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Archive for September, 2015

Privacy is a basic human right, defined in Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see also Right to Privacy in the Digital Age). We should all be very concerned with invasions of our privacy, or where our privacy is not guaranteed. Or when our data is accessed illegally (as in PRISM) by foreign government agencies and then passed to our law enforcement agencies. Or when your data is invaded because somebody else uses your network and is under investigation. Or when your data simply falls into the wrongs hands because it’s been stored inadequately and has been accessed by a hacker (as happened to the Ashley Madison website). People don’t necessarily feel sorry for Ashley Madison – they quite rightly feel apathetic towards the company – but they certainly feel sympathetic to innocent users who had their accounts hacked (note it’s not our place to judge anyone’s guilt based on the services they use).

Now imagine instead that your ISP was hacked, and hackers revealed everyone who had accessed services such as Ashley Madison, or mental health services, or Lifeline/Beyondblue, or domestic violence help, or financial assistance, or family planning and abortion services, or drug rehabilitation services, alcoholics anonymous, gambling help online, or emergency food relief charities, or specialised legal services, or religious services, or other sensitive services a person might feel self-conscious about and rightly expect they have a right to privacy about. Virtually all of the services I just mentioned promise to provide either confidentiality or anonymity. If your data is stored by your ISP, by law, then it becomes a target for hackers. Once the data is obtained by a hacker (or a disgruntled employee) it can be mined and sold. Vulnerable people can be selectively targeted. For example, people suffering from gambling addition could have their details (their full name and email address) sent to advertisers who could then target everyone on the list with online gambling services. Identities can be stolen wholesale. This list of horrendous possibilities goes on. You might want privacy for all kinds of genuine reasons, but you need privacy in order to be able sure of your security as well as to access sensitive services that require anonymity or confidentiality. I highly suggest listening to the recent IQ2 debate Only The Wicked Need Fear Government Spying (seems to be unavailable as at 21/02/2018, check here).

Government spying is not legal in Australia. The metadata honey-pot for the various law enforcement agencies to access cannot legally be stored by any government agency – yet the Federal Government and law enforcement agencies wants this information stored indiscriminately by service providers so they can access it whenever they need it. Many have argued, including Malcolm Turnbull, that this data is “already available”. Well that’s not entirely true. If it was already available there would be no cost associated with storing it. The reality is the law forces ISPs and Telcos to store more data and for longer. For example all email providers have to now store metadata relating to your emails! That’s a list of everyone who you contact, and when, and everyone who contacts you, and when. You have no control whatsoever over what comes in to your email address! In Europe, where similar data retention laws were passed in several countries, the duration for the storing of metadata was usually much less than 2 years – typically around 6-12 months.

Europe is an interesting case. The European Union came up with a directive instructing member states to enact mandatory data retention by Telecommunication companies, after 8 years the directive was struck down by an EU Court by a finding that found that the directive was illegal. Across Europe, in response to the EU Directive, similar laws were passed, and in a number of countries they have since been retracted – and in many countries on constitutional grounds. The list of European countries I know about that had data retention laws struck down by a constitutional court includes Austria, Germany, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech, Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania, Cyprus, and Argentina. Note that in the Slovenia ruling the court ordered Telcos to destroy retained data immediately! And that’s just a list of EU countries where it was revoked on constitutional grounds alone. The Netherlands scrapped their law, Hungary’s law may be struck down constitutionally, and the UK’s has been suspended by court order with a suspension on the suspension order until 31 March 2016! In the majority of cases in Europe VPNs were included along with ISPs in being forced to log data.

The United States, of course, does not have any mandatory data retention laws. Canada does, and the law appears to apply to VPNs as well as ISPs (it has not yet been tested in court).

So where does that leave us – here in Australia? Well our legislation is set to come into effect on October 7. It’s now widely viewed all across Europe, and in the USA, as a clear breach of privacy. Most Australians don’t understand what data is to be stored (see iiNet and journalist Quentin Dempster‘s article). ISPs, Email providers, and Telcos all now have to store “Metadata” in Australia. That’s right – even your email provider – so you can get a foreign email and the data won’t be stored, but if you use an Australia email provider from October 7, the provider is required to log all activity on your account. Local providers cannot compete evenly with overseas providers, who are able to offer greater protection for privacy not just for your emails, but also for voice calls. This could also push companies who host their websites in Australia overseas so they can avoid having their company email “medata” logged and stored by providers. The retained data can be accessed without a warrant, and for the reason of suspicion of any crime. The government argued there isn’t a need for a warrant because that’s for the content proper – however, iiNet points out the so-called “metadata” provides as much information (or more) as the content itself does. And mentioned earlier – your data may be accessed along with every else who used a shared internet connection (such as a family or workplace internet connection). Imagine this, there could be 6 people in your household, and one person for some reason becomes under suspicion of a crime by law enforcement. When the ISP data is accessed, everyone’s data is accessed at once – the one person under suspicion, and the five who are not. If you use public WiFi – that data also has to be logged and your data will be accessed when anyone who used it is under suspicion!

How to go about securing your privacy online will be the topic of my next post.

Around this time last year the BBC was trying to influence Australian policy (see the TorrentFreak article, the BBC website article, and the submission itself). They claimed that Australians were pirating Doctor Who (OF COURSE THEY ARE!), despite the show being simulcast, despite the iView service, and despite being broadcast in a prime-time timeslot on ABC as well. The BBC also said VPNs are “Pirate tools” allowing people to circumvent geo-blocking “technology” and ISPs should monitor their usage and assume that people are using them for illegally obtaining BBC material. They also want ISPs to slow bandwidth and even disconnect their customer’s accounts for “the most serious” cases. I shall quote from their submission so you can see for yourself:

It is reasonable for ISPs to be placed under an obligation to identify user behaviour that is ‘suspicious’ and indicative of a user engaging in conduct that infringes copyright. Such behaviour may include the illegitimate use by internet users of IP obfuscation tools in combination with high download volumes. …

ISPs need a policy to deal with repeat offenders. The exact parameters of what would be the agreed measures or procedures should be the subject of an ongoing dialogue between the industry and ISPs. Possible sanctions could include subjecting repeat offenders to a slowing down of their bandwith but stopping short of cutting off the internet service, save except in the most serious and egregious circumstances, as is the case in the United States.

