The Biblioblog Reference Library

[«] Posts by the Author "David Madison"(#821)

February 23 2018, 5AM

The Bible as Word of God, Fatal Flaw #1One of the most extraordinary claims made by Christians is that God’s only means of communicating with the world is through the mammalian brain of one species. Yes, think about it, that’s it: the three or four po...

February 16, 8AM

Mark, Chapter 1: The problems pile on, right from the startThe gospel of Mark is second in the iconic line-up of Jesus stories, but it’s universally agreed among New Testament scholars that Mark was written first; it’s not hard to tell that Matthew an...

February 9, 8AM

Part 1 of 6: The Bible is not self-authenticatingThose intrepid Gideons claim that they are dedicated to “making the Word of God available to everyone.” The American Bible Society doesn’t hesitate to call its product “God’s Word.” Behind this ...

February 8, 6PM

About his book, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and BeliefThe interview was conducted by Clint Heacock for his MindShift podcast. It is divided into two segments. Segment One, click here, the episode dated 19-1-2018 Segment Two, click here, the ep...

9AM

Shedding light: An interview about a documentaryI have been a member of The Clergy Project for several years. I had become an atheist by the time I finished my PhD in Biblical Studies at Boston University, a few decades ago. I also had nine years as a Met...

February 2, 9AM

An awesome god is too much troubleMy oldest brother, twelve years my senior, was a musical prodigy. Thus my earliest childhood memories include listening to the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts on Saturday afternoons. Our phonograph record collection...

January 26, 8AM

A review of Fernando Alcántar’s book, To the Cross and Back“Well, you never were a real Christian.” I sometimes hear this from pious folks who can’t process my transition from Methodist pastor to atheist. They know that their ‘walk with the Lor...

January 19, 8AM

The strange Jesus in Mark’s storyThe Christian church has managed to pull off one of the biggest con jobs in history. It got away with it, I suppose, because lay people did not have access to reading the gospels for the first 1,500 years of Christian hi...

January 7, 1PM

It’s not the Good Book…and it’s not a good book to curl up withIn April 2015 the Gideons announced that they had given away their two billionth Bible. The American Bible Society probably isn’t far behind. I don’t doubt, moreover, that the Bible ...

January 5, 3AM

The God of the Bible could have rivalsScience writer Timothy Ferris has fantasized about an atlas of the entire Milky Way Galaxy. What would it look like? If each star system—with all of its planets—were summarized in just one page, he points out that...

December 29 2017, 4AM

The holy book needs a good sweeping…When piety gurus come up with an idea and it takes tenacious hold in minds of the faithful—no matter how bad it is—it can endure for centuries. Relics are first class gimmicks; bad theology, but they’re good for...

December 22, 8AM

Go Ahead, Christians, Follow the Sermon on the Mount, I Dare YouIf only the four gospels hadn’t been bound together. Of course, their authors had no idea that would happen—and how much damage it would bring to their credibility. Mark had no idea, f...

December 15, 9AM

Endorsing an evil god…while saying graceChristian theology is awesomely sabotaged by the New Testament. Its portrayal of god, so deeply rooted in ancient superstition, cannot possibly hold up under close scrutiny. And, sometimes, Christians do feel the ...

December 8, 8AM

The apostle Paul shoulda stayed at homeThe gospels are a minefield: If you step on the wrong verses, your idealized Jesus gets blown to bits. For example, in Matthew 10 we are told that Jesus dispatched the disciples to do some preaching, with this caveat...

December 1, 8AM

If only we had a way to test them all… In the small, rural mid-western town where I grew up—and long before my arrival—the Christian souls had been sorted into Protestant and Catholic camps; I was in the former. Naturally, this was well after the er...

November 24, 8AM

“Belonging to Jesus” doesn’t seem to helpHas Christianity ever been—as the old hymn puts it—“one great fellowship of love throughout the whole wide world”? Probably not. Even at the very beginning, the gospels provide hints of discord in the...

