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Most Christians think that atheists are atheists because they've never read the bible. On the contrary, reading the bible is what really confirmed my belief that the bible is nothing more than a bunch of made up stories written by superstitious bronze-age sheepherders. Touted by Christians as being "the word of God," the bible was written by ancient men, every word of which supposedly inspired by God and supposedly 100% true. This is the official source document on which Christians base their faith, so it had better be pretty airtight, shouldn't it?

The main problem I have with the bible is that it's very obvious to anyone who reads the New Testament that Jesus was predicting his second coming and the end of the world within the lifetimes of his listeners. That's right, the second coming which Christians are constantly waiting for (and some claim will happen any day now) was supposed to happen almost 2,000 years ago.

Prophets... there have been many throughout history, and few, if any, have ever really gotten any prophecy right. You would think that Jesus, being the son of God, or in reality God in human form, would be omniscient or at least be able to accurately fortell the future. God supposedly knows everything that will happen in the future, however, Jesus speaking as God never got any of his prophecy correct. So why should I put any belief into this book, the bible, when it plainly states that the end of the world was supposed to happen so long ago, yet never did? I for one don't look to the bible as anything more than an interesting ancient book, not something to base my entire life upon.

Let's take a look as some of these new-testament prophecies.

In Matthew 16, Jesus is speaking to the disciples when at the end he says in verse 28: "Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom."

In Matthew 23, Jesus is talking about the end of the world when he says in verse 36: "Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation."

In Matthew 24, the entire chapter is one long prophecy. It begins with the disciples asking Jesus what signs will foretell the end of the world. Jesus says, among other things, that great famines & pestilences will occur, the sun & moon will be darkened, the stars will fall from heaven, and all nations will see Jesus coming in the clouds. And in verse 34 he says: "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled."

In Matthew 26 Jesus is being questioned by the high preists, and he tells them in verse 64 that "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." He again makes reference to his second coming, returning to earth in the clouds. But he tells the high preists that they will see him returning.

In Mark 9:1, Jesus again states "That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power." This is another reference to his second coming, but it's not clear to whom he is speaking. Regardless, he is saying that he will return in their lifetimes.

Mark 13 is very similar to Matthew 24, and almost a word-for-word retelling. Again, the disciples ask Jesus about the signs fortelling the end of the world, and Jesus states that the sun & moon will be darkened, stars will fall to earth, and many other horrible things will occur. In verse 30, he again states "this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done."

Just like Matthew 26, in Mark 14 Jesus is being questioned by the high priests, and tells them in verse 62 that "ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven."

In Luke 9, Jesus is again speaking to the disciples when in verse 27 he states "But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God." Another reference to the end of the world which didn't occur in the disciples' lifetimes.

Luke 21 is similar to Matthew 24 and Mark 13, in that the disciples ask Jesus what signs will foretell the end of the world. Jesus states that "great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven," not to mention signs in the sun, moon, and stars. There will also be great distress in the nations of the earth. And then in verse 32 he states: "This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled."

Now, this again is supposedly Jesus Christ stating this. I did not include all the references by New Testament authors of books other than the gospels where they claim that the second coming & end of the world is near or "at hand." Instead, I wanted to illustrate that the very person that people have been following & waiting to return for almost 2,000 years predicted his own return & the end of the world within the lifetimes of people who lived on the earth the same time Jesus supposedly did.

Christian apologists will claim that these verses were taken out of context, or there is a different interpretation, etc. For instance, they will usually claim that there are two meanings of the word "generation," claiming that in the bible it means "people who follow Jesus." I don't know how they can really stretch the meaning from "people born within the last 20 years or so" to mean "Christians," but I guess if you're really uncomfortable with the literal meaning, it's easier to make up an alternative translation. However, this "lost in translation" defense of bible passages is a favorite of Christian apologists in order to claim that passages really mean something other than what they mean. It's clear that they do this in order to deal with their cognitive dissonance, or uncomfortable feeling that their faith they've based their lives upon may not be based in reality. However, it's most likely that the literal translation of the passages is the correct meaning.

If Jesus really meant that the second coming & end of the world would happen far off in the future, why didn't he tell the disciples? He could have said something like, "You will be long dead when this happens, but a future generation will have to deal with it." No, it is abundantly clear that Jesus planned to return within the lifetimes of people who knew him. Not only that, the end of the world would occur as well. Since neither the end of the world occurred, nor has anyone ever claimed to see Jesus returning in the clouds in the past 2,000 years, I think it's safe to say that Jesus, if he existed, was a false prophet. Or, more likely, the biblical stories were made up in order to make people of the time of authorship constantly in fear, waiting for the end times to come.
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neilmarr on 09/09/2008 01:31

Many thanks for an excellent read, DT. Like all end-of-the-world cults, of course, Christianity invents many ingenious ways around its failed prophecies.

My favourite is 'The Legend of the Wandering Jew'. In this particular fairy tale, a Jew who was present at the time Christ allegedly made his predictions is condemned to wander the earth, immortal until his saviour's return, so that when Jesus does eventually put in an appearance, it will be (technically) within the generation to which he preached.

This, of course, is merely tradition. But the pseudoscholarship of theology is full of such wild excuses for gaping holes, inaccuracies and contradictions in the bible.

Best wishes. Neil

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