A Recent Resurrection to Consider this Easter: Reblog of “The Curious Case of Alireza M.”

noose

This Easter, advocates of the traditional Jesus tale might consider a more recent example of “resurrection” that foiled a professional execution in the most startling way. The following was a blog post I originally wrote 18 months ago, though the ending has been appended. We now know how the story really ends.

October 18, 2013

An astonishing news story was posted by CNN this morning, with the following highlights:

Convicted by an Iranian court of possessing a kilogram of crystal meth, the 37-year-old man was sentenced to death by hanging at Bojnurd Prison in northeastern Iran, according to Jam-E-Jam, an official newspaper that offered this wince-inducing account:

On the morning of October 9, Alireza M. was taken from his cell to the gallows, where the judge who had issued the order read his sentence aloud and official papers were signed.

Then, a rope was placed around his neck and he was hanged for 12 minutes, after which his body was lowered and a doctor declared he was dead. The doctor, the judge and the prison head then signed the death certificate, and the body of Alireza M. was taken to a morgue for delivery the following day to his relatives.

But the next day, a worker at the morgue noticed that plastic encasing one of the bodies had steam in front of the mouth.

Consider the tally:

  • Executed by suffocation…
  • By professionals that carry out such executions for a living…
  • Death witnessed by multiple people…
  • Dead body lowered and inspected…
  • Carried away, wrapped, and laid on a flat surface

I can think of one notable case where this sort of thing happened before. [Read more…]

Heaven is for Real: Odometer of Credulity

It is not snobbish to notice the way in which people show their gullibility and their herd instinct, and their wish, or perhaps their need, to be credulous and to be fooled. This is an ancient problem. Credulity may be a form of innocence, and even innocuous in itself, but it provides a standing invitation for the wicked and the clever to exploit their brothers and sisters, and is thus one of humanity’s great vulnerabilities. No honest account of the growth and persistence of religion, or the reception of miracles and revelations, is possible without reference to this stubborn fact.

~ Christopher Hitchens. God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

Heaven is for Real. Sigh. Over the weekend my older two kids and I went to a Barnes and Noble to chat over coffee while looking at books and magazines. While there, I thumbed through and read several sections of this abysmal little pamphlet, for calling it a book would grant it far too much dignity. Not since the Prayer of Jabez have I seen piffle more perfectly suited as a litmus test of human credulity.

Basic Criticisms

Criticisms for the book are easy to discern from directly reading it or perusing critiques on the internet. [Read more…]

YouTube – “Isaiah-Gate” and the Virgin Mary… Minus the Virgin

L'_Annonciation_de_1644,_Philippe_de_ChampaigneIt stands to shame that we Christians are the last to know about our own errors of sacrilege. But as the season of Lent is here, I would petition abstention from one particular sacrilege, the inherited error of believing Jesus was born of a virgin, and that being so conceived would have fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy. Our belief that Isaiah predicted a virgin-born Messiah is simply false, a scandal which heretofore shall be referred to as Isaiah-Gate! And though many books have discussed this, I finally located a succinct 4-minute description in an engaging lecture. And a good thing too, because there are two quite curious points to this dilemma of non-prophecy. First, it is odd that we came to believe the messiah would be born of a virgin, essentially based on a translational boof. Second, it is more interesting still that we should wind up with gospel stories describing the fulfilment of said prophecy, when we now realize that Isaiah said no such thing.

But first things first. Here is the YouTube lecture excerpt, with commentary following.

YouTube: Bart Ehrman

Manifold Greatness of the King James Bible, 4 min., January 2013.

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(NOTE: video is set to play from 45:08 to 49:03. Timings sometimes do not work correctly in IE. Recommend using Firefox)

Recap

[Read more…]

YouTube: Dawkins on Cargo Cults

I first read about the Cargo Cults from Hitchens, then found another such discussion from Dawkins. I was glad to see that the Dawkins chapter has been captured on YouTube with some, albeit not terribly extensive, footage of the believers themselves. Here I will venture only three brief observations:

1. Modern, Western people possess no genetic superiority to these villagers. We are running the same mental “hardware”, so to speak. The only difference is that we are educated and indoctrinated differently.

2. Christianity was started among an initial crop of believers with generally low levels of education and literacy, in a poor and oppressed region. And it was rejected as nonsensical by the educated class of the same region.

