablets were discovered in 1849, no one could translate the language. In 1872 a translation of the twelve Gilgamesh tablets was released to the world. Immediately readers noticed the striking similarity between a flood story in one of the Gilgamesh tablets, and the Noah flood story. Biblical apologists pointed out the differences, but the order in which events occurred in each story has a correlation which cannot be refuted. The entire text of Gilgamesh tablet 11 is available online. I would ask the reader to compare each story line by line and make your own judgment. The Noah legend was written centuries after the library of Ashurbanipal tablet version of the Gilgamesh flood story was committed to the clay tablets. The Noah legend clearly derives from the Gilgamesh legend.
There are significant differences between the stories. In the Gilgamesh flood legend the Gods were mad at the city, “Shuruppak, on the banks of the Euphrates and its people”. The Gods wanted to destroy this city and not all of mankind as in the Noah version.
The Gilgamesh flood story was far more believable than the Noah story. Utanapishtim loaded the boat with “all of the beasts and animals of the field” which clearly referred to his domesticated livestock. Whereas Noah was asked to load,”Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and every kind of creature that moves along the ground”.
The Euphrates River was prone to flooding and there is historical evidence of great floods destroying entire cities. The Gilgamesh flood story was believable. The Noah legend is a greatly exaggerated version of a flood disaster in which god kills everyone on the planet and made everyone descendants of Noah's family. There are references to the Noah legend in the Old and New Testaments, and the story was assumed to have been a factual event until scientific knowledge ruled out that possibility. When confronted with facts that make it impossible for the Noah legend to have been an historical event, biblical apologists have said the Noah story is only allegorical.
Jesus compares Noah's flood with the coming Day of Judgment: "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man." Clearly, Jesus thought the Noah story was an actual event.
The Gilgamesh boat was made of reeds and was round. If one lived on the banks of the Euphrates River in 1000 BC, this is the type of boat they used. Kuphars were used on the Euphrates for 2000 years. The size of the Kuphar described in the Gilgamesh story is greatly exaggerated, but large wooden boats like the ark described in the Noah story did not exist on these shallow rivers.
The Ashurbanipal tablet 11 version of the Gilgamesh flood story was simply the first translation of a cuneiform tablet with the Gilgamesh flood story. Several other tablets have been found with the flood legend that predate the Ashurbanipal tablet, one which has been dated to 1800 BC. All of the tablets translated simply reinforce the common belief that the flood story contained in the Hebrew Bible is simply an exaggerated plagiarism of the Gilgamesh legend.
Genesis and Ancient Mythology
Thanks to the thousands of cuneiform tablets that have been translated we know a great deal about Sumerian and Babylonian mythology. These myths predate anything written in Genesis. The depiction of the cosmology described in the beginning of Genesis is identical to the cosmology which was described in Sumerian and Babylonian mythology. “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water” is from Genesis, but this concept of water above the vault and water below is contained in Sumerian and Babylonian mythology. The order in which Earth is formed in Genesis matches the order found on an ancient Babylonian tablet. First a divine spirit created cosmic matter. Second, a mass of water had to be separated. Third, dry land was formed. Fourth was the creation of the sun, moon, and stars. Fifth, man was created. And sixth, the gods rested after creating man.
“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.“ There are different terms used in different Bibles, but forming man from dust of the ground or clay is straight out of Sumerian and Babylonian mythology.
“Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. ” A tree of knowledge of good and evil is part of Sumerian mythology. The concept of the tree of life is from both Sumerian and Babylonian mythology. In Babylonian mythology, the Tree of Life was a magical tree that grew in the center of paradise. The Apsu, or primordial waters, flowed from its roots. “A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters.”
“The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.” We certainly know that Eden was located in Mesopotamia, the birthplace of the Sumerian civilization. Genesis tells us that there was gold, aromatic resin, and onyx in the area. I am not sure why Adam and Eve would need these before being kicked out of Eden, but in Sumerian and Babylonian mythology there would be gold and precious minerals in paradise. This doesn't fit well with the New Testament's admonishments against coveting wealth.
“But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.” In Sumerian mythology Ninti is the goddess of life. Ninti is also one of the eight goddesses of healing. Her specific healing area was the rib (In Sumerian Ti means rib and to live). Enki (god of creation) had eaten forbidden flowers and was then cursed. Ninti heals Enki by removing the pain in his rib. There are obvious similarities to the story in Genesis.
“After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” For decades I wondered why god would post two chubby little angels to guard the entrance to Eden. Cherubim are the most frequently occurring heavenly creature in the Hebrew Bible, with the Hebrew word appearing 91 times. In Ezekiel 1:5-11 two cherub are described as having the likeness of a man, and having four faces: that of a man, a lion (on the right side), and ox (on the left side), and an eagle. Between the cherubim glowing coals that moved between them could be seen, their fire "went up and down", and lightning burst forth from it. In Ezekiel chapter ten, another full description of the cherubim appears with slight differences in details. Three of the four faces are the same – man, lion and eagle – but where chapter one has the face of an ox, Ezekiel 10:14 says "face of a cherub”. Clearly these biblical images do not match the modern concept of a cherub.
From the internet; cherub,a winged angelic being described in biblical tradition as attending on God. It is represented in ancient Middle Eastern art as a lion or bull with eagles' wings and a human face. With a little research I realized that a cherub is a lamassu. A lamassu is a Sumerian protective deity. Belief in lamassu became part of Babylonian and Assyrian mythology. Statues of lamassu date back to 3000 BC. It was common to have two lamassu guarding entrances to important buildings. So cherubim are not the sweet little angels depicted in European art, but are mythical protective beasts placed at the entrance to Eden.
