People do good because they are human, not because they are religious!
Do not give God any credit for the good they do, they did it!
COMPETING CLAIMS REFUTE CHRISTIANITY
Even today false Messiahs such as Reverend Moon and his wife are reported to have appeared over the years to Moonies all over the world. If apparitions happen, they are hardly that trustworthy. Yet people lap them up as communications from God.
The problem of competing claims and competing miracles to support these claims is an avenue that has been neglected considerably by sceptics of religion. This is sad for it is the avenue that leads the most rapidly to the showing up of religion as the bigoted farce it really is. Jesus himself accepted the Jewish law that two witnesses were enough before God to establish an allegation they make as the truth. So if people claimed a vision and there was no collusion that was found – many people are good at disguising or hiding collusion – then two people claiming that Jesus appeared to them and confessed that he was Satan all the time and not the Son of God then that is the reasons to believe in Jesus gone out the window. The point is that it is too easy to set up competing claims.
Christians boast that the resurrection of Jesus was true for it was so unique and believable. They boast that Satan could do any other miracle but not that one so it showed that God approved of Jesus and his message. God did it not to fix the mistake of letting Jesus die for that was not a mistake but to show that Jesus was his prophet and Son. The Christians are boasting about their great powers of perception that is what they are doing so that is why we should find this offensive. They might attribute their perception to the assistance of God but any other religion can say that too. God is used as an excuse for pride and intellectual arrogance.
Let us talk about the evidence for miracles that contradict the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus.
The Book of Mormon was a fraud and it had twelve witnesses including Joseph Smith. They were persecuted for their testimony to the Golden Plates that Smith translated. We know them better than the apostles so their testimony is greater and it testifies against Christ whose teaching was contradicted in the Book of Mormon. For example, the book says that the Bible including the Old Testament was changed and corrupted contrary to Jesus who said that not even an iota of the Old Testament text would pass away. Things like this cancel the trustworthiness of the apostles out.
You do not believe an account about people seeing ghosts especially when the account is a second hand source. You know that since such events are so rare and unnatural that you need stronger evidence than you would need even to convict somebody of murder because murder will happen more easily than a miracle. The gospels are just not good enough for they are not first-hand documents. And angel simply means messenger and a man can be a messenger and yet we read of men in white robes around the tomb at the time of Jesus’ disappearance. This makes them ten times worse.
The Virgin of Fatima added to the apostles teaching though the Bible and the Catholic Church are clear that God has finished giving the revelation that bears full authority over lives. And Jesus and his early Church said that the resurrection would be the miracle of miracles and nothing else would be as good. The evidence for her is better than that for the resurrection so she refutes the resurrection and she accuses the apostles of fraud. She accuses herself of fraud for she supports the Catholic system with its belief in the resurrection.
To believe something you have to see all the evidence. There are hundreds of objections, many of which are better-attested miracles, to the resurrection miracle and so to believe you would have to work through them all. Nobody does this so Christianity manipulates people to think they believe in the resurrection and believe rationally.
Lots of people did better than Jesus so why should we believe in him or in his resurrection? If they did as good as him or near as good as him the same question pops up and there is no answer to it.
You will see from my book, The Pagan Idols of Roman Catholicism, that to pray to the saints is to repudiate the Christian faith and to create new gods. Some of the saints performed resurrections from the dead which the Church accepts. They did better attested miracles than Jesus. The saints died and appeared to people afterwards. The Catholics say they did not claim to be gods or Messiahs so they are different.
They claimed to be gods better than God. The fact that they were not explicit about this before they died means nothing. If they should have been then Jesus was not who he said he was.
