Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

Patrick H
Gormley


FOUNDATION OF SAND
WHY THE APOSTLES TESTIMONY TO CHRIST IS NO GOOD
 
The Christian Church says that the twelve apostles who allegedly lived to spread the message of the saving life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ were reliable for the New Testament documents show it and because they died as martyrs for their faith and people donít suffer and die for lies. Belief in the resurrection is really belief in the testimony of the apostles more than in belief in the resurrection and curiously Jesus said that faith in men was bad and faith in himself and God was good! The Churchís argument is silly for a whole variety of reasons which we intend to explore. The apostles were sent out as witnesses to Jesus if they are not reliable or convincing then Jesus was a fake for having appointed witnesses who were unacceptable. He appointed false apostles and exposed himself as a failure.  Given that the average age a man lived to in those days was 30 to 35 it does not sound very likely that many of the apostles lived long enough to be martyred.  They travelled and had to face plague and war so it is reasonable to assume they did not live long.
 
WHY DID THE APOSTLES DIE?
 
We know that when Christians say that the apostles perished for their faith in Jesus they obviously believe that the apostles dying for Jesus indicates that they knew that Jesus existed and had met him. To say their deaths prove they believed that Jesus rose from the dead is indirectly to say they believed that there really had been a Jesus unless you accept the view that there was no indication that there ever was a Jesus until apparitions of him risen started to happen. There is every reason to believe that the existence of Jesus rests on visions meaning that even if the apostles did die for their faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead they still give us no reason or right to believe in a historical Jesus. We can prove that there is no reason to even consider the argument that Jesus rose for the apostles died for saying they saw him rise for the argument is based on lies and distortions.
 
If we cannot prove that the apostles must have died for their faith then there is no point in believing in Christianity. You need very strong evidence to be justified in agreeing with people that a man came back from the dead.
 
A early minister in Rome, Clement, author of the First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, declared in 96AD or possibly before 70 AD that it was apostolic doctrine that Jesus was sent by God and Jesus commissioned the apostles to preach his gospel and his resurrection (chapter 42) meaning that any gospel or writing that is not from the pen of an apostle is dangerous and best ignored. It is clear that the apostolic witness for Clement was valuable but did not back up the four gospels which are anonymous and two of which are not of apostolic origin but condemned any attempt by a non-apostle to write any. Some will object that Clement later said there would be accredited bishops and deacons but the Church never claimed infallibility for bishops and deacons. They were necessary as helps to the apostles and to preserve their heritage but infallibility could only belong to the apostles and anything they directly wrote.
 
The apostles of Jesus were his official witnesses, the ones who said that they had the right from him to determine without error, thanks to the protection of the Holy Spirit, what should be believed about Christ a privilege that didnít exist for anybody else. Perhaps one of the most superficially powerful arguments for the Christian story being true is that the apostles, all except John, were executed for their faith in Jesus and in his power to save and in his resurrection. The Christians cannot get it into their heads that maybe the apostles did say Jesus rose and were so contradictory that it was left to the gospellers to sort the mess out so it follows that we should forget about the apostles and see if the four gospellers were martyred for standing by what they wrote Ė after all when you say you believe in the apostles it is really the gospellers you believe in and no more. There is no evidence that any of the four gospellers was martyred or was really an apostle or knew the apostles well or was authorised by them. Christians present evidence that John the apostle wrote John and Matthew the apostle wrote Matthew but the evidence is weak and ambiguous and if they really wrote them they would not have been anonymous leaving it to people in the second century to guess who wrote them. Christians habitually present evidence for things that have nothing to do with what they want to prove at all and this is the secret of Christianityís success apart from the fact that the Roman Empire realised that uniting the Empire in one religious cult was politically preferable and gave the Christian deception support to the exclusion of any other religious deception.
 
But anyway the Christian argument about the apostles being martyrs so Christianity is true for people donít die for lies is weak and anti-intellectual. The argument for the martyrdom is the main evidence for the resurrection that has made converts to Christianity for years. Accordingly, it follows that when God inspires a Christian to believe in accordance with the Bible principle that faith is a revelation from God (as the apostles said), it inspires the Christian to believe because of an inexcusable error meaning God is a liar. A martyr has to have a choice between saying Jesus was a fraud and death and choose death to be a true martyr and there is no evidence that any apostle died like that.
 