Well. As you can imagine, I have a number of things to say. Before I do please note – and really this should go without saying – I’m not advocating piracy. And I’m certainly not suggesting there’s justification for pirating other things like games, books, music, applications, etc. I’m all about supporting authors… not so much publishers, but I’m not advocating in this post not to support content creators and copyright holders. So without further ado, here’s my first thought:

get iplayer launch

get iplayer nabbing doctor who

Here’s the second:

Doctor Who Files

Okay, there are four versions of the episode in that folder. Two that I acquired perfectly legally, and two that might have some questionable legitimacy. The top file is downloaded from The Pirate Bay (ARR), it is a BBC broadcast recording. The second file along with the subtitle is downloaded from ABC iView using iViewRipper. The third file is a digital recording of the ABC broadcast still in its original broadcast format. And the bottom one is from the BBC website ripped using get_iplayer as you see above.

Peer-to-peer sharing has been around a long time. In 2002 I missed an episode of The Mole, one of my favourite shows. Luckily I had a friend in WA and I had him record it (onto VHS) and mail it to me. I believe it was either Episode 2 or 3 that I missed (although I don’t think I have the VHS anymore). Torrents however allow anyone, not just your close personal friends, to receive a copy you made for them. So it’s not all about the “what”. I have mentioned numerous times about what copyright publishers have tried to do in the past – they tried to ban the photocopier, they tried to ban the VCR by boycotting releasing commercial movies on the format (that didn’t last very long because pornographers were more than happy to release their films on VHS), they tried to print “this disc is not for rental” and lost (although apparently in the UK they won that somehow), and yes they also oppose public libraries where people can view copyrighted works without paying any contribution to the original authors.

This battle has gone on so long now that they began tiring the commercial releases of their releases as well. “Rental” DVDs (with a much higher wholesale cost to retailers) were released 3 months prior to “Retail” DVDs, and now Digital releases get released prior to DVD because – you guessed it the copyright publisher gets the lion’s-share of the purchase price. What does that remind you of? Cinema! Cinematic films also have the publishers receiving the lion’s-share (with cinemas making most of their profits from the sale of food and drinks). So you have: Cinemas, Digital, Library/Rental, Home Video, and Peer-to-Peer; all with varying degrees to which the publisher receives royalties. In the Library or Rental outlet they receive no royalties other than the original purchase of the work. Same with Peer-to-Peer. Retail releases they have to share the profits with retailers. Digital and Cinema, they get the lion’s-share of sales and only have to share a small amount with vendors. We won’t discuss broadcasting licensing right now, because that goes beyond the scope of this blog entry. Right, so now we know what publishers want: they want to always receive as much of the profit from works as possible, and to find ways to get them more profit and vendor’s less.

They also want to be able to sell things forever and have copyright never expire – this frightened actors in the 1960’s when video tape was invented. So the Screen Actor’s Guild had a contract stipulating that episodes must be destroyed after their original broadcast, and any sales to foreign broadcasters. So, the BBC should not be making any profit from any TV shows made under those terms – and that includes much of Classic Doctor Who – which actually they do still sell and profit from. Interesting isn’t it? The contracts clearly stated they could not keep broadcasting or selling these shows – it was done in order to protect actors so that they had to continue producing more new shows and could never just run re-runs.

Now I know this is going to be really really boring, but here’s the screenshots we’ll be looking at (BBC on top, ABC on bottom) and you can click either one to view in the original size (for BBC that’s 1280×720, for ABC it’s 720×576):

Doctor Who (2005) S09E01 BBC iPlayer

Doctor Who (2005) S09E01 ABC Broadcast

At this size you probably can’t tell the difference too easily. It is exactly the same frame from each source, and it’s about 40mins into the episode. One thing I noticed is that the ABC version (both the broadcast above and the iView version you’ll see below) are missing the dalek’s glowing-eye effect. But the difference in quality is all too clear. The ABC broadcast is standard definition – 576i. It has interlacing artefacts from the interlaced MPEG2 encoding. The BBC broadcast and iPlayer versions are both 720p (BBC iPlayer has other qualities too but that’s the “best” quality version). The ABC iView version is 1/4 the resolution at 640×360. So I will show you how they look when resized to 720p (again you can click the images to view the original size for each version). This time the order is ABC iView on top, then BBC iPlayer, then ABC broadcast, and finally the BBC broadcast (from The Pirate Bay).

ABC iView:

Doctor Who (2005) S09E01 ABC iView (resized and cropped)

BBC iPlayer:

Doctor Who (2005) S09E01 BBC iPlayer (cropped)

ABC Broadcast:

Doctor Who (2005) S09E01 ABC Broadcast (resized and cropped)

BBC Broadcast (from The Pirate Bay):

Doctor Who (2005) S09E01 BBC  (The Pirate Bay, cropped)

The clear winner in terms of video quality is the BBC iPlayer version. The torrent on The Pirate Bay’s of a digital recording of the BBC broadcast is almost exactly the same file-size, and there’s no channel logo, the video quality very close to the iPlayer version, but I’d say the iPlayer has a slight edge. But it is nicer because there’s no god-damned channel logo!! The ABC broadcast has interlacing artifacts and is lower quality because it’s standard definition, the file-size is huge because it’s MPEG2, and the ABC iView is terrible quality because it’s only 1/4 the resolution of HD (640×360). By the way audio is another matter – the peer-to-peer version is the ONLY one of the four to have 5.1 audio. But out of the other three the ABC broadcast has the highest bitrate audio.

I transcoded the ABC broadcast using avisynth, QTGMC on its default settings to remove the interlacing artefacts, and x264 to encode. It took about 2 hours. So even getting it to decent watchable quality to put in your media file folder takes some time. By contrast it took just 2 minutes to download the 720p file from the BBC servers.