The vast majority of Jesus’ doctrines were revealed supposedly by Jesus to his Church following Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus rose from the dead. The Church allegedly came to understand that Jesus was God after he was off the scene. Fundamentalist Christians explain that the apostles knew a lot of the stuff when Jesus was alive but they were so stubborn that it took time after Jesus’ death before they could come to terms with it and explain it and teach it. There is no evidence for that speculation. Liberal Christians happily admit that it was all made up or thought of long after Jesus was gone. So a long dead obscure Catholic saint could start appearing from beyond the grave and start claiming that he rose bodily from the dead and reveal for the first time that he was the incarnation of God the Father all the time. It is not that hard to arrange for people who can be trusted to say they met this being. The Bible calls Jesus the only way to God and the only begotten Son of God but that does not rule out other incarnations of God. The Christians think it is a great proof for the resurrection if they could prove that the Jews, disciples of Jesus or the Romans could not have nicked the body of Jesus as if it proved nobody else did it. But it is not and the real evidence for the resurrection is the appearances of Jesus so a missing body is not an essential.
If Jesus was God then most of the body of God has rotted for we are shedding dead cells all the time and our bodies are endlessly replacing themselves with fresh materials so it is mad to think that God would necessarily raise a body he once incarnated himself into from the dead. The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus can be easily made unconvincing merely by the emergence of evidence for the divine seal upon a rival who also rises from the dead. It does not have to actually emerge. It is enough that it can. Faith in the resurrection of Jesus and his unique role as saviour is an insult to anybody who wants to believe in a copycat of his. It’s sectarian. Rather than calling us to love, the resurrection calls us to war. It commands that we support it meaning that we should destroy the evidence for the resurrection of any other Messiah. It despises God.
Jesus, according to the New Testament, made huge claims for himself. He claimed to be the best prophet ever and the Son of God and the saviour. The evidence for the resurrection even if it is as strong as the Christians say still is not enough to justify his making those claims and to justify people believing him. If Jesus was a man of integrity then he couldn't approve of us believing in the resurrection. Sometimes you can have very strong evidence for something but there could be one fact that calls on us to ignore it. You can perhaps build a very very strong case for X having been Jack the Ripper. But this case is no good if X didn't keep on killing people as a serial killer would. Then the evidence would be invalidated by a psychological fact, namely that serial killers don't stop killing and especially if they glut their appetite on gore like the Ripper did. If you say it was a miracle that changed the Ripper so that he stopped killing you reinstate the evidence. But you do this at the expense of credibility. In reality you are not letting the evidence speak for itself though it looks as if you are. You are showing undue and unfair bias. When you shed credibility, the evidence is merely evidence in name only. That's all. That is what Christians do with the resurrection. The evidence makes them no better off. It is exploited to trick people to make them think they are making sense when they say Jesus rose from the dead.
What is the use in the Christian boast that the resurrection of Jesus is convincing and their salvation when they cannot prove that the beautiful Victorian medium, Florence Cook, didn’t raise the long dead Katie King temporarily from the dead? Florence was caught out in fraud later but there is no satisfactory evidence that she was faking the Katie King appearances. Unlike the resurrection of Jesus, we have witnesses we can trust and who we know were careful. We know next to nothing about the witnesses of Jesus and none of these witnesses wrote the gospels.
Jesus claimed that his resurrection was a sign that he had authority to speak for God. After death experiences of a being of light are stronger evidences than the evidences of the resurrection. Yet this being of light never judges. He meets nearly everybody at the gate of a Heaven so he contradicts Jesus who hoped that most people are destined for Hell. So the evidences against Jesus' divine authenticity are stronger than evidences for it. The being of light then contradicts the resurrection of Jesus. We can know and interview the witnesses of the being of light experiences which we cannot do with the self-proclaimed witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus.
The near death experiences make it evil to stake so much on the apostles for it is through the apostles that we have to learn about Jesus and his resurrection. There was not much point in a resurrection as a sign when men had to testify to it so Jesus should have written his own testimony and got them to testify that it was genuine and believable to them instead of letting them interpret things for themselves. A testimony which is provided by people we can meet and check out and suss out for ourselves is vastly superior to the apostles. Jesus appeared after his death to give evidence and the cancellation of that evidence by better evidence means that the appearances were illusions or lies or from the devil.