The principal failure is that before you can say the apostlesí martyrdom proved their veracity when they testified to the risen Jesus, is that you have to prove that they had enough knowledge of themselves and of the mind to be sure that their visions were real. Had they had incoherent visions they would have worked out a story to be held in common that reconciled anything that could be reconciled and focused on that for the people donít want to listen to gibberish. They would have met together and voted on what experiences were to be considered real and which ones were delusions or tricks from Satan. That way agreement could have been reached. They believed like the Catholic Church of today that the Spirit guided their voting. That was how they chose Matthias to replace Judas the as an apostle after Judas died. The proof that the apostles were careful or competent in assessing their experiences and knew how to is not there. The Bible says that David and Solomon were prophets of God and departed from the faith as did Jesusí apostle Judas. All these threw everything away and invited terrible punishments for going against God and yet the Church expects us to be sure that the apostles died for their loyalty to Jesus. If prophets can go astray knowing how bad it will be for them why canít apostles be martyred for lies? David and Solomon were given more importance in the Bible than the apostles which makes it worse.

The book of Acts infers that the leading apostles enjoyed suffering and risking their lives. They could have left Jerusalem and run the Church from afar when it got dangerous but they didnít. They were masochists and they got a perverted sexual thrill out of their activities. For example, when Paul got beaten and jailed for casting a demon out it is clear that all he had to do was cast it out discreetly and not attract unwanted attention so he liked what he got.
 
The apostles also followed a domineering individual, Jesus, who taught with authority unlike the scribes and Pharisees (Mark 1:22) meaning that he gave them no reasons for heeding his moral and theological directions but just expected obedience. Even God has no right to do that so the apostles were fanatics who delighted in getting people to obey their idol. Such men are hardly acceptable as martyrs. They also followed a man who committed suicide by walking into the hands of the Jews, again Jesus. Also, it was always principally the cross and the teaching of Jesus that opposed corruptions in the Jewish religion that brought persecution on the early Church (Galatians 6:12). If anybody died there is no evidence that they died for facts but for interpretations, interpretations of the cross and of the alleged doctrine of Jesus. The Jewish Christians who Paul condemned for standing by traditional Judaism just to avoid persecution prove that there was no persecution for saying that Jesus rose from the dead. Nobody cared.

The reason the early Christians provoked the hostility of the Romans was because Christianity slandered every other religion as being of the Devil. Their aim was to replace all other religions which roused the wrath of Rome (page 47, A Concise History of the Catholic Church). The Romans never tolerated intolerant religion for peaceable religions meant less trouble and division in the Empire. If the apostles were martyred it was not for their faith in Jesusí resurrection but for their intolerance in the sense that they believed that anybody who did not believe in the resurrection and the rest of the faith was a hindrance to God and would not be saved. The Christian reply: ďBut they must have been very sure of the resurrection when they were so sure that it was necessary to be intolerant about itĒ. But intolerant people are usually unsure of themselves which is why they are so vicious and good at lying to themselves and stubborn. The apostlesí belief and feeling was that intolerance was certainly right and this was what they were trying to support more than anything else. That is what all martyrs, Catholic, Mormon or Muslim, die for principally and that is why their deaths do not give evidence that their beliefs were true only that they thought they were true. There was no difference between them and the apostles. The Romans didnít mind what the apostles believed as long as it was kept within the law. Intolerance is hardly a virtue that entitles them to be looked up to as martyrs.

Even if Paul had been martyred by blood he was not a good witness for there is absolutely no evidence that he was a true apostle. We have no psychiatric reports on his visions or proof that the apostles fully accepted him. He was not present when the tomb was found empty and he did not see visions with the rest. His vision is dubious for it happened when Jesus had returned to Heaven implying the visions were over and when Jesus said he would have only twelve apostles in imitation of Jacob who had twelve sons with which to set up the chosen people of Israel. Paul thought he was the thirteenth. It was only his word for it which the apostles would have been disgusted by for they followed the Law in saying that there had to be at least two witnesses. Even Acts fails to paper over the hostility between him and the others. Galatians hints that Peter and Paul had two separate Churches or rival religions. If the apostles expected a new apostle to come what did they elect Matthias to replace Judas for to maintain the number twelve?
 
