I went from Christian to agnostic/atheist as a result of reading the Bible. I decided to find out what the historical and scientific explanations for biblical phenomena were. Boy, did I get a shock. I started with the Pentateuch. There are 34 references to Baal in the Pentateuch, but only three to Jehovah. The "Israelites" were Baal worshippers. The violent god of the OT is Baal. Read the story of Balaam and the talking donkey. Make careful note of who is speaking. Baal is referred to as "the Almighty" and "Lord."
There are rational explanations for everything mentioned in the Exodus - the "walls of water" at the "Red Sea Crossing" are easily explained by surge and seiche waves. The pillar of cloud and pillar of fire were signaling torches and smokeboxes on a long pole, used to signal the troops.
There is no solid evidence that Jesus ever lived. Nobody says he talked to him; nobody even met anybody who met him. From the date of Jesus' (hypothetical) death to the time that a writer first mentions the four modern gospels is 150 years.
I grant that it is difficult to free yourself from the crushing, stifling weight of Abrahamic religion, but it is well worth doing once you get there.
Doug, just a couple of correctives. "Jehovah" never appears in the Old Testament or new. "YHWH" does, unappointed by vowels, as the ancient Hebrews did not utilize them in their first hundreds of years of texts. Some groups (e.g., the Jehovah's Witnesses) translate "YHWH" as "Jehovah," as do a few older Bible translations. "Elohim," usually translated in English as "the Lord," also appears hundreds of times in scripture. 'Baal' appears also, many times, because it was the Canaanite feritility god, a rival to the Hebrew deity. It is a separate tribal god used as a foil for the Hebrew assertion of the oneness of "YHWH." Baal worship was a recurring apostasy, or heresy, of the early Jewish adherents. That's why 'Baal" appears so frequently; not because it is identical to 'YHWH."
Jesus lived. There are several references to him in Josephus, Suetonius and other contemporary historians. The laughable idea that he didn't exist because no one ever spoke with him could be applied to many ancient figures such as Homer, Plato, Aristotle and many others We know these ancients by what they wrote (not Jesus) or by who wrote about them (the evangelists, Paul, dozens of other non-canonical gospels, letters and treatises, and 1900 years of theologians, monks and mystics). Jesus lived; it's what his followers made of him that matters. [I've never spoken with you, but I believe you exist.]
Jesus died, in all probability and according to internal (scriptural) and external (historical) sources , in A.D. 30 or 33. The most recent scholarship dates Mark's gospel (Mark claims to be an eyewitness) around 75-80 A.D. This is 40+ years, not "150." The last gospel to be written was John, around 120 A.D., 90-odd years after Jesus--again, not "150." Paul's writings were all from the 50's-70's; only 20-40 years removed from the earthly Jesus; not "150."
Your other comments are standard, decent, logical explanations for what are usually labeled 'supernatural' events.
Ron and Doug, for all the wars, witch hunts, oppression, forced conversions, etc., spawned by Imperial Christianity, don't forget that grass-roots Christianity created hospitals, hospices, shelters in time of war and famine, encouraged literacy and preserved learning in the monasteries during the Dark Ages. No religion is perfect; some are worse than others; Christianity isn't all bad.
Edited by szentgyorgy, 29 June 2013 - 04:08 PM.