Besides two cherubs guarding the entrance to the Garden of Eden, god leaves a flaming sword. One of the tablets recovered from the Library of Ashurbanipal describes a Babylonian protective god, Asaruludu, who wields a flaming sword and "assures the most perfect safety". Line after line of Genesis is Sumerian or Babylonian mythology rewritten for the Hebrew text.
If the reader is interested in more details on the many links between the stories contained on ancient Sumerian cuneiform tablets and the Hebrew bible I would recommend History begins at Sumer by Samuel Noah Kramer.
Cain and Able in Genesis
Genesis has Cain and Able being the third and fourth humans born. Cain was a farmer and Able a shepard. It was very handy that Cain and Able did not need to be hunter gatherers. Earlier in Genesis we learned that god created wild animals on one day and domesticated animals on another day. They were apparently born with the knowledge of farming and domesticated animals right from the start. As soon as these men are successful, they make offerings to God.
In ancient Mesopotamian city states, the ruler was often the head of the religious cult. The priestly class quickly developed and they were the administrators of the city state. They did not work and had to be fed. The citizens would bring a portion of their production and offer it to the priests in the temples.
Apparently god was unhappy with Cain's offering. Cain was jealous of Able and killed him. God casts him out to wander in the wilderness. Cain says, “I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” This seems strange because according Genesis there isn't anyone else on the planet. So who exactly will kill Cain. Cain wanders east of Eden and finds a wife. Genesis doesn't explain where this wife came from.
Cain was very productive and built a city. One of his progeny Tubal - Cain worked with bronze and iron. Referring to one of the first humans as having skills working with iron is just one of many anachronisms in the Hebrew Bible. 1 Samuel 13:19 "Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make themselves swords or spears." It is historically accurate that the Hebrews were late in developing skills in making iron weapons.
Mathuselah Lived 900 Years
One mystery unraveled in the 20th century was the extreme longevity of Adam and his progeny. Adam was 130 when he had Seth, and Adam lived another 800 years giving birth to many more children. Seth lived 912 years, and Seth's son Enosh lived 905 years. Kenan lived 910 years, Mahalalel 895, Jared 962, Enoch 365, Methuselah 969, and Lamech 777. Lamech was the father of Noah. At age 500 Noah gave birth to Shem, Ham and Japheth.
Why Noah and all of the ancestors before Noah lived hundreds of years was a big mystery. The mystery was solved in the 20th century when a clay tablet was found giving a list of Sumerian kings. The list was separated into two parts separated by a great flood. The Sumerian kings prior to the flood were listed as living hundreds of years. The kings after the flood lived normal life spans. There are now multiple sources for the Sumerian list of Kings. The oldest sources is dated as 2000 BC.
The Sumerian King List provides a list of eight kings who reigned for long periods of time before the flood. Between Adam and Noah there are eight generations, just as there are eight kings listed before the great flood. The eight people mentioned in Genesis lived hundreds of year. The eight Kings before the great flood lived thousands of years. The is no historical evidence for the eight kings listed before the great flood, but we should not expect to find historical evidence of these Kings names. Archeologists have discovered evidence of a catastrophic flood occuring on the Euphrates River around 2900 to 3000 BC. Cunieform was estimated to have been used starting around 3000 BC. Prior to 3000 BC none of the history was recorded because there was no written language.
After the great flood the Kings on the list began to live normal life spans. This makes sense because scribes began to record the names and dates of rulers. The earliest listed ruler on the Sumerian List of Kings whose historicity has been archaeologically verified is Enmebaragesi of Kish, c. 2600 BC. The historical proof of the accuracy of the Sumerian Kings List increases as list progresses in time. The Hebrew author of Genesis named eight people from Adam to Noah in precisely the same manner as the eight pre-flood list of Sumerian Kings. The absurd longevity of the people was also copied. It is difficult to believe that this is just a coincidence.
For over 1000 years Biblical scholars had tried to explain Genesis 6. “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them." In the 20th century Sumerian and Babylonian cuneiform tablets were deciphered revealing many stories about Nephilim. King Gilgamesh was an historical figure, but after his death, his legend made him a Nephilim.
Genesis is basically a plagiarism of Sumerian mythology from the first sentence to the last chapter. One religious mythology borrowing from another, and changing over time is a common event in the history of the world. For a more detailed discussion of how the Hebrew Book of Genesis borrowed from Sumerian and Babylonian mythology, I would suggest Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis by Robert Graves and Raphael Patai. This is a scholarly text which gives details, but assumes that the reader already has a knowledge of ancient history.
Noah's Progeny and the Tower of Babel
In Genesis 11, we learn where the progeny of Noah settled. This chapter has zero credibility and zero historical value. Jewish scholars admit that the Noah story is fictional and the idea that Noah's descendants created the cities mentioned in the Hebrew Bible is entirely false.
“Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.” If the world was repopulated by descendants of Noah's family it would make sense that everyone would speak the same language. The Tower of Babel story tries to explain why people speak different languages despite everyone supposedly being part of Noah's family.
Some modern scholars have associated the Tower of Babel with known structures, notably the Etemenanki, a ziggurat dedicated to the Mesopotamian god Marduk in Babylon. A Sumerian story with some similar elements is told in "Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta".
At the end of Exodus 11 we are introduced to Abraham. “Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there.” Later God tells Abram to leave Harran and go to the land of Canaan. In Canaan God changes Abram's name to Abraham and promises Abraham that he will be a great ruler over the lands of Canaan.
