Top 5 Weirdest Christian Claims … this week.

God creating the cosmos (Bible moralisée, French, 13th century)

What follows is totally personal and also very subjective. It is also not a list of the Top 5 all-time weirdest claims, nor even the top 5 weirdest this year, or this past month. Instead it is the top 5 weirdest claims that I’ve come across in the past few days.

So yes, there are indeed weirder and far more bizarre claims out there.

Without any further preamble let’s dive in.

Item 1 – Jesus and the fashion Police

Let’s start with this gem …

I’ve seen something like this before. Once, when I was myself deeply immersed within a Pentecostal church, a group of us were invited by another church to come help them with their tent crusade. It was summer, and so as a teen with time on my hands, I went.

What was truly strange about this other church were all the rules they had and that included explicit and detailed instruction on how you dressed. Pinned up on the notice board just inside the entrance was a list of instructions on how both men and women should correctly dress and what they should not wear. This was not just for the tent crusade, but for every day of the year.

So yes, I with my “Pentecostal” hat on at that time found this to be weird. I was not alone. Those of us from our church on this trip, when talking amongst ourselves, all found this to be weird. We were the visitors, it was their church, so we just rolled with it while there.

Even that was honestly not the weirdest example of a dress code that I’ve ever come across. I do once also recall visiting another church with a few friends where attending one of the meetings was almost akin to time travel. As we sat in the back looking around, it was an almost “back to the future” journey to the 1950s. What was strange about it is that this was their outreach meeting. In all their years of doing such outreach we were the first outsiders that had ever bothered to turn up. It was in many ways creepy and so we could not get out of there fast enough.

Item 2 – Faith

This is a very popular Christian idea …

“Faith” itself is a really interesting concept. Take for example the story of doubting Thomas. He is held up as a bad example, as in don’t be like this guy Thomas who demanded “evidence”, instead be like the other guys who were told something and just accepted it uncritically on the basis of no evidence at all.

The net impact is a complete reversal of common sense – gullibility becomes a virtue and doubt is apparently a vice.

How dare you question, how dare you challenge, just believe and blindly follow without thinking or understanding.

It perhaps gives an insight into the mechanics of the psychology that is in play. The human religious experience is in essence at its core an emotional one that bypasses reason. It attracts because it offers a safe haven, and a tribe to belong to. Packaged up is an almost instant group of friends. To question things means the loss of all of that, and so many find themselves ensnared.

This is also a forum that is a very fertile ground for grifters and fraudsters to leverage. Some utilise this religious culture for financial gain, others are simply off on an ego power trip and enjoy being relevant and important.

Can “faith” move mountains?

There are those who sincerely believe and use it to strive to help others, but there are also those who use belief as a means to manipulate large numbers of people.

It exists and thrives because it taps into human psychology.

Item 3 – Fear of Hell deployed as a weapon

Fall in line or else Jesus will burn you forever.

This is of course very blatant in-your-face emotional manipulation.

It is also a description of what is essentially an abusive and very toxic relationship. “I Love you, so Obey me and fall in line or else you will suffer and feel my wrath“.

Having been on the inside I can of course understand that this is not how it is viewed. For many, what the supposed God offers is to be with him for eternity, and so if we reject that then it is not God’s choice that we go to hell, but our choice.

But wait a second, there are a few questions here …

  • What actual credible evidence is there that there is actually a God? … There is none, nothing at all, literally not one jot
  • As for evidence that there is an afterlife or a hell … Nope, same answer.

There are of course lots of claims, but drill down into it all and none of it withstands any critical scrutiny. It is all vague untestable stuff that is good enough for those that are already emotionally invested, so they roll with it. For those that doubt, nope, sorry, but it just does not cut it.

Some will of course quip, “Yes but what about …(insert claim here)?“.

Pick whatever you wish, and you will discover, if you honestly look, that there are rather robust counter arguments.

For example, something mysterious happened, person X died and the clock beside their bed stopped at the moment they died, how do you explain that?

Often we can’t investigate the details, and so we have to trust that what we are being told is true. If indeed we do directly see something like that, then often we humans roll with a supernatural solution. This can happen because we are missing a bit of information. We are unaware that as person X died the doctor trying to revive her accidentally knocked the clock off the bedside table. It got placed back. Nobody remembered that happened, and so we end up with yet another bit of “evidence”.

Don’t let others manipulate you by deploying a fear of something that there is no actual evidence for.

Item 4 – The Christmas Story

It is popular and also deeply embedded into our culture …

We accept what is served up without really thinking about it.

So how do we know what we know?

We have the story of the Birth of Jesus described in both Matthew and Luke, so are they the same?

No, not all all. While both accounts do agree on some basics such as the claim that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and also that he grew up in Nazareth, they differ in every other detail.

In Matthew we discover that Mary and Joseph lived in Bethlehem in their own house.

  • There was no census, no stable, no inn, no shepherds

Matthew has a theme of Jesus reliving parts of Jewish history, and so he has them fleeing to Egypt after the birth, then later returning and settling in Nazareth, a town they had never lived in before.