If the apostles being martyred is such a great proof for the resurrection and for Jesusí existence then the early Church must have been gullible for it believed before these men were sent off to the next world. Strange that the Jehovahís Witnesses who were martyred under Hitler in World War 2 over a Bible interpretation that none of the other Churches agreed with and which was plainly wrong and which was something they were familiar with and which they claimed to see in their Bible which they read very frequently are still insulted as heretics and fanatics. It is thought by Christians that their testimony in blood is unworthy of consideration as is the faith they died for. And this even though most of the Witnesses were as normal as anybody else and the apostles who we know less about are heroes and revered martyrs! The apostles are allegedly martyred and it proves them right while the Jehovahís had something more concrete than visions and who died in greater numbers are wrong in the eyes of the Church. But if the martyrdom of the Jehovahís does not make them right then the martyrdom of the apostles means very little for it means a lot less then theirs. We again see the nasty and self-centred double standards that are rife in Christian apologetics.
 
To argue the apostles were telling the truth because they were martyred is to try and trick people because it is obvious that they might have been fooled themselves and we have no real evidence that they died for belief in a Jesus who physically not spiritually rose from the dead so even if they died for Christianity we donít have any hard evidence for what Christianity this was. The gospels only say the body was missing and that Jesus was raised but they never actually state that the body was resurrected for they donít know. Apostles dying for visions would mean nothing for visions are easy to explain and are commonplace. Jesus himself said that the resurrection would be the only proof for even fakes could do real miracles for presumably only God could have power over life and death.

How a religion that teaches that the wages of sin is death and says the world brings death on itself for it prefers to sin than to follow God despite the cost, can hold that martyrdom can be a sign of sanity and sincerity is a mystery. If we are so anti-God and pro-self it is more likely that when we appear to die as martyrs the real reason is to do God some injury. The apostles themselves taught what the Church teaches about how man hates God from conception so that tell us what to make of them!

The doctrine that those who do not believe in Jesus will rot in Hell forever was in the Christian religion from the start. This was a more frightening doctrine then than now for in those days life was short indeed and evidence that God ways were too seemingly mean to bear was there every time you opened your eyes so there was great pressure put on people to join the faith and to stay in it and maybe even die for it. The martyrs were not true martyrs when they had so much unbearable pressure to prejudice their minds against any contrary evidence for Jesus and his revelations and to compel them to die for him. For their martyrdoms to stand as evidence for anything about Jesus we have to be sure they went to their deaths freely and without mental disorders and there is no reason to think they did. Strange that the Church argues that a person can go to everlasting punishing for sin for he or she chooses this fate by sinning and then says that the apostles would not suffer for a lie or die for it! Christian apologetics are all incoherence and outright lies. The Bible doctrine that man on his own can do nothing without sin and that only by the help of God can man do good and that most people deserve to rot in Hell forever and indeed will would have terrified people into believing in Jesus even if the only evidence for his existence was a few dubious ghost stories for they were so desperate for a saviour. It would be natural for people to believe upon hearing the dreadful gospel that their only hope was for somebody like Jesus to obey Godís law in their place so that they could escape their fiery fate for there was nobody else on offer and the first person who allegedly knew how to save would be the one who counts. No other fictitious god would have had the incredible and supremely effective psychological impetus and attraction that Jesus had so he is more likely to have been a fiction than them.

It is worth remembering that the testimonies about these great witnesses who spilled their blood in death for their faith come from the book of Acts and The History of the Church by dubious Eusebius. The Book of Acts seems to have a relatively small number in mind unlike Eusebius who inflated the persecutions as best he could. Now what did the latter know? And the first did not claim to be an eyewitness and neither did the second. And the Law of Moses has God saying that two independent eyewitnesses alone can entitle a story to be believed. God would not like the reliance of Christian apologists on flimsy testimony.

