The Nativity according to Matthew; why I'm an atheist

  It is often said that many are atheist because they read the Bible. This is my story.  I did not know there were atheist books, activists or anything of the sort. I was a christian with my Bible. I could not discuss doubts with other believers I had to study the Bible that was my only choice.

  This is one of my favorite passages that led to my disbelief. I did not know that Nazareth was not inhabited at all during Jesus's life time, that there was no census or that it couldn't have happened, that the prophesy of the virgin birth was not a prophesy but a sign that wasn't fufilled in the old testament or that it was a mistranslation from Hebrew (young woman) to Greek (virgin), that the star was a myth that predated Judaism in other religions, that demigods were prevalent in other religions predating Christianity, that three wise men also predated Christianity (the most compelling comes from the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen).

I found that the Bible could not be considered valid on its own merit. It was simply implausible and contradictory to its self.  This is an example of my journey, of how I read the Bible and eventually interpreted it. I used to actually paraphrase the Bible to my friends and family to their utter shock much like this. So now I will give you an example of the Nativity according to Matthew(whoever he or they were) paraphrased and with commentary according to Compelled. I will only be taking the story according to its own merit as I did as a Christian to show why I had to reject it as false. 

   First we get this great prophesy that (Matthew 1:23) the virgin will have a baby and he will be called immanuel. No where else is this reference made, he is not called immanuel even in modern times? Jesus is born and some wise men from the east see a star in the east and follow it. This means Bethlehem is in the West. So they circumvent the entire globe and arrive on the west side of Jerusalem. The star disappears. They ask around where the King of the Jews has been born and proclaim that they have followed the star to worship him. It does not explain where their information came from.

  King Herod hears about this and is very troubled along with ALL of Jerusalem. Even though he is a Jew he ask his priests and scribes where Christ was to be born. They indicate Bethlehem according to prophesy. He for some reason not explained, he calls a secret meeting with the wise men to find out when the star appeared. The king sends them to Bethlehem (a whole 2-3 miles away) and ask them to tell him when they find the baby so he can worship him also. The star now again magically appears; It leads them to A house and stops over it. They find Mary and Jesus there and worship baby Jesus and they give him gold and embalming fluids.

  Suddenly they are dreaming and god tells them not to go to Herod but to go home. God now tells Joseph,in a dream, to pack up the family and move to Egypt. He does so right then in the middle of the night(bad idea in those times). Herod learns that the wise men "fooled him" (whatever that means). Herod's response is to murder all male children in Bethlehem under two years of age.

A prophesy(not a prophesy at all but an old story of another time) is now sited as being fufilled. "The sound of crying and much sorrow was heard in Raman. Rachel was crying for her children. She would not be comforted because they were dead."(Jeremiah 31-15)

ALL OF JERUSALEM was very troubled that the Christ was born. All of Jerusalem includes everyone, even the Romans, but the overwhelming majority would have been Jews. Christ was THEIR Messiah that they were hoping and eagerly waiting for to save them from Roman oppression. Ironically, they are now upset that he has actually arrived? They could not have known that he was not the Messiah they were looking for.

  Herod hears that some random "wise men" have followed a star (that on one else can evidently see) to Jerusalem I order to worship a baby king of the Jews. Why is Herod now very troubled by what these unvetted, hallucinating, people have said? Herod IS the king of the Jews. He is actually scared of a baby unknown peasant due to the ramblings of foreigner's. Once he finds out that the Messiah is foretold to be born in Bethlehem, the story suggest that he at once decides to kill the Christ.  Herod the apparently lies to the wise men by asking them to tell him when they find the Christ baby so that he can worship him.

 Bethlehem is about 2 1/2 miles from Jerusalem and well within his jurisdiction. Bethlehem is believed by scholars to have been a village of 300-1000 people. It would have been easier for him to send his soldiers to find the child and bring him back or kill him in a matter of hours.  Instead he chooses to trust crazy strangers to conduct official state business that he is so concerned about.

Guess what? The mages who see a magical star no one else sees prove to be unreliable and skip town without reporting back to Herod. What a surprise. Herod gets enraged and finally sends his soldiers on a bloodletting rampage. Would he really risk a complete Jewish revolt and having to answer to the Roman emperor? Of course not.

A prophesy must be fufilled. Who makes prophesy? God. This means that all has gone according to plan. God's plan. God had to plan on killing babies for a very, very long time.  The star could have led the wise guys directly to Jesus in Bethlehem without Herod ever knowing about it. But no they had to go to Jerusalem first to Herod so God could make sure babies were killed. God loves blood!

I think you've got the idea. The Bible repudiates itself. That was enough for me. I hope you have enjoyed this little Christmas gift.

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Comment by Michael Penn on December 23, 2016 at 6:39am

As we can see by reading the replies there were many contenders in those days wanting to be known as the Messiah. All that was needed was to change some facts, dates, and places around and this is what the writers of these stories did. This is also why in one gospel we have Jesus entering the city riding a mare and her colt at the same time. (That must have been a real feat.) Very recently a man on the Internet took me to task over the scriptural verse saying "his name shall be called Immanuel" and he came up with what he thought proved it, and that was the full name of Jesus. I was reading "Jeshua the Messiah" and this poor deluded man thought it meant "Immanuel." 

Believers will go to any length to continue believing and this includes continuing to lie to you.

Comment by Craigart14 on December 22, 2016 at 11:52pm

The "wise men" follow the star because they are astrologers.  Oddly, the star they follow goes to Jerusalem, not Bethlehem, apparently so the the astrologers can consult--and inform--Herod.  Herod's priests tell him the messiah will be born in Bethlehem, so the astrologers follow the star there--though the star should have known where Christ was born.  If the astrologers had to ask Herod where the new king was born, how did they communicate that information to the star?  So the star leads them to Bethlehem.  There's no mention of a census or a manger, only a house where the child was born, so apparently Joseph et al lived in Bethlehem, not Nazareth.  Warned by the astrologers, Joseph takes his family to Egypt in order to connect the christ child with Moses, who also was called out of Egypt.  When Herod dies, Joseph packs up and starts off for Bethlehem, but an angel warns him in a dream that the new king, Herod's son, is a bloody tyrant like his father, so Joseph heads north and settles in Nazareth.  Two of the gospel writers had to acknowledge that Jesus had come from Nazareth but had been born in Bethlehem (Mark and John are silent on the nativity), so Matthew invented the amazing star and Luke invented a census ordered by Augustus Caesar, though there is no record of such a census and though it would be ridiculous for everyone in the Roman Empire to go hiking back to where their ancestors had lived a thousand years before.  The two narrative solutions reverse each other.  Matthew has Jesus born in Bethlehem,  and has to get Jesus to Nazareth, so he invents astrologers, magic stars, and the slaughter of toddlers; Luke has Joseph living in Nazareth, and has to get Jesus to Bethlehem to be born, so he invents a census, an inn with no vacancies, and a governorship for Quirinius that overlaps the reign of Augustus, which is historically false.

So who was buying these stories?  Primitive people who believed in astrology, the wisdom of charlatans, and the truth of the Scriptures, most of whom couldn't read but could only listen to the texts read aloud.  Matthew writes primarily for a Jewish audience, highlighting each fulfillment of prophecy.  Luke, writing later, either was not aware of Matthew's nativity story or decided to correct it.  (In his introduction, Luke states his intention to write the "truth" of the events surrounding Jesus' ministry "just as they were handed down to us by . . . eyewitnesses.")  Clearly, Luke was not a disciple who traveled with Jesus.

Comment by Daniel W on December 9, 2016 at 1:03pm

CB, you told a great story!  I was brought up fundamentalist Baptist.  That meant everything the bible said was literally true word for word, and not up for interpretation.  Then when I read verses in a few places that mention sons of God, such as in Job, I was very confused.   Jesus is the only son of god, right?  I asked our minister and he said I just don't understand.  Then if every word is literally true, why didn't my church follow dietary laws, and stone people for various abominations, and people worked on Sunday.  My parents sometimes had me work on Sunday, and eat pork, but the bible says honor your father and mother.  What was I supposed to do? 

