How to evolve a resurrection myth

Since a lot of people are celebrating Easter this weekend, I thought it might be a good time to review how easy it is to end up with a resurrection story in the absence of anything supernatural. This account is a bit different from some of the better-known explanations of the Gospel story, but I think it’s more plausible than at least some of them, and might be the most plausible explanation of all.

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A world(view) without morals

Imagine living in a world where you had absolutely no insight into good and evil, a world where you were completely incapable of seeing anything inherently wrong with assault, torture, rape, mutilation, and murder. Imagine being taught a morality so twisted and perverse that the only way you could be persuaded not to do such things is if you imagined some immensely powerful, magical being threatening to hurt you for a very long time if you did them.

Imagine living in Phil Robertson’s world(view)WARNING: Graphic rape/torture/murder fantasy, compliments of Christian hero Robertson, at the other end of that link.

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Gender in Genesis

[Edit: The original post used the term “hermaphrodite” in two places, which I have since learned is considered a slur. My apologies.] Via Pharyngula comes word of a couple articles by Ken Ham on the subject of the sanctity of binary gender. The first complains about schools that are trying to teach kids not to let gender stereotypes limit their thinking and their understanding of one another.

Really, what this handout is encouraging teachers to do is to destroy any distinction between male and female. This is a natural outcome of a culture that has rejected the Bible as its foundation for thinking in every area…

This type of thinking has serious consequences. If man is the ultimate authority, then why not just discard gender?

There’s lots of ways we could determine the right answers to questions about gender. We could turn to ethics, and see which attitudes and behaviors do the most good and least harm, for instance. Or we could look at gender scientifically, and see what biology is actually telling us about sexuality and human development. That should be right up Ham’s alley, since he considers God to be the author of biology. Learning from biology ought to be just another way of studying what God has revealed through his creation (to put it in creationist terms).

But no, Ham isn’t interested in answers based on what’s good or on what’s true. He wants answers based on Authority! If the answer to “Why?” ain’t, “Because I said so!”, it ain’t the answer he’s looking for. The phrase he’s looking for is, “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” But can he really say that?

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Exceptionally foolish

Liberals often like to make fun of the conservative doctrine of American “exceptionalism” (and rightly so, for a lot of reasons). There’s a sense, though, in which conservatives are somewhat perversely right: America is exceptional, or at least unusual, among its first world peers. We, perhaps more than any other nation, treasure ignorance and bull-headed foolishness as something to be proud of and as our secret strategy for success. And it’s not just recent history and the rise of Fox News either.

I blame Martin Luther.

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Your memes are trying to tell you something

I saw a couple interesting memes on Facebook recently. One was a guy saying something to the effect of “Complaining that God is silent when you don’t read your Bible is like complaining you don’t get text messages when you turn off your phone.” The other was a story about some kid who got shot in the eye, and survived, to which a believer added a caption giving God credit for his survival. Both memes were similar, in that they were inspirational, superficial, and rich in implications that betray the fundamental fraud of the Gospel.

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Graham on the bandwagon

According to an article on christianexaminer.com, Billy Graham’s son Franklin is eagerly jumping on the bandwagon of conservatives denouncing Obama for bringing up church history and reminding us that not all Muslims are terrorists.

Franklin Graham said former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani “has taken a lot of heat” for questioning whether President Obama loves America, and declined to weigh in on whether it was “true or not.” But Graham said what he did know is “the president defends Islam and chastises Christians, rebukes our allies and befriends our enemies, and fully supports gay marriages and abortion but denies the religious freedoms of those who don’t agree.”

Got to love that bit about not passing judgment on whether it’s really true or  not. Who cares about truth when there’s rabble to rouse, eh Frankie?

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Why are lesbian moms so “scary”?

I’ve been thinking about that pediatrician who refused to care for the infant daughter of a lesbian couple, because there’s something a bit odd about it. The Old Testament prescribes the death penalty for two men having sex together, but is almost pointedly silent about two women. The apostle Paul says some rather nasty things about gays in general, including lesbians, but does not recommend any particular actions be taken against them. In fact, Paul is the one that explicitly commands Christians not to judge or condemn those outside the church at all.

Jesus, likewise, was famous for consorting with tax collectors and prostitutes and other “notorious sinners.” And there are many other examples we could find of the Bible recording, condoning, and even praising “saints” who have normal, everyday dealings with “sinners.” So where does this “divine mandate” come from that requires believers to withdraw and shield themselves from any kind of contact with homosexual couples?

I think it comes from fear.

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Suffer the little children…

The Washington Post is reporting the appalling story of a Michigan pediatrician who is refusing to care for a 4-month-old baby girl because her parents are lesbian.

“The first thing Dr. Karam said was, ‘I’ll be your doctor, I’ll be seeing you today because Dr. Roi decided this morning that she prayed on it and she won’t be able to care for Bay,’ ” Jami told WJBK. “Dr. Karam told us she didn’t even come to the office that morning because she didn’t want to see us.”

The doctor later apologized for not coming in to the office that day, but made no apologies for her bigotry.

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Court rejects “right-to-meddle” claim

WTAE News reports that a federal appeals court has rejected lower court rulings that granted Christian organizations a right to meddle in their employees’ personal medical coverage.

A federal appeals court has reversed lower-court victories by two western Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses and a private Christian college that challenged birth control coverage mandates as part of federal health care reforms.

The 3-0 ruling Wednesday by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel found that the reforms place “no substantial burden” on the religious groups and therefore don’t violate their First Amendment right to religious expression.

The organizations in question had argued that their religious convictions required them to deny their employees coverage for birth control or abortions. The law, however, allows them to opt out of the mandate to provide such coverage, in which case someone else would provide it. That didn’t satisfy the Christian organizations, however, because they wanted the power to ensure that nobody could provide their employees with coverage that was inconsistent with the organizations’ religious principles. In essence, they asserted that their religious freedom gave them the right to meddle in their employees’ private, personal medical care. Fortunately, the appeals court didn’t buy it.

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