Over half of the world's population are either Christian or Muslim. Both of these religions are offshoots of Judaism. Judaism begins with Abraham. According to the Jewish Bible, Abraham was born and raised in a Sumerian city called Ur which was in modern day Iraq. His birth has been estimated to be between 1700 and 1800 BC based on events in the Jewish Bible narrative.
Historically Ur was in decline around 1750 B.C. due to crop failures. The city had a massive irrigation canal system and over many years the irrigated land built up salinity in the soil, which eventually led to crop failures. Ur lost much of its population as people left in search of fertile land. Historical evidence for a large scale emigration from Ur during the period of time Abraham left his city lends credence to the historicity of Abraham.
But the historicity of Abraham has many problems. A thorough inspection of all references to Abraham in ancient Hebrew texts has resulted in the conclusion that the story of Abraham was written in the iron age. It seems certain that a group of Semitic speaking people migrated from Sumer to Canaan, and became the tribes of Israel. Their first leader probably was Abraham.
But Abraham did not become a great leader that ruled over the lands of Canaan. Other than the Hebrew texts there is no record of a Jewish leader named Abraham.
Abraham and Child Sacrifice
The most well known story concerning Abraham is God’s request to Abraham to sacrifice his son. Jewish and Christian scholars have said that god never intended for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, but the story only makes sense if human sacrifice was practiced. Abraham does not argue with god about the demand to kill his son, and Abraham is praised for his willingness to sacrifice his son. The story does not end with god telling Abraham to stop all child sacrifices.
In various parts of the Hebrew Bible there are references to god forbidding human sacrifices, but long after Abraham the Israelite warrior Jephthah sacrificed his virgin daughter to God in fulfillment of a vow he made to secure God’s help in battle. The same ideology can be seen in some early accounts of the Canaanite conquest, in which God gives the Israelite a victory against Canaanite armies, and the Israelite in turn slaughter all of the women and children in payment to God for his aid.
Logically the Jewish Bible would have no need to warn Jews about not practicing child sacrifice if the Jews never sacrificed children. Jeremiah 7:31 and Ezekiel 20:25–6 speak disapprovingly of sacrificing children to God. “For the Judahites have done evil in my sight. They have set their abominations in the House over which my Name is invoked, defiling it. They build the shrines of the Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire—which I did not command, nor did it arise in my mind.” (Jeremiah 7:30–31)
The Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar II conquered Judah in 1586 and took thousands of Jews back to Babylon as slaves. There is a consensus among biblical scholars that much of the Hebrew Bible was written in Babylon while the Jews were exiled in Babylon. Later in life Nebuchadnezzar II stopped the practice of human sacrifice. An inscription found among the ruins on the Tigris, and now in the East India House at London, gives an account of the various works of Nebuchadnezzar II at Babylon and Borsippa. The record says, "He intermitted the worship of Merodach, and put an end to the sacrifice of victims".
The Jews in exile in Babylon decided to create their own religious history. The fact that Genesis is almost entirely borrowed from Sumerian and Babylonian mythology fits perfectly with this theory. Having witnessed Nebuchadnezzar II put an end to human sacrifice, it seems likely that admonishes against human sacrifices were added to the Jewish bible copying the Babylonians. This makes sense considering the Jewish bible has references to Jewish human sacrifices approved by god long after the narrative on Abraham.
Abraham and Monotheism
Judaism is often referred to as one of the first monotheistic religions because Abraham told his people to only worship Jehovah. Monotheism is the belief in one god. In the strictest definition of monotheism, there is only one god mentioned in all of the religious dogma. This definition is not used by the vast majority of religious scholars. The term monotheism has come to mean a religion where one all powerful being created the universe and rules over all other gods. There can be many gods in a religion, but if one god is the ruler over all of the other gods it is commonly called a monotheistic religion. Monolatry is the correct term for the ancient Hebrew religious beliefs. Monolatry recognizes that other gods exist but only one god should be worshiped.
The Hebrew Bible is full of references to many gods. The Jewish people are always admonished to worship only Jehovah. Jehovah created the universe and had dominion over all other gods. The problem is the total lack of logic in the Hebrew concept of Jehovah. If Jehovah created everything in the universe, he created the other gods. Jehovah must compete with other gods he created for the loyalty of the people.
God had his army of immortal angels. The top picture to the left is a stone carving depicting a Sumerian god, not a Hebrew angel. The earliest known depiction of a human with wings is a clay figurine found in Iraq that is dated to 5000 BC. The concept of winged gods or angels did not start with Judaism. The archangels of the Hebrew Bible were copied from the gods of Sumerian and Babylonian mythology. According to Rabbi Simeon ben Lakish of Tiberias (230-270 C.E.), all the specific names for the angels were brought back by the Jews from Babylonia.
Satan is another problem for Jewish and Christian dogma, because Jehovah doesn't have control over Satan. If god is all powerful, why does he permit Satan to do bad things and corrupt people? This is a logical nightmare which has plagued biblical scholars for millennium. Of course if one considers the Jewish bible to be historical fiction about imaginary supernatural creatures, the millions of hours spent discussing these biblical inconsistencies was a total waste of time and energy.
When Babylon became the principal city of southern Mesopotamia during the reign of Hammurabi in the 18th century BC, the patron deity of Babylon, Marduk, was elevated to the level of supreme god. Long before Abraham espoused the concept of a single supreme god, Hammurabi ascribed to the concept of a single supreme being. In the Sumerian’s mythology there were gods with various powers, but no supreme god.