Pity the Christians always forget to bring our attention to Tertullianís statement from 197 AD that Christians were never given the chance to speak in their defence when they were on trial for their freedom and lives (page 7, Documents of the Christian Church). They were put to death just for getting caught not for having the truth. They were not martyrs when they could not speak for Christ and bring their deaths on themselves as the alternative to abjuring him or any part of his doctrine.

The early Christians did not focus on the miracles of Jesus when trying to show that their religion was plausible or true. These miracles played only a small and infrequent part in such discussions (page 70, The Early Church). What they concentrated on was the alleged prophecies of Jesus in the Old Testament which they said he fulfilled and secondarily the rapid spread of the faith (page 70, ibid). The Christians used excerpts of the prophecies in their missionary work and they tended to alter the wording to make it fit Jesus even better and at the time of Justin Martyr in the mid-second century this deception was so successful that he felt the need to argue that the Christian corruptions of the prophecies were authentic and that it was the Jews who were corrupting (page 102, ibid) thus accusing the scriptures Jesus himself accepted of inauthenticity. This tells us that the early Christians were converted not by the resurrection of Jesus but by his alleged fitting into the mould for the Messiah that was supposedly spelled out by God when he spoke through the Hebrew prophets. That means they principally died for an idea that was wrong. They believed in Jesus for the wrong reason. Their martyrdoms do not prove anything about the supernatural origin of the Christian faith or the existence of the Nazarene. 
 
Paul taught the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus as the heart of the Christian gospel and the truths on which all the Christian doctrines depend. Paul taught in scripture in Galatians 1 that even if he and the apostles and angels from Heaven changed the gospel in any way they were to be treated as anathema or accursed (shunned) plainly admitting that he was more concerned about dogma than anything and even God wasnít allowed to contradict him! For Paul the resurrection was not important but believing in it was! Is he and the other apostles who tolerated this nonsense really worth believing when they said Jesus rose?

 

TRADITION

 

The Clementine Homilies which allege that Peter and Paul were not co-workers though the New Testament says they were. We have proof that Christians are cherry-picking what they want to believe when it comes to making the apostles out to be reliable witnesses of Christ. 

 

In chapter 17, we have Peter accusing Paul of having only one brief vision that was no good on any level.

 

Here it is, with Peter speaking to Paul who is called Simon Magus to get the writing past Church censors:

 

If, then, our Jesus appeared to you in a vision, made Himself known to you, and spoke to you, it was as one who is enraged with an adversary; and this is the reason why it was through visions and dreams, or through revelations that were from without, that He spoke to you. But can any one be rendered fit for instruction through apparitions? And if you will say, 'It is possible,' then I ask, 'Why did our teacher abide and discourse a whole year to those who were awake?' And how are we to believe your word, when you tell us that He appeared to you? And how did He appear to you, when you entertain opinions contrary to His teaching? But if you were seen and taught by Him, and became His apostle for a single hour, proclaim His utterances, interpret His sayings, love His apostles, contend not with me who companied with Him. For in direct opposition to me, who am a firm rock, the foundation of the Church, you now stand. If you were not opposed to me, you would not accuse me, and revile the truth proclaimed by me, in order that I may not be believed when I state what I myself have heard with my own ears from the Lord, as if I were evidently a person that was condemned and in bad repute. But if you say that I am condemned, you bring an accusation against God, who revealed the Christ to me, and you inveigh against Him who pronounced me blessed on account of the revelation. But if, indeed, you really wish to work in the cause of truth, learn first of all from us what we have learned from Him, and, becoming a disciple of the truth, become a fellow-worker with us. When Simon heard this, he said: "Far be it from me to become his or your disciple. For I am not ignorant of what I ought to know; but the inquiries which I made as a learner were made that I may see if you can prove that actual sight is more distinct than apparition. But you spoke according to your own pleasure; you did not prove. And now, tomorrow I shall come to your opinions in regard to God, whom you affirmed to be the framer of the world; and in my discussion with you, I shall show that he is not the highest, nor good, and that your teacher made the same statements as I now do; and I shall prove that you have not understood him." On saying this he went away, not wishing to listen to what might be said to the propositions which he had laid down.
 