November 17, 8AM

Go ahead, I dare you, theists! Give it a shotIn 2013, when the Boy Scouts lifted its ban on gay scouts, Executive Pastor Tim Hester, of the Louisville Southeast Christian mega-church, announced that the scouts were no longer welcome to meet at the church....

November 10, 9AM

Christian theology fails the decency testWhen crucifixes are part of church and home décor—and even sported as jewelry—it’s hard to get the point across that something is terribly wrong: A horrifying belief has been normalized…and for what? Guy H...

November 3, 8AM

How to be a patriot when the world is about to endOn the northern Indiana prairie where I was raised in the 1950s, a seamless blend of Christianity and patriotism had been achieved. We were up against Godless communism, after all, so what could make more ...

October 27, 7AM

Not a chance. But steady erosion is still a plan…The pious among us are so sure that religion improves the world. They can point to gazillions of examples of believers doing good, without granting that charitable behavior doesn’t have to be motivated ...

October 20, 7AM

Desperation for purpose in the Cosmos It’s a pretty good bet that not one in a thousand churchgoers today could pick out Karl Barth in a line-up—or be able to tell you what he did. Yet he was one of the most prolific theologians of the 20th century...

October 13, 7AM

Neatly packaged in one Bible chapterIt’s a shame that the apostle Paul didn’t live long enough to collect royalties on his feel-good aphorisms. They have been featured on greeting cards, embroidery, stained glass panels, e.g., “Rejoice in hope, be p...

October 6, 8AM

Nobody is exempt from dumb…but why is it a Christian specialty?“Near the core of religious experience is something remarkably resistant to rational inquiry.” So said Carl Sagan in his 1986 essay, “A Sunday Sermon” (Broca’s Brain: Reflections o...

September 29, 7AM

The advance of the anti-science, anti-democracy barbarians My shift to atheism got a boost when I was in seminary. Classes in theology especially stirred up doubts—the last thing that was supposed to happen. The Ecclesiastical-Academic Complex (as Hec...

September 22, 7AM

A few items that the cherry-pickers don't pickOn a recent post here I asked how the apostle Paul could possibly have known that there are “spiritual” bodies; this claim, of course, is yet another clue that his grip on reality was shaky at best (an...

September 15, 8AM

The batshit crazy theology of the apostle Paul: four texts Read more »

September 8, 7AM

A review of David Fitzgerald’s Jesus: Mything in ActionChristians Aren’t Going to Blow the Whistle A famous atheist once railed at me for giving a damn about the “Jesus Question”—that is, whether or not Jesus existed. It’s not a relevant issue...

September 1, 7AM

Why in the world do they believe such things? Sometimes even Sunday school kids have the presence of mind to ask, “But where did God come from?” To which the assurance is always given, “Well, God has always been there.” But rarely do the kids—o...

August 25, 6AM

So how’s that working out for you? On the Facebook page that I maintain for my book—and for the promotion of atheism in general—Christians sometimes drop by, commonly to make angry comments. My own policy on Facebook, by the way, is that I neve...

August 18, 8AM

…and their die-hard apologists—who look SO familiar  On the evening of 30 October 1938, CBS Radio’s The Mercury Theatre, broadcast a dramatization H.G. Wells’s novel War of the Worlds. The program was presented in the form of news bulletins, and...

August 11, 11AM

When skepticism languishes, apologetics flourishes Imagine, if you will, a gigantic Religious Apologists Quilt, large enough to cover a football field, including the end zones. There are more than 6,000 squares—each a square yard—representing each of...

August 4, 9AM

It followed an old script…and added its own spin In his classic analysis of religion, Treatise on the Gods, H. L. Mencken speculated on how it all began: “There must have been skeptics at the ringside when the first priest performed his hocus-pocus, a...

