Gospel Disproof #30: Tim Tebow

I wasn’t going to do another Gospel Disproof today, but I saw Ed Brayton’s post on how Worldnetdaily is now hawking “Tebow trash” (or as I prefer to call it, “Teboloney”), and it struck me that Tebow is a great Gospel Disproof.

See, here’s the thing. Tim Tebow is obviously a big fan of Jesus. He talks about Jesus a lot, he has a history of putting Bible verses on his face, and he shows up in church every Sunday. Jesus, meanwhile, is supposed to love Tebow even more than Tebow loves God, yet Jesus hasn’t once shown up to watch his favorite quarterback play, or to root for the Broncos.

Now, I’m an imperfect dad. I love my kids enough to die for them if need be, just like God is supposed to love us. But I even love my kids enough to show up for the important events in their lives. When one of them is performing in a concert or a theatre production, I’m in the audience. I watch and listen and applaud and go up to congratulate them when it’s over. And I’m an imperfect dad. God’s supposed to be perfect, but He doesn’t show up for His kids’ big events. Not even for Tim Tebow.

You can make excuses for God; kids and spouses of absentee dads are good at that sort of thing I guess. But isn’t it more likely that God consistently fails to show up because He does not, in fact, exist outside of the imaginations of believers?

Gospel Disproof #29: Negotiable guilt

One sure sign of the Gospel’s human and imperfect origins is its morality, and specifically its notion of negotiable guilt. By negotiable I don’t mean “we can work out a deal,” I mean negotiable in the financial sense of a deferred payment that exists independently of the bearer and that can be transferred from one bearer to another. Normally, guilt belongs to the person who is guilty. If you murder someone, the fact that you committed the murder is part of your history, and you can’t change that or make someone else the murderer. Christian morality, however, not only allows you to do that, but makes this sort of transfer the whole point of the Gospel.

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An odd little myth

The “historical Jesus” post is still collecting comments, so I suppose there might still be enough interest to justify bringing up the topic again. I’m still not convinced that Jesus never existed, and I’ve thought of an example which seems to suggest to me that some preacher by that name probably did exist. It’s found in Matthew 22:23-33. The most interesting bits are these:

That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question…

Jesus replied, “…But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.

I’d heard this story for years before I realized what an odd little story it really is. Here is Jesus, trying to find some Mosaic reference to resurrection, and the best he can come up with is an argument that God stops being your God when you die? That’s a bizarre thing for a Christian to teach, let alone ascribing such an idea to Jesus himself. As a myth invented decades or centuries later, in an attempt to promote a mythical Messiah in a growing Christian culture, it seems pretty unlikely to me. There’s an alternative, though, that makes a lot more sense.

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Gospel Disproof #28: Conditional salvation

The Christian Gospel has many flaws that betray its origins as a man-made scheme for manipulating people, and one of the more obvious examples is the idea of conditional salvation. People will work harder for something they might achieve than they will for something that’s either guaranteed or impossible, so psychologically it’s a clever tactic to preach a salvation that’s not an automatic given.

Conditional salvation also appeals to a certain selfish vanity that wants to be able to say, “I’ve got it and you don’t, ha ha ha.” People like to feel that they’re part of some elite, exclusive inner circle with awesome special privileges. Granted, in the case of the Gospel, these special privileges don’t really kick in until after you die, but with typically perverse human psychology, that’s actually an advantage—there’s no risk of you finding out those “special privileges” aren’t all they’re hyped up to be.

What’s good as a gimmick for manipulating people, though, is really bad as a divine plan for Eternity, especially on the part of an actual, almighty, loving Father God. Making salvation conditional means making sure that You are going to fail to save at least some percentage of those You’re supposed to love. What would be the point of that? Offering some kind of universal salvation might make people a bit less motivated to try and earn their salvation, but (a) who cares as long as everyone gets saved? and (b) we’re not supposed to be earning our salvation anyway.

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Back in late 2002, when it was beginning to become obvious that George W. Bush was going to send us into an invasion of Iraq, I made some (unpublished) predictions.

