In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and religion, give yourself the benefit of doubt. This is one skeptic's view of the Universe.
"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."
“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.
“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”
The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.
Sam Harris (via whats-out-there)
Ehrman, Bart D.. How Jesus became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee, p.160-161. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2014. Print. (via academicatheism)
The Hebrew Bible, or the Old Testament, is known to modern readers from the Masoretic text, a compilation of Hebrew texts assembled by Jewish scholars in the seventh to tenth centuries A.D. from older scrolls and codices. That text, and thus the Old Testament, contain two creation stories. It is not unusual for cultures to have multiple creation stories, and throughout this booklet the paraphrases have melded two or more variations of a culture’s creation story into one. However, because the two stories in the Old Testament are so different, the two stories are recounted separately here as “Yahweh” and then “The Elohim”.
Yahweh’s creation story is from Genesis 2:4 to 3:24 of the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament. Extensive analysis of its style and content have led scholars of the Bible to conclude that the story was written in about the Tenth Century B.C.. That was around the time of King Solomon’s reign and in a time when Israel was a powerful nation. In contrast, the story in Genesis 1:1 to 2:3 was written three or four centuries later and under very different circumstances.
The author of the story in Genesis 2:4 to 3:24 is known to scholars as “J”. That is because J referred to the creator as Yahweh ( or “YHVH” in ancient Hebrew, or “Jahweh” in the German native to many scholars of the Bible, or ultimately “Jehovah” in modern usage).
Some scholars have considered J the more primitive or rural of the two authors of the creation stories in Genesis. Others are more generous and characterize J as a poet rather than a priest. J was probably recording his or her people’s oral traditions in written form. Certainly J’s story is a more human story of temptation and punishment than the austere story written later by the author known as “P”, and J’s creator is more anthropomorphic.
In J’s story, the humans that are created have names. To English speakers, “Adam” and “Eve” are just names, but “Adam” meant “man” in ancient Hebrew and may also have been a play on “adamah”, the Hebrew word for “earth” or “clay”. “Eve” was the word for “life”.
The Elohim’s creation story, the second of our two Hebrew creation stories, is from Genesis 1:1 to 2:3. It thus appears first in the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Genesis, but it is actually the younger of the two stories presented there. A considerable body of scholarship over the last two or three centuries has concluded that this story was written in about the sixth century B.C.. That was after Israel was conquered by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. and at a time when the Hebrews were faced with exile in Babylon.
The author of this later story is known to scholars as “P”, because he or she wrote from a much more “priestly” perspective than J, the author of the chronologically earlier story that appears in Genesis 2:4 to 3:24 (see “Yahweh”, above). P’s story is one of creation ex nihilo (from nothing), and the creation is a much more stately process than that in J’s story. Because of the timing of its writing and the grandeur of its language, P’s story has been interpreted by scholars “as an origin story created for the benefit of a lost nation in the need of encouragement and affirmation” (Leeming and Leeming 1994, p. 113). In fact, some scholars have suggested that P’s story was actually written in Babylon.
P used the name “Elohim” for the creator. “Elohim” (pronounced “e lo HEEM”) is actually a plural word perhaps best translated as “the powerful ones”. P also used plural phrasing in the Elohim’s creation of humankind “after our own likeness”. Scholars have suggested that the use of the plural “Elohim” rather than the singular “Eloha” may hearken back to polytheistic roots of Middle Eastern religions and was a way to emphasize the magnitude of the deity in question. P’s first people have no names at all, in keeping with the story’s focus on the grandeur of the creator rather than on the created.
Carrier, Richard. On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt, p.10. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Phoenix Press Ltd, 2014. Print. (via academicatheism)