So let’s look at the BBC’s arguments again. Yes the show was being simucast last year – but this year it isn’t. We don’t get to see it broadcast at 4:30 AM, we get it at 7:30 PM (15 hours after the UK) and as far as I know the iView version doesn’t become available until AFTER it airs in the UK. Yes the iView service is timely enough – but the quality is horrendous. And the effects are INCOMPLETE! Why do we have an incomplete version of the show??? What possible justification does the BBC have for that? What kind of a Doctor Who Enthusiast is going to watch the show in 360p? The customers that might use the iView service to view the show before it airs are the enthusiasts – yes – so it needs to be in comparable quality. I’m old enough to remember when anti-piracy campaigns used to tell consumers that illegitimate versions are inferior quality to the genuine products: now the exact opposite is true. The best quality versions are the so-called illegitimate pirated versions, and the worst quality are the so-called genuine ones.

At this point I have just about lost all respect for the BBC. Their arguments are no different to the people complaining about adblock and calling all of us blockers “thieves”. You know in June last year OpenDNS removed all ads from their site saying that advertisements represent a security threat, and are an invasion of privacy. I’m not some newly converted blocker – I’ve used the MVPS HOSTS file for over a decade!

I won’t discuss the politics in detail this post, I’ve already done that multiple times in the past, so I leave you with this thought. The only way to enjoy the show as it was originally intended (in HD with 5.1 audio) in Australia is to download a digital BBC recording through peer-to-peer networks. Until that is addressed, until the BBC and the ABC respect their customers, their customers aren’t going to respect them.

The cornerstone of Christianity is the resurrection of their apocalyptic patriarch Jesus. Jesus actually had much less to do with Christianity than you might think. Paul was significantly more influential to the birth and spread of Christianity as we know it than Jesus was. And not Just Paul – John the Baptist, Simeon Peter, and James the Just all may have been more influential than Jesus himself was. Two entries ago I showed you that it was James Peter and Paul who changed the rules in 50AD – 20 years after Jesus had died. Many Christians argue that “Jesus changed the Old Testament order”, but Jesus does no such thing. Jesus in fact says in Matthew 5:17-18 “Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished.” Most Christians don’t even know what a Jot or Tittle is. Jot is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and sometimes you see this translated as ‘iota’ as if Jesus is talking about Greek – when in fact he is clearly talking about Hebrew. Tittles are tiny marks at the ends of Hebrew letters – they aren’t found in Greek or other scripts. So this statement that Jesus gives in Matthew 5:17-18 is very strongly in support of keeping the Law of Moses – it couldn’t be much stronger. It wasn’t Jesus that said you don’t have to keep the covenant of circumcision – that was James 20 years later. It wasn’t Jesus that said you can eat meat with blood in it – that was Paul 25 years later.

“But there was an empty tomb” … seems to be the strongest arguments Christians have for the historicity of the resurrection. The priest at my ex-church would always proclaim that Christians can be certain of the resurrection historically because it was the only logical and sensible explanation for why the tomb was empty three days later. His argument was that if the Romans stole it then they would have displayed it publicly to put an end to the rumours of resurrection and break the spirit of his followers. That argument is probably fair enough. If the Jews stole it they would have done the same thing. And if the disciples stole it then why would they believe in a resurrection? And why would they risk breaking the Roman Seal (an offence punishable by death) to steal the dead body of their saviour? How would they have overcome the Roman guard? They didn’t have the means or the opportunity or the motive to pull off such a stunt. And finally he, and many other Christian leaders and apologists would make the claim that there is overwhelming historical evidence to prove the resurrection of Jesus.

Here are the problems. Firstly we know nothing about the man who took the body in the first place and who owned the tomb: Joseph of Arimathea. It could simply be that Joseph had the body taken out of his tomb and put elsewhere – in an ossuary, or in a grave, or maybe he had the body embalmed, or perhaps even cremated. Maybe he handed the body over to the family of Jesus and they did one of those things – on Sunday evening before the morning and before it was “discovered empty”. It’s even possible that the disciples went to the wrong tomb. Maybe a grave-robber took the body for the jewellery or other valuables that had been placed in the tomb alongside Jesus. He was buried in a wealthy person’s tomb and the tomb was guarded by the Roman guard – so they must have been guarding it for a good reason.

Here’s another problem – several New Testament authors never mention the resurrection of Jesus. Paul never once mentions a physical, bodily, resurrection. He never mentions the empty tomb either. He doesn’t even mention the ascension of Jesus. The most critical cornerstone of the Christian faith today, and he doesn’t have anything to say about it. In Galatians 1 Paul says he had a revelation about Jesus on the road to Damascus – at this stage he doesn’t even say that he saw Jesus in a vision. In the creed he recited in 1 Corinthians 15 all he has to say is that Jesus died for our sins, that God raised him, and that after that he appeared to people (as in visions). In 1 Cor 15:44 he specifically says that God doesn’t raise your physical body but provides you with a “spiritual body”, completely contradicting the later gospel versions of a physical resurrection. His letters are the earliest in the Bible. The epistle of James may also be as early as some of his letters and it doesn’t mention the resurrection of Jesus either. The first of the Christian Gospels to be written is Mark, which does mention the empty tomb but not a resurrected Jesus. Mark simply says that Jesus was raised (this is inline with God taking people up in the antediluvian period in Genesis). Matthew and Luke both include a full bodily resurrection, as does John. If you were able to put the books of the Bible in chronological order it’s not until the later ones are written that you see the bodily resurrection. This is strong evidence that the belief in the resurrection was progressive, it cannot be traced back any earlier than the gospels of Matthew and Luke written after Paul’s epistles, the gospel of Mark, and the epistle of James.

The Bible itself is not always a reliable source for history. Most critical scholars would point out what I have just pointed out and that is that the “Empty Tomb” is only attested by one independent source and that is Mark. Matthew, Luke, and John all used Mark to some degree. Furthermore, one ancient document is never enough to establish any historical facts. It is useful of course, but there are countless examples of things written down much sooner than the Gospels (within 5-10 years of events) containing dubious information that most historians reject. The Gospels were all anonymous. Yes we have some idea about who the author of Luke-Acts is, however knowing that he was either “Luke” or a companion of Luke doesn’t really tell us anything of value when it comes to validating his work. From Acts 13 on the narrative is contemporary, which means that the author probably knew first-hand about some of the events from Acts 13 to the end. From Luke 1 through to Acts 12 however the narrative is historical – the author didn’t have first-hand knowledge of the events. Which is why he needed to use an early copy of Mark as well as at least one other written document in order to write the gospel of Luke. So we know that all of the information is second-hand at best in this gospel, and the same goes for Matthew.

