Anonymous Asks: Does your Bible explain the shorter and longer endings of the Gospel of Mark?
Many Bibles enclose Mark 16.9-20 in double brackets without explaining that these passages are not found in the earliest manuscripts of the Gospel and were most likely appended to the book sometime around the second century as an attempt to provide a more satisfactory ending. The earliest copies simply end at verse 8 with Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome fleeing the tomb of Jesus in terror and never telling any of the Apostles what they witnessed.
A somewhat interesting note is that these are the very verses invoked by Appalachian Snake Handlers to defend their claimed abilities to “pick up poisonous snakes in their hands” and by many faith healers to claim that they can “lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
TnAtheist Asks: Have you ever read a non-canonical gospel or other non-canonical books of the Bible?
For this week’s Sunday Swap, I’m curious how many of you have been introduced to or read non-canonical / apocryphal books of the Bible like the Acts of Peter, John or Paul, the Infancy Gospel of James or the Apocalypses of Peter, Paul or Thomas. Many of these books represent the popular genres and styles of writing from biblical times and I think they’re an important part of understanding the Bible’s human origins and its interesting history of translations, editing and revisions since being written.
Jon Asks: What are your thoughts on the Ancient Alien hypothesis? It states that God was an extraterrestrial who interacted with primitive man and shared knowledge with early man.
I’ve never quite heard of the ‘Ancient Alien’ hypothesis, especially not stated in such a way. I am familiar with the ‘Ancient Astronaut’ hypothesis which is quite popular and similar except for the ‘It was actually God part’ – That said, I would personally put both ideas in the realm of ‘possible’ but not very probable.
The main reason being Archeologists have a fairly good understanding of the emergence of intelligence and technology among humans and pre-human civilisations throughout history. We know about when humans first started developing tools and art and about when they started developing social cultures where these trades were passed down from generation to generation. There’s really no need to invoke the supernatural to explain these developments. So why do so? But more importantly, why do so BEFORE exploring and exhausting all possible ‘natural’ explanations first?
When you attempt to explain away an unknown with another unknown, you’ve explained absolutely nothing. You’re basically saying, “I can’t explain how this thing came about, so I guess it was caused by this other thing I also can’t explain.” — That’s not a really good explanation is it?
The second main reason would be that if a god came down to share ‘knowledge’ with early man… where’d all that knowledge go? Where was the knowledge that the Earth is round, that the universe is massive, that disease is caused by germs, etc. and so on? One would assume a god sharing knowledge would have access to these basic facts about the way things work. A better explanation would be that humans slowly developed this knowledge on their own, making major errors at times and getting things close to correct other times. Slowly building up the store of correct knowledge and discarding the incorrect ideas. Which pretty much sums the history various scientific disciplines have uncovered.
TnAtheist Asks: What is Sin?
On Sundays, I’ll be doing a Sunday Swap
where I ask you, the reader, a question related to religion, morality and belief. I’d like to get as many opinions and answers as I can. Just like Ask TnAtheist
questions, feel free to answer Anonymously. So jump in on the comments and let me know what you think.
Anonymous Asks: Isn’t it possible that you’re wrong and God does really exist?
Yes, it’s possible. It’s just not very likely.
There’s a big difference between ‘possible’ and ‘probable’ … It’s possible that there is a God. It’s also possible that there are thousands. Just like it’s possible the moon will self-destruct tomorrow evening. But none of these things are very probable.
Science works because of predictive probability. We generate ideas and then test them to the point where we can predict, with high accuracy, what is and what will be. Religion, on the other hand, has a horrible track record of making valuable truth claims. It can do good things and it can lead people to do good things… but none of that reflects whether or not its claims about reality are actually true. Given that throughout history its claims about the nature of reality have been proven false time and time again, I find it much more ‘probable’ that its remaining claims are also false.
I’ve asked numerous people for an honest opinion of what they believe happens to people after death..I’ve only come across the church brainwashing responses of heaven if you’re good, hell if you’re bad. I can’t buy into that line of thinking and have decided that one just ceases to exist and there’s nothing beyond decomposition after death. As an intelligent and open minded individual, what’s your take on that subject?
I think the most honest answer I can give is “I don’t know” and I haven’t seen anything that has led me to conclude anyone else does either. In a line of pure speculation and probability… I think It’s much more probable that our brains simply turn off when we die and that’s that. I’ve never seen anything to convince me of the existence of an afterlife.
Just thinking of what an existence would be like without a body boggles my mind. I am my body. I can say I’m sitting in this chair and not standing in the doorway because my body is sitting in a chair and not standing in a doorway.
It’s all great food for thought, but at the end of the day I just don’t know. Which I think is a perfectly acceptable position on the matter given the lack of evidence or even the means or a method for gathering evidence.