CONCLUSION

We know too little about the apostles. We have no right to say they were honest men for men we know more about and trust have been found dishonest.  You cannot glean sincerity from what somebody wrote.  You need a face to face assessment.   We donít know enough about the apostles and the martyrdom stories are unreliable and can be refuted. Accordingly, we cannot say their visions of Jesus raised from the dead really took place on the basis that they died for them.  
 
WORKS CONSULTED

A Concise History of the Catholic Church, Thomas Bokenkotter, Image Books, New York, 1979
Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible, John W Haley, Whitaker House, Pennsylvania, undated
Asking them Questions, Various, Oxford University Press, London, 1936
Belief and Make-Believe, GA Wells, Open Court, La Salle, Illinois, 1991
Concise Guide to Todayís Religions, Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, Scripture Press, Bucks, 1983
Conspiracies and the Cross, Timothy Paul Jones, Front Line, A Strang Company, Florida, 2008
Did Jesus Exist? GA Wells, Pemberton, London, 1988
Did Jesus Exist? John Redford, Catholic Truth Society, London, 1986
Documents of the Christian Church, edited by Henry Bettenson, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1979
Early Christian Writings, Maxwell Staniforth Editor, Penguin, London, 1988
Encyclopaedia of Heresies and Heretics, Leonard George, Robson Books, London, 1995
Encyclopaedia of Unbelief, Volume 1, Ed Gordon Stein, (Ed) Prometheus Books, New York, 1985
Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Vol 1, Josh McDowell, Alpha, Scripture Press Foundation, Bucks, 1995
Handbook to the Controversy With Rome, Volume 1, Karl Von Hase, The Religious Tract Society, London, 1906
He Walked Among Us, Josh McDowell and Bill Wilson, Alpha Cumbria, 2000
In Defence of the Faith, Dave Hunt, Harvest House, Eugene, Oregon, 1996
Introduction to the New Testament, Roderick A F MacKenzie, SJ, Liturgical Press, Minnesota, 1965
Jesus, AN Wilson, Flamingo, London, 1993
Jesus and the Goddess, The Secret Teachings of the Original Christians, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, Thorsons, London, 2001
Jesus Ė God the Son or Son of God? Fred Pearce Christadelphian Publishing Office, Birmingham, undated
Jesus Ė One Hundred Years Before Christ, Professor Alvar Ellegard Century, London, 1999
Jesus and Early Christianity in the Gospels, Daniel J Grolin, George Ronald, Oxford, 2002
Jesus and the Four Gospels, John Drane, Lion, Herts, 1984
Jesus Hypotheses, V Messori, St Paul Publications, Slough, 1977
Jesus Lived in India by Holger Kersten, Element, Dorset, 1994
Jesus, Qumran and the Vatican, Otto Betz and Rainer Riesner, SCM Press Ltd, London, 1994
Jesus the Evidence, Ian Wilson, Pan, London, 1985
Jesus the Magician, Morton Smith, Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1978
Jesus under Fire, Edited by Michael F Wilkins and JP Moreland, Zondervan Publishing House, Michigan, 1995
Lectures and Replies, Thomas Carr, Archbishop of Melbourne, Melbourne, 1907
Letís Weigh the Evidence, Barry Burton, Chick Publications, Chino, CA, 1983
Miracles in Dispute, Ernst and Marie-Luise Keller, SCM Press Ltd, London, 1969
Nag Hammadi Library, Ed James M Robinson HarperCollins New York 1990
On the True Doctrine, Celsus, Translated by R Joseph Hoffmann, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1987
Putting Away Childish Things, Uta Ranke-Heinemann, HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1994
Runaway World, Michael Green, IVP, London, 1974
St Peter and Rome, JBS, Irish Church Missions, Dublin, undated
Saint Saul, Donald Harman Akenson, Oxford University Press, New York, 2000
The Bible Fact or Fantasy, John Drane, Lion, Oxford, 1989
The Bible Unearthed, Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, Touchstone Books, New York, 2002.
The Call to Heresy, Robert Van Weyer, Lamp Books, London, 1989
The Case For Christ, Lee Strobel, HarperCollins and Zondervan, Michigan, 1998
The Case for Jesus the Messiah, John Ankerberg Harvest House, Eugene, Oregon, 1989
The Early Church, Henry Chadwick, Pelican, Middlesex, 1967
The Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics, Leonard George, Robson Books, London, 1995
The First Christian, Karen Armstrong, Pan, London, 1983
The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels, Penguin, London, 1990
The Gnostic Paul, Elaine Pagels, Fortress Press, Philadelphia, 1975
The History of Christianity, Lion, Herts 1982
The History of the Church, Eusebius, Penguin, London, 1989
The House of the Messiah, Ahmed Osman, Grafton, London, 1993
The Jesus Event and Our Response, Martin R Tripole SJ, Alba House, New York, 1980
The Jesus Hoax, Phyllis Graham, Leslie Frewin, London, 1974
The Jesus Inquest, Charles Foster, Monarch Books, Oxford, 2006
The Jesus Mysteries, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, Thorsons, London, 1999
The MythMaker, St Paul and the Invention of Christianity, Hyam Maccoby, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London, 1986
The Reconstruction of Belief, Charles Gore DD, John Murray, London, 1930
The Search for the Twelve Apostles, William Steuart McBirnie, Tyndale House, 1997
The Secret Gospel Morton Smith Aquarian Press, Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1985
The Truth of Christianity, WH Turton, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co Ltd, London, 1905
The Unauthorised Version, Robin Lane Fox, Penguin, Middlesex, 1992
The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus, Raymond E Brown, Paulist Press, New York, 1973
Theodore Parkerís Discourses, Theodore Parker, Longmans, Green, Reader and Dyer, London, 1876
Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Kittel Gerhard and Friedrich Gerhard, Eerdmanís Publishing Co, Grand Rapids, MI, 1976
Those Incredible Christians, Hugh Schonfield, Hutchinson, London, 1968
Who Was Jesus? A Conspiracy in Jerusalem, by Kamal Salabi, I.B. Taurus and Co Ltd., London, 1992
Who Was Jesus? NT Wright, SPCK, London, 1993
Why I Believe Jesus Lived, C G Colly Caldwell, Guardian of Truth, Kentucky
 
