It’s that wonderful time of year again. The time when we celebrate the life of that great giver of gifts.
Children believe in him without question. And it’s no wonder: the story of his goodness and kindness has been passed from generation to generation for centuries now.
How could anyone fail to believe in him? Santa Claus.
Of course to share in the gifts children have to be really good and faithful, otherwise he may not come. Why? Well, because he has a way of finding out. Santa can see everything they do. From his Intelligence Agency high above the North Pole, he can read all of their minds – they won’t be chosen otherwise.
All very similar to another story which has targeted children from generation to generation for centuries. A story of a God with a celestial-spy agency which can read our minds and promise us gifts or threaten us with punishment.
Brain-washed parents have passed on the stories from mad-prophets, who claim exclusive rights to the path to paradise . Innocent children will believe anything they are told.
Now, did I once hear a tale of a tooth-fairy?
Ever wondered how the disciples of Jesus got on after he disappeared? Well just fine; because apparently he had given them special powers – they had the authority, and supposedly the ability, to drive out devils and heal the sick.
And there was a new grace and sense of community in the land. Any that lacked land or possessions or lived in poverty needn’t worry: because those that had, cared for them so much that that they sold off their own possessions and brought the profits to the Apostles to be distributed amongst the needy. The poor had never had it so good – even when the big man was alive.
However, there was a man named Ananias who sold his land so that he could help the needy, but he decided, not unreasonably you would agree, to keep some of his own money for himself, and his wife Sapphira thought likewise. So when he took the profits to the Apostles, he held some back.
But he couldn’t fool Peter; certainly not now that he has been given special powers. Peter deduced that Satan was at work here, and he confronted Ananias. He told him that he had lied, not only to men – but to God. It seems that Ananias was punished for this; because he gave up the ghost and dropped down dead at Peter’s feet. Peter simply ordered some young men who were present to carry the body off and bury it.
Sapphira turned up three hours later; blissfully unaware of the days events, and guess who was waiting for her? Did our good apostle with his special healing powers break the news gently to her? Given the fact the Satan was a suspect in the matter, maybe some sympathy would be show to the newly widowed woman; or maybe not.
Peter demands to know how much they sold their land for, and why they have tempted the Spirit of the Lord. He then cruelly tells her that: the feet of those who buried thy husband are at the door – and shall now carry thee out. She gave up the ghost and dropped down dead at his feet. They carried her out and buried her next to her husband. And great fear came upon the church and all who heard of it. And of course where would religion be without fear to keep the superstitious masses in their place?
So there we have it; either God, or Peter with his license to kill, struck them both down dead, no second chance. Where is the God of forgiveness that Jesus told us of? Doesn’t the church claim that repentance washes away our sins. It seems that old habits die hard for God, he’s back to his old spiteful murderous ways of the old testament; he just loves bloodshed. They were killed for lying to God – a great sin. And here we have Peter; the man who lied about knowing Christ – three times before the cock crowed twice: and here he is dishing out retribution as if he was a bloody saint.
All just another bloody ridiculous story from a ridiculous bloody book of folk-history.
The bible’s New Testament is aptly named, because in it we are introduced to the guy calling himself Jesus. And he describes to us a new God; well the same old one, but now he’s had a makeover. He is no longer the bloodthirsty monster from the old testament, he has been transformed into a gentle loving and forgiving God, who loves all races: yes, even those with foreskins. And by the way says Jesus – he’s my dad.
There is also a new power in the land of the chosen tribe – Romans. We also have a great big new myth to kick it all off.
There were three wise men from the east; they were Magi: followers of Zoroaster, an ancient prophet. The traditional Christian account tells of a simple fairy tale, which is taught at Sunday schools to trusting children and enacted at nativity plays every year. It implies that the wise men having seen the star in the east believed that it prophesied the birth of Jesus, and they followed it with gifts for the infant.
However, according to Matthew’s account, they messed up big style. First they stopped off in Jerusalem to make enquiries; not a good idea. There an evil bastard called King Herod, heard about the prophecy. He called in on the wise men and asked to be kept informed, so that he too could go and worship. When they heard the king they departed and followed their star. They came to the house and saw the infant with his mother and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
And being warned by God in a dream, that they should not return to Herod, they returned home a different route. Then, the angel of the Lord appeared unto Joseph in a dream, telling him to flee with his family to Egypt; for Herod will seek to destroy this child. There sure was a lot of dreaming in those days! And why couldn’t God just send a plague of boils to infest Herod to take his mind of events – just like he did with the Pharaohs: is he getting soft?
Herod, when he saw he had been mocked by the wise men, sent forth, and slew all of the children under two years old, in Bethlehem and the coasts thereof.
