God's Methods of Communication
Universal Truth Versus Hebrew and Arabic

#christianity #god #islam #religion

It seems that God's methods of letting people know that it exists, and of promulgating correct beliefs, are comprised of some fairly suboptimal methods. Excepting direct revelations to a very few number of people, God has all knowledge about itself passed by word of mouth from human to human. This limited and confusing way of communicating with us has led to uncountable numbers of chinese whispers, confusion, mistranslation and error, resulting in disagreements, sects, divisions, varying denominations, entirely different religions and dispute, conflict, violence and war, sometimes on large scales. Strangely, it also seems that direct revelation is nearly always given to mankind - for example there is no instance in the Jewish scriptures (Old Testament) of God talking directly to any woman1, and, causing additional problems, revelation is apparently restricted to classical and ancient languages. Many holy books are very clear that believing in signs is the good and holy thing to do, but, most of the same books have terrible punishments in store for those who have the wrong religious beliefs. This contradictory mess clearly shows us one thing: the vast majority of religious instruction that has surfaced in our history is a construct of human error. God, it seems, is a very poor communicator.

Not only that, but the non-religious content of our holy books, from all religions, do not reveal any non-human knowledge. Scientist Victor Stenger notes that "Biblical and Qur'anic statements about the natural world, look exactly as you would expect them to look if there was no new knowledge being revealed - just what was the human understanding of the day. That is, they look as if there is no God who speaks to humanity through scriptures or other revelations" (2007)2.

1. Scripture, Religion and What God Wants Us to Know

If God is good in nature and its message is true, and the message of god is important for us, then it holds to reason that a good god would want human beings to know that message. God in its omnipotence can immediately impart the correct knowledge directly into our consciousness. I am sure it also has the know-how to do it in a non-harmful way given that it designed our brains down to the functioning of millions of neuronal connections and neurotransmitters, etc. Put another way: It must be true that we all already know the most-important things that God wants us to know. Whatever various religions, prophets, seekers, mystics and holy spokespeople say is not exactly what God wants us to know. There is no reason for a good god, which wants the truth to be known, to convey important messages to individual human beings, in specific human languages, and allow us to spread the message using our own imperfect communication methods. As soon as people start translating it, explaining it to each other and writing it down then the message becomes reliant upon cultural understanding. It will dilute, get misunderstood, and it is sure that different communities will come to interpret the message differently, leading to schism and confusion, and as history has shown, to violence and bloodshed. Therefore, God's important messages are universal, imparted directly into all of our hearts and minds, and are therefore not made subject to human communications errors. If goodness comes from god, then given their historical mistakes, their culture-specific language, moral shortcomings and the social strife that results from their existence, holy books cannot possibly be from God. The whole idea of cultivating the True Religion via the orally-transmitted stories of itinerant and illiterate preachers such as Jesus and Mohammad, in (often obscure) human languages, is nonsensical.

If God wants someone to know the facts about a particular religion, then it would automatically make that person know. What God wants, it can do, because God is all-powerful. If God is also perfectly good, then if it is right for someone to know something then God will let them know it. If it is right to know something, then, a good God is compelled to let people know it directly.

Evangelism therefore is pointless. It is senseless for religious adherents to go around telling people about their religious views if they believe in an all-powerful or perfectly good God. An all-powerful good god will want (and can!) give anyone any knowledge it is good for them to have. It is not the job of religious adherents to run around trying to pretend to know what God wants people to know!

The reasons for evangelism are probably more selfish than theological; to do with (1) personal ego, (2) public image and (3) Earthly influence. They think that if they evangelize they will (4) get themselves into heaven and (5) increase their own sense of self-worth (deluded psychology).

But it is obvious that evangelists are going against God's will, if God has a will. If God wanted someone to know something, and it was right for them to know it, God would tell that person directly. There is no point in doing it any other way. The only reason people need to tell each other things about religion is if it is things that God doesn't think it is best for them to know. This absurd state of affairs means that evangelists are least godly, trusting least in the abilities of God to tell people what they need to know!

The fact that God appears not to have given us, as a species, any information about transcendent reality is a big hint that God does not mind what our beliefs are. Based on the evidence, it appears that the correct way, god's way, to discover the truth is to look at the evidence, judge things for ourselves, and to use our brains. In other words, science and skeptical philosophizing appear to be the precise way in which God wants us to learn. We know this from the lack of important-truths which are conveyed to us directly by God.