The WWW

Who is GA Wells? Rev Dr Gregory S. Neal
www.errantskeptics.org/G_A_Wells.htm

The Silent Jesus
www.askwhy.co.uk/awcnotes/cn4/0325SilentJesus.html#Justin

Apollonius the Nazarene, The Historical Apollonius versus the Historical Jesus
www.apollonius.net/bernard1e.html

Why Did the Apostles Die? Dave Matson,
 www.infidels.org/library/magazines/tsr/1997/4Why97.html
 
The ďHistoricalĒ Jesus by Acharya S
www.truthbeknown.com/historicaljc.htm

How Did the Apostles Die?
www.infidels.org/library/magazines/tsr/1997/4/4front97.html

Historyís Troubling Silence About Jesus, Lee Salisbury
www.secweb.org/asset.asp?AssetID=102

Steven Carr discusses the Christian and apostolic martyrs
www.bowness.demon.co.uk/martyrs.htm
www.bowness.demon.co.uk/martyrs2.htm

Challenging the Verdict
A Cross-Examination of Lee Strobelís The Case for Christ
http://human.st/jesuspuzzle/CTVExcerptsOne.htm
http://human.st/jesuspuzzle/CTVExcerptsTwo.htm
http://human.st/jesuspuzzle/CTVExcerptsThree.htm#Twelve

The Martyrdoms of Peter and Paul, Peter Kirby
http://home.earthlink.net/~kirby/

The Martyrdoms: A Response, Peter Kirby
www.bowness.demon.co.uk/martyrs3.htm

BIBLE VERSION USED
 
The Amplified Bible
The King James Version