Confirmation Bias is a phenomenon well studied by scientists and psychologists. It is the tendency to search for, interpret, or recall information in a way that confirms one's beliefs or hypotheses. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of
inductive reasoning. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs. People also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position. Confirmation biases contribute to overconfidence in personal beliefs and can maintain or strengthen beliefs in the face of contrary evidence.
Confirmation Bias is one of the things at work when writers of the New Testament looked back at the Old Testament to try and find support for the idea that Jesus was in some way divine. When they looked back to Isaiah 7:13-16,
“Then Isaiah said, ‘Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: a young woman will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.”
Now, God told Isaiah that his wife would bear him a son and before this son was old enough to know right from wrong, the land of the two kings he dreaded would be destroyed. Indeed, this did come to pass when Pekah and Remaliah were destroyed later in the book of Isaiah. This prophecy was fulfilled during Isaiah’s lifetime. There is no hint at all that this verse referred in any way to Jesus, and those who lived at the time of Isaiah certainly would not have interpreted it that way. God gave a specific time when the prophecy would be fulfilled – before this child was old enough to know right from wrong. So it certainly was fulfilled just a few years later.
Now, when those in New Testament times, searching for some means to confirm their belief that Jesus was divine, looked at this passage, they read into it something that was not there. They completely overlooked the fact that God clearly spelled out that this prophecy would be fulfilled during the lifetime of Isaiah, and even in the face of this clearly spelled out fact, decided to say it was a prophecy of Jesus' birth, when it is obvious that such a thing could never have been true. But this is how confirmation bias works. Even in the face of evidence to the contrary, if a person wants to believe something, they will find a way to make it apply.
Furthermore, reputable scholars agree that the Hebrew word used in Isaiah, "almah", signifies a girl of childbearing age without reference to virginity, and Isaiah is in any case talking about his own immediate circumstances in the year 735 BC, not the distant future. To read it as a prophecy of the distant future is to add something the passage does not imply. (France, R.T (2007), The Gospel of Matthew, Eerdmans, pp. 56–57, ISBN 978-0802825018 )
Matthew and Luke are the only two places where Jesus’ miraculous conception appears. We have absolutely no idea who wrote these books. These books were originally anonymous, as the names of Matthew and Luke as the authors were added by the Catholic Church in the 2nd century. There is no original manuscript that bears the names of any authors on the gospels. There is no way that anyone should accept as authoritative a book or manuscript that is of dubious origins and whose authorship can’t be confirmed.
There is evidence from the 2nd century that the reason this narrative of the virgin birth was added was to answer Jewish slanders about Jesus' illegitimate birth. By saying it was of divine origin, they were able to avoid the scandal that would have ensued if Mary were found to be with child by normal means.
In any event, that fact that the prophecy was meant to be fulfilled in Isaiah’s time, and was fulfilled at that time, and that there is no hint that it referred to Jesus at all, means we cannot accept the doctrine of the virgin birth as authoritative. It is an example of confirmation bias.
What happens if there is no virgin birth? It means that whoever wrote the books of Matthew and Luke was obviously making things up. Those books cannot be taken as authoritative, nor anything else written in them. What of Paul’s assertion that “all scripture is inspired of God”? These two books obviously weren’t. And if those who made decisions about what should go in the canon chose these two books, they were obviously in error to do so, for these books contain falsehoods. Who exactly chose the canon of scripture? The Catholic Church chose it. Without the virgin birth, Jesus is just a man and in no way divine. If he is in no way divine and just a man, I have no reason to look to him any more than I would any other man. For more about the Catholic Church and the Roman Emperor Constantine's role in shaping the bible, Click Here.
And by the way, where did we get the idea that we need to make a sacrifice for sin? This was a pagan idea, borrowed from paganism. When Abraham supposedly heard God tell him to leave his home and go to a land that he would show him, Abraham was living in the Sumerian city of Ur, in southern Mesopotamia, where the Chaldeans were to settle in much later times, It was the sacred city of the moon god. The Book of Joshua says "Joshua said to all the people, "This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods.'"(Joshua 24:2). Abraham’s family obviously practiced pagan ways, one of which was animal sacrifice. Archeological evidence shows us that ritual sacrifice was practiced as far back as 2800 B.C that we are sure of, and perhaps even farther back than that. So animal sacrifice was NOT something originated by the Hebrew god, it was a pagan practice that Abraham incorporated into this new religion that he THOUGHT came from God.
We should be reminded of Jeremiah 14:14. “Then the Lord said to me, ‘The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries, and the delusions of their own minds.” We must remember that ANYONE can be subject to this. This is the problem with believing in a book or teaching that is somehow supposed to have been spoken from an inspired author…..you can never know when they are telling the truth, and when they are just speaking whatever comes into their heads that they have convinced themselves is from God. There is ample evidence that many things in the Bible were forged. (See Amazon.com "Forged")
How do we know that Moses actually heard some supernatural being speak from a burning bush? Or that Paul head a voice speak to him on the road to Damascus? We don’t, and we can’t trust that it was true. Schizophrenics frequently hear voices.
Schizotypalism is at the heart of religion. White et al. (1995) found that those who scored higher on a test intended to measure positive feelings about Christianity also scored high in schizotypal personality traits. One of those traits is “magical thinking” that influences behavior, and another is unusual perceptual experiences, bodily illusions, and auditory or visual hallucinations. I’m not saying everyone in the church has schizotypal personality traits, but certainly the leaders who perpetuate the doctrines of the church are candidates for such a diagnosis. Certainly, the writers of the Bible, whoever they were, believed they heard a god’s voice speak to them, and that in and of itself is cause for concern that those who had these experiences were mentally ill. People who have “magical thinking,” who believe that people can perform miracles, those people are mentally ill. We shouldn’t be believing anything they say or write, especially 2000 years ago when many physical and mental illnesses were thought to be spiritual in nature and were treated as such. There was no demon possession, there was epileptic seizures. When Jesus put mud on the eyes of the blind man and healed him, it wasn’t miraculous, there was special therapeutic substances in the clay which are recognized today. When Rachel asked Leah to give her some mandrakes, it was believed mandrake had magical powers, when actually there are substances in mandrake that increase fertility so a woman can conceive. There is a natural, logical scientific explanation for everything, we don’t need to rely on the belief in anything supernatural, and certainly should not believe the accounts of those who had obvious mental illness, which most of the biblical writers appear to have had.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more.
Here is a word study on the idea of hell. Where did that idea come from? You will see after doing this word study that there is not a shred of evidence for the idea that hell is a place of eternal torment we are going to stay in forever.
This is a long study but I hope you will read it all the way through. This word study proves there is no eternal hell. And if there is no eternal hell, there is no reason to fear you are going to go there by breaking some arbitrary rule that someone set up. Therefore, YOU decide for yourself what is right and wrong, there is no god that is going to send you to a burning hell. No need to worry about breaking commandments. You are not going to be tormented and tortured. This sets you free from the bondage of having to live according to some other person or group’s idea of how you should live. You are free to live as you choose.
There is a line, that once you have crossed it, you can never go back. Once you have knowledge, you can never unlearn it. As I said, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so, so much more. But this is the foundation. If there is no virgin birth, and no hell that we are going to go to, then there is no fear of punishment and no longer any reason to be in bondage to ideas that aren't true. All of Christian theology breaks down and becomes useless if there is no virgin birth and no hell. It frees us all. The more you start to be open to the possibility that what you have believed is not true, all of a sudden things start to make sense. You are able to see how the lies were constructed and there is so much knowledge out there. I won't ever go back to believing the lies of the church.