2. Our Beliefs Do Not Matter: Multiple Prophets of God

Many do not dare to dismiss the world's religions. Each is supported by miracles that prove their principles, and supported by prophets and mystics who have personal knowledge that prove the truth of their own religion. Yet they produce contradictory doctrine, different descriptions of God, and vastly differing instructions on how to live and what to do. If any of this comes from a good-natured creator-god, then one of these two options must be true:

  1. God really has spoken to various prophets and messengers, and has given them all contradictory messages.


  2. God does not mind what our beliefs are (and therefore religions are trivial).

The first option has been invoked by some to argue that god itself is evil, and seeks to maximize human conflict:

Religions that fight each other tend to make their adherents believe in them even more strongly. Group solidarity comes into effect: when you have enemies, you keep a closer grip on your friends and also reinforce your own group identity. So, an evil God would appear to mankind in a variety of guises and preach a number of powerful, but conflicting, religions. It would therefore create maximum confusion, and maximum suffering, through war and intolerance. It would preach to each religion that its followers were right and other followers were wrong! These groups would all wholeheartedly believe that as God (or, the gods) has revealed the truth to them, other religions must be wrong and ungodly. That way, most of the weak, inferior, pathetic people that the evil god creates would fall foul of one religion or another, and be duped! Once duped, they'd cling to the lies even more the stronger because of the existence of competing religions. An evil God, indeed, would do this, and this is exactly the state the world is in. Coincidence? If there is a God, it is surely evil!

"God Must Be Evil (If It Exists): 2.3. An Evil God Would Create Conflicting Religions" by Vexen Crabtree (2003)

The second option, then, has seen concluded by some religious thinkers: God brings truth to humankind in a series of steps. So, Moses and Abraham were given partial truth, Jesus was then given the next set of revelations, Muhammad the next lot, and finally the Bahá'í faith embodies the most recent in the line of Abrahamic religions promulgated by God. Each wave of revelation is given 'when humanity is ready'. This idea has some problems:

If God had an important message to convey it would not select a single person and whisper into his ear secretly. The fact that people think that God would communicate like this has been the cause of so much suffering in history. Cult leaders, false religions and people-who-hear-voices would all be limited in their harm if the common-sense view was taken that human psychology and delusion were the most likely causes.

If both option 1 and option 2 cannot be true; then it simply cannot be the case that God tries to reveal truth to us via prophets nor via messages sent to individuals to be transmitted via human languages. These methods are poor. If God wants us to know certain things, then, it has already imparted them into us innately, accurately and clearly via our genes and instincts.

For more, see:

3. Which Messengers from God Can You Trust?3

3.1. The Ancients Could Not Tell Forgeries From Genuine Texts4

3.1.1. Why We Should All Trust the Pagan Sibylline Oracles4


Historians have collected fourteen books and various fragments of the Sibylline Oracles, and they are referred to in respectful and amazed tones by ancient historians. Their predictions were widely held to be supernaturally accurate, and inspired by God. For example, Sejanus, a powerful General in the Roman Empire, who had a secretary write a book entitled "The Truths of the Sibylline Oracles, Proved by the Facts"5. Voltaire commented on this book in Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary:

[The book argues that] it was neccessary God to send on earth several sibyls one after the other; for He had no other means of teaching mankind. [...] They had certainly predicted all the events in the world, for Tarquinius Superbus bought three of their Books from an old woman for a hundred crowns. [The book says:] "Who can deny the fulfilment of their prophecies? Has not Virgil himself quoted the predictions of the sibyls?"

"Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary" by Voltaire (1764)5

But despite the trust and awe that these books inspired, it has been found that they were Christian forgeries based on an older pagan idea, with hidden Christian messages contained within them designed to give Christianity credence as a prophesized religion6. Many respectable people, including scholars and the most educated Romans, had been fooled by them, as we saw in Voltaire's comments above. This proves that belief that prophecies are genuine is easy to come by amongst credulous humans, and that it is easy to make people believe that texts have a divine source even when they are purely human products.