Moses Birth Story
Exodus is all about Moses. Unfortunately a majority of scholars feel that Moses is a fictional character. In Exodus we learn about Moses being placed in a basket and released into the water by his mother. Many people have pointed out that a very well-known person born a thousand years before Moses had a very similar story. Sargon of Akkad reigned from 2334 BC to 2279 BC. He was the founder of the Akkadian Empire. His birth legend is similar with his mother setting him afloat in a basket which was waterproofed with tar and pitch. Sargon's birth legend is probably fictional and scholars believe that Sargon started the legend to show his association with the common man by being a poor orphan. Scholars point out that giving a legendary character a unique birth history was common during this time period.
Previously in my blog I discussed the Gilgamesh flood story and explained the use of kuphars. These reed boats were round and the bottom was waterproofed with tar and pitch. In the Middle East tar and pitch which derive from oil was plentiful. A kuphar is essentially a large reed basket which is waterproofed. The Sargon birth story makes sense because waterproofed baskets would have been available in Mesopotamia.
In the Exodus story the papyrus basket was waterproofed with tar and pitch. Papyrus boats were used in Egypt, but the papyrus reed is hollow and waterproof. The boats float because of the air in the reeds. Tar and pitch which wasn't available in Egypt. Bitumen was imported for use in mummification but was expensive and not available to Moses' mother. Clearly the Hebrew writer of the Moses birth legend was familiar with Sargon the Great and copied his birth legend without knowing that tar and pitch were unavailable in Egypt.
Was Moses Ever In Egypt?
The Hebrew bible does not mention Jewish slaves building the pyramids, but it is important to clarify the false narrative that is commonly thought to be a fact. Egyptians built the Giza Pyramids between 2589 and 2504 BC, a thousand years before Moses was supposedly born. Egyptians attacked Judah on multiple occasions and undoubtedly took home Jewish slaves, but there is no archaeological evidence that large groups of Jewish slaves worked on the pyramids.
“At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.” The consensus among even Jewish scholars is that this story is fictional. Scholars do not believe that an event of this magnitude would have escaped all mention in Egyptian history. In fact all of the plagues that Moses inflicted on the Egyptians have no basis in historical data. There isn't a shred of evidence an important Jewish leader named Moses was ever in Egypt. This is the opinion of the majority of Egyptian and Israeli scholars. The Hebrew Passover, a major religious holiday, is based on a fictional story.
A large portion of the Hebrew bible is devouted to the birth of Moses in Egypt which was a mythology borrowed from the legend of Sargon the Great, and the narrative of Moses dealing with the pharohs which scholars believe is fictional. With clear proof someone plagiarised a birth legend and created an entirely fictional saga, it seems impossible to defend any of the other stories about Moses. If one is interested in a detailed book on the subject I would recommend, Did Moses Exist?: The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver by D. M. Murdock.
The Laws of Moses
Moses is famous for the ten commandments. But god gave Moses over 600 laws. These laws are fundamental to the Jewish faith. Moses told his followers that the first 10 commandments were no more important than all of the others and god expected all of the laws to be followed.
For many centuries, the Laws of Moses were unique and seemed special. In 1901 a large stone with hundreds of lines of cuneiform was discovered. It was translated in 1902 . The stone contained 282 laws and stated that these laws were a gift of the gods to King Hammurabi. With the discovery of this stone came the realization that god or gods presenting lists of laws to citizens was not unique to only Moses. As more tablets were discovered more law codes were discovered. The Code of the Nesilim, the Code of Lipit-Ishtar, and the Code of Ur-Nammu all state that the laws came from a god and were given to the people to be obeyed.
When Jesus refers to the Laws of Moses in the New Testament he was not referring to only the first ten commandments. To be a Jew one followed all of the Laws of Moses. Jesus said the Laws of Moses must be obeyed, and Jesus was not referring to just the first ten commandments.
Every Christian should read all of the Laws of Moses. My reaction to reading the laws was disbelief that anyone could ever think that these laws were sacred and given to man by an all knowing omnipotent being. There are several laws concerning the treatment of slaves, which means that god condoned slavery. Jesus refers to slaves several times in the New Testament and never condemns slavery. Slavery was commonplace when the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament were written, so it was understandable that the writers treated slavery as being acceptable. If the Hebrew Bible is a sacred text from god, then god must approve of slavery.
The first ten commandments are sacred to Christians. Most Christians can remember half of them, but very few Christians know the punishments Moses attached to the transgressions. The punishments are extremely severe and are far more severe than any ancient Sumerian or Babylonian law code discovered. The punishment for worshiping a false god is death. The punishment for not honoring your parents is death. The punishment for adultery is death. The punishment for homosexuality is death.
What sane person can claim that an all knowing god gave these horrific punishments to Moses and made them sacred laws. How can an intelligent person point to the laws as being sacred, but then disregard the punishments prescribed? Does any Christian agree with their sacred text that we should start killing homosexuals? Fundamentalist Muslims in some countries are still carrying out the Laws of Moses precisely according to the Laws of Moses. Any reasonable person would say that was barbaric, but logically Muslims who condone killing homosexuals are fulfilling the Laws of Moses. If adultery was punishable by death as prescribed in the Tanakh, our current populations would be shrinking rapidly. Common sense tells us that a person cannot say they believe in the Laws of Moses but reject the punishments associated with those laws. Yet this is exactly what every modern Jew and Christian does.