July 28, 9AM

But com’on, is Jesus their best reason for stepping up to the plate? A young man named Matthew Vines has taken on a big challenge: trying to convince Evangelical Christians that their virulent opposition to homosexuality is wrong. Those very righteous p...

July 21, 11AM

A review of David Chumney’s new book, Jesus EclipsedChristians are the huddled, persecuted masses, yearning to breathe free—or so they would have us believe. After all, in the last few years a lot of folks have been ganging up on them. Gay people who ...

July 14, 10AM

…but Robert Ingersoll was up against 1,900 years of church momentumRead more »

July 7, 11AM

Forget the Merit Badge. Go for the Spirit Shield Could we put please all Christians on a Bible-reading regimen? We can ask them to read each chapter of the Bible, then sign off on each one. That is, we’d like them to read each chapter carefully, very c...

July 3, 7AM

Christian Apologists Keep on Churning Out FlimflamI have suggested, in a previous post here on 2 June 2017—that the story of Jesus ascending to heaven, i.e., floating up to exit Earth’s atmosphere—qualifies as the New Testament’s Biggest Lie. Anyo...

June 2, 9AM

It’s Jesus’ Second Tomb They Should Be Looking ForSeminaries exist to manufacture clergy, hence none will ever make a top-ten list of academic institutions committed to critical/skeptical thinking. The Existence-of-God Question (does he or doesn’t h...

May 26, 8AM

To escape the mindless speculations of those on EarthHumans have been hoping to find neighbors in the Cosmos for a long time. “Are we alone?” has been a haunting question. Are there other thinking creatures ‘out there’? It was astronomer Frank Dra...

May 19, 9AM

It remains the study of human guesswork about god(s)I was a Bible geek when I was in high school and college, but when I arrived at graduate school, Boston University School of Theology, my study of the Bible moved into higher gear. In my PhD program, am...

May 12, 8AM

There’s some really big sin to slap down One of the bullets that struck Pope John Paul II on 13 May 1981 is now attached to the crown of the Lady of Fátima statute in Portugal. The thirteenth of May, you see, happens to be the Feast Day of the Lady of ...

May 5, 11AM

No, it is not okay to just make stuff upGospels are sacred things. In some churches it is custom for the congregation to stand when the gospel lesson is read. The worshippers are surrounded by stained glass windows that depict the cherished stories found ...

April 28, 9AM

…is what goes on OUTSIDE the patient’s headThe Bible is revelation, so we’re told. The word of God, the mind of God, can be discovered in its pages. Holy men of old—tuned in to God—put pen to paper (well, whatever they used at the time) and crea...

April 21, 11AM

One big chunk of the New Testament can go in the trash The authority of the papacy took a major hit in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. Those who broke away from Rome, however, failed to free themselves from a tiresome superstition that plagues us ...

April 14, 10AM

Many Voices of Reason Are on RecordChristianity has two thousand years of momentum. It has prestige, the weight of tradition, people well placed in power, a far-flung empire of churches and cathedrals—and millions of paid propagandists, e.g., ministers...

April 7, 9AM

An old tradition of selling a product you don’t have I grew up on the northern Indiana prairie in the 1950s, in a small town where there might as well have been a wall between the Catholics and Protestants; people got along, of course, but we were so a...

March 31, 1PM

There’s a long list of ‘coulda-shoulda’ divine interventions Based on prayer activity alone, we can assume that Christians believe God meddles regularly in human affairs—otherwise, why would they pray so much? Even on Facebook, devout folks muste...

March 24, 9AM

When you don’t bother to have your work checked…Read more »

March 17, 7AM

The payoff, of course, is that we don’tWhen believers set out to defend the faith, they commonly find themselves entangled in Christianity’s multiple, messy contradictions. When backed into a corner, we may hear—with sighs of exasperation— “Well...

March 10, 11AM

Theologians boldly rise to the occasion What to do when God has favored you with new revelation? I don’t mean just a casual vision or two—but with a Cosmos-shattering revelation update: You have been given the word that God has revised a whole salvat...