3.1.2. Forgeries in the Christian Bible4

The Bible contains multiple forged texts. That is - texts that are written in the name of someone by an author who hides his own real identity. Bart Ehrman is the foremost scholar of the critical study of Biblical texts who has written many books on ideas which are now accepted by nearly all historians:

Book CoverSome have argued that the forged books that made it into the Bible (such as the Pastoral Epistles, and 3 other letters written in the name of Paul), were not 'bad' forgeries, but were written because their authors were inspired by the Holy Spirit. German scholar Kurt Aland articulated this view. The doublethink idea was that it was really the Holy Spirit that was writing, therefore, it would have been fraudulent to use their own name! In other words, some theologians have held that God sends messages that require Humans to put down other people's names as the author so that the reader wouldn't mistake God's message for their own message. But it makes very little sense, because it seems that all the authors put down other Human's names as the author. Not only that, but to believe that God would send a message in this way is to believe that God itself causes deceit and lies. It seems somewhat more honest to simply prepend writings with 'Thus says the Spirit' rather than to lie about the author.

"Forged" by Bart Ehrman (2011)7

3.2. Your Own Experiences?

The Christian Bible and the Islamic Qur'an both contain verses where believers are greatly rewarded for trusting in signs, symbols, portends, dream visions and waking hallucinations of both the visual and aural type. People have acted on these, done God's will and preached God's revelations off of the back of them. Many a saint, prophet and revered holy man has been proclaimed as a result of their confidence in experience(s) they have had.

Conversely, many people in the Bible and the Qur'an have been punished, chastised, warned or even killed because they did not trust in signs sent to them, or in revelations proclaimed by others. In the example given in this text, remember that Balaam in Numbers 22:21-34 does not take heed when his donkey is resisting his commands. The donkey was resisting because it could see a sign from God (an angel). The man did not trust in his donkey's reluctance when he should have. He got away with merely apologizing to God for his sin. But more seriously, Qur'an 4:150-152 warns that unless you believe all of God's messengers, then you are as good as a disbeliever (destined for hell).

In the world's monotheistic religions then, it is the norm - the default - to expect people to believe anything that might be a sign from God. Such people are rewarded by God, and, those who do not do this, are sometimes punished by God. More verses from the Bible and the Qur'an are given below. Doubt is not an option.

However, there are a seemingly endless and continual stream of visions, dreams, signs, prophecies, prophets, wonders and warnings all of which are said to come from God. It is impossible to believe them all:

What is needed is objective criteria on which to judge such things. The best human endeavour along this road is the combination of psychology, psychiatry and neurology, all of which attempt to rule out physiological and biological causes of these types of events. The problem is that these sciences are so far advanced that no experiences remain unexplained.

We are left in the situation where no-one trusts new revelations on the basis that there already been so many firmly established religious traditions (which between them claim to know all there is to be known about spiritual matters), and that we know so many of the secular causes of such experiences, that we know their source is not divine. We now doubt - as psychologists have suspected since the dawn of psychology - that all mystics and prophets of God do in fact have their experiences sourced from purely Earthly and psychological phenomenon.

If you go down the route recommended by the holy books and accept all as possible signs from God then you end up with doctrinal anarchy where no religion nor belief can stand firm against the torrent of revelation. If you go down the path where you objectively attempt to judge what experiences are true or not, then you end up agreeing with the medical and scientific world that all such experiences are manmade. From a religious point of view, neither route in satisfactory. Luckily for them, most believers do not sit down for too long philosophizing over these issues.


3.3. Pascal's Wager: Is it Safer to Believe Than to Doubt?


How can we tell which mystical communications are from God? The question raises problems when we learn how many forged and fake prophecies there have been in history, that have actually come to be widely believed and trusted. Skeptics come to the conclusion that we should distrust all Human texts that claim to be divine because so far, all concluded investigations have found that such texts have been written by fallible Humans. But those who are influenced by Pascal's Wager would ask this question: isn't it safer to believer than to not?. But the problem is worse than having to make a choice between believing if a particular message is from God or not. Theologically, there is a greater risk than merely being wrong over what messages you accept.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

1 John 4:1

Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

2 Cor. 11:14

Any powerful spirit can pretend to be good. Even a being of complete evil, like Satan in the Christian Bible, is said to be able to appear 'as an angel of light' (2 Cor. 11:14). And in Islam, the Satanic verses were sneaked into the Qur'an by the devil, without Muhammad noticing that they were from the most evil being rather than angel Gabriel. That a being of complete evil can hide its true nature and appear as good is a genuine warning from world religions; how much easier must it be for lesser demons and naughty spirits to hide their lesser quantities of evil (e.g. 1 John 4:1). Some groups of early Christians thought that the entire Old Testament was written by an interloper; an evil god, that ought to be overthrown. Such dualistic battles are common in gnostic and mystery religions. We poor Human beings have little chance of determining who are the good, and who are the bad, in the world of gods, angels, demons and spirits.