And Mark is not a first-hand account either, it’s a second-hand account – at best. There is no contemporary eye-witness testimony. There are no first century accounts independent form Christian texts – from the Romans or Jews – of such an event. Josephus didn’t write about it. Pliny the Younger doesn’t write about it. There’s no physical evidence to speak of. A historically-valid resurrection is not required to explain the expansion of Christianity – I already covered this two entries ago, Christianity succeeded because it had leaders who met in 50AD and were determined to see their religion grow and spread the gospel of salvation independent from being shackled to Judaism.

So does the resurrection of Jesus actually have any historically-valid evidence at all? Well yes it does. It has one single original account written by an unknown anonymous writer who is biased, religiously-motivated, and writing based on word-of-mouth hearsay. In scholarly terms it’s about the worst level of evidence you could expect. Furthermore it’s riddled with supernatural activity which would lead any historian towards further scepticism.

In contrast, the crucifixion of Jesus itself is actually well attested to. We have one gospel account that forms the basis for all the other four gospels, but there is sufficient detail added to the other gospels to show influence from other narratives, we have Paul attesting to it, Mara bar Serapion’s letter, and it’s mentioned in The Annals by Tacitus. Finally, of course Jesus had to have died somehow, and there no alternative accounts of how he died.

People in these times were hugely superstitious. It’s not unusual to find ancient writings attesting to magnificent supernatural things. There was no scientific process, there was no way to verify the claims that were made by ancient people. Many peasants throughout history would refuse the care of physicians and prefer the quackery offered from spiritual leaders – even when physicians were willing to treat the poor for free. What’s interesting is that the healing talked about so much in the New Testament no longer happens now that we would be able to verify divine intervention scientifically. Jesus instructs his disciples to go out and heal the sick. James says in his epistle that the prayer offered in faith will heal the sick. Not “might” or “could if God chooses to” but “will” heal the sick. Today we have physicians who can transplant organs or even limbs from another body. When someone has prayed for healing has God ever regrown their organ? Has he ever regrown their limbs? If the answer is no – then what exactly does God do? Is this just yet another broken promise – Jesus claimed to have healed the sick during his ministry, he instructed his followers to do it, and his brother James writes that a righteous person can heal the sick through prayer! So perhaps the fact that God is incapable of performing healing tasks that today’s surgeons can perform is the strongest evidence of all that he actually doesn’t exist. And if Yahweh doesn’t exist there is no one to resurrect Jesus following his crucifixion.

The Biblical claim that eyewitnesses attest to the resurrection is in itself useless. Matthew 28:17 says that some of these supposed eyewitnesses didn’t believe it. As I already pointed out none of the eyewitnesses who apparently bore witnesses wrote down anything anyway, and the gospels don’t mention anyone independent actually attesting to the resurrection either. But the Gospel of Matthew itself admits there are eyewitnesses who say that a resurrection didn’t take place! You can hardly expect the doubters to bother writing anything down – as far as they’re concerned the tale is nonsense and they don’t want to hear any more about it. As another example in Acts 7:54-60 Stephen is stoned to death. Yet the author tells us that Stephen sees Jesus – or at least he thinks he does. No one else saw him, so he can’t be physically present in Acts 7, and who knows what he really saw because he never met Jesus when he was alive. No one can question Stephen about this vision because he was stoned to death there and then. Was it simply a hallucination? Was it simply that the tale of his stoning had become embellished by the time Acts was written?

In 50 AD the church appears to have been controlled from Jerusalem. Whatever leaders in the Christian church were alive after the Jewish war (and it appears Paul probably wasn’t), they probably weren’t the main leaders of the Christian church before the war, because the war completely destroyed Jerusalem. What’s interesting is that Jesus seemingly makes a prophecy that Jerusalem will soon be destroyed, and he makes it twice according to Luke. Yet the early church didn’t even seem to believe this prophecy because 20 years later in AD 50 the church was still based in Jerusalem. Either that or they literally believed the prophecy to signify the end of the world, or Jesus hadn’t actually made the prophecy in the first place. These are all possibilities that we need to consider, and the least likely one is that Jesus’s followers believed the prophecy but didn’t see it as apocalyptic.

As I mentioned two entries ago, Paul and Barnabas have to travel from Syria to participate in the Jerusalem Council. Furthermore Nero persecuted the church in Jerusalem in the two years leading up to the war. These facts help explain why there is a huge gap in the chronology of the early church – we know somewhat about what happened in the first century up to 61AD because Paul and Luke wrote it down, and their narratives end around that time. From that time through to the end of the first century there is no information whatsoever to inform us about what the early church was doing. What seems very likely is that all the main authority figures in the early church – Peter, Paul, James, Barnabas, and even Luke had died, as well as every other important leader based in Jerusalem.

This left the early church in ruins – and it seems it slowly rebuilt itself in its gentile territories. Perhaps this goes someway to explaining the origins of the Deutero-Pauline epistles, and the other Gnostic texts perhaps written to reassure the frightened Christians that their leaders were still alive – when really they weren’t. But in truth we will never know what really happened in those decades. I believe that during this time the church reformed itself moving further from the hard-line apocalyptic origins (which in response prompted someone to write the book of Revelation). We don’t know who came up with the bodily resurrection or why. It wasn’t unique though – other legends before Christianity in the region had their own bodily resurrections too. The only difference between those ones and the Christian one is that there are still people alive today that believe that latter. What we do know, however, is that is never mentioned by Paul, James, Jude, the author of Hebrews, the author/s of the Deutero-Pauline epistles, or the author/s of the gospel of Mark. In particular it is difficult to believe that “Mark” and Paul would have left out the resurrection – the cornerstone of today’s Christianity – if they had known about it and believed it.