Christians boast that sources hostile to Jesus admitted that his miracles were real and attributed them to demons. They take it that Jesus’ miracles prove that he had the right to demand absolute control over our bodies and minds. But Jesus had plenty of rivals to destroy their right to assume such things. The Christians claim that it is harder to believe that the apostles or other disciples of Jesus stole his body or that Jesus got out of the tomb himself and pretended he rose from the dead than to believe that he did rise. So impossibilities are more convincing than improbabilities! It is strange that Christians admit there is an extreme minority of people who have bizarre powers like people who can hold light bulbs in their hand and make them light up which ought to put them on their guard with Jesus. They say Jesus was not one of these people but his power came from God. But Jesus could have had limited miracle powers with which he played dead and escaped from the tomb and made his friends hallucinate his appearances until he was well enough to meet them personally. They cannot refute that.
There were many Messiahs who did not need the degree of dishonesty it took to believe in Jesus to believe in them.
Hostile sources said that the false Messiah of the second century Simon Bar Kochba, who bore the messianic title, Son of a Star, did signs and wonders (page 20, The Beast and the Little Horn) and got loads of followers through them.
All early Christian sources claimed that Simon Magus, who became a false Messiah, had incredible miraculous powers. Even the Bible says Simon Magus was said to be the Power of God and was regarded as such by ALL the Samaritans, a sect similar to the Jews, and who was famed for his miraculous powers. Acts 8 says all that. It says that they all gave heed to him from the last to the greatest. To call Simon the Power of God is an even stronger title than calling him the Son of God. A man who has the Power of God must be so trusted that God gives him his power to rule as if he were God or the man is God. Not a single hostile source from the time of Jesus or shortly after spoke of him as claiming to be the power of God or the Son of God. And the Bible which opposes Simon as good as gives those titles to him! Who should be considered then if you want to adore a Messiah?
Justin Martyr, the first nearly competent theologian the Church had, said that Simon could do real miracles and said that virtually all the Samaritans - who at that time were a Jewish spin-off that outnumbered the Jews - believed. The Samaritans were very close theologically and religiously to the Jews. Simon is more convincing than Jesus because the New Testament itself says he had strange powers despite being opposed to Simon's claims. Also when a whole religion accepted him as a prophet and miracle-worker and saint and never turned against him it shows that his wonders were better than Jesus'. If this involved trickery then people were easily fooled by good magicians and conjurers. The trick of getting a body out of a tomb and producing apparitions of Jesus - perhaps men pretended to be Jesus and some special effects were used to make them look like they were from Heaven - would be nothing in comparison. We do see magicians accomplishing better feats than the resurrection trick - if that was what it was - in situations harder to control than at a tomb outside Jerusalem.
The First Apology of Justin we read: "After Christ's ascension the devils put forward certain men who said that they themselves were gods. These men were not persecuted by you. They were even deemed worthy of honours. There was a Samaritan, Simon, a native of a village of called Gitto, who in the reign of Claudius Caesar, and in your royal city of Rome did mighty acts of magic, by virtue of the devils operating in him. He was considered a god. As god he was honoured by you with a statue erected on the River Tiber. Almost all the Samaritans, and a few of the other nations, worship him and acknowledge him as the first god."
Justin was mistaken about the statue - it turns out that the statue was not of Simon but of a pagan god. But it is possible that Simon was identified with this god so that putting up the image of the god counted the same as putting up an image of Simon. The god was thought perhaps to have been Simon appearing centuries before. Simon believed that his companion Helen had been Helen of Troy in a past life. He certainly believed in reincarnation.
Christian critics of Simon said he preached righteousness and good living but argued that this was only a bait. In fact, the Samaritans would not have accepted him unless he supported their moral code - Samaritanism was a religion with a strict ethic based on the Law of Moses. It has been claimed that Simon was the favourite disciple of John the Baptist. If Simon was indeed John's disciple, then he was a holy man. The accusation of magic and sorcery against him to explain his miracles would remind you of the Jews saying that about Jesus' miracles.
No non-Christian or non-partisan witness ever said that Jesus did miracles. Non-partisan witnesses did for Simon. Jesus did not manage to convert all the Jews to serving him - he got a handful. There were many sceptics and many who hated him. Nobody was interested in standing up for him when he was arrested and put to death. He even said that it was a bad sign if somebody claiming to have God's message was popular. That was a rationalisation.