Joshua and the Conquest of Canaan
After Moses, the Hebrew Bible expounds on the Hebrew conquest of Canaan. The conquest of Canaan described in the Book of Joshua isn’t supported by historical or archaeological evidence. The consensus opinion of scholars is that this portion of the Hebrew bible is fictional. For an in depth analysis of the data one can read, What Did The Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It, by William G Dever.
What is contained in the Book of Joshua is unsettling. Joshua is a great warrior who wins battle after battle. Most people are familiar with the legend of Joshua's troops marching around Jericho for seven days with trumpets blaring and then the walls of Jericho collapsed. “They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.”
“When Israel had finished killing all the men of Ai in the fields and in the wilderness where they had chased them, and when every one of them had been put to the sword, all the Israelite returned to Ai and killed those who were in it. Twelve thousand men and women fell that day—all the people of Ai. But Israel did carry off for themselves the livestock and plunder of this city, as the Lord had instructed Joshua.”
“After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise. The Lord threw them into confusion before Israel, so Joshua and the Israelite defeated them completely at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelite.”
“That day Joshua took Makkedah. He put the city and its king to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it. He left no survivors.” “The Lord gave Lachish into Israel’s hands, and Joshua took it on the second day. The city and everyone in it he put to the sword, just as he had done to Libnah.” “Then Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron and attacked it. They took the city and put it to the sword, together with its king, its villages and everyone in it. They left no survivors. Just as at Eglon, they totally destroyed it and everyone in it.” “ Then Joshua and all Israel with him turned around and attacked Debir. They took the city, its king and its villages, and put them to the sword. Everyone in it they totally destroyed. They left no survivors.” “So Joshua subdued the whole region, including the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills and the mountain slopes, together with all their kings. He left no survivors. He totally destroyed all who breathed, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded.”
The archaeologists have concluded that the Israelite lived among the Canaanites on a friendly basis. The Israelite worshiped the gods of Canaan and followed many of their religious traditions. There are no records of great Israelite battles where large Canaanite cities were destroyed. The entire book of Joshua is fictional. But what may be worse is idolizing a murderous man. I remember being taught the battle of Jericho as a child, but no one ever mentioned what happened to all of the people in the city.
Book of Judges
Joshua dies and the book of Judges opens with a need to battle Canaanites. The reader is left puzzled, because in Joshua, the Canaanites were totally defeated with city after city totally destroyed. The answer is very simple. The book of Joshua shows god helping the Israelite destroy all of their Canaanite enemies. Judges starts with the Israelites having success against the Canaanites, but then the prophecy of Deuteronomy comes true. The Israelite begin worshiping the Canaanite gods and god turns his back on the Israelite.
To make matters worse a new enemy, the Philistines enters the picture. We are introduced to the Jewish hero Sampson. Sampson defeats 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. Sampson led Israel for twenty years in the age of the Philistines. Judges tells the story of Sampson and Deliah, and the final heroic death of Sampson. Judges ends with the tribes of Israel disorganized and separate.
Book of Ruth
The book of Ruth is a short separate story that has little to do with the history of the Israelite. An Israelite Naomi and her husband, Elimelech, and her two sons, Mahlon and Chilion left Bethlehem during a famine and settled in Moab. Naomi's sons married Moabite women named Ruth and Orpah. The son's and Naomi's husband die, and Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem. Orpah stays in Moab with her mother, but Ruth returns to Bethlehem with Naomi.
Ruth's dedication to Naomi is the main theme of the book. Ruth states, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
The Jewish Kings
In the Hebrew Bible, King Saul was the first person to unite the twelve tribes of Israel into a single kingdom around 1000 BC. The historical evidence tells a different story. The is no historical evidence that King Saul existed. Around 1000 BC some of the northern Jewish tribes had organized into Samaria and some southern tribes into Judah, but archaeological or historical evidence of a united Israel is absent.
After King Saul, King David ruled the Jewish people according to the Hebrew Bible. Some evidence of a house of David existed so a King David may be a real figure, but no evidence exists to support the story of David fighting Goliath or David ruling over a united Samaria and Judah. Jerusalem was a major city during the time of David according to the biblical text, but this doesn’t coincide with archaeological evidence. The Hebrew Bible has the kingdom of David extending from the borders of Egypt into Babylon. None of the scholars writing about ancient Israel support the this version of the size of King David’s kingdom.
David’s son Solomon built the first holy Temple in Jerusalem and Solomon is definitely a historical person. The Hebrew Bible’s descriptions of the wealth of Solomon are universally described as being grossly exaggerated. The legend of Solomon being visited by the Queen of Sheba is not supported by any source other than the biblical writings.
The true history of the Jews prior to the Babylonian exile is hotly debated. The story of a large united Jewish kingdom has been proven to be false. Jewish tribes in what is present day southern Israel were loosely united into the kingdom of Judah. The northern part of modern Israel and southern Syria were referred to as the Kingdom of Israel. In 711 Sargon II of Assyria (modern-day Syria) conquered the Kingdom of Israel and renamed the province Samerina. Samerina was ruled by Assyrians. The southern kingdom Judah became a vassal state of the Assyrian empire ruled by native Jews, but under the control of the Assyrians.
Despite being an Assyrian province the people of Samerina kept the Hebrew language. The Jews in Samerina employed an alphabet derived from the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet used by the Israelite community prior to the Babylonian captivity. The Jews in Samerina became known as Samaritans. The Samaritans accept only the first five Hebrew books referred to as the Pentateuch. Some Samaritans in Samerina were taken to Assyria as prisoners and some Assyrians were settled in Samerina, but the dominant religion in the region was the Jewish faith.