I want to make this clear from the onset. These are my arguments – just like the last post. I’m not repeating something I read by some militant anti-Christian atheists – I don’t read books by people like Richard Dawkins. I don’t visit anti-Christian websites or care for their arguments (as I’ve previously pointed out many of their arguments are often weak at best). Until I wrote the previous blog entry I’ve never seen anyone on the internet explain what the Bible’s definition of adultery is. The reason I know what it says is because I read it from the Bible for myself – not because I read some criticism by third parties. It’s not my intention to take anything in the Bible out of context – I believe I’m being very fair in assessing what the Bible itself actually says. And you don’t need to take my word for it – read it for yourself.

Last entry I finished with the line “Yahweh is a woman hating misogynistic deity who views women as the property of men”. Yahweh’s character is what I’m examining here at the moment. Christians say that we have to learn about the character of Jesus to learn about the character of Yahweh, however as I pointed out in the last entry Jesus was just a first century apocalyptic preacher. Even for Christians who believe that Jesus is the begotten son of god, without the Old Testament there are no divine judgement from God, there are no covenants with God, there are no prophecies to fulfil, and there is no scripture for Jesus to preach from. Perhaps most importantly of all, without the Old Testament there’s no basis on which for God to judge us, there is covenant with Adam that makes him our Judge, there is no original sin, and therefore there is no need for a saviour. I believe that sums up why Christians can’t simply discard the Old Testament.

There is nothing in the Old Testament beyond the conventional wisdom of the ancient world. There are clearly immoral parts of the Old Testament, for example where Yahweh instructs the Israelites to enslave nations when you invade them in battle. The tenth commandment certainly should offend women today, yet many Christian women read it and do not understand what it is saying simply because we have theologians who take what the Bible says and what the meaning has been for centuries or millennia and change it to fit a new theology.

The overarching view of today’s churches is one of dispensationalism. This is certainly the theological basis for my former church, and at its core it teaches Christians the God’s revelation is progressively unfolding, slowly being revealed, and each time God reveals something new something more. This is why churches today tend to focus on only the New Testament writings, and many Christians seem to believe that the Old Testament no longer applies or has the meaning that it once had since it’s been displaced by newer revelations. Of course there are many problems with this theology, the biggest one in my view is that God never keeps of his sacred covenants so should why should we bother worrying about them?

Dispensationalism picks and chooses between which of the sacred ancient covenants that God made in the Old Testament that “we” think still apply. It is a contradiction because the covenant with Adam is still applied, yet the covenant with Moses isn’t. Essentially, God is still punishing us because Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – if he wasn’t, if he decided to move on and nullify the covenant, then there’s no need for salvation. The covenant that God makes with Adam is where and when he asserts his authority to be the judge of mankind. Without this covenant that God made with Adam, there is no basis for him to pass judgement on humanity.

The next sacred covenant God makes is with Noah. Noah is the first human being instructed to eat meat. God tells Noah that he will make all animals fear mankind. He instructs Noah, and the generations to come, to carry out capital punishment for the crime of murder. He promises never to destroy humanity again by flood. God clearly no longer keeps this covenant – there are plenty of animals that don’t fear humans for example. Also why I was a Christian I had this burning question – is Noah really real anyway? There are only two arguments that Christians can make – yes he was or no he wasn’t. If he was real and we go by what the Bible says in Genesis 6 through 9, then God tells Noah to spend 100 years building an Ark. That’s a very long time, and yes it is possible a natural basin in the Ararat Mountain range could indeed cause a flood so catastrophic that Noah would not be able to see any land. But here’s the thing – God would have known it was an illusion. He would have known he could just send Noah on a day’s hike or two-days at the most to get out of the flood range. Instead he has him build an ark for 100 years and tells him he’s saving all the world’s animals which isn’t really true.

It’s when we get to Abraham though that God truly reveals his true character. In Genesis 15 he tells Abram that his people will be oppressed and enslaved for four hundred years but that he will deliver them out of the land (of Egypt) with great possessions and they shall enter the land of Canaan, the land where Abraham is now, to possess. In Genesis 17, 24 years after Genesis 15, God renews the covenant with Abraham. He says that in his old age he will be fruitful and ancestor of a ‘multitude of nations’. God promises to keep the covenant for every generation to come as an “everlasting covenant” (Gen 17:7). In Gen 17:8 Yahweh says he will give the whole of the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants as an everlasting possession. He seals the covenant with the instruction for Abraham to keep the covenant of circumcision.

There are many problems with this divine and sacred covenant, as we will see. The biggest problem is that Yahweh doesn’t keep the covenant. He isn’t faithful to his people. Modern Israeli archaeologists have determined with certainty that at no time between the late bronze and iron ages was the land of Canaan ever possessed by a single unified nation. In the Iron Age it was briefly held by the Neo-Assyrian Empire, and of course by the time of Jesus it was under Roman control. Theologians over time have suggested that the ancient Jews weren’t ‘faithful enough’ that they somehow failed to receive this promise that God made to Abraham. Yet the book of Joshua makes it clear that from the Biblical point of view the ancient Israelites did inherit the land by conquering it. This would suggest that at least from the Biblical point of view God is keeping this covenant. Even if we ignore the hard archaeological evidence that shows this never happened, Christians and Jews cannot ignore the overwhelming evidence that for at least several centuries prior to Jesus the Canaan land was not under Jewish control.

So why doesn’t Yahweh tell Abraham the truth? He’s God, he knows the future, he knows that the covenant is a lie. He says it will be an everlasting covenant that the Canaan land will be an everlasting possession. Going by the Biblical account the “truth” is that God is going to become displeased with his people and let other nations come in and take control of the land from the Israelites. So why doesn’t he just tell Abraham that in the first place?

The Abrahamic covenant was re-affirmed several times. First with Moses, then with Joshua, then with David. It has been demonstrated pretty well that the covenant with Moses on Mt Sinai was actually based on ancient Hittite-vassal treaties. There are three ways to look at this, and Christians unsurprisingly always claim that “oh that just proves the Bible” any time there’s a similarity between something in the Bible and something in the real ancient world. That’s one way to look at it. Another way to look at it is that the treaties influenced the Mt Sinai covenant and therefore not a divine being. And the third and final way to look at it is to say that well yes it could been arrived at independently of the Hittite-vassal treaties, but the existence of said treaties show there’s nothing particularly unique or special about the divine commandments given in the Old Testament. They’re ordinary and you find them elsewhere. Throughout Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy God reaffirms the covenant that he made with Abraham.

