Category Archives: Christianity

Considering the fact that Jesus was a benevolent man, why did he caste the demons into the pigs rather than sending them back to hell?

Mark, the writer who came up with this story, wasn’t writing history. He was writing something more like Shakespeare, and this passage is an allegory.

Mark’s first language was not Greek. Scholars can tell this because the Greek he uses is “difficult”. If you read Mark in Greek, almost every sentence literally starts with “Immediately” or “And”. Imagine reading a story that’s written like this:

And then I went to the store and bought some eggs, bacon, milk, salt, pepper, and potatoes for breakfast.

Immediately, I went to the counter to pay for my breakfast.

And the store clerk asks me if I have bills less than 20s since he’s running out of smaller bills

And I pull out two 5s from my wallet so that I can help the store clerk out

And I paid for my breakfast and headed towards the exist

And I ran into an old buddy of mine while at the door

And he said ‘hi’ to me and asked me what I was doing up so early on a Saturday

And I told him that I had a long day of studying ahead of me so I wanted to get a head start

And he said that this was uncharacteristic of me since I was known for partying and staying up late

And I told him that I wanted to try being more responsible since I’m currently on academic probation

This is what it’s like reading Mark in Greek. So tedious.

Anyway, Mark might have a Roman background of some sorts, since he uses a lot of Latinized Greek words. Like “centurion”: It literally means “leader of 100” in Latin (think of the word “century”). Matthew and Luke use hekatontarchos, which is the Greek word for “leader of 100” (e.g., a hecaton, a 100 sided shape).

Mark also provides Latin translations for some reason:

Mark 12:42: λεπτὰ δύο, ὅ ἐστιν κοδράντης — lepta duo, [which] is a kordrantes (Latin “quadrans” the smallest Roman coin)

Mark 15:16: τῆς αὐλῆς, ὅ ἐστιν πραιτώριον — the aules, [which] is the praitorion (Latin “praetorium”)

With that said, there’s a reason Mark chose “legion”, which is also a purely Latin word. Moreover, there’s a reason that Mark chose to associate pigs with this “legion”.

Legio X Fretensis – Wikipedia

X Fretensis symbols were the bull — the holy animal of the goddess Venus (mythical ancestor of the gens Julia) — a ship (probably a reference to the Battles of Naulochus and/or Actium), the god Neptune, and a boar.

Legio X Fretensis was responsible for occupying Jerusalem after the Jewish War (ended 70 CE), staying into the fourth century. After 70 it was stationed in Gerasa for a while (Winter 1974, p180-181). Allusions to the Jewish War with Rome in Mark are the reasons why many scholars date the composition of this gospel to around or after the Jewish War, which, again, ended in 70 CE.

Geographically, having the pigs run from Gerasa into “the sea” makes no sense. Gerasa is about 30 miles from any large bodies of water. How long do you think it would take you to run 30 miles? Were Jesus and the poor recently possessed man standing there for a few hours waiting for the pigs to get to the sea? Matthew recognized this mistake and changed the location from Gerasa to Gadara but Gadara was still six miles from the lake.

So to recap, we have the 10th Legion Fretensis who were stationed in Gerasa after 70 CE and one of their standards was a boar. We have this story, written sometime around or after 70 CE where a guy goes to Gerasa and encounters a demon called “Legion”. He casts the demon into a herd of pigs and the pigs leave the region.

This is an allegory about kicking the 10th Legion out of Gerasa if I had to put betting money on it.

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Posted by on November 8, 2018 in Christianity, gospel of mark, Quora answers, religion


My Rejection of Christianity

This is a conversation I’m having with a Christian at another forum. My response is a bit long so I’m going to post from about the middle of the conversation:


For example, studying Biblical criticism has led me to the conclusion that the historical Jesus didn’t say almost anything that has been presented in the gospel narratives. The “Jesus” in the gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke, Thomas, John, Peter, etc. is simply the sockpuppet of the gospel authors, using Jesus as a polemical device to further their theological agenda(s). The same thing happened to a lesser degree with Paul and his writing – almost 50% of his writings in the New Testament are “forgeries”, for lack of a better word. The history of early Christianity is wrought with polemics and deception, using and abusing Christian (and Jewish) scripture to further their theological agenda(s). If a Christian in the 2nd century felt that “true” Christianity was a certain way, and they see a Jesus presented that differs from how they felt Jesus should be, they simply changed the scripture. There was no “Christian canon” in the 1st and 2nd centuries other than the Tanakh, so interpolations in not-yet canonical Christian documents was rampant. This is, again, why appealing to subjectivity is a fool’s errand. Faith takes precedence over fact, plain and simply. This inexorably leads to deception. And if subjectivity (faith) takes precedence over objectivity (fact), how can a Christian tell the difference between faith and self-deception?