Luke has quite a different story. Here we find that Mary and Joseph live in Nazareth and needed to travel to  Bethlehem for a census.

Fact Check: The Roman Tax system was based upon  property and ownership of land, there was never any census based upon your ancestry, Roman taxation simply did not operate like that. The tale in Luke is not a factual story.

  • This time we also find no astrologers visiting, and no flight to Egypt

Instead, we discover that Joseph and Mary travel on to Jerusalem right after the birth. Luke has a distinctly different variation of belief. This is a different Jesus, a prophet for everybody, and so when he is presented in the temple, he is declared to be a light for the gentiles. Once done, they head back home to Nazareth

So why are these two accounts so different? Quite clearly both authors needed to contend with the fact that it was common knowledge that Jesus came from Galilee, yet if he was to be the messiah, then he needed to have been born in Bethlehem, the town of Kind David, so they each contrived elaborate, but quite different stories that fitted in with their distinctly different views of who they believed him to be.

Such convolutions also tend to suggest that there was perhaps a real individual, one of the many messiah claimants, and that much was then added to fit with a specific religious agenda. 

I know what comes next and I know how this now plays out. It becomes a cue for some to proceed to comment and perform mental gymnastics to make it all fit. The flaw with all such attempts at harmonisation is that they just do not work for those that read it honestly and openly, but when deeply invested in it all emotionally, then it becomes necessary to accept such dubious explanations as “truth”.

Item 5 – Breast Milk is bad because of sin

I really do not need to tell you this … but basically no.

Seriously, just no.

I would also anticipate that most Christians would agree with me on this.

It is a very well established fact that Breast is indeed best, there is absolutely no disagreement on that from any credible medical source.

Breast milk is not tainted by “sin” or toxins.

Part of the sales pitch of Christianity is that humans are deeply flawed by what is deemed “original sin”, and so we need Jesus to resolve that.

Strip away the religious words and what you are left with is a claim that a talking snake tricked an ancestor into eating some fruit, and because of that we are all flawed and corrupted.

It can lead to utterly bizarre thinking such as the above claim that breast milk is flawed, but Jesus supposedly gave us formula and that is supposedly far batter.

Evidence for any of this being true is exactly zero.

Summary

The number of weird and bizarre claims is almost limitless. Each and every single day people will dream up more and more.

Don’t feel obliged to debunk each and every claim. It is also perhaps not wise to attempt factual rebuttals because what you will encounter is an immunity to that.

Instead, simply ask questions that are designed to nudge people away from emotional responses and more towards starting to think about what they are embracing emotionally as fact.

For example …

  • On a scale of 1 to 100 how confident are you that this is true?
  • Why did you pick that specific rating?
  • “what led you to that conclusion?”
  • “What would change your mind about that?”
  • “Have you always believed that?”

etc…

Your best defence is to nurture critical thinking.

In other words, doubting Thomas was the true hero.

2 thoughts on “Top 5 Weirdest Christian Claims … this week.”

  1. You are correct about the two Christmas myths. The authors of Matthew and Luke both wrote about 80 years after Jesus’ birth. We know the authors were not Matthew the tax collector turned apostle (just Read Matthew 9:9 where the apostle Matthew is mentioned, it is clear it is not the author) or Luke, the travelling companion of Paul. Both authors are unknown, highly educated, wealthy Greek scholars who wrote in Greek and never met Jesus. It is unlikely that either lived in Judah or Israel. Notable differences between the two versions include:
    (i) when Jesus was born – (what we now call) 4 BC according to Matthew (before Archelaus took over from his father Herod), 6 AD according to Luke (after Archelaus was deposed by the Romans).
    (ii) where Jesus was born – in the family house according to Matthew, in a stranger’s stable according to Luke.
    (iii) where the family was from – Bethlehem according to Matthew, Nazareth according to Luke.
    (iv) Which of the two, Mary or Joseph, did God tell about the divine conception of Jesus – Joseph in Matthew, in a dream; Mary in Luke in an angelic appearance.
    (v) who worshipped the child after his birth – Magi from the far away East according to Matthew, Shepherds from a nearby field according to Luke. By the way, three is not mentioned, that is a later Christian tr(addition).
    (vii) what happens after his birth – the family flee to Egypt according to Matthew, they go to the Temple in Jerusalem according to Luke.
    (vi) there are five dreams mentioned in Matthew in which ghosts or angels pass messages to Joseph or the Magi. No dreams are mentioned in Luke.

    In short, the only things the two stories have in common is that Mary was a virgin and that the birth happened in Bethlehem. Both are fabrications developed by the authors to establish the legitimacy of their claims that Jesus was the Messiah, and the virgin birth is based on a well-accepted translation error in the Greek copy of the Tanakh that the two authors were using (“almah” which simply means “young woman” in Hebrew was erroneously translated as “pathenos” (which specifically means a virgin) in the Greek version of the Tanakh Matthew and Luke were familiar with.

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