In 2 Samuel 7:12-14 God again reaffirms the Abrahamic covenant to David who is now possessing the land, according to the Bible.

Also, Moses is mentioned some 80 times in the New Testament. Yet his historicity has been clearly shown to be invalid by modern archaeology. Many Christians actually accept this, because all they care about is whether Jesus was real or not. But without the patriarchs there is no sacred covenants, without Moses there is no Law, and without the Law there are no instructions for the Jews to find too difficult to keep and require salvation from.

I don’t think many Christians really actually care about this. A godless atheist heathen like myself can’t possibly have any real insight into what the Bible says. Denialisim is rife among the faithful – you don’t have to go to the extremes of fundamentalism to find it, you will find it in every single church. Neil Silberman notes that believer’s minds are “hardwired to believe that THEY are the authentic heirs of the biblical tradition”. Others scholars have noted that believes feel entitled to their own history. Something that rightly frustrates academics who devote their lives to the study of the ancient world. It’s not a very nice thing to say to a professional archaeologist or historian or scholar that their expertise isn’t needed because the Bible tells you the “truth”. It’s quite funny because Christians have largely backed off from their criticisms of other scientists such as astronomers, biologists, geneticists, palaeontologists, and geologists. Yet they still claim to be the enlightened ones, the ones who know “the” truth as if it’s some great secret kept from the rest of us. And with that I will leave you with this quote from biblical archaeologist Neil Silberman.

There is no difference whatsoever between Scientific Creationists (who twist every possible bit of empirical evidence to show that Darwin MAY be wrong and that the world COULD have been created in seven days 6000 years ago), with those fundamentalist biblical hardliners who INSIST that every single word of the Bible is inerrant, divinely inspired and that every historical story it contains is as reliable as a news report in the New York Times– no, sorry– the Fox News Network.Neil Silberman

Have you ever talked to a hardcore fundamentalist? They will justify anything and everything written in the Bible and claim that every other idea that comes along and challenges the Biblical view is wrong and nothing more than the futile pathetic loathsome concoctions of poor lowly mortal man, which can’t possibly improve upon God’s truly marvellous, righteous, and supreme ways.

This is something that as a Christian bothered me for a very long time. And in a moment I’ll give you some examples that no extent of creative interpretative theological manoeuvring can disguise for what they are.

But first I want to go back to where it all started. Cast your minds back to 50AD …

You’re in Jerusalem and a meeting is about to take place between the early Christian leaders. They are going to discuss whether we really need to follow the Law of Moses any more, or if we can start cutting our Jewish roots and carve out a new pathway for our apocalyptic movement. You see Barnabas and Paul arriving with some newly converted Syrian Christians. You see some Christians belonging to a more traditional Jewish wing of the church go over and begin arguing with the men over the need for circumcision. The apostles and the elders of the church break up the dispute and agree to discuss and settle the matter formally.

A fiery debate soon ensues, and after some time you see Simon Peter one of the original twelve disciples get up and attempt to draw the debate to a close. Peter stands up and addresses the apostles and elders in a loud strong voice, and makes dramatic, startling, and unexpected argument that shocks the crowd. He says that the Law of Moses is a yoke on the necks of believers that our ancestors have been unable to bear. The apostles and elders are drawn to an eerie silence – not knowing how to respond to such a bold anti-Jewish assertion. Even Peter’s brother and fellow Apostle Andrew is silent. James and Judas the brothers of Jesus are silent, as is John the son of Zebedee, and all the other church elders. In the silence Barnabas and Paul stand up and as the eyes of the church elders turn their way they begin testifying before them about the great numbers of Syrians and other non-Jews they have been converting – gesturing towards some of them that are sitting quietly with the other church laity.

You think to yourself just 20 years have passed since Jesus was killed by the Romans, the apocalyptic preacher who started the movement. He probably wouldn’t have agreed with such a radical shift, but he was gone now. In his place you see his brothers Judas and James sitting together quietly listening to Barnabas and Paul give their testimony regarding gentile conversions to the Christian gospel of salvation. You have to admit to yourself that even though Jesus probably wouldn’t have done it, it was still consistent with the gospel he preached when he was alive.

After Paul and Barnabas had finished speaking James stood up ready to make a decision on the matter at hand. He agrees with Peter that the yoke of the Law of Moses is an unbearable burden, one that has shackled their ancestors. He quotes a passage from the holy book of Amos, and another from Jeremiah. James hands down his decision saying that the church in Jerusalem will write to the Gentile churches and instruct them to keep only the following sacred Jewish laws: Not to eat of anything that has been polluted by idols, not to practise sexual immorality, and only to eat meat that hasn’t been strangled and has been drained of blood (kosher). The elders and apostles agree to James’s decision, as you leave you see Luke the Physician taking notes and perhaps preparing to write these letters.

The Jerusalem church then sent Judas Barsabbas and Silas to go with Barnabas and Paul to Antioch to ensure that the message is delivered to the gentile churches of the region. A few short years later Paul will disobey this decision by telling his congregation in Corinth in writing that they shall eat whatever they want. What I’ve just described to you above is essentially Acts 15 also known as the Council of Jerusalem. I only introduced three things into my rendering of it that are not strictly in the Bible – can you spot them?

The first is I simply named more people than is named in Acts – Judas and Luke for instance. The second is I said Jesus was killed by the Romans – this is now the overwhelming scholarly view and even the Pope has acknowledged this. The Bible however says the Jews killed Jesus. And the third is that I said that Jesus probably wouldn’t have done this – there is some evidence for my assertion though. Jesus does say the Law shall be upheld in the gospels, and if he wanted them to do this (tell the gentiles not to keep the whole of the law) he could have said so in the “Great Commission” or at any other time so the disciples didn’t have to wait until 20 years after his death to make this decision.

You see this is revisionism. It’s the church adapting, and that’s what virtually all regions have always done, even if they refuse to recognise or acknowledge it. The church reached an untenable position, an immovable obstacle – and that was they were preaching the “gospel of salvation” and people were willing to convert to Christianity but not to Judaism. You see Judaism was never itself an evangelistic proselytising faith – it was far more inwardly focused. The ancestral roots of the Patriarchs didn’t hold any meaning to the gentiles. Nor did the Abrahamic Covenant (which God hadn’t kept anyway), since Christians didn’t care about inheriting the land promised to the patriarchal ancestors of the Jews. It simply wasn’t designed to be proselytised, and that’s why it wasn’t working in 50 AD.

With this much insight you could almost mistake me for a scholar! No I’m just a sceptic and one that reads his bible and scrutinises it with critical thinking. So on we go.

1. The Bible doesn’t say Christians need to eat kosher meat.

Acts 15:20 “write to them to abstain foods offered to idols, sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled and from blood”. The only type of meats that don’t meet the ‘don’t do’s’ are kosher meats. Yes you could argue that James didn’t specifically say “don’t eat unclean meats” but it’s implied by instructing them to abstain from blood. Did you notice that after the council Paul went back to Antioch, and from there he wrote 1 Corinthians. So his letter to the Corinthians is quite soon after the council in Acts 15 – it’s only about 5 years later. In 1 Cor 8 Paul specifically tells the church in Corinth they can eat meat that has been offered to idols because idols aren’t real. In 1 Cor 10 he tells the church in Corinth they may eat anything sold in the market and not to question it.

And what’s interesting, to me anyway, is that Acts was written sometime between 61 and 85 AD. So between 10-35 years after that council, and up to 30 years after Paul wrote 1 Corinthians. Yet Luke’s account says that James handed down a decision that contradicts what Paul instructs the mid-first century Corinthian Christians in his letter. It’s interesting because there would be a clear motivation for a first century gospel writer to hide a potentially problematic conflicting decision, and yet they didn’t. So I think if it was Luke or one his close associates who wrote Acts that they had not seen Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. And with Paul clearly disobeying orders from Jerusalem it’s easy to see why his letters probably weren’t circulated outside of “his” regions until some time in the late first century or early second century.

  • VERDICT: Yes the Bible does say specifically that Christians should abstain from meat offered to idols, meat that has been strangled, and meat containing blood – and then it contradicts itself in another book.

2. The Bible doesn’t condone slavery.

Apologetics claim that the bible doesn’t really condone the practise, but rather tells the ancient Israelites they need to treat slaves with dignity and respect. I’ve even heard priests say that Israelite slaves enjoyed better conditions than the slaves of other nations. That is one fact that is easily refuted: Egyptian slaves could buy and sell property, could get married and divorced, could work their way to freedom, and privately owned slaves could not be made to do forced manual labour or demeaning tasks! Note there is some suggestion that convicted criminals could be made to do forced work, but not ordinary slaves. If slaves were mistreated or made to do forced labour then the owners could be made to be set them free. Slaves were treated equally regardless of their “race”. I have mentioned this to priests in the past and they have either denied it (since it contradicts the depiction of Egyptian slavery in Exodus) or have pleaded ignorance. Now how do we know this? Because historians tell us – they tell us slaves in Egypt were mainly prisoners of war and peasants who sold themselves into slavery.

The so-called rights that Israeli slaves have as outlined by Leviticus 25 do not amount to much. They can’t own or sell property and can’t work their way to freedom. Male slaves are to be given an opportunity to be freed after six years of service, but only one opportunity, and only if they are a debt slave (a Hebrew person), and they don’t get that opportunity if their owners give them a wife (and they want to stay married). Female slaves cannot be freed. Foreigners who are enslaved can be enslaved forever (Leviticus 25:46). And Israelite people are not to sell Israelite slaves to non-Israelites, but they can sell foreign slaves to non-Israelites. The instructions in Leviticus 25 on their own are enough to demonstrate that Yahweh clearly condones slavery, and is sexist, and also racist.

And yet priests and apologists still try to tell us God’s instructions were to give slaves better conditions. Admitting otherwise would be admitting that Yahweh is not perfect. But the question is better than what exactly? Better than some mythical primitive ancient Canaanite nations that we know next to nothing about? Even if such a thing were true, Egypt clearly had far better conditions. Egyptologists tell us that slaves had it better than peasants in Egypt.

As bad as Leviticus 25 is, there’s another part that’s even worse: Yahweh specifically instructs the Israelites to enslave people.

I’ve already addressed the crux of the apologist argument. Their argument that’s God’s instructions are not to go out and take slaves but rather to treat them fairly. Well yes that kind of addresses Leviticus 25, admittedly not very well (exactly what rights if any did foreign slaves have?), but in Deuteronomy 20 Yahweh does tell the Israelites to go out and enslave people:

Deut 20:10-14: “When you draw near to a city to fight against it, offer terms of peace to it. And if it responds to you peaceably and it opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall do forced labour for you and shall serve you. But if it makes no peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. And when Yahweh your God gives it into your hand, you shall put all its males to the sword, but the women and the little ones, the livestock, and everything else in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as plunder for yourselves. And you shall enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which Yahweh your God has given you.”

So not only does Yahweh tell them to go out and conquer lands by warfare, but when they do that they are to enslave everyone. In Deut 20:16-18 he goes even further by saying that in the cities of Canaan they are to let no one escape and kill absolutely everyone – young, old, child, and livestock. So not only does Yahweh condone slavery, but he specifically instructs his people to practise it as well. He could have said “after you conquer a city and you have killed all the men you can let the women and children flee”, but instead he says to enslave them.

  • VERDICT: The Bible not only condones slavery but Yahweh specifically instructs his people to practise it.

3. The Bible doesn’t say women are property.

I have heard priests and apologists and even the laity say that the Bible has a very progressive outlook on the rights of women. And I don’t think it’s a stretch to admit that probably Jesus may have had a progressive outlook on the status of women. But Jesus was just a first century apocalyptic preacher. These arguments can be a deflection because the question isn’t what did Jesus believe – he may well have believed that women should have equal rights. But unless you believe the Nicene doctrine of the trinity (and unless you’re a Christian you don’t) then it doesn’t answer the question of whether Yahweh is a malevolent, psychopathic, misogynist god or not. And even if you do believe the Nicene Creed, the Old Testament itself existed in its completed form for at least 2 centuries in ancient Palestine before the apocalyptic preachings of Jesus. So then the Old Testament clearly needs to be able to stand on its own, and it needs to be the one that reveals to us the character of Yahweh. If Yahweh is kind, faithful, and just then the Old Testament alone will reveal this.

