Thursday, December 15, 2011

Asking to be treated as equal citizens is "whiny"...apperently.

First I'll apologize for not posting more.  Skyrim has been taking up a lot of my time lately so I haven't been keeping up with things very well.

I happened to read something interesting today between calls at work and thought I would post a few comments on it.


This article, found on a catholic blog was published just two days ago.  First, as a bit of back story this was commenting on the suit that the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed against Arizona governor Jan Brewer over her proclaiming a day of prayer in the state of Arizona.  The state in which I happen to live for those who don't know.

Now, FFRF lost that case, and from what I have read it seems that it was poorly argued by the atheist side.  The issue, of course, is one of church state separation.  I don't particularly care what religion Jan Brewer belongs to, she can worship Jesus, Allah or Pez dispensers for all I care.  However, using her position as governor to as a pulpit for her beliefs is (or at least should be) wrong.

My god dispenses candy, what has yours done lately?

I may speak more in another post on that issue later, but to be honest I'm not educated enough on the particulars of the actual lawsuit to really make a more detailed analysis of it.  I mostly wanted to speak about the article by Mary Kochan that I posted a link to.

She starts out by suggesting that, and I quote:
Let’s get this straight.  The atheists are suing because they had to turn off the television to avoid the topic of religion or news announcements about the Day of Prayer.  They had to alter their conversation to avoid the topic of religion. This made them feel like “outsiders”.
To be clear, as I mentioned previously, the issue is about something a little be bigger than just feeling like outsiders.  The ironic thing is that in her third paragraph she actually intones the exact fundamentalist view point that this is really about.
Yes, you are outsiders. Go start your own damn country.  This one was started by Christians, you puerile dimwits. It is Christians who established and largely Christians who fought and died to maintain the freedoms you enjoy. And Christians are still the majority. Apparently your vaulted belief system doesn’t equip you to handle being in the minority. (added bold for emphasis)
Without realizing she her very article justifies the reasons for the FFRF's lawsuit.  She apparently wants to use religion as a criterion for citizenship.  Then she goes on to justify the abuse of power by saying Christians are the majority so we just have to suck it up if we want to live here.  Now irregardless of the religious beliefs of the founding fathers, they very carefully setup the U.S. government to avoid a tyranny of the majority.

The further irony of this article is that it is written by a Catholic, who is conveniently the friend of the founding fathers even though those of them who were religious were undeniably protestant and did not have a lot of nice things to say about Catholics.  In fact an anti-catholic sentiment was rather common for most of American history and they were often views as unpatriotic because of their allegiance to the Pope.  There were plenty of people in our country at that time who would have loved it if Catholics gone and found some other country to live in.

Isn't it odd that as soon as Catholics became accepted as part of the majority they turn around and and join in persecution of some new minority all the while claiming that us atheists are attacking them and we are somehow the real danger.

Help, Help, I'm being repressed.
If anyone has a question about the inherent bigotry against atheists that most of her article intones just mentally replace the word atheist in her article with Jew, Black, or Hispanic and reread it and ask how many KKK members would suddenly agree with her article.

Now if only Kochan could managed to produce this kind of unbridled anger at her own church for protecting child rapists then maybe us "evil" atheists would have one fewer things to complain about.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Question 2: Why don’t you just leave believers alone, their beliefs aren’t hurting anyone?



The first thing that comes to mind when theists bring this up is how evangelistic they are.  Though truthfully, many theists are, in fact, not very evangelistic.  Some believe religion to be a private affair, and many say they believe in the idea of evangelism but very rarely make any effort to “convert” anyone.

"I should totally convert her to Christianity...well maybe tomorrow"

The thing is, most atheists don’t really do this either.  Of course there are exceptions, there are people in any group who aren’t satisfied unless everyone else sees the world the same way they do.  


Stop believing in god or so help me I will end you with this spork.
However this behavior seems rather rare from atheists, at least no more common than it is from theists.  As a theist I frequently engaged in forms of evangelism, including walking up to strangers in a beach to convert them.  As an atheist I have yet to approach one stranger to start evangelizing them.  Every serious conversation I have ever had about religion with someone I was not very good friends with were initiated by the theist trying to convert me or someone else in the room.

