As noted above, God had allegedly told his people in the Hebrew Bible how to detect a false prophet. They were told NOT TO BELIEVE UNTIL the sign had been accomplished, that is to say, the prophecy had been fulfilled. From my research I was able to establish that many if not most of the prophecies in the Hebrew Bible were failed prophecies, they were not fulfilled in the days of the audience hearing them nor have they been fufilled in our own day, the 21st century. I studied Jewish and Christian “apologetics” which claimed certain prophecies had been fulfilled, but when I studied the prophecies for my self I came to realize that the “fine details” embedded within them laying out “how” God would accomplish the prophecy, that the event did not happen at all _in the manner_ predicted.
I asked myself, how could people believe in a God that does NOT keep his word, and who refuses to VINDICATE his prophets down to the last jot and tittle of the prophecy? Why would he lie to his people, telling them NOT TO BELIEVE _until_ the prophecy was fulfilled while all the time he “secretly” intended to fulfill it hundreds or thousands of years _after_ their deaths? I found myself having to reject the Bible as God’s holy word. His prophets, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others had ALL issued false prophecies, that were NEVER fulfilled.
I wondered to myself how is it that millions of people in Judaism and Christianity have been able to believe that the Bible is “really God’s word” when He has NOT vindicated His prophet’s prophecies? It finally “dawned on me,” what was going on: “the keepers of the faith,” Rabbis and Christian priests, were “turning a blind eye” to the failed prophecies and _excusing them_ as intended for centuries or millennia into the future. The problem however, was that this “rationalization” MOCKED God’s warning to his people, that they were NOT to beleive a prophet UNTIL the prophecy was accomplished. So, Judaism and Christianity BOTH EMPLOY FLAWED METHODOLOGIES in order to perpetuate themselves. Their congregations too turn a “blind eye” to the failed prophecies, accepting the “rationalization” that God at some future date will fulfill the unfulfilled prophecies.
Please click on the following articles on Failed Prophecies and Flawed Methodologies employed by both Judaism and Christianity to perpetuate themselves:
It has finally dawned on me “why” people continue in a system of belief despite that system’s so-called prophets have made ‘false’ or failed prophecies, apparently strong ties have been forged of fellowship and a “sense of belonging” that are so powerful one is reluctant to break these ties so one “abides” within the system instead of leaving it. One then contents ones’ self that maybe the prophecy will be fulfilled in just a few years more time, as announced by the false prophet or leadership. There is a sense of comfort in staying with the known and discomfort or anxiety if one leaves the group to enter the great unknown in one’s quest for “the Truth.”
I was once naive enough to think that my articles exposing the failed prophecies of the Bible as revealing that the prophets, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc., were ALL FALSE PROPHETS would CONVINCE peope (Christians and Jews) of the ERROR or their ways, that ALL of the Bible’s prophets were False Prophets, ergo the Bible could not be God’s holy word. But _NOW_ I realize that people are NOT going to give up “their cherished beliefs,” for they find “comfort” in them, a “fellowship”, a “networking” of friends and family, and MOST do NOT see ANY comfort in disavowing and exiting a religious establishment leaving all these cherished contacts behind “in a search for _The Truth_”.
Cf. the below article on religious groups ability to recover _repeatedly_ from a long history of failed prophecies, they having”rationalized away” the failed prophecies, grew even stronger, and continued believing.
Thomas Paine really “hit the nail on the head” in his perceptive observation that _all_ religions are based on _alleged_ “revelations” from a god to a man.
He points out the “danger” in accepting anyone’s word that they have had a “revelation” from God. In order to accept the Old and New Testaments as true, the believer must first accept as true the alleged revelations from God to Moses, Abraham, the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles.
Paine rightly notes that the big problem in accepting a “revelation claim” is that it is pretty much _unverifiable_. One does not know if the person claiming a revelation from God is a con-artist, fraud, idiot, or suffering from delusions, or self-deceived. What one dreams and claims to be a revelation are just as untrustworthy for all the above reasons.
A French savant of Paine’s era wittingly noted that “The first rogue claimed God had spoken to him, and the first fool believed him,” and that this concept was the foundation of all religions.
As noted earlier, above, the Old Testament does acknowledge the existence of false prophets and gives some good advice on how to detect them. Wait for a sign, the prophecy’s fulfillment. If it is accomplished God did it. However, if that prophet then teaches one NOT to observe God’s commandments and statutes, he is not to be followed, God is testing his people to see if they will really be true to him. For he says, “If you love me you will obey my commandments and statues.” The Jews _had no other choice but to reject Christianity_ for it teaches that God’s commandments and statutes (as well as holy days, feasts, dietary laws, etc.) are not to be obeyed, as Christ’s death ended the power of the Torah (Law) over man.
I have also noted the failure of many of the prophecies made by Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Christ, which were NOT fulfilled in the lifetime of the hearing audience or even to this day.
“Revelation then, so far as the term has relation between God and man, can only be applied to something which God reveals of his will to man. But though the power of the Almighty to make such a communication is necessarily admited, because to that power all things are possible, yet the thing so revealed, (if any thing ever was revealed, and which, by the bye, it is impossible to prove) is revelation to the person only to whom it is made. His account of it to another is not revelation; and whoever puts faith in that account, puts it in the man from whom the account comes; and that man may have been deceived, or may have dreamed it, or he may be an impostor and may lie. There is no possible criterion whereby to judge of the truth of what he tells; for even the morality of it would be no proof of revelation. In all such cases, the proper answer would be, “When it is revealed to me, I will believe it to be revelation, but it is not and cannot be incumbent upon me to believe it to be revelation before; neither is it proper that I should take the word of man as the word of God, and put man in the place of God.
This is the manner in which I have spoken of revelation in the former part of the Age of Reason; and which, whilst it reverentially admits revelation as a possible thing, because, (as before said) to the Almighty all things are possible, it prevents the imposition of one man upon another, and precludes the wicked use of pretended revelation.
But though, speaking for myself, I thus admit the possibility of revelation, I totally disbelieve that the Almighty ever did communicate any thing to man by any mode of speech in any language, or by any kind of vision or appearance, or by any means which our senses are capable of receiving; otherwise than by the universal display of himself in the works of the creation, and by that repugnance we feel in ourselves to bad actions, and disposition to good ones.” (p. 820. Thomas Paine. “The Age of Reason, Part Two.” Thomas Paine, Collected Writings: Common Sense, The Crisis and Other Pamphlets, Articles and Letters; Rights of Man; The Age of Reason. New York. Literary Classics of the United States, Inc. 1995. ISBN 1-883011-03-5)
I find myself in complete agreement with Paine!
Apparently Judaism, Christianity and Islam are constructed upon two very important “pillars”: 1) a belief in “revelation”, as noted above by Paine and 2) “answered prayer.” Ask _any_ Christian, Jew, or Moslem how they can be so sure their’s is the _one_ “true faith” and they will invariably respond that their God has answered their prayers. The problem? Because _all_ religions invoke “answered prayer” as confirming for the faithful the “correctness” of their religion it is really NOT useful in determing the _one_ “true” faith (if such exists).
Does the Bible offer a guide to determining the _one_ “true” faith? Yes, it does. The claim is advanced by the Hebrew Bible that _only_ Yahweh’s prophets have their prophecies fulfilled, all other faiths are under the power of “false prophets” whose prognostications are unfulfilled. So, the Bible invokes “fulfilled prophecy” as a “sign” from God to lead the open and inquiring mind to the _one_ “true” God. However, as I have noted above, my investigations into the Bible’s prophets and their prophecies revealed that many if not all were failed prophecies, not fulfilled in the lifetimes of the audience hearing the prognostication for the future. So, by the Bible’s _own_ “yardstick” of determining which faith is the _one_ “true” faith, -fulfilled prophecy- the Bible’s prophets failed the test.
Callahan’s recently released book titled Secret Origins of the Bible (2002) notes in its concluding chapter that the so-called “secrets” are really not secrets at all. He explains (emphasis mine):
“Anyone reading this book who has even an amateur background in comparitive mythology might well look at the title and ask, “So where are the secrets?” In fact, what I have revealed is for the most part known not only by Bible scholars but by many well-read lay persons as well. Yet many intelligent and otherwise well informed readers will find much of the material new and quite startling. IN ALL PROBABILITY THE MAJORITY OF THE POPULATION IS PROFOUNDLY IGNORANT OF THE _MYTHIC ORIGINS_ OF MUCH OF THE BIBLICAL MATERIAL. And therein lies the problem. Much of what is known is not communicated. I doubt this is intentional. Yet, just as in science, so it is with the Bible: increasingly our culture divides between the few who know and the many who do not.” (p. 248. “Dark Secrets in the Light of Day.” Tim Callahan. Secret Origins of the Bible. Altadena, California. Millennium Press. 2002. ISBN 0-9655047-8-6 paperback)
Shermer on Callahan’s book:
“There is a vast disconnect between the public’s belief that the Bible is a divinely-produced original work of religious literature, and the scholar’s knowledge that all of the major stories in the Bible have historical antecedents and can be traced to very non-divinely produced works by other cultures in earlier times. The Bible may contain ‘the greatest story ever told,’ but as Tim Callahan so brilliantly reveals the greatest secret of all is that the story is not original.” (Michael Shermer [back cover endorsement of Callahan’s book])
For my part, I think Callahan and Shermer are too “generous” in their observations. My experience has been that the general public DOES NOT WANT TO KNOW or be told their religious beliefs are based on “reworked” Mesopotamian creation myths. Shermer and Callahan also fail to seriously address the “refutations” assembled by “defenders of the faith,” Christian, Jewish and Moslem, who come up with _counter arguments_, explaining why those who think that Mesopotamian myths are being reworked are in error.
“Ideally” one ought to suspend judgement and investigate for oneself the pros and cons and then decide which has the better argument, faith or reason. The “reality” however, is that the vast majority of people simply don’t have the time or energy to explore all the arguments pro and con on whether or not Mesopotamian myths underlie their religion’s teachings of man’s relationship to God. They will, _understandably_, “tend to side” with arguments advanced by the defenders’ of their beliefs rather than the detractors. They certainly will NOT be encouraged by their Rabbis, Pastors or Mullahs to “think for themsleves” and investigate the claims of the detractors of their faith. These detractors are often characterized as being “the enemy,” the infidel (meaning: “non-believer”), who “dwell in error” and who will lead the faithful “into error” too. As a result, in my humble opinion, I doubt “the many” will leave the comfort of their faith and dare to explore for themselves who really has “the correct understanding of what the truth is.”
There is yet another reason why many are “reluctant” to question or investigate their faith: _FEAR_. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are TERRORIST RELIGIONS. Their growth and power is based on the employment of fear and terror and any who do not subscribe to their beliefs are subject to being persecuted, ostracized and held up to public ridicule, contempt, and disapproval (400 years ago dissidents were burned alive at the stake as heretics). It is a very “rare” soul that dares to standup to persecution from the population at large that he/she lives amongst (How many avowed atheists and gays have been elected to the American Congress?).
Callahan made a very perceptive comment about the myths regarding man’s creation and his relationship with the gods; he noted that in these myths man sought an explanation for _why_ “the world is what it is?” Why death, disease, strife, murder, lying, jealousy, lust, covetness, greed, and selfishness? For the Mesopotamians the answer was that man “was the way he is” because he was made in the image of the gods who themselves possess ALL these unflattering qualities. The created can not be any better than his creator. Of course, from a modern Anthropological point of view (which I embrace), the gods are “projections” of man’s fears, loves, hates and weaknesses on to imaginary invisible beings. Yahweh-Elohim possesses many of the traits of humans, GOOD and BAD, he loves, forgives, regrets, shows mercy, is angered, lies, gets jealous, is forgetful, sleeps, has to consume food and drink, wears clothes, dwells in a house, has a chair (throne) to sit on, gets angry and wrathful, vacillates, and contradicts himself -just what one would “expect” of a god made in man’s image.
“Implicit in all these stories are a number of assumptions about the world…the gods are not always kindly disposed toward the human race…they are jealous or fearful of them, witholding…wisdom and eternal life…ancient peoples were provided with a wry sense of why the world was less than perfect -those who made and ran it were themselves flawed.” (p. 429)
Kamer on the Sumerian notion that the god Enki (in Eridu) made man in “the image of the gods” (delegating the task to others):
“Enki gives the matter thought, leads forth the host of “good and princely fashioners,: and says to his mother, Nammu, the primeval sea:
“O my mother, the creature whose name you uttered, it exists,
Bind upon it the image (?) of the gods;
Mix the heart of the clay that is over the abyss,
The good and princely fashioners will thicken the clay,
You, do you bring the limbs into existence;
Ninmah (the earth-mother goddess) will work above you,
The goddess (of birth)…will stand by you at your
O my mother, decree its (the newborn’s) fate,
Ninmah will bind upon it the image (?) of the gods,
It is man…”
(p. 109. “The First Moral Ideals.” Samuel Noah Kramer. History Begins At Sumer: Twenty-seven “Firsts In Man’s Recorded History. Garden City, New York. Doubleday Anchor Books. 1959 reprint of 1956 edition by Falcon’s Wing Press)