Of course this tale is taken from that fabulous book, the bible. You won’t find any reference to this event in any real history books, not even by Josephus, a famous chronicler of the times. Surely massacres of children would be big news stories, even in those fantastic days.
It is notable that it is only Matthew who mentions this mass murder. Mark, Luke and John don’t seem to know anything about it – almost as if it was all in the mind of mad Matthew.
Josephus records for history, the facts that Herod had all the members of the royal family murdered, including his own wife, and their two sons. But he doesn’t record any atrocity of two thousand infants being slain by Herod.
Luke doesn’t report Joseph fleeing to Egypt with his wife and new-born son: he has him going to Jerusalem to show him off.
You must admit God is a bit careless, having his son born into such dangerous conditions, but of course it wasn’t possible that any harm could come to him; if the boy had been killed, he wouldn’t have said – tough shit, but that’s life my boy! Now where can I find myself another teenage virgin to plant my seed?
Just one tall biblical tale among the many.
The Voyager space crafts left Earth thirty nine years ago. Their mission was first to fly past and take images of Jupiter and Saturn: and then boldly go where no craft has gone before. Travelling at speeds of around 38,000 miles per hour they reached the outer reaches of our solar system in 2013. But to finally break free of any faint tug of gravity from our Sun, they will have to pass through the Oort Cloud; a journey taking 40,000 years – so don’t bother putting it in your diary. If there was anyone on board looking back, the Sun would be just another little star twinkling in the darkness: and even then we would only be half way to our nearest neighbour; Proxima Centaura. As you can see, God’s interstellar space is a very lonely place.
And just in case we make contact with any extra-terrestrial life, we have put together a greeting pack in the form of a gold-plated disc: aka, the golden record.
Of course we hope that the aliens are intelligent; hopefully not like the sort to be found at Mos Eisley Cantina, the inter-galactic bar in Star Wars. What would Jabba the Hutt make of the selection of music found on the golden record? Would he appreciate Beethoven’s Fifth? Maybe not, but I can definitely see him jiving along to Chuck Berry’s Johnny B Goode. What about the Wookies? We know that Chewbacca was a fast learner, so I’m sure that any Wookie would recognise at least one of the fifty five languages chosen to represent us.
What if the golden record ends up in the hands of the evil Sith? We wouldn’t want Darth Sidious finding his way here – and what if mad murdering Moses is really one of them in disguise? We need our aliens to be god-fearing and upstanding, we need them to be more like the Jedi. We need to hope that they also have a covenant with our creator. God-damn it, any aliens we make contact with must for our sakes be circumcised. Surely Yoda must be; he’s got to be one of the chosen.
I’ve been browsing through a selection of religious blogs, and many of them make sweeping statements about what Atheists believe: as if we all think with one mind, or have some Atheist text-book to coordinate our thoughts – Atheists believe that we got something out of nothing when the Earth was created, seems a popular one.
Personally I am an Atheist for what I don’t believe – and I don’t believe the mad god described in the bible is up to the job of creation. If the apologists of Intelligent Design actually put forward an intelligent argument about creation and their creator they might just be worthy of debate. But their argument for the basis of their faith is the opposite of intelligent. The absolute foundation story of the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam (they are all sects of the same religion) is the meeting between the man called Moses and the god inside his head. All of the evidence in the old testament points to Moses actually being mentally ill. The Genesis story seems to celebrate the fact that he was a mass murderer on a par with the worst monsters in history. He heard voices and imagined he even heard God talk to him from a burning bush. He claims he saw God when he was all alone with him up in the mountain- but only his back – he didn’t dare try and describe him. He had classic symptoms of Schizophrenia. Intelligent Design can only provide a backward unsophisticated account of creation. No mention of hydrogen or helium providing nuclear fusion to allow the stars to burn and shine: just a simple; let there be light, is the explanation from the men who wrote the bible.
The biblical creation story of Earth and all life on it, is told in less than nine hundred words; this remarkably includes the five words (he made the stars also) which cover the creation of the entire Universe – with it’s zillions of galaxies, stars and planets. And of course for Intelligent Design, less than nine hundred words, is more than enough to express the sum of their knowledge in the matter of existence.
Isn’t it strange that the bible, and any other holy books for that matter, provide us with no enlightenment whatsoever. We have the Moses stories from three and a half thousand years ago, allegedly handed down by God: Master of the Universe. God the cosmic creator – gliding across the galaxies, navigating the nebulae on a magic carpet of the elusive dark matter; tweaking the laws of physics as he goes, making sure that the forces of gravity are neither too weak nor too strong. Continue reading
Was Mary, mother of Jesus a virgin when she conceived? Well, according to the gospels of Matthew and Luke she was: although, very strangely Mark and John seem not to think so; or even more unlikely, they don’t think it important – because they don’t mention the matter at all. Continue reading