I imagine atheist evangelism looks something like this.
Personally I think this problem is in part due from the normal bias that anyone has with beliefs they disagree with.  I’ve often found myself discussing interviews/debates done between famous atheists like Hitchens or Dawkins with theists and I am surprised that they say how abrasive or mean that the atheist was; even during interviews where I felt that the atheist was rather tame or circumspect and the theist was.


I had just such a conversation about the above interview between Dawkins and O’Reilly in which Dawkins comes across rather gentlemanly and O’Reilly comes across, as usual, as a jerk who immediately attacks Dawkins’ atheism despite the fact that Dawkins had not mentioned religion or god at all.  Don't get me wrong I'd happily admit Dawkins can come off insulting at times, just not this particular time.

Now, that being said, there are a few topics which often invite the ire of atheists.   Things like church-state separation related issues or religious based bigotry tend set quite a few of us off.  I believe that one of the main reasons this question gets asked is often because our weighing in on these topics is often viewed as a type of evangelism.  

I, of course, disagree with this assessment, but it does bear some discussion.  I think part of the problem is that, in this country, theists (Christians in particular) have a certain natural sense of entitlement when it comes to their beliefs.  

It seems a little like this to us.
 I have had many conversations with Christians who are offended that other groups, Muslims for example, should have certain freedoms that they feel are an intrinsic right of their group.   Those of you who question my assessment may want to give a moment of consideration to the significant group of Christians who believe that prayer and creation science should be reintroduced in public schools.  Yet the Christians who argue for this are unlikely want Muslim prayers or Hindu creationism taught in school.  

Exactly what evolution predicted humans evolved from.
Our early manophant ancestors were strange and wonderful creatures.
 This is typically where we atheist step in and say that given the disagreements among these groups the safest thing to do is not have any prayers from any religion publicly endorsed by any teachers in the school.  This is where we recommend simply teaching scientific facts about our universe and limit the teaching of creation myths to that of history class.  The best way to allow society to flourish is to keep government out of the business of mandating beliefs.

Some disagree.
 Unfortunately despite not being evangelistic in the least it is often interpreted as such by theists largely, I suspect, because atheism is viewed as just another competing religion to most theists.  They do not want to allow non-prayer in schools for the same reason they don’t want to allow Muslim prayer in school.  They try to remove the teaching of evolution in schools for the same reason they reject the teaching of the Japanese creation myth in science class.  

If you have ever heard a fundamentalist Christian say that evolution is just a creation story for atheists then you may have an idea what I am referring too.  I have heard them say, indeed, when I was a young believer I said it myself, repeated from sermons I heard.  To them non-prayer is viewed as a sacrament of atheism the same as prayer to their god is a sacrament to them.  Science, rather than a process by which we explore the natural world, is viewed as part of the “religion of secularism.”  Too many theists who ask this question secularism is just another competing religion that is seeking to drive their religion out of the public square and replace it with our own.

Extremism does differ a bit from group to group.
I wish a knew a way to win this particular debate because I truly think a secular government is not only better for me, but its better for theists of all types as well.  However some theists strongly believe that their religion should be given favored treatment by whatever government they live under, and any attempt to undermine that will be seen as an attack on their beliefs.
How dare you make laws saying we can't burn people at the stake!  Stop interfering with our religious freedom.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Question 1: Why do you lump all theists together into one big group when there are many nuanced views of religion and god that are not fundamentalist?

The short answer to this question is that I don’t do this, or at least I try not to.

In fact, I will admit, atheists do this from time to time.  For the most part, however, this is not done out of any malice, this is simply human nature.  It is the way our brain has evolved to work.  We create categories in our head to fit people or things into, and once in that category our mind automatically assumes a certain level of similarity between all things in that group.  This is just basic psychology.

This conversation is generally brought up by theists who are more moderate or liberal in their beliefs.  I have often had conversations, for instance, with more liberal Christians who seem to think that I only find their beliefs objectionable or incorrect because I have incorrectly assumed that their beliefs are the same as fundamentalist Christians simply because both groups are attached to the name “Christian.”

“Why would you disagree with my beliefs, it’s not like I think being gay is a sin (insert any other fundamentalist talking point here), just because I'm a christian doesn't mean I agree with all those fundamentalist beