This is not written as, nor intended to be, an academic work. No particular care has been exercised to ensure that the ideas and proofs presented therein are unique in the literature. They are, however, my own original thoughts and have been presented as such on various internet forums for some time now without drawing any objections.
With much of the knowledge of the world literally at our fingertips, it has never been easier to write a document like this and have it turn out reasonably accurate. For example, if one is typing along and wishes to know the volume of the ocean, or the surface area of the earth, or the likely number of species, one can generally discover these numbers (all used in constructing arguments in the text) in a matter of seconds without leaving one's chair or moving one's hands from the keyboard. When writing about something like the Bible, it helps enormously that every important revision of the Bible is available instantly online, and that some of these revisions are critically annotated, that one can readily discover the dates of the Bronze versus Iron ages (and review the evidence that leads scholars to assign them), one can discover the estimated life expectancy at various times and in various cultures of the ancient and modern world and so much more, all a mere click away.
I would therefore like to acknowlege the Internet itself as the emerging superorganismal brain of humanity, one that reasons by rational consensus, that amplifies all of our own individual talents, knowledge, and abilities, granting the least of us a greater reach and command of facts and the arguments of the past than the most brilliant of the pre-1980's modern academics, philosophers, and visionaries.
In this brain, Google is surely its functional core, and Wikipedia its collective, ever-growing, ever-changing, memory, and I would like to thank both of them just for existing. There are undoubtedly many people who have received Nobel Prizes who didn't deserve them, but the creators of the Internet, Google, and Wikipedia in particular do, as together they have already done more to bring about World Peace in a rational world than the entire Holocene's worth of politicians. The truth will indeed set the world free, given time. The poorest villages in the world, if they have an internet connection and functioning web interface, have immediate access to the knowledge of the world, a circumstance that is creating a quiet revolution already but whose full impact will not be felt for another twenty years, when the generation that grew up with this access comes of age.
I would also like to acknowledge my heavy use of my personal favorite online Bible (and Quran, and Book of Mormon, and more) - the Skeptics Annotated Bible website. Every member of the Abrahamic religions owes it to the ideal of truth to visit this site, begin with Genesis, and work their way through the Bible, the Quran, and the Book of Mormon, reading carefully the annotations and applying their critical faculties to what they read. They should force themselves to read the collected absurdities, inconsistencies (places where the Bible contains exact, polar opposites of many of its most popular assertions, so that one can ``prove'' a thing and its opposite by selective quotation with the greatest of ease), instances of God behaving violently, immorally, cruelly, instances of sexual description and discrimination, contradictions of known science and history, and much more, to get a clear idea of just how much of the Bible (and Quran, and Book of Mormon) is nonsense by the simple standard of using your common sense and your innate moral sense to judge it, rather than applying a dishonest uncritical credulity to its assertions and pretending to ``believe'' that the impossible is somehow still true.
Whenever writing an article such as this that directly attacks the superstitious belief systems of a large fraction of the world's population, one always risks offending friends or acquaintances (or perfect strangers!) that subscribe to those beliefs and don't like them being called superstitions. All that I can say to these individuals is that in general you do not hesitate to call all of the other superstitious belief systems that have been used at one time or another by their proper name, and so you should not really object so much when your own is called by what it is by somebody else. To many a Christian, a polytheist Hindu is a superstitious peasant, a Wiccan believes in nonsense, an islander that has made a religion out of wrecked world war II planes is an object of ridicule (however politely they might speak in the presence of one). Christian culture speaks openly of Norse and Roman and Greek and Persian and Native American and Indian and ancient Sumerian mythology. The same is generally true in the opposite direction as well, of course - the Muslim considers the Christian deluded, the Jew considers Christianity and Islam alike to be complex heresies, the Hindu thinks all three are nonsense, all four of these think that you have to be batshit crazy to be a Mormon because it is obvious that its ``sacred text'' is just superstitious fantasy dreamed up by Joseph Smith in a process no different from what we see played out in modern times by prophet wannabes in places named Waco and Jonestown , but without visiting congressmen or the FBI.
Wikipedia, of course, maintains an entire page with a list of Messiah claimants including Koresh, and my personal current favorite, Wayne Bent1. Is there anyone alive who doesn't realize that nothing separates Wayne Bent from Jesus or any other cult figure of any other time but modern skepticism, one count of criminal sexual contact with a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor?
So lighten up. There is really nothing that separates your own superstitious belief from that of Wayne Bent and his followers but a few hundred years (time for the facts to be lost in the mist of time and obscured by the myths and legends), tradition, and the fact that you were raised to turn off your critical faculties when considering your own faith, however intact they remain for everybody else's.