According to Irenaeus, a major Church father from the late second century, Simon claimed to be divine and hinted that he was the Messiah. Irenaeus declared that Simon said that it was said that he suffered in Judea but that he hadn't suffered at all. Simon was claiming to be Jesus who suffered the cross there. Perhaps, this reflects heretical Christian teachings that Christ did not really suffer or die on the cross but it only looked as if he did. If Jesus was really a contemporary of Simon, Simon could not have claimed such a thing and especially if he had become a Christian as the book of Acts claims. There could not be two Simons at the one time. Simon seems to be saying Jesus lived centuries before him and was a previous incarnation or appearance of his.
Simon was believed by the early Church to have got himself beheaded and appeared alive three days later. He was apparently alive in 200 AD which would mean he was then about 200 hundred years alive! We read in early Christian literature that he was expected to rise from the dead in Rome after three days! Maybe he did or maybe there was a legend that he did!
Simon was more endearing than Jesus. His beloved Helen was a prostitute rescued from a brothel. Simon blamed evil on a bad God who was ruling the world and destroying the work of the real good God who was more powerful than him. He was a lot less callous than Christians who could watch flesh eating bugs eat a baby to death and still say God has a reason for this. Simon could condemn it totally saying it was a bad God letting it happen.
Joan of Ark allegedly came back from the dead. It is agreed that the new Joan who came after the real one was burned at the stake for heresy and witchcraft was an impostor. But there is no proof of this. If a sect appeared based on her resurrection it would be more convincing than Christianity.
Robert Price in his book Beyond Born Again reminds us that the false Jewish Messiah Sabbati Zevi appeared to his followers after his death. Some of the visions are implausible but many of them are as good as the resurrection appearance accounts. There had to have been people in the first century who heard what the apostles were saying about apparitions and claimed apparitions of their own. That always happens. Indeed the New Testament complains about false apostles. The twelve apostles bring suspicion on themselves for they just say they had the real visions for they were made apostles by Jesus. But no proof is given of this. Jesus could at least have issued deeds to prove this. Their word is not good enough for why their word and not the rivals?
St Gregory of Tours believed that the healing miracles of an ex-lunatic who claimed that he was Christ and should be worshipped were real miracles but that the Devil was behind them (page 41, The Pursuit of the Millennium). He died at La Puys when he was cut to pieces by his enemies and his followers still believed in him after that holding that he was resurrected in a spiritual way and that he died for their salvation. Multitudes followed another Messiah called Eudo de Stella who claimed to be Jesus Christ the Son of God. He did miracles too. He claimed the power to control the world and he died at Rouen in prison probably of malnourishment (page 46, ibid).
Another very successful Messiah claimed to be God and had loads of followers. It was said he commanded murders. This may have been slander. His name was Tanchelm and there is no reason to hold that he was anything but a holy man (page 46-50) despite the slanders. It is certain that his followers gave up their wealth for the love of him. Yet we are commanded to believe in Christ because his followers took him seriously and testified to him unswervingly. You can’t be a cult figure unless you have followers like that. Having such followers doesn't mean a thing.
Frederick II was credited with Messianic authority and if having supernatural power to fight the Antichrist by his German following (page 113). Prophecies by Joachim of Fiore were understood to be talking about him. And when Frederick died it was believed that he would rise again and indeed after his death two men claiming to be him got many followers (page 114).
Another godman was burned at the stake and no bones were found in the ashes which is similar to the body of Jesus vanishing from the tomb (page 115).
Later, Conrad Schmid was accepted by a nation as being the resurrected Frederick and as God incarnate (page 143). He taught that instead of water baptism saving you, you had to save your soul by being flogged so that the blood will run- in effect, a baptism of blood. Nobody knows for sure what because of him after the Inquisition got him (page 144). Many testified that Schmid/Frederick had appeared to them after that and would come again one day to save the world (page 146). They were so sure of this that they beat up their babies to save their souls from original sin by making the blood run.
The Christians brag that some people saw and chatted with and touched Jesus after his resurrection. The Jesus witnesses are largely enigmas to us for the writings they left behind are very very short and don’t give us much insight into what kind of people they were. Christians what about the trustworthier people who had similar experiences with the Bigfoot most of whom were not alone when they saw the prodigy? I say trustworthier for we can talk to them and cross-examine them. I don't call them trustworthy. The witnesses of the revived Jesus were never cross-examined and took the precaution of saying nothing for forty days. That shows that Jesus was not too bothered about accuracy and credibility. Accuracy and credibility are reduced as time goes on which is always an indication that something naughty was going on. They were able to state reasons for being sure that what they saw was not just a hoaxer dressed up. The resurrection seers gave no such assurance in Jesus’ case. They just took it for granted that it was Jesus. The accounts are of little value when they failed to even state that the identity of the apparition was checked out. Even if he did rise he could not expect us to believe that he did and there are several other ways to prove this as well. Despite the testimonies and the calibre of the witnesses Bigfoot does not exist. Neither does the Loch Ness Monster. There is no doubt about this. When we reject belief in the Bigfoot and Nessie because they cannot exist we are entitled to reject the reports of the resurrection of Jesus Christ too. In fact, the resurrection report is far worse in the credibility stakes than these two myths.
The Bigfoot and Nessie witnesses face only ridicule and there is no doubt about this. The apostles of Jesus allegedly had a bad time for what they said about Jesus. But there is absolutely no evidence that they underwent any more torment than most normal people taking up a controversial cause would. We don’t even know if their faith was the prime reason they were martyred if they died under tragic circumstances at all.
Christians have all the pig-headedness of old women who think nobody is good for anything but their sons.
There are sects that believe in the resurrection of Jesus but have silenced the evidence for it by having better visions and miracles of their own. Its sort of cancelled out in practice. These sects are in exactly the same position as those who posit evidence that somebody else was the Son of God. They might as well drop the resurrection of Jesus! You see the truth when you scratch the surface. For example, take Catholics who run after visions and miracles. They will probably have never even read the resurrection stories in the Bible or thought about them. They just take it for granted that the resurrection really happened. The evidence for their wonders is an alternative to that for the resurrection. They use it instead of caring for the resurrection. If you study the cures at Lourdes and proclaim them miraculous and have no concern for the evidence that Jesus rose then in principle you might as well just drop the resurrection.
The believers might start saying that the cures at Lourdes are about showing that Jesus is alive or they show that he is alive. But it is not the proper evidence. It is like Anna refusing to look at the evidence that her boyfriend is a murderer and then having a dream in which her guardian angel tells her he is a murderer and her believing he is a murderer because of the angel. She ignores the proper evidence and so it is no good to her at all. Why does she even bother then with evidence?
And once a miracle of healing is reported, nobody really knows what supernatural entity was responsible. So attempts to see them as signs that Jesus is alive are tortured and far-fetched. No Lourdes cure is explicitly centred on the resurrection.
There was no point in Jesus rising from the dead to prove his claims if we cannot have solid and direct evidence. If in its absence, saints came along after doing miracles and having apparitions and giving predictions that seem to come true that destroys the whole point of the resurrection which was to provide unmistakeable evidence from God that Jesus was his infallible prophet for Satan or some other force can replicate all miracles but that one.
I could pick out some character who I said lived thousands of years ago and get somebody to fake a comeback from the dead so that that person gets the credit for it and his power is demonstrated. It would be easier creating a false Messiah or incarnate God that way than to get anybody to pose as a sinless person for a few years who dies tragically and then rises from the dead. The potential for claims that match and outdo Jesus’ is enough to prove that Jesus was not God or the Saviour and that the apostles were impostors for making pretensions to inspiration from God that they never had.
The Book of Mormon claims that the Bible has been altered. The Book of Mormon does not confess that if that is really true then the Bible cannot really be used as evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. It cherry-picks Bible evidence! No honest scripture appeals to an allegedly bastardised scripture. The Book of Mormon proclaims Jesus the Son of God and to have been resurrected. The Book reaffirms Jesus after destroying the backing for the claims that he gave. When the evidence is quashed like that it might as well proclaim somebody else to be Son of God and risen from the dead.
This happening is just as serious as evidence presenting somebody other than Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Messiah.
What if the Book of Mormon said that Jesus never died on the cross but only seemed to and revived in the tomb? There was nothing stopping it from doing that. It destroyed the evidence for Jesus' resurrection and so it was free.
Mormons will respond that the Book of Mormon does back up the Bible and shows us where the Bible is right. But this brings us back to what we learned about Jesus doing a big sign and leaving no evidence for it but saints doing miracles later to provide evidence. It doesn’t work for we need the Bible to be true and to be able to hold its own against scepticism. The evidence that Jesus gave two thousand years ago was intended to be easily understood and interpreted because anything that is hard to interpret is not worth doing and will only lead to schisms and dissent and confusion. You would have to do an awful lot of research and refuting before you would have the right to believe in the resurrection of Jesus according to the terms he has established. No reasonable God would ask that of you meaning that no reasonable God would have inspired the apostles to make the claims they made for Jesus so we can question their claims as much as we wish without any qualms of conscience.
Miracles, if real at all, can only come from a conniving and evil source. Extreme Satanism taught that you had to be as depraved as could be to work miracles by black magic so miracles are defending that view. Better to assume that all miracles are hoaxes than to end up bolstering up that belief. Better no belief in miracles at all as losing one human life over them.
St Paul warned against the worship of another Jesus. He meant that some people have such a wrong interpretation of Jesus that it is really another Jesus they adore. The Mormon Jesus is not the Christian Jesus. The Mormon Jesus is as much his rival as he would be if Krishna was presented as the Book of Mormon saviour.
Both Old and New Testaments have God teaching that two witnesses are necessary for establishing any claim. Jesus himself supported it. Also Jesus was supposed to have made Moses and Elijah appear with him on the mount of Transfiguration. The doctrine that at least two witnesses are enough is a doctrine that was supposedly verified when Jesus said that the word of Peter and James and John was enough entitlement to believe that he had achieved this miracle. That means that you could take any pseudo-Messiah at all and he will always have some followers that will swear to his divine authority and authenticity and as long as you can get two testimonies that is enough to believe in that Messiah.
The two witnesses principle was supposedly verified when the testimony of a few women were considered enough to get the apostles to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. The story supports the principle rather than the resurrection and we know for a fact that the principle is dangerous and irresponsible. It is no good when witnesses that should be there and speaking out are not there or speaking out.
Evangelical Christianity ignores miracles except the biblical ones. It just simply assumes that the Catholic miracles are not from God or are hoaxes. That is simply just choosing to believe in some miracles which is a totally underhand approach for people who claim that miracles are evidence from heaven about where the true gospel is. When such a huge body of Christians whose zeal far surpasses that of the Catholics it is a warning that human nature intends to lie about miracles so we are entitled to be sceptical no matter how devout and holy the witnesses seem to be.
Religion is a load of old cobbles for there is no reason why we should favour one system of belief over another. Every time religion gives you reasons to believe all it is doing is manipulating you. Jesus was destroyed by the claims of rival Messiahs.
Until we do the impossible task of refuting all rival claims which nobody can do we cannot say we should believe in the miracle powers of Jesus Christ. If you say that a statue is bleeding miraculously, the burden of proof is on you to prove it. You have to refute every expert in the world who says it is impossible on scientific or rational or philosophical or ethical or religious grounds. When it is right to give you a lot of trouble if you slander, it is right to do that too.
THE PURSUIT OF THE MILLENNIUM, Norman Cohn, Paladin, Herts, 1978
THE WORD OF THE LORD, The Church of Christ with the Elijah Message, Independence, Missouri
THE BEASTS AND THE LITTLE HORN, Rev George S Hitchcock DD, Catholic Truth Society, London, 1911
ST PETER AND ROME, JBS, Irish Church Missions, Dublin, undated