I always wondered how you can follow a star to a specific place - I mean, it will look like it's directly overhead, over an area of miles, wouldn't it?  Unless it was only about 100 feet in the sky above the Bethlehem manger, which is an odd place for a star.

If god is good, why are babies always getting killed because of his actions?  You can blame Herrod this time, but what about Passover, and various wars when God had Hebrews kill whoever got in their way and kidnap girls?

Fortunately for modern evangelicals, we live in a post-truth and post-thinking world, so they don't have to know their own bible, and can be led around like sheep by the ministers, priests, and politicians who make up whatever the fuck they want and their followers stay in lockstep with their magical thinking.

Comment by Michael Penn on December 8, 2016 at 7:30pm

Miguel, I think that the inconsistencies prove 2 things. The first one is that nobody knew ahead of time that all these books would be put together as one book. The second is that there is no god and men did the writings for him.

Comment by Miguel Salonga on December 8, 2016 at 6:52pm

Why is it that the Bible, which is supposed to be the "Word of God", holds many inconsistencies? Does this mean that the one they call "God" is a liar??

Comment by Michael Penn on December 6, 2016 at 7:38pm

I think it's a fallacy that the gospel authors knew each other just like it is a fallacy that they are the apostles of Jesus. Keep in mind that many such books were written and names were used to get that book credibility. Also remember that what we call the bible came much later. Nobody knew that 66 books would all be bound together as one book at a later time. With many more gospels than just the 4 we have, who would ever have thought that all this would happen?

As for prophesy fulfilled in the bible, all this really means is that somebody wrote new stories in order to connect with the older written stories. Supposedly they thought this would make it seem to be true, and unfortunately today religious idiots agree with them. I keep hearing about how all the things in the Middle East happening today are prophesied in Revelation but I don't see a damned thing that backs that statement up. Once you take the supernatural out of it Syria, Israel, Iran, and Russia don't seem to be having any part of Revelation and that book is about something else entirely. Try telling bible thumpers that. They want to share it with the book of Daniel and back it up with the same, even saying that the writers might not have know all about this at the time but "god had a plan." How do they get this nonsense? It's all like pasting comic books together to make one big story.

Comment by Compelledunbeliever on December 6, 2016 at 4:56pm

Michael what I find interesting is that they had to go through the old testament and find(make up) prophesies to validate their savior. Then they obviously had to fashion a story around it. The author/anymore of Luke were obviously unaware that the author/authors of Matthew had made up their own back story. This is why I'm inclined to believe Jesus was not in fact an actual historical figure. Further arguments for this case very well made by Richard Carrier in his book Proving History. I could literally write a book (and not a shot one) on just the fallacies of just this passage but that's just because biblical history is my thing.

Comment by Michael Penn on December 6, 2016 at 7:32am

That just about covers it. So many things here that just absolutely have to fit in so that other things written way before in an earlier time can be added to the "now" happenings to fulfill prophesy. Strange that so many people do not get it.

I must ask if Jesus is born king of the Jews would there not be others born somewhere in the world at that time who would be king of somebody or someone? Of course there would. The answer is obvious. Why would the wise men (whoever they were) be concerned only with finding this baby Jesus and worshiping him, or bringing him gifts? Why this one baby out of a world of others? Again, the obvious answer is because this one baby is the Messiah, the saviour, the son of God. It should be noted that many in those days were considered divine. Almost all rulers were said to be divine.

So, what is the message of the wise men finding this Christ child amid an almost certain forgery of a story involving the usual self-fulfilling prophesies of the Bible and wanting to worship him? The simple message is that if you would be a wise man you should worship him also.

Strange that the sheep cannot see this. Maybe they have too much wool covering their eyes.

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