Prophets and Cognitive Dissonance

Consider everyone throughout history and around the world who have claimed to be prophets but weren’t/aren’t accepted by traditional Christians: Joseph Smith of the Latter-Day Saints, Muhammad of Islam, the Dali Lama of Buddhism, L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology, David Koresh, Jim Jones, Sun Myung Moon, etc., etc., etc.

Why do Christians discredit these false prophets? Is it just because they weren’t mentioned in the Bible? Yes and no. “Yes” because if they had been mentioned in the Bible then Christians would believe in them. “No” because they all fail the test of reason. Christians understand that common sense tells you their stories were fabricated.

Their stories are so transparent that it only takes a semi-conscious half moment of thought to size them up and dismiss them for the fantasies they are. But let’s take a look at them again anyway. Consider what all the false prophets have in common. They each made outrageous claims about being specifically chosen by God to deliver a special message from God to humans (which conveniently always resulted in the prophet receiving copious amounts of adoration, and/or power, wealth, and sex). Furthermore, most of them claim to have been literally visited by magical beings, witnessed magical events and were usually given some sort of magical power.

In short, all the prophets’ stories are scientifically impossible based on what we know about how the universe operates. It’s obvious God didn’t give Joseph Smith magical golden plates. It’s obvious an angel riding a flying horse didn’t reveal Himself to Muhammad. It’s obvious the Dali Lama wasn’t reincarnated. It’s obvious L. Ron Hubbard was a science fiction writer desperate for a pay check who wrote the most profitable fantasy story he could think of. Why is it obvious? Because God told us? No. Atheist and Christians alike all over the world have figured out that those stories are bullshit because we put them to the test of reason and evidence, and when we did that it took us about two seconds to find those stories lacking.

We know these things to be true, and yet when Christians look at their own religion they don’t practice what they preach. Take the apostle, Paul for example. Paul saw God on a journey from one place to another just like Muhammad. Afterwards magical scales formed on his eyes until he made it to the end of his journey where they were miraculously removed. Afterwards he was imbued with the authority of God, and angels helped him along his way. God even caused an earthquake to get him out of prison.

The double standard is obvious. Paul’s story is full of magical events that are impossible. Not only that, but his message is full of the same kind of culturally relative social standards that betray the humanity of other false prophets. God may be unknowable, but common sense tells us that the creator of the universe would never command us to kill the infidels any more than he would tell us that women aren’t allowed to speak in church or wear jewelry.

The case becomes even worse when we apply Christian standards of prophet-judgment to Jesus. Think about it. We can’t prove that anything Jesus did actually happened. We can’t even prove Jesus actually existed. Based on what we know about how the universe operates we know that all the magical events that supposedly happened to and around Jesus couldn’t have happened, and even though there was some wisdom in the words attributed to Jesus he also promoted a lot of culturally relative social standards as well. What if Muhammad approved of slavery? Wouldn’t that betray the fact that he doesn’t speak for God? Well, Jesus approved of slavery. What if Muhammad started out his career as a prophet advocating racism and then halfway through his career said, “Wait a minute. Maybe racism is stupid.” Would anyone believe that God’s only prophet would be so daft? Well, that’s what Jesus did with the gentiles.

Even if you have faith in Paul and Jesus, you have to admit that believing in their stories doesn’t just require having passive faith that improvable events happened but requires you to actively believe in events that contradict reason and evidence. Not only that, but in order to believe those implausible stories and nobody else’s you have to exercise and even celebrate cognitive dissonance. To put it bluntly, you have to be an ignorant, close minded hypocrite. I’m sorry, but it’s true.

Again, I don’t say this because I want to bash Christians. I want to point out that the Bible obviously isn’t the word of God so you can stop worrying about it. Do something enjoyable and productive with your life instead of prostrating yourself before the contradictory and oppressive dogma of a couple of manipulative megalomaniacs from a foreign culture who have been dead and gone for thousands of years.

Originally published at on December 19, 2009.

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