In other words, it is theologically safer if you by default distrust all texts that claim to be divine. The above text is taken from my full page about Pascal's Wager: Pascal's Wager is Safer in Reverse: Picking a Religion is Dangerous Business. Here is the contents menu for that page:

4. Christianity: Examples from the Bible

#christianity #hinduism

The Book of Numbers in the Hebrew Scriptures / Old Testament contains two examples of some very limited communication methods used by God. Both would have serious deleterious consequences if we didn't ignore these verses.

It seems that not only does the Bible describe a God who is a very poor communicator, but that the Bible itself is communicated very poorly.

It is theologically problematic that Jesus decided not to write anything down. For thousands of years, mistranslations of important Biblical verses have misinformed the masses on even important points, such as whether Jesus' mother was a virgin or not. The Bible has caused endless confusion with the irregularities, inconsistencies and ambiguities of its text. On top of that are the mistranslations, cultural misunderstandings and outright subjectivist attempts at exegesis by those who are genuinely and passionately trying to understand the core text of their religion. It seems that not only does the Bible describe a God who is a very poor communicator, but that the Bible itself is communicated very poorly.

It cannot be the case, therefore, that people need the Bible nor that people have to know the right things, or have the right beliefs, in order to fulfil God's plan. (In-)famous playwright Tim Rice once had this idea, too, and put it to verse...:

You'd have managed Peter better if you'd had it planned
Now why'd you choose such a backward time and such a strange land?
If you'd come today you could have reached a whole nation
Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication!

Jesus Christ Superstar (1971)
Written by Tim Rice

5. Islam


5.1. The Qur'an Says God Sends Messengers Who Speak the Local Language (But 68:52 Contradicts Those Verses)

#China #Japan

Sura 14:4 of the Qur'an says "And We sent not a Messenger except with the language of his people, in order that he might make (the Message) clear for them. Then Allah misleads whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise" (Mohsin Kahn translation).

Muhammad spoke in Arabic and Sura 20:113 confirms that the Quran is in Arabic. Sura 14:4 says that each people has a Messenger sent in their own language: The Arabic Qur'an is only for Arabs. As this is not the language of the rest of the world, then, Muhammad's message was not for those others. The Qur'an says in 16:36-37 that "every nation" has had a messenger, telling them to worship God. It is clear from the accounts of religious revelations from across various cultures and nations however, that most of those other messengers have differed from what Muhammad says. The Chinese and Japanese in the Far East, Native Americans and Aboriginees and the Indian subcontinent have not had messengers preaching the strict monotheism of Islam's kind.

It is clear that the God of the Qur'an has been having some serious communications issues, because all of these verses contradict another one: Qur'an 68:51-52 says that the message of the Qur'an "is nothing less than a Message to all the worlds" (or 'to all beings' depending on translation). But more verses say otherwise (as above) so the comment in 68:52 is probably the errant one.

5.2. God Sends a Series of Messengers (More Contradictions)8


The Qur'an recognizes that there have been prophets of God that have come before Muhammad, including Moses (Musa), Abraham (Ibraham) and Jesus. It, rather sensibly, tries to explain why God has seemingly sent different messengers at different times. It starts with the following admission:

Now has come to you Our Messenger making (things) clear unto you, after a break in (the series of) Messengers [...].

Qur'an 5:19

Many verses repeat the idea that there were previous messengers before Muhammad. For examples see Qur'an 6:42, 13:38 and 15:10. The Qur'an teaches that peoples have an assigned book, and each people have a set duration, and that both only last for a set time. The Qur'an and Muslims therefore have a set term, after which they will no longer be valid. In the following three verses the Arabic word ajal is translated either as "people" or "age":

But things do not add up. Qur'an 57:9 says clearly that the God's message brings people from "utter darkness" into light. Fair enough - this is what you'd expect the Qur'an to say. But what was the worth in the previous messengers if people are still in utter darkness? Another contradiction arises from 33:40 where Muhammad is said to be a final "seal of the prophets", contradicting the verses that say that each people, and their assigned book, both have a limited duration.

Previous prophets include Moses (Musa), Abraham (Ibraham), Jesus and then Muhammad. What does the Qur'an say about these prophets?

Those who ... wish to make distinction between Allah and His Messengers ... saying, "We believe in some but reject others," and wish to adopt a way in between. They are in truth disbelievers. And We have prepared for the disbelievers a humiliating torment. And those who believe in Allah and His Messengers and make no distinction between any of them (Messengers), We shall give them their rewards.

Qur'an 4:150-152

Not only were there previous messengers and the likelihood of future ones, but, failure to believe in them (or believe other signs) means you are destined for hell as a nonbeliever (Qur'an 4:150-152). But of course there are many more prophets that just those popular ones. The world is awash with religions, denominations and folklorists, many of which produce a steady stream of prophets. It seems that if you ignore the wrong one, if you disbelieve in the wrong one, you could incur the eternal wrath of God and end up in hell. This is a true dilemma. There are some very strong contenders for the title of the next prophet, and the Bible and the Qur'an give clear warnings that missing the signs, and disbelieving in a sign, is a serious misdemeanour with eternal consequences.

6. A Series of Prophets of God, All Claiming Finality8

6.1. Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Bahái

#bahá'í_faith #christianity #Iran #islam #judaism

Many religions teach that their prophet bring the true, final, message of God, and that previous religions were only a stepping-stone towards ultimate truth. Each major religion stamps the seal of finality on to the sequence of prophets. Judaism had God come and side with the Hebrews with an eternal covenant. But then in Christianity, Jesus was proclaimed the only begotten son of God itself (with correct belief in Jesus now being more important than the superseded Jewish covenant). In Matthew 5:18 the Bible says that the word cannot ever change (hover over the verse to read it in full, it is very direct and clear). Then comes the Qur'an with its own strict and powerful statements that now only Muhammad is the prophet of God and that it is the text of the Qur'an, after all, that is held in heaven in eternal stasis. So Muhammad, in Qur'an 33:40 is yet another final "seal of the prophets". Yet he has been followed by Bab and Baha'u'llah of the Bahá'í Faith from Iran, persecuted and oppressed in Muslim lands, who too claim to be the latest messengers of God9. Bahá'í, like some parts of the Qur'an, claims that there is a gradual sequence of prophets and that its own prophets are but the latest, and that they fulfil the prophecies of many religions, such as the Second Coming of Jesus Christ according to Christian doctrine. Hence, the sequence of messiahs continues and what is revealed by one, is annulled by another.

How is it possible for an outsider to ever be convinced by any the religions, claiming that their claims to truth are the final one, when so many have claimed the same thing, and so many religions contain so many divisions, all with different interpretations of the teachings of those many prophets? Enough is enough! It is about time we recognized that the very concept of a God communicating through selected human prophets is ridiculous, in terms of its efficiency, accuracy and believability. Any belief system that states that God use prophets to communicate eternal truth is proving itself to be yet another nonsensical human-invented religion.

6.2. Does the New Testament Represent a New Revelation Which Overrides the Jewish Scriptures?4

#christianity #judaism #Turkey

See my full page on this topic: The Old Testament Versus the New Testament: Do Christians Still Have to Observe OT Law?, which also includes notes on the history of this debate.

Most modern forms of Christianity accept the Old Testament and the New Testament. Where the two collections contradict each other many believe that the New Testament overrides the Old: this goes for parts that disagree directly on legalities (dietary codes, etc), and, the feel of God in the New Testament is accepted whereas the short-tempered and smiting god of the Old Testament is generally forgotten.

Some Christians argue that the "you" in Old Testament Law only refers to Jews. But they do not follow through with the line of logic, and they do not argue that the sins and new laws mentioned in the New Testament only apply to you Christians. And they also do not apply this logic to all of the Old Testament - just to the bits that they don't like. Also, there are New Testament verses (such as 2 Peter 3:1-2) which also state that the OT laws should be kept. So the reasoning against not having to obey the OT laws is inconsistent.