March 3, 9AM

Religion wins if we can’t teach our brains Good ThinkingIn the musical My Fair Lady, lyricist Alan Jay Lerner punctured misogyny by showing it in full foolishness. Professor Henry Higgins is the ultimate “confirmed old bachelor” who is distressed by...

February 24, 9AM

For Paul, sin was a disease of the soul...he was sure he knew the cure Read more »

February 17, 10AM

No. But it does far more harm than good Read more »

February 10, 9AM

But the apostle Paul noticed a few… Read more »

February 2, 8AM

…when you can’t agree with each other? The Hoosier Methodism in which I was raised favored sentimental hymns, including this cherished gem written by John Oxenham’s in 1908, “In Christ there is no east or west, in him no south or north, but one g...

January 26, 5PM

…But It’s a ContenderIt would be such a relief—such a gift to the cause of compassionate religion—if Christians (especially of the paid-apologist variety, e.g., theologians, priests, ministers) could get over Paul’s Letter to the Romans. In my p...

January 19, 10AM

No. But there are many ties that bind…. Read more »

January 12, 6PM

Com’on, Your Holiness, You Sound Like a C – Student at a Second-Rate Bible College In August 2016 an earthquake struck central Italy, killing 297 people and injuring more than 300. I’m sure at least some believers—especially those wandering in the...

January 6, 8AM

Hint: John 3:16 Is Pretty BadRead more »

December 23 2016, 1PM

God Shows Up LateBelievers get whiney and petulant when we delete God from “in the beginning,” so, for the sake of argument, let’s wipe their tears and soothe their troubled spirits by granting that a god must have launched the Cosmos—pending the ...

December 9, 11AM

Theology-Soaked Fiction Read more »

December 1, 4PM

Maybe Our Brains Are too Puny? Read more »

November 20, 3PM

Theodicy, AKA The Litany of Excuses Read more »

November 13, 10AM

“I’ve Started to Feel Distinctly Nauseous”Read more »

November 3, 10AM

The Supreme Procrastinator Read more »

October 27, 10AM

The faithful admit it: They are there on Sunday morning to worship God. A friend of mine once defined himself and his status as a believer. “I am a worshipper,” he said. Why would that be important or appropriate?Schools are for learning, offices are ...

October 21, 7PM

Jesus Got It Wrong, Really Wrong Read more »

October 14, 8PM

Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Toxic Brew of Bad Theology Read more »

October 6, 10AM

One of the best verses in the Old Testament is Psalm 145:8: “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love”—lot’s of potential for decent religion here. In this verse, “the Lord” is actually a translation of ...

October 3, 5AM

It was about 1970, when I was a graduate student at Boston University School of Theology, that I wrote an essay titled On the Improbability of God. This was not part of any class assignment; I just wanted to get some of thoughts down on paper—and I show...

October 1, 10AM

I suspect that many of us–well, those of us of a certain age–have an image of Billy Graham etched in our minds: the patriarch of TV evangelism standing in the pulpit and holding the Bible aloft as the very Word of God. However, few of those in Billy...

September 29, 6AM

“What do you think about the upheaval in Jesus studies?”THIS IS THE QUESTION I WOULD so much like to pose to my Christian friends—to be met, I am sure, in most instances–with blank stares. “What upheaval?” Because they are not paying attention...

September 26, 4AM

An Evil Maker?Those who insist that there must have been a creator don’t get to arbitrarily decide the nature of the creator, based on cherished theological traditions. It just cannot be that the problematic god of the Bible is the only candidate for Th...

September 25, 8AM

September 22, 6AM

Theology Smothers History [by Dr. David Madison, a new team member here at DC.]When I turn to the gospel of John, I always think of a famous insult that grew out of the bitter feud between Mary McCarthy and Lillian Hellmann, which probably has never been...