  1. The price of gas would spike, as it always does when there’s turmoil in the Middle East.
  2. The US would get bogged down in Iraq for years rather than the few months that Bush was predicting.
  3. The insurgency would not give up, and would even grow stronger with continued US presence in the country.
  4. The US economy would take a severe hit due to (ongoing) high cost of the war.
  5. No weapons of mass destruction would be found apart from what Hussein got from Reagan in the 80’s.
  6. Republicans would lose the White House in 2008 due to the negative consequences of the war.
  7. A Democrat would be elected President and would eventually get us out of Iraq.
  8. Conservatives would blame the Democratic President for taking too long to get out of Iraq
  9. Once the US was gone, conditions in Iraq would become worse than they were under Hussein, and
  10. Conservatives would blame the Democratic President for getting out of Iraq too soon.

I think I came pretty close on the first eight (though number 6 is something of a false positive, since the sub-prime mortgage crisis did more to turn over the White House than the war did).  And I missed a few predictions that I could have made, like the fact that politicians would take advantage of terrorism to start stripping away our civil rights and constitutional liberties. But overall I’d say things are turning out pretty much as I expected, and I’ll be curious to watch for 9 and 10 to come true too.

What do you think?

Trusting in men

This week’s installment of my On Guard coverage is up. We’re talking about whether there was enough time between the first-century events and the first-century manuscripts for Christianity to have started out as a legend, so some of you might be interested.

The new webcams

The Internet is a great equalizer, and a great way for communities to get together and share ideas and experiences. And in some countries, that’s seen as a bad thing.

Iran is mounting new clampdowns on Internet expression, including rules that will impose layers of surveillance in the country’s popular Internet cafes, as Tehran’s political establishment comes under increasing strains from economic turmoil and threats of more international sanctions.

The government’s attempts to control the Internet include installing cameras in cybercafes, collecting detailed information about users, and tracking their web histories.

If you’re a US citizen and you’re glad we live in a free country instead of in Iran, you’re probably not thinking about ongoing attempts under the so-called PATRIOT Act, to do the same sort of thing less openly. Some of them we’re catching, which is good. But how many are we missing? That’s a “state secret.”


Gospel Disproof #27: The disturbed (and disturbing) lover

I want to talk to the moms and dads out there for a moment, especially those parents who have an unmarried daughter in her late teens. Suppose she comes home one day and says, “Mom, Dad, I need to talk about my boyfriend problems.” There are two guys competing for her affections. One is just an ordinary Joe, not exceptionally bright or strong or handsome, but easy to get along with and genuinely caring—whenever she needs a hand with something, or someone to talk to, or just to hang out with, she knows she can count on him to show up and spend time with her.

The other guy is more, shall we say, attention-getting. He claims to love her with a love that no one else can match, but he has an odd way of showing it. He never shows up to hang out with her, or to help her when she needs it. Instead, he has given her his email address, and he expects her to send him all her requests, which he promises to “take care of” (even though she has no direct evidence that he’s doing so). He claims to be rich, though he frequently asks her for money, and he claims to have huge political influence, though he leaves it up to her to write to various government officials and tell them what he wants, in a way that will win their vote.

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A prescription for gullibility

We’re approaching the point of beating a dead horse with this miracles discussion, but I do have one last point to cover before we move on. Jayman’s primary complaint is this:

Based on multiple surveys and polls, Keener notes that hundreds of millions of people alive today claim that they have witnessed or experienced miraculous healings… If miracles do not occur today, as atheists contend, then they must believe that each and every one of these hundreds of millions of people are either lying or mistaken. A substantial argument needs to be provided to justify such a belief.

Jayman does not believe that we can really know whether or not all these people are really failing to tell the truth, so for today’s post I want to look at why he thinks that and why he’s wrong.

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News from Iowa

Just stopped by the local groceries for some sandwich fixings, and the headline on the local paper reads:

Santorum, Romney On Top

Santorum, and Romney on top. It’s going to take me all damn day to get that mental picture out of my head.