There are lots of verses in the Bible that imply that the Old Testament laws no longer need to be followed. But there are also a greater number of verses in the Bible that are very clear that all of God's laws are eternal and unchangeable, and apply "forever". So no matter which side of the argument you take, your actions and beliefs are not in accordance with what the Bible says. So, many preachers and teachers will select which set of verses they are going to quote from, and they manage to discount some of the opposing verses, and often, completely ignore the ones that they can't discount. Such confusing contradictions occur because the Bible was written by many different people, who all had different ideas and vested interests, and who wrote at different times and in different places. So on some theological points, such as whether or not everyone has to follow all the rules in the Bible or just the nice ones, there is no consistent message in the Bible.

All Laws Have to be Obeyed ForeverOld Testament Laws No Longer Apply
  • Genesis 17:19: God tells Abraham that he has established an everlasting covenant for him and all of his descendants.

  • Exodus 12:14-20,24 can be argued to apply only to Jews - for whom "expulsion from Israel" is a true threat. "This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord - a lasting ordinance. [A description of the 7-day Festival of Unleavened Bread follows]. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. [...] Anyone, whether foreigner or native-born, who eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel. [...] Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants" [NIV].

  • Leviticus 23:14,21,31: Three times the following phrase is repeated: "it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations". The generations have not stopped - even if they have converted to Christianity and other religions, these verses are saying that the rules still apply.

  • Deuteronomy 4:2: "Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you" [NIV]. The previous verse was addressed to "Israel", so it can easily be argued that only those subject to the original covenant with God are covered by this particular instruction.

  • Deuteronomy 4:8-9: "And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today? [...] Teach them to your children and to their children after them".

  • Deuteronomy 7:9: "Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments". A thousand generations means 30,000 years, and this is repeated in "1 Chronicles 16:15". And the "Covenant of love" is surely exactly the same as that preached in the New Testament. The "Covenant of love" spans both the Old and the New, and, must be kept for 1000 years - and that covenant includes, as this verse says, keeping the commandments. This means that everyone must obey the Old Testament laws.

  • Deuteronomy 11:1, 26-28: "Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always" [NIV]. It does not say "until I make new commands". If God meant what it said, and if God's word is true, then it means always.

  • 1 Chronicles 16:15: "Remember ye to the age His covenant, The word He commanded -- To a thousand generations" [Young's Literal Translation] - this was also said before in Deuteronomy 7:9. A thousand generations is at least 30,000 years. Needless to say, we will be under the Old Testament laws for a very long time yet!

  • Psalm 119:151-3, 160: "Yet you are near, Lord, and all your commands are true. Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever. Look on my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law. [...] All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal" [NIV].

  • Ecclesiastes 12:13: "Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind" [NIV]. It does not just just for those with whom I have made a covenant. It doesn't say, "the duty of Jews" or as it would say, "the duty of Israel". Nor does it allow a future possibility of the Jewish Law from being annulled. It says for all mankind.

  • Isaiah 40:8: "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever" [NIV].

Verses from the New Testament are also in harmony with all of the above verses from the Old Testament:

  • Matthew 5:17-19: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven".

  • Matthew 24:35: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away" [NIV].

  • Luke 16:17: "It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law" [NIV].

  • Luke 21:33: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away" [NIV].

  • 2 Peter 3:1-2: Paul states that we should recall the words of the Holy prophets of the past - although this verse doesn't say that this means the old Law should be obeyed, it makes little sense to recall those words for any other reason.

Paul knew James (Gal. 1:19) and "indicates that he was committed to keeping the Jewish law and appears to have insisted that the other Jewish followers of Jesus do so as well (2:12)"10.

  • Luke 16:16: "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached" [NIV]. Although this verse, taken out of context, sounds like it is saying that the old prophets have been replacement by a new preaching, this is not at all what the author of Luke was saying. The very next verse, says: "It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law" (Luke 16:17). So whatever verse 16 means, it certainly does not mean that any of the Jewish Law has been dropped.

  • Romans 3:28: "A person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law" [NIV]. This statement makes the entire Bible irrelevant, but, as such, it does also serve to make the Old Testament laws redundant too. Just be a good person!

  • Romans 6:14: "Sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace" [NIV].