The Babylonian Exile
Around 600 BC the Babylonians began to acquire the lands formerly ruled by the Assyrian empire. In 597 BC, the Babylonians conquered the kingdom of Judah, destroyed the temple, and took thousands of Jews back to Babylonia as prisoners. The Jewish King, Jehoiachin, and other members of the upper class, were deported to Babylonia. Nebuchadnezzar II placed Zedekiah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, on the throne in Jerusalem and left Judah as a vassal state. Jehoiachin and his sons were held hostage in Babylon to discourage Zedekiah from rebelling. Zedekiah did revolt in 587, and the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 586. Judah was reduced to a Babylonian province, and the native kingship in Jerusalem came to an end. A significant portion of the Jews from Judah were relocated to various parts of Babylonia.
Most of the Jews in Babylonia were farmers. They were not forced to give up their religious beliefs. Records indicate the Jews in Babylonia were not mistreated by the Babylonians. Instead of families being separated and working directly for Babylonians, the majority were given land to farm or areas to graze animals. The Jews paid taxes at rates similar to native Babylonians. Jeconiah was a King of Judah taken prisoner by the Babylonians in 597 BC. He was allowed to build a temple, which was later rebuilt and is referred to as the Great Synagogue of Baghdad.
Historians believe that much of the Jewish bible was written in Babylonia by the Judah exiles. Unlike the surviving Samaritan texts which were written in the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet, the surviving texts from the Babylonian exile were often written in Aramaic and some texts used a variant known as Babylonian Aramaic. The influence of Babylonian culture and mythology is clearly evident in many of the stories in the Hebrew Bible.
The Books of Daniel and Esther
The Books of Daniel and Esther tell the story of the Judah Jews in exile in Babylon. The Book of Daniel has two main parts, the stories at the Babylonian court in chapters 1–6 and the apocalyptic visions in chapters 7–12. The authors of Daniel 1–6 were unaware of the correct chronology of Babylonian and Persian kings. In the Hebrew Bible, King Nebuchadnezzar is succeeded by his son Belshazzar, and Darius the Mede seizes power after Belshazzar is killed. Finally, Cyrus the Persian ascends the throne after Darius. Daniel 1-6 names rulers from the time period, but completely fails when it comes to historical accuracy.
None of the exploits of Daniel have been confirmed by any source other than the biblical text, despite numerous cuneiform tablets from that time period. Experts on the period of the Babylonian exile refer to the Book of Daniel as fictional mythology. The apocalyptic visions in Daniel 7–12 reflect the historical situation around 160 BC, when the actions of the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, resulted in the Maccabean revolt. The best discussion of Daniel’s visions is in The Book of Daniel: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary by Louis F. Hartmann, and Alexander A. Di Lella.
Similar to the exploits of Moses in Egypt, scholars find no proof that the tales of Daniel have any veracity. These tales are still taught to religious followers across the globe, even though religious experts agree that historical evidence contradicts much of what has been written in the Hebrew Bible on these characters.
The Return to Judah
In 539 the Persian King Cyrus the Great defeated the Babylonians and took control of the Babylonian territories including Judah and Samerina. In 538 Cyrus the Great allowed the Babylonian Jews to return to Judah. The Persian kings returned Babylonian Jews to positions of power in Judah, and created a vassal state with Jerusalem as the capital. The Persians helped rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. Judah Jews fought with Persians in battles against Egyptians. Many historians have written that the Jews repopulating Judah created a buffer zone which helped protect Persian cities from Egyptian armies.
The Jews who had remained in Samerina claimed that the Jews who spent many years in Babylon had corrupted the Jewish religion. The Persians gave preference to the Judah Jews and placed them in positions of power in Samerina. The Samaritans had separate synagogues and conflicts grew between the Samaritans and the Judah Jews. The conflicts between the Samaritans and Judah Jews are evident in the Jewish Bible. Reading the Jewish Bible one gets the impression that the Samaritans are not Jews.
Greek, Roman, and Muslim Rule
In 333 BC Alexander the Great conquered Persia and ended the Persian rule. Samerina and Judah were ruled by the Greeks and became part of the Seleucid Empire in 200 BC. The Seleucid rulers tried to eradicate Judaism which caused the Maccabean Revolt (174–135 BC) in Judah. After the success of the Maccabean Revolt, the Jewish kings of the Hasmonean Dynasty ruled Judah. The Hasmonean kings continued their conquest from Judah into southern Samerina. Under the Hasmonean kings most of Samerina and all of Judah was under Jewish rule.
In 64 BC Judah and Samerina became part of the Roman Empire. The Romans officially combined Judah and Samerina into a territory called Judea. With the support of the Roman Empire Herod the Great (a Jew) became ruler of Judea ending the reign of the Hasmonean Empire. In 66 AD there was a Jewish revolt against Roman rule. The Temple and most of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. The revolt was defeated with the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews. In 115 AD a second massive revolt occurred which was again unsuccessful. In 132 a third revolt occurred. After the 132 revolt was quelled all Jews were exiled from Judah. A large number of Judah Jews emigrated to Babylonia where Jewish communities still thrived populated by exiles who never returned to Judah.
The area which was Samerina fared better under Roman rule until Constantine converted to Christianity. Under Byzantine rule the Jews and the Samaritans became oppressed. Samaritan revolts began in 484 AD. In 529 AD a major revolt began which was defeated by Emperor Justinian. The last Samaritan revolt ended in 629 AD and the Samaritan population was reduced from a peak of one million to only 100,000 at the time of the Muslim invasion in 636 AD.