But of course he isn’t. His character can be openly attacked from many different angles, and many people have done this over the years. To deflect away from it the standard Christian answer is that Jesus fully reveals his character and that anything we learn about the character of Yahweh from the Old Testament without the New is incomplete.

But, doesn’t Yahweh “reveal” himself to the Patriarchs? Doesn’t he also reveal who he is by the sacred covenants he makes (and then doesn’t keep) and the sacred holy laws he decrees?

Yahweh allows the Israelites to keep concubines which is just a fancy biblical word for sex slaves. In the previous passage I quoted (Deut 20:14) he even calls enslaved foreign women the “spoils of war”. Christians don’t know how to answer this problem. Because once it’s pointed out to them that biblical concubines are in fact sex slaves they can’t escape the problem. So how do I know that they are sex slaves and not merely women with a slightly lower status than that of “wife”? Well precisely because they are women with a lower status than wife who are themselves property of men. And in a moment I will prove Israelite wives are property.

Genesis 2:18 Yahweh creates women to serve men: “Then Yahweh God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.'” Now you might say, oh Daniel that’s just God saying men and women are made for each other. Well that would probably be true if it wasn’t for the context that the verse is in, have a look at this for yourself:

Gen 2:18-23: “Then Yahweh God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’ Now out of the ground Yahweh God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So Yahweh God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,

”          ‘This at last is bone of my bones
               and flesh of my flesh;
            she shall be called Woman,
                because she was taken out of Man.'”

So women are just like animals. According to Genesis, the reason animals exist in the first place is to serve mankind, and the reason women exist is specifically as a helper for men. There’s no getting around it: God creates it and brings it to Adam just like all the animals; Adam names the woman just like he names all the animals.

The Tenth Commandment: You shall not covet your neighbour’s property: Ex 20:17 “Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Now some Christians think that the context is ‘don’t have unclean thoughts about your neighbour’s wife’ – don’t desire her sexually. But look at the list, it’s a list of your neighbour’s property. Many of them will try to claim it says servants not slaves – but most modern Bible translations are done by teams of Evangelistic translators – you can be well assured that it does say slave. The Hebrew words used are Strong’s H5650 (male slave) and H519 (female slave), and H519 also means concubine. By including wives in a list of property that “thou shalt not covet” Yahweh clearly establishes that women are property.

Furthermore, nor the ten commandments or the book of Exodus discuss sexual immorality – that’s in Leviticus 18. And as for adultery, that’s the seventh commandment (Ex 20:14). And note that Jesus says this: Matthew 5:27-28: “‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” So Ex 20:14 covers adultery both the physical act and the lustful intent, according to what Jesus says. Therefore the tenth commandment can only mean not to covert your neighbour’s property.

The difference treatment between male and female slaves I have already noted. Women were viewed as property which is why they aren’t to ever be set free. Female slaves that are Hebrews and are the wife of a male slave are to remain with the slave owner if the male slave is freed (Ex 21, Lev 25) it is very clear that in the Israelite society women are to serve men and are property. Ex 23:17 the feast of unleavened bread is a festival only for men, women are explicitly excluded. Lev 18:20 defines adultery as a man sleeping with his neighbour’s wife. Yet married men could sleep with prostitutes, concubines, or unmarried women and it was not adultery. It was only adultery if the woman was married. Male and females have different monetary values as slaves: “If the person is from one month to five years old, your assessment for a male is five silver shekels, and for a female your assessment is three shekels of silver.” (Lev 27:6).

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 says that if a man rapes a virgin he is to pay her father 50 shekels of silver as retribution and shall be forced to take her hand in marriage, and he cannot divorce her. This is an interesting passage for so many reasons. One is that Yahweh clearly doesn’t know about inflation, but also Christians will claim that ‘well it doesn’t say that the rape victim would be forced to marry her rapist only that he is forced to do so’. That’s true enough, but even so – in what universe is it okay to tell rapists to marry their victims? In any case the monetary value being paid to her father clearly establishes that she is her father’s property (until she marries and then she becomes her husband’s property). Another thing is that up to this point divorce hadn’t been defined in the Bible, but it is defined clearly just one chapter later in Deut 24:

Deut 24:1-5: “‘When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favour in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before Yahweh. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that Yahweh your God is giving you for an inheritance.”

Jesus does say that there is something wrong with this, and he apparently says so twice (Matthew 5:32 and Matt 19:9). “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Now what did I just cite from above – ah yes the definition of adultery is when a man sleeps with a married woman (Lev 18:20). So look at what Jesus doesn’t say. He doesn’t say that adultery includes women who sleep with married men. Nor does he suggest that women have any right to get divorced from their husbands. Deuteronomy 24:1-5 makes it very clear that divorce is for men to disown their wives. Because women are the property of men they have no right to get divorced from their husbands. He has the opportunity to say this in Matthew 5:27-28 (as quoted 4 paragraphs above), but he clearly cites the Old Testament definition of adultery. Sometimes apologists will say ‘well people in ancient times just didn’t know any better’ – but Egyptian women could buy and sell property, they could inherit from their family’s estate, they could get divorced from their husbands, they could participate in juries, and they could give evidence in court equal to men’s. So some people in ancient times did know better.

Let’s compare this to Yahweh’s women: They can’t inherit from the family’s estate unless there are no sons (Numbers 27:8); They cannot file for a divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1-5); And they couldn’t participate in juries or give testimony in court (the Talmud). My former priest, and other clergy, and apologists always like to use the argument that the women’s testimony of the resurrection shows the Bible is credible because an author inventing it would have used men who are able to testify in court. What they fail to disclose to you and I is that although women couldn’t testify in court, there’s nothing to stop them running to their families and associates and telling them of things they’ve just seen, such as an empty tomb where the deceased Jesus had been laid.

  • VERDICT: The Bible says in many places that women are property. It says it very plainly and without any apology. There is no doubt about it whatsoever: Yahweh is a woman hating misogynistic deity who views women as the property of men.