  • Romans 7:6: "We have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code" [NIV].

  • Romans 10:4: "For Christ is an end of law for righteousness to every one who is believing" [YLT]. This confusing verse is no clearer in other translations - it might be saying that Jesus ended the law. But it also might be saying that Jesus is the culmination of the Law - the pinnacle of it - which doesn't actually imply that the old Law can now be discarded by anyone who doesn't happen to be Jesus.

  • Galatians 3:13: "Christ did redeem us from the curse of the law".

  • Galatians 5:18: St Paul writes to the church at Galatians, telling them that "if by the Spirit ye are led, ye are not under law". However, if some Christians argue that the Old Testament laws only apply to Israel, then, in this case, St Paul's comments only apply to the residents of Galatia (part of present-day Turkey. If Paul's comments apply to everyone even though they were addressed to those at Galatia, then, it must also be true that the Old Testament law applies to everyone, even though it was addressed to Israel. The contradictions are insurmountable.

  • Colossians 2:14: "having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross" [NIV]. Previous comments by Paul are unclear because they are addressed to particular people; but here is says "us" - therefore including not just those is he writing to, but including all those people who Paul counts as "us", which, given that he took responsibility for preaching to all the gentiles (non-Jews), could quite possibly mean that his comments apply to "everyone except Jews". It is not quite so clear as to be unambiguous.

The number of verses and arguments that show that all the Old Testament Laws still have to be obeyed somewhat outweigh the verses that indicate otherwise.

By Vexen Crabtree 2012 Dec 1311
(Last Modified: 2015 Dec 28)
Originally published 2011 Apr 17
Parent page: The Bane of Monotheism: Against Single-God Religions

References: (What's this?)

Book Cover

Book Cover

Book Cover

Book Cover

The Koran. Translation by N. J. Dawood. Penguin Classics edition published by Penguin Group Ltd, London, UK. First published 1956, quotes taken from 1999 edition.

The Bible (NIV). The NIV is the best translation for accuracy whilst maintaining readability. Multiple authors, a compendium of multiple previously published books. I prefer to take quotes from the NIV but where I quote the Bible en masse I must quote from the KJV because it is not copyrighted, whilst the NIV is. [Book Review]

Breuilly, O'Brien & Palmer
(1997) Religions of the World. Subtitled "The Illustrated Guide to Origins, Beliefs, Traditions, & Festivals". By Elizabeth Breuilly, Joanne O'Brien & Martin Palmer. Hardback. Published for Transedition Limited and Fernleigh Books by Lionheart Books.

Donnelly, Jack
(2013) Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice. Third edition. Published by Cornell University Press.

Ehrman, Bart
(2011) Forged. Subtitle: "Writing in the Name of God - Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are". Hardback. Published by HarperCollins, New York, USA.

Harrison, Guy P.
(2008) 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God. Published by Prometheus Books, New York, USA.

Stanton, Elizabeth C.. (1815-1902)
(1898) The Woman's Bible. Amazon's Kindle digital edition. Produced by Carrie Lorenz and John B. Hare. Public Domain.

Stenger, Prof. Victor J.
(2007) God, the Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist. Published by Prometheus Books. Stenger is a Nobel-prize winning physicist, and a skeptical philosopher whose research is strictly rational and evidence-based.

Voltaire. (1694-1778)
(1764) Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary. Digital edition produced by Juliet Sutherland, Lisa Riegel and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. Accessed via Amazon.co.uk


  1. Stanton (1898) p130.^
  2. Stenger (2007) p176. Added to this page on 2015 Jun 21.^
  3. Added to this page on 2012 Dec 16.^
  4. Added to this page on 2014 Sep 14.^^^^
  5. Voltaire (1764) p179. Added to this page on 2014 Sep 14.^
  6. Ehrman (2011) p173-175. Added to this page on 2014 Sep 14.^
  7. Ehrman (2011) p123-124. Added to this page on 2014 Sep 14.^
  8. Added to this page on 2013 Sep 14.^^
  9. Breuilly, O'Brien & Palmer (1997) p10,150-153.^
  10. Ehrman (2011) p193.^
  11. 2012 Dec 13: Added sections on Christianity and Islam including scriptural verses, and have slightly rewritten and editted the opening sections.^

© 2016 Vexen Crabtree. All rights reserved.