3. Arguments made by NT Wright and others that fully-orbed religions such as Christianity require long periods of time to develop are simply mistaken. And like the Cargo Cults, Christianity can be demonstrated as having acquired nearly all of its material from prior myths and cults.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Pew Research and Thoughts on End Times Expectations

To reprise of my prior observations about Harold Camping’s decease and legacy, Pew Research conducted a poll earlier this year that proves relevant. This was originally brought to my attention by John Zande; thanks John.

PF_13_03_22_JesusReturn-02Today a staggering 41% of US citizens (130,000,000 adults) believe that their Middle Eastern god will commence its mass extinction of all creatures in their lifetime. It’s a ghastly figure but it is a number reflected in the multi-billion dollar Christian apocalypse industry that has in just the last twenty years produced 29 End Times films (with such grand titles as “Tribulation” and “Judgement”), 60 documentaries (like “Racing to the End Times”), and some 1,120+ grotesquely warped End Times books, of which the Left Behind series has alone sold over 40 million copies.

~ JZ

For my own commentary, I will simply observe that I have been in two kinds of Christian groups… [Read more…]

The Curious Case of Alireza M… Thoughts on Resurrection and Being “Mostly Dead”

nooseAn astonishing news story was posted by CNN this morning, with the following highlights:

Convicted by an Iranian court of possessing a kilogram of crystal meth, the 37-year-old man was sentenced to death by hanging at Bojnurd Prison in northeastern Iran, according to Jam-E-Jam, an official newspaper that offered this wince-inducing account:

On the morning of October 9, Alireza M. was taken from his cell to the gallows, where the judge who had issued the order read his sentence aloud and official papers were signed.

Then, a rope was placed around his neck and he was hanged for 12 minutes, after which his body was lowered and a doctor declared he was dead. The doctor, the judge and the prison head then signed the death certificate, and the body of Alireza M. was taken to a morgue for delivery the following day to his relatives.

But the next day, a worker at the morgue noticed that plastic encasing one of the bodies had steam in front of the mouth.

Consider the tally:

  • Executed by suffocation…
  • By professionals that carry out such executions for a living…
  • Death witnessed by multiple people…
  • Dead body lowered and inspected…
  • Carried away, wrapped, and laid on a flat surface

I can think of one notable case where this sort of thing happened before. [Read more…]

Quotation: Voltaire on Miracles

Marble. In the collection of the National Gall...The daughters of the high priest Anius changed whatever they chose into wheat, wine or oil.

Athalida, daughter of Mercury, was resuscitated several times.

Aesculapius resuscitated Hippolytus.

Hercules dragged Alcestis back from death.

Heres returned to the world after passing a fortnight in hell.

The parents of Romulus and Remus were a god and a vestal virgin.

The Palladium fell from heaven in the city of Troy.

The hair of Berenice became a constellation.. . .

Give me the name of one people among whom incredible prodigies were not performed, especially when few knew how to read and write.

~ Voltaire, Miracles and Idolatry, cited from Hitchens (2007)

 

Bad Endings

As time passes, I find that my sense of discomfort concerning claims of divine authority from our lecterns and pulpits declines, where it would seem that we affirm as the words of God the mere texts of men. Coming to such a realization at first throbbed a deep dissonance, and to some extent an abhorrence, at the idea that in good faith we were affirming words written contra. The emotion of this sense has ebbed a great deal. As I hear these echoing assertions in the pews with my family, it all seems relatively lighter. The stabs of fear and anger regarding our uttered blasphemies subside; for if our texts were not authored by God, we blaspheme in so saying. But blasphemy is, I suppose, a somewhat imaginary crime. Where it comes to no harm, I suppose our unfounded wish-thinking is harmless.

[Read more…]

Secular Wings

My freedom from spiritual abuse happened when I walked away from the abusers. My healing and recovery from the complex trauma of spiritual abusers, spiritually abusive faith and toxic religion happened while I was still a Christian and continues to this day. My deconversion came later after many many years of studying the Bible, Christian apologetics, cults and spiritual abuse. When I realized that the Bible is not the inerrant Word of God, the only honest thing I could do was to stop calling myself a Christian. ~ Zoe

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