I just don’t see that as the case, I mean your speculating that the early Christians felt comfortable in not altering OT scripture because it was sacred and yet felt comfortable altering a letter from Paul or a Gospel narrative.. and if they did, then to what possible end. What gain would come to them for such a thing. I mean these people went through round after round of severe persecution for their beliefs. It would stand better to reason that if there was a selfish intent then such a persons would have been better off working with the accepted beliefs that went without such punishments.

Now, I am not saying that there weren’t transmissional and translational discrepences and errors. Nor am I saying that there weren’t intentional interpolations.. the Johannine comma being the most notable. However, I am saying that I do believe that there are other plausible ways of looking at the situation, intents and so forth other than the way you have seemed to present it.

[H]ow can [I] as a Christian tell the difference between faith and self-deception? What methodology would [I] use? Hopefully I answered a bit of this earlier, but I’ll have to go with Ayn Rand on this one. The best answer would likely be to, “Check your premises.” 🙂


I urge you to actually study early Christianity. The most glaring interpolation is the synoptic problem: Luke and Matthew are basically interpolated versions of Mark. While Mark, the first gospel written, is generally seen to have been written around 70 CE, the first Christian document be to elevated to the level of “holy scripture” was Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians around 130 CE by the “heretic” Basilides. But prior to that, the only “holy scripture” was the Tanakh – thus Matthew and Luke had the freedom to change Mark as they saw fit, since Mark wasn’t “canon”. A gospel being canon doesn’t happen until 140 CE. And even so, Christians (like Justin Martyr in 150 CE) accused Jews of removing certain scripture that proof-texted evidence for Jesus’ messiah-hood – yet there’s no evidence of these supposed “deletions” in the oldest Hebrew bible texts.

Another example, the bishop Marcion is the first Christian to compile a “New Testament” in 140 CE and the first Christian to collect “all” of Paul’s letters. But Marcion’s canon only consisted of 10 Pauline epistles and one gospel. Not only that, but our current Pauline corpus is incompatible with Marcion’s Christology – so Marcion’s Pauline epistles couldn’t be the same ones found in our current New Testament. The only explanation is interpolation. Even worse, it’s an odd coincidence that Marcion’s canon didn’t contain the Pastoral Epistles (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus) and those are the three Pauline letters that most NT scholars conclude weren’t written by Paul… so they must not have existed when Marcion compiled his canon. Marcion’s canon consisted of the seven Pauline epistles that are generally agreed to be authentic to Paul and three that have undecided authorship.

Of course, Marcionites accused the proto-Catholics of interpolation, and the proto-Catholics accused the Marcionites of interpolation. But the only reason why we have almost half of the NT made up of Paul’s letters is due to the popularity of Marcionism. The proto-Catholics simply “catholicized” Paul to win over converts from the Marcionites. Hence the post-Marcion creation of Acts of the Apostles and the Pastorals.

And how about the Ebionites? Their name is Hebrew (ebionim means “poor ones” in Hebrew) and they apparently only regarded a Hebrew version of Matthew as sacred scripture along with the Tanakh. But our current Matthew shows no signs of being a translation from Hebrew, and the Ebionites didn’t believe in the virgin birth or Jesus’ status as the literal son of god – so their “Matthew” must have been different from our current Matthew.

And then the gospel of John probably had three different authors.

Of course, Christianity as a whole is one huge abuse of Jewish scripture. Jesus supposedly thought Daniel was a prophet, but prophecy ended upon the deaths of the last prophets like Zechariah and Malachi. Daniel was written during the Maccabean revolt of 164 BCE due to the “abomination causing desolation” (a statue of Zeus) that Antiochus set up in the temple. Thus Daniel isn’t a contemporary of any other prophets and lived less than 100 years before Jesus – a long time after prophecy had ended. This is why Daniel is Ketuvim (writings) and not Nevi’im (prophets) (the K and N in TaNaKh). The Psalms, also, are Ketuvim and not prophetic which invalidates all of the supposed “prophecies” about Jesus like Psalm 22, 26, 31, and 110.

There’s obviously a lot more abuse of the Tanakh by Christians who place their faith before fact, but that would probably take this post further into BC&H category.

[As for checking my premises] [t]hough I’m not much of an Objectivist, I do check my premises repeatedly 😉 I think I’ll list them here

1. I exist

2. A world exists independently of my senses (this is unfalsifiable, but the only other option is solipsism)

3. I’m an imperfect human being, thus my senses aren’t 100% reliable

4. Induction is an imperfect epistemology since it relies on the previous premise (and maybe the Problem of Induction).

5. Deduction is more robust than induction, but is reliant on the previous 2 premises.

Following these three premises, there are some conclusions one can draw:

1. Since my senses aren’t 100% reliable, I have to appeal to sources outside myself for reliable information about the world. Hence my constant appeal to objectivity when wanting to deal with objects (i.e. reality).

2. The vast majority of human beings in history have held inaccurate or just flat out wacky beliefs. This is from my undergraduate studies of history, sociology, psychology, and world religions. Thus an inductive argument against religious beliefs.

3. Confirmation bias is a well known psychological phenomenon [where we are quick to accept information that confirms what we already believe and are quick to reject information that doesn’t confirm what we already believe]. Since confirmation bias is ubiquitous, I should be skeptical of my beliefs that simply “feel good” without objective (P2) support. Quite ironically, that “feels right” feeling is a base emotion, just like anger or fear. The feeling of certainty can be stimulated by thoughts, not by logic or reason. Ergo, there’s no necessary correlation between what feels true and what actually is true. This is why I’m consistently trying to be less wrong than I currently am. Selection bias [where we count the hits and ignore the misses so that we erroneously have 100% success] is also a consistent pitfall of induction that many people do not realize they do.

This is really a fleshing out of my third premise above, and what I think constitutes “self-deception”.

4. Religions spread in the same exact way as other sociological beliefs. The reason most Americans are Christians is the same reason most Americans speak English.

These conclusions make me highly skeptical of the claims of the religious. In order for religious beliefs to be true without appealing to objectivity, my third premise has to be rejected. The only way you can trust your “feelings” on things is if you have perfect senses and confirmation/selection bias don’t apply to you because you are a superbeing. Evolutionary psychology basically states that our cognitive and empirical facilities only excel at helping us not end up dead. Beyond that, everything else isn’t really necessary, just surplus. So a person can have inaccurate beliefs but as long as those beliefs don’t kill them, they can be selected for.

And then, I’m of the belief that an interventionist, personal god invalidates my second premise. Miracles, signs, and other supernatural events that only one person can see that cannot be validated by unbiased (i.e. objective) sources means that this god can produce illusions that are only visible to the “believer” for the sole purpose of making them faithful to this god. How then, can we know anything is real? A miracle working god would naturally push me towards solipsism.

This is a basic summary of why I’m skeptical of and ultimately reject modern Christianity.

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Posted by on October 8, 2009 in Christianity, early Christianity, objectivity, skepticism


On Eusebius and Christianity

The influence of Eusebius, and through him Constantine, on the traditional narratives of the development of Christianity is so great that one is tempted to say that they invented it. But that would be giving them far too much credit in my opinion and ignoring the typically diverse elements that precede all leaps and major changes.
In the case of Judaism splitting in Christianity, I see a number of developments necessary before we get to the 4th century.

1. First century anti-Herodian opposition movements trying to spread Yahwehism and combat Roman domination. Apostles dedicating their lives to this movement. The Christs (Anointed Ones) of Yahweh/Jesus
2. Supernatural (comic-book) stories of heroic traveling Apostles spreading the kingdom of God movement and working magic.
3. Mixture of prophetic and apostolic literature to create the gospel/son of God – Jesus Christ stories. A period of diverse gnosticism
4. The mixture of 2nd century gnosticisms in the Alexandrian cauldron of the 3rd century.
5. Eusebius and Constantine taking that Alexandrian potion and giving it a fairy-tale history in the early 4th century, which seems to have drastically increased its efficacy.

Until the application of C14 dating techniques to disprove or prove it, this is my best hypothesis.

Also, it seems as though the Gospel of Thomas was written around the same time as the other gospels; there are papyri fragments of it which are carbon dated to around 200 CE so the gospel itself must be older – probably around the early to mid second century.

And also, Lord Raglan’s Hero Scale (here), which Jesus scores pretty high on – around 19 out of 22. 22 being a complete fabrication and 0 obviously being real.

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Posted by on September 24, 2008 in Christianity, eusebius, hero scale


The Middle Way

So because of my scientific-spirituality, when people asked me what religion I am, I always say “I’m a Buddhist”. Technically, Buddhism can be seen as nominally atheistic, even though there are “gods” in Buddhism, they’re more like supermen and/or advanced alien lifeforms and not anthropomorphized objects of reverence. They go through the cycle of birth and rebirth (samsara) just like us.

Anyway, while describing my spirituality to people, I always talk about the need for “balance” and “non-extremism”. Christianity fails at this because it’s all about hating life/the world and seeking refuge from “bad” and trying to obsess over and revel 24/7 in “good”. My thing was that sort of mentality is just as damaging as consistently engaging in “evil” or “bad”. All things are necessary for life – like you can’t function if your world is 100% light and 0% darkness just like you can’t function if your life is 100% darkness and 0% light.

From a scientific or physics standpoint, the only way we can function in day to day life is maintaining balances – or equilibrium as it’s called in physics. When you lean on a wall, the wall also leans on you. If the equilibrium isn’t kept, either the wall you’re leaning on is going to collapse (bad) or you’re going to hurt yourself by pushing on the wall too much (bad). It’s like this in everything I see in nature – the sun is a huge ball of equilibrium which balances between gravity sucking in hydrogen and making explosions, which creates outward pressure. As soon as one of these things overtakes the other (gravity or pressure) the sun will cease to exist as it is. Even too much water is bad for you; people can die from water poisoning.

In Buddhism, apparently the Buddha (before he became “The” Buddha) tried overdoing the “good” in the Christian paradigm – fasting, exposure to pain, celibacy, etc. – and realized that this amounts to nothing more than self-hatred and self-mortification. You can’t grow spiritually as a person if you hate yourself. Just like you can’t physically grow if you deny yourself valuable nutrients. So, he discovered the Middle Way, which is a philosophy of non-extremism. A middle way between the extremes of self-gratification and self-mortification.

Balance. Equilibrium. The Middle Way.

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Posted by on September 4, 2008 in buddhism, Christianity, the middle way


Greek, The New Testament, and the Essenes

This information is taken from the rational response squad, who I think are kinda cultish. Even so, this is a very good argument for why the NT was written in Greek and not the native tongue of Jesus and his disciples:

  • All four canonical gospels were written in Koine Greek, which reflects Greek education – the same education that Pliny the Elder / Younger, Julius Caesar, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Eratosthenes, Virgil, and Apollinus of Rhodes would have received. All four canonical authors would have had to attend gymnasion, the Greek school for filospohia, aglhteon, and grammatikov, or literary education – how to read and write, to learn to “know one’s letters”
  • Hellenized Jews were also welcome to attend gymnasion as long as they had enough money to afford it. Often Jews of high standing in a community could attend gymnasion.
  • The gospels are derived from a common form of literary creation[,] dependent on model use — something taught rigorously at gymnasion — where the author would use earlier literature as a foundation for building tropes, archetypes, and narrative to formulate plot and even name characters.

So, how could illiterate Palestinian fishermen who spoke Aramaic learn Koine Greek just out of nowhere? Unless they really weren’t fishermen and they were some of the higher class Jews. Reading and writing at this time period wasn’t just for anyone – only the highest class people would go to school and actually learn to read and write. If Jesus and his disciples were carpenters and fishermen – professions that don’t earn a lot of money and require no formal education – from some backwater of the Roman empire, why and how would they learn to read and write Koine Greek?

Also of note, I was reading the bio on John Allegro and it said that he was one of the people responsible for translating the scribes found at Nag Hammadi – which is where we get a lot of information about Gnosticism from. He said that the parallels between the Essenes and Christianity are intriguing, to say the least.

The Essenes were an ascetic sect of Jews from the Hellenistic period up until the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. These Essenes mysteriously disappeared after the temple’s destruction, which is also around the time that Christianity started gaining ground. Most of what we know about the Essenes comes from Philo the Jew and [Flavinus] Josephus.

Josephus mentions the Essenes and their “river bathing rituals” which could be construed as a direct description of baptism or just a common religious meme from that time period and locale.

I think there’s an obvious connection between either the Essenes directly, former Essenes seeking some direction after the destruction of the Temple, or people who were incredibly influenced by Essenes theology. John the Baptist seems to fit the description of an “Essene” perfectly – and supposedly Jesus “continued” his ministry. The stories of Peter seems unequivocally to be nothing more than a dramatized mnemonic of the role of the Essene main “Overseer” (the Essene title ‘caiaphas’ – or ‘cephas’ as a word play on the Aramaic “stone”, ‘kepha’), recognized by many scholars as the equivalent of the later Christian “Bishop”. Essenes in their writings have a “Teacher of Righteousness” – which could be one of the possible influences of the creation of the Jesus that Christians have in their minds today. Maybe not a direct copypasta, but maybe some of the characteristics of the Essenes’ “Teacher of Righteousness” – their beloved, inspirational, and suffering Teacher, who they arguably regarded as a latter-day Joshua ben Nun (Jesus son of Fish) were ‘put into’ Jesus’ character. After all, Philo and Josephus were Jews who learned Greek education and they knew about the Essenes – it’s entirely possible that whoever wrote the gospels of the New Testament knew about Essenes theology as well – and injected their prior Essenes theology and sayings into the gospels.

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Posted by on September 3, 2008 in Christianity, dead sea scrolls, essenes, greek, greek education, gymnasion, josephus, koine greek, nag hammadi, new testament, philo


Politics and the Bible

It’s always been said that “Biology only makes sense in the light of [the theory of] Evolution”. Well, after reading about the history of the Bible, the different time periods the different books were written in and how it was compiled, I’ve come to the conclusion that the “historicity” of the Bible only makes sense in the light of politics. Politics, as we’ve come to know it, is simply about the attainment and consolidation of power. Many stories in the Old Testament are about how the Jews rose and fell ad nauseum in power. What they don’t tell you in Bible class though (unless you’re getting a doctorate in Bible studies) is that archeology doesn’t correspond with the early Biblical account of how things happened.

For instance, who is the “pharaoh” in Exodus? You would think that if Moses went up and talked to that pharaoh to demand he “let his people go” that he would know the dude’s name. Especially if he’s the one who wrote the first five books of the OT. There’s no evidence of 1 – 2 million people being displaced and wandering around the desert in the area between Egypt and modern day Israel. There is evidence of small communities rising and falling with the same trends as the larger kingdoms around them in that area.

King Solomon was said to have a kingdom that spread from modern Israel to Egypt – that’s a huge flippin’ kingdom! A kingdom that size wouldn’t be known in history until Roman times in around 300 – 400 CE. A good 1,000+ years later. How come there’s no record of this kingdom from other kingdoms that we know about? In other words, how come no Egyptian kings from that time period (11,000 – 800 BCE) wrote about this huge Israel kingdom right next to theirs in any of their letters to other kingdoms in that area?

The hypothesis is that these stories were embellished to give solidarity and a sense of history to the early Jews as a means of unifying them under a common banner. Much like the story of King Aurthur for the Saxons. It wasn’t meant as history, but as politics.

And what about the New Testament? First of all, none of the synoptic gospels or the gospel of John names their author. They were all written anonymously – any Bible scholar will tell you that. It’s the equivalent of getting one of those annoying chain mail emails that are written anonymously and one of the forwarders just types in “from Bill Cosby” in the text and then forwards it. In my readings, I oddly enough traced Gnosticism back to Paul of Tarsus, you know – the dude who’s letters make up the bulk of the NT. Valentinus, who’s said to be a student of Theudas, who was said to be a student of Paul, was a major figure in early Christianity. He was a major proponent of Gnosticism for the Gnostic Christians, and a major antagonist for what would become the Trinitarian (the concept of the “Trinity” didn’t exist in 100 CE) Christians. The popularity of the Gnostics was huge in the second century. How come, then, Christians today aren’t Gnostics? Not because of any divine authority, but because of politics. Ireneaus, who is mostly responsible for the modern NT, was highly annoyed and threatened by these Gnostics, so he wrote “Against Heresies” in the second century. In it, he vociferously attacks Valentinus and Gnosticism, and claimed that his church had what was called “Apostolic Succession” – their churches could be traced back directly to the original apostles, while Valentinus and the Gnostics could only be traced back to Paul. If Ireneaus lost his churches to Gnosticism, he would lose his power.


Marcion, who was another popular figure in early Christianity, compiled his own “NT” with what he called the Gospel of Truth, which was simply a modified version of the Gospel of Luke (it’s been argued by scholars that the Gospel of Luke might actually be a modified version of Marcion’s Gospel of Truth) and all of Paul’s letters. This is also reportedly where we get a 3 Corinthians from. At the beginning of the second century, there were a crapload of gospels going around – too much to name here – and it’s believed that these gospels were all written in response to other gospels and such and so forth. None of these original gospels survive today. This is the time period that we get the Gospel of John, which isn’t a synoptic gospel. It must’ve been a terrible job to sort through all of the noise to get a “one true” NT during this time period – much like today there are thousands of denominations of Christianity, the same was true back in the first century. There was no one unified church – and all of these churches wanted to be the “one true” church, the universal (“universal” in Greek is “catholic”) church. That one church would get all of the power – politics.

And what about that whole “blaming the Jews” thing? Doesn’t that seem odd – considering that Jesus was a Jew? The hypothesis is that after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE – the Jewish-Roman war, most Jews began to consolidate into what is now Rabbinic Judaism. The Pharisees. The Essenes and the Sadducees pretty much disappeared from the scene due to how closely their spirituality was to the Temple (Sadducees) or how apathetic they were to the Temple (Essenes). Jewish-Christians also fell off the map at this time.

So around 70 CE is when Christians start converting Gentiles in heavy numbers. This is also around the time that the first gospel is actually written down (Mark). So if these new Christians are in majority Gentiles, and they want Christianity to gain more ground with more Gentiles, in Roman territory, how can they blame the death of Jesus on Roman rules? As Pilate is quoted “I wash my hands of this” when he asks whether the Jews want Jesus dead or Barabbas dead. Thus, in order to gain popularity with Romans Gentiles, Jesus’ death is blamed on the Jews.


As we all know, Constantine I is largely responsible for the modern incarnation of the Catholic Church. One of his homeboys – Eusebius – was a major adviser in the First Council of Nicaea. Right now I’m trying to find the link between Eusebius and all of these 2nd and 3rd century churches and writings. Why he decided on which books to accept, and which ones he decided to reject – Arianism, Marcionism, Gnosticism, etc. He also could have been responsible for the anti-Jewish, Roman neutral slant of the gospels…

If we look at politics today, there’s a huge joke that an honest politician is a politician that doesn’t exist. We all think of politicians as crooks and liars, only out to get more power. More prestige. Election after election we’re spoonfed biased statistics, half-truths, and only the facts that put the politician in a good light. Dirt from the opposing party’s past is brought up as a means of diminishing the popularity of the other politician. Think about this for a second – we have all of these problems today in an age of the Internet and are supposedly a more informed generation. But we still get people who are like “I’ll never vote for Obama because he stole the Democratic Nomination from Hilary” or “Obama is a child-molesting muslim terrorist – that’s why I’m voting for McCain” or “McCain doesn’t know how many houses he owns – he so out of touch with the regular American.” These are propositions that people are taking seriously in their decision to vote for a president! And this type of stuff happens repeatedly and repeatedly – every election, every year. If we can’t even get a descent noise-to-signal ratio, how would people in the first and second century get a descent noise-to-signal ratio? You can bet the same type of assertions and personal attacks were going on in the first century, second century, 18th century, 3rd century BCE, and all throughout human history. How can we discern any true picture from what politicians write about themselves and their enemies?

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Posted by on August 28, 2008 in bible, Christianity, gnosticism, history, politics


First Post

This is my first blog entry. I made this blog specifically for documenting my study of various religions.

I guess I should start with a little about myself. I recently graduated from Penn State with a B. S. in Information Sciences and Technology. Right now I’m waiting on the Army to give me a security clearance so I can start work… sometime soon. Anyway, I’ve been interested in religion since I first started seriously and critically thinking about it – which was around when I was 14 or 15. I was wearing a crucifix on the 4 train in NYC and one of my buddies asked if “I really believed that stuff” pointing to my crucifix. I said “I dunno” and then he poignantly rejoined “So why are you wearing that?”.

After that incident, I decided that I wanted find out what I really believed. Since I was (and still am) such a science-minded person, I wanted to verify Christianity – but well aware of human beings’ tendency towards Confirmation Bias (only looking for things that confirm our a priori assumptions and disregarding information that discredits it) I figured that the only way to prove something true was to try to prove it false. If that sounds strange, I’d like to point out that all of us follow that methodology to varying degrees (except when we have an emotional attachment to the outcome). Buying a TV, trying on clothes, doing our homework – the entirety of our school system is designed around the process of doubt. We wouldn’t have tests if that weren’t the case. We wouldn’t have to sit through job interviews if that weren’t the case. Antibiotics, house shopping, doing laundry… anything that we require some form of knowledge about, we go through a process of skepticism prior to arriving at our conclusion. The study of how people know what they know is called “epistemology”. I had no idea about even the existence of such a word in high school, but I did want to know “how people knew what they knew” and the most consistent methodology, as I just wrote, is examination through doubt.

So after high school in 1997, I joined the Air Force. At this time, I was an agnostic about my Christianity and the existence of god(s) in general. It wasn’t until I had full access to the Internet (1999) that my “verification” really started to go full steam ahead, and Christianity unfortunately, didn’t stand up to scrutiny. Most alarming about the concept of epistemology in the Christian paradigm is this concept of “faith”. You have to first have positive belief, and then you know. Which is a wacky epistemology to follow and downright dangerous if utilized in the wrong context. External critique and verification is absurd if “faith” is the ultimate arbiter of knowledge.

As an example of the profound epistemological deficiency of faith, here’s a less dangerous example. Let’s say two students are taking a math test and they finish at the same time. Someone who expresses some healthy skepticism might say “I’ll go over my test again to make sure I made all the right calculations”. Proponents of faith would simply say “I know it’s right, it feels right and I’ll hand in my test” without checking their answers. Naturally, the person who checked their answers before handing in the test would be doing the more rational thing. Most people would agree as well – mainly because there’s no emotional investment in a math test.

A more dangerous example of the intellectual bankruptcy of faith, let’s say two people have guns pointed at their head. The person of faith would say “I have faith that no harm will come to me if the trigger is pulled”. A more reasonable person would say “I want to check the gun first and make sure there are no bullets in the chamber or in the clip before pulling the trigger”. Obviously most people would still side with the more skeptical person and follow their example – except when it comes to religion!

As of this day, that’s always the final answer as to what Christianity boils down to – faith. Which is odd considering that fideism is frowned upon in at least Catholicism. Anyway, I’ll post more about Christianity in subsequent posts, since I’m constantly digging ever deeper into the history of Christianity. But after Christianity, I studied a bit about Islam (ironically in basic training I went to a Muslim church only because it met twice a week as opposed to the other churches that met once a week), some Judaism and eventually moved on to the religions of the “East”. Religions like Shintoism and Buddhism were more intellectually satisfying since they didn’t concentrate on a cosmic entity that cares that you touched a woman while she was menstruating, and more about living harmoniously with your surroundings.

While in the Air Force I became more of an Ontological Naturalist and most religions didn’t stand up to scrutiny once they posited the supernatural. But still, even eschewing the supernatural from Eastern religions didn’t hinder their message, while in Western religions the supernatural is where they derived their power from – right from might. As of right now, I consider myself an Ontological Naturalistic Pantheist of the Spinoza-Einstein variety and do meditate. My meditation, while it might sound sort of woo-woo supernatural-like, there’s definitely a verifiable change in my physiology while doing it, that other friends have been able to take note of.

As for the name of this blog, I named it “five” in Greek (pente – πέντε) because my last name means “five” in Latin, and my website is called deus diapente, which is Latin-esque for “fifth god” – which is ironic because a lot of the information in my website is incompatible with the [Western] view of god.

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Posted by on August 26, 2008 in Christianity, faith, naturalistic pantheism, skepticism

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