The Jews and the Samaritans helped the Muslims fight the Byzantine Christians. The Samaritan population dwindled to near extinction by the time the Muslims gained full control. The Jews of Judea had already been expelled by the Romans and the Muslims quickly became the majority in Judea. Jews remaining in Judea became second class citizens under Muslim rule. Jews left Judea in large numbers over the next millennium searching for countries which would give more freedom to Jews.
Muslims ruled Israel from 636 AD until the 20th century. From a historical perspective the current Jewish claim that Israel is their homeland is hard to accept considering how brief of a period of history they ruled the territory. Basing a territorial claim on land because of one group's religious mythology is a weak argument. Ideally the world will wake up to the fact that all of the religions that divide us are a sham.
The Early Life of Jesus
According to the New Testament, Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem for a Roman census. There is sufficient historical data available to say that the Romans never conducted a census in this manner, so the story is fictional. Mary and Joseph told Jesus that soon after he was born, three wise men came to visit Jesus bearing expensive gifts. It is strange that the son of god who preached against wealth gets presented with expensive gifts upon his birth.
King Herod heard about this possible future king and decided to kill all of the young boys in his realm in an attempt to kill Jesus. But Herod existed in a time when the actions of kings were written down. No one has any record of King Herod murdering a large number of young boys. The "massacre of the innocents" is a fictional story.
At age 10 Jesus was impressing the rabbi's with his knowledge of the Laws of Moses. This little piece of the New Testament is ironic because after he dies his followers reject following the 600+ Laws of Moses which the young Jesus had learned. They kept the first 10 as sacrosanct despite Moses pronouncement that the first 10 laws were no more important than the rest.
The few facts we know about Jesus in his early life are bizarre because the census story is not true, receiving precious gifts is antithetical to what Jesus preaches, Herod did not commit mass murder of innocent boys, and Christianity rejects the need to follow all of the laws Jesus knew at a very young age.
Jesus Becomes the Messiah
After having angels and wise men appear at his birth, Jesus spends the next 30 years uneventfully and becomes a carpenter. But suddenly Jesus starts informing everyone that he is the messiah, the son of god. God is displeased with his chosen people, the Jews. Judgment day is now around the corner. He is the son of god and he is the messiah born to save the Chosen People.
But the Hebrew Bible had extensive prophesies about the future messiah, and Jesus did not fit the prophesies. The messiah was to be a great warrior such as Joshua who won battle after battle. Jesus was a mild mannered fellow telling people to turn the other check. Joshua slaughtered his enemies in city after city with help from some angels, and had no problem murdering innocent women and children.
Jesus tells everyone god is extremely upset. Last time he was this upset with mankind he flooded the whole planet and made us all descendants of Noah's family. He saved one good Jewish family to repopulate the planet. Now god is going to destroy the whole planet, but save the good Jews and maybe a few good Gentiles. But Jesus in the New Testament was clearly more interested in saving the Jews. He even makes a few nasty remarks about Gentiles.
Jesus told everyone that God told Moses how we should live. There were 600+ laws Moses had to write down. People were ignoring these laws. God was fed up. The judgment day was right around the corner. It was definitely going to happen, and it would occur in the lifetime of the prophets. Jesus and god knew the future. The poor souls in Asia that didn't even learn about the laws of Moses were just going to be collateral damage.
Jesus had to act fast and save as many people as possible by getting them to be good Jews and obey all of the laws of Moses. Follow all of the laws of Moses, and be saved. To follow all of the laws of Moses, a good Gentile had to be circumcised. While all Jewish newborns were circumcised at birth, a circumcision of an adult was probably a painful and dangerous procedure.
Jesus Gathers Apostles
Jesus gathers hardcore followers who become his apostles. It helps if you can impress them by calming the seas and walking on water.
Despite walking from town to town healing people right and left Jesus got very little publicity. Other self proclaimed messiahs had large numbers of followers and made the historical records, but even raising people from the dead didn't get Jesus recognition. His short career as a messiah wasn't covered by historians of the day.
But apparently Jesus managed to get the Jewish leaders very upset. They were not convinced he was the messiah. The Jewish leaders said Jesus was a fake messiah, and was blasphemous. They asked the Roman governor to do something about this upstart. Mind you that Judea was controlled by the Roman Empire which had no official religion. Judea had many different religions. There is no record that Romans crucified any Jews in Judea for blasphemy during the time Christ lived.
The Crucifixion of Jesus
But for the sake of our salvation, Jesus let the Romans crucify him. He left the cruel world of cold and hunger to sit on a throne in heaven next to god. Is that really a sacrifice? Hanging from a cross and getting stabbed must have been miserable, but who wouldn't trade a day of terrible pain to spend an eternity sitting next to the entity who made the planet and controls the universe.
Apparently god (who knows everything and all future events) lied to Jesus about the immediacy of judgment day. God had Jesus telling people it would be in their lifetime. Somehow the Christian church tells people that because Jesus switched from being human to a god, there would be a judgment day but later. The judgment day was coming according to Jesus because the Jews were not following all of the laws of Moses. But after Jesus dies, the Christians said it wasn't necessary to follow the laws of Moses. So who gets saved on the next judgment day, the Jews who remain faithful to all of the laws of Moses which Jesus told everyone was a prerequisite for being saved, or the newly minted followers of Jesus who believe in Jesus but don't believe what he preached.
