Jesus Was a Rationalist?

Recently I got an email from someone who said the following:

"I think that rationality and free thinking should be promoted and religious crimes and excesses and crimes condemned. What we hear and read about the churches is absolutely disgusting. However, if have a close look at the gospels, I find it to be such a rational, incredibly intelligent sum of stories, considering the time and the audience Jesus Christ was talking to. I think he was one of the greatest rationalists ever!"

I agree with him about reason, rationality and critical thinking. I don't agree about the bible though. It's so full of justified hate and bad morals.  I think that overrides the precious few rational or intelligent concepts that are scattered infrequently within. The few good things you can find in the bible are not original either. The Golden Rule, for example. Older than Jesus. Confucious had his own version, so did the Greeks. So there's really no need for the bible at all!

Also, Jesus said some pretty damned hateful things in the gospels. (see below for just a few) He was forever going on about how if you didn't follow him you'd burn in hell. That's not very rational or loving. He also said he talked in parables just to confuse people so they would end up in hell. And he said to hate your family. If you take one message of Jesus and hold it up as a shining example for good rational thinking, you really can't cherry-pick. You have to take all of his hateful stuff too.
Sure, maybe he said some good things (IF he existed, which I doubt), but it wasn't anything that amazing when put in context with all the awful stuff he said, or when you think about great thinkers who said awesome things more consistently, like Carl Sagan, Thomas Jefferson, Bertrand Russell or even Ricky Gervais!

Here are a few quotes from and about Jesus that the cherry-pickers missed:

Mark 4:11-12 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.
Mark 16:17-18 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Luke 10:19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Luke 12:51-3 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children,and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

And some quotes from and about his dad:
Psalm 137:9 Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.
Jeremiah 19:9 And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend.
Leviticus 24:16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death.
Numbers 14:18 The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
Numbers 17:12-13 And the children of Israel spake unto Moses, saying, Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish. Whosoever cometh any thing near unto the tabernacle of the LORD shall die: shall we be consumed with dying?
Deuteronomy 4:25-26 When thou shalt beget children, and children’s children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the LORD thy God, to provoke him to anger: I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.
2 Kings 6:28-29 And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son tomorrow. So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son.
2 Kings 6:33 Behold, this evil is of the LORD.


  1. I remember seeing Richard Dawkins with a t-shirt that said "Atheists for Jesus" which automatically made me think it would be great for a "Whe you see it, you'll shit bricks" motivator. Certainly, the golden rule and many things Jesus preached (love, tolerance, etc) are nice things to believe in. Unfortunately his fans are so unlike that.

    Moreover, I love those quotations, they make me think so much in the nutjobs who go around with the John 3:16 think. Why not use one of those from up there? That would be a blast.

  2. Yeah, Dawkins seems to think there's some good in what Jesus preached. I don't know that I agree, as I stated above. Jesus spends an awful lot of time talking about how if you don't love him and follow him you will burn in hell. Not very loving!
    The good things that are attributed to Jesus in the bible are not original or special to him. So just finding the few good things he said (and ignoring the hateful things)is cherry-picking, and not worth it.
    Those quotes are on shirts now. If you click on Jesus and God before the quotes, they will take you to the shirts that my husband and I made. They are a bit... just a bit... rude, though. :P