It is interesting to read a Christian scholar explain how Jesus dying on the cross for us negates the need to follow the laws of Moses which Jesus insisted were the keys to being saved.
The Hebrew Afterlife versus the Christian Afterlife
The subject of death is treated inconsistently in the Hebrew Bible, and different branches of the faith have different views on the subject. The most common view is that a messiah from the lineage of King David will rule Israel. All nations of the world will recognize the god of Israel as the only true god. God would then resurrect the dead, create a new Earth, and heaven. Belief in the future advent of the Messiah is one of the fundamental requisites of the Jewish faith, concerning which Maimonides has written: "Anyone who does not believe in him, or who does not wait for his arrival, has not merely denied the other prophets, but has also denied the Torah and Moses, our Rabbi.
The current Earth and all of its inhabitants would be destroyed on the day of the dead. The righteous and faithful Jews who died in the past and the righteous and faithful Jews who died on this day would be transported to this new Earth. This is what the majority of Jews believe.
Jesus preached that heaven already exists, and people who died and believed in him would immediately go to heaven if they were righteous. This didn't follow the Hebrew teachings at the time of Christ, but this is what is written in the New Testament. The apostles had very little luck convincing Jews that Jesus was the messiah. The messiah was to be the new ruler of Israel, not be crucified by Romans.
This new religious belief that poor people could be guaranteed an eternal life in heaven by believing in Jesus was rapidly accepted by thousands of people. This was a far better deal than the myriad of religions that existed. They were selling a better product which now has more advocates than any other religion.
Most people would agree that the fear of dying ranks first in our life. If accepting a religion no matter how dubious the dogmas are that come attached is our key to eternal life, one can see why believers ignore the irrationality of the religion and became ardent followers. The reward is extremely generous.
Believers could care less that the content of the scriptures is primarily fictional stories, the morality of the laws condone slavery and killing homosexuals, and the recommended punishment for cheating on a spouse is death. These little issues pale in comparison to being promised eternal life. And no one wants to discuss the veracity of the authors making these promises that a heaven exists. Every scientific fact presented in the Old and New Testament is incorrect, yet the faithful are convinced that a place no one has ever seen actually exists.
Born approximately 570 CE in the Arabian city of Mecca, Muhammad founded Islam. Revelations received by Muhammad from god delivered through the angel Gabriel form the holy scripture, the Quran. Besides the Quran, Muhammad's teachings and practices (sunnah), found in the Hadith and sira (biography) literature, are also upheld and used as sources of Islamic law (Sharia). Muhammad belonged to a branch of Judaism before starting his own religion. Abraham and Moses are the two most important profits after Muhammad.
Muhammad was a warrior and spread Islam through conquest. His message is very close to Christianity. Live a righteous life, and be rewarded with a place in heaven. Similar to the Christians he dropped the Judaic beliefs in afterlife in favor of more immediate rewards of heaven.
Muhammad was not a son of god, but he performed many miracles. There is a long list of miracles he performed. Similar to Judaism, Muhammad prophesied that the world would eventually be united under Islam.
Is another Holocaust Possible?
I find it difficult to understand how an intelligent human can be brainwashed into believing flying an airplane into a building and killing thousands of people can be perceived as a moral act, but this is power of religious indoctrination. When African Muslims murder every Christian in a village is this my concern? When the military leader of Iran says he wants to obliterate a nation of 9 million people and he is developing weapons capable of carrying out his wish, what do we do?
The Holocaust was the end result of 1000 years of propaganda from the Roman Catholic Church. The Jews were constantly referred to as subhuman. We see similar verbiage coming out of Iran on a regular basis. Anyone who doesn't see the danger is ignoring the greatest risk to a large group of people since the Holocaust. This happening because 1400 years ago a man convinced people that an angel gave him messages from god.
Religions played a role in early civilizations which had its good sides and bad sides. In my opinion religions have out lived their usefulness. The bad attributes now are significantly more than the good. People should not believe in mythological entities. Morality has always been determined by society, and it is time to view people who believe in baseless mythology as exhibiting bad behavior. It is not cruel to take away a person's faith in an afterlife when that faith is based on ancient texts which are full of lies.
Ask a Christian why they believe in an afterlife and they will say it promises this in the Bible. The Bible also says the Earth is flat, the sun revolves around the Earth, evolution didn't happen, god flooded the entire Earth but saved Noah, Moses was in Egypt and god inflicted severe plagues on the Egyptians, slavery is acceptable behavior, we should kill homosexuals, etc, etc.
I have heard the argument that people will be depressed if we take away the possibility of a mythical heaven. My response is that they need more Jewish friends. Jews are taught that what you do here on Earth is important and people should not be concerned with any possible afterlife. People will survive without believing in fictional heavens. Atheist do not have a higher rate of depression or suicide, and are far less likely to go to prison.
Western Europe is rapidly increasing the number of people who don't believe in religions. I have yet to read a single article which points to a downside in this trend. We are rapidly progressing to a global society with global moral concepts. This is very good. I do not believe that Christians pose any risk to create another Holocaust, but the only way to enlighten Muslims on the irrationality of their faith would be to expose the irrationality of all religions.
Having people divided by their beliefs in fictional mythologies is absurd, especially when the fictional mythologies can easily be exposed for the sham they present. Indoctrinating children to believe that fictional characters exist should be considered bad moral behavior. All of the reasons for creating religious mythology are long gone. Perpetuating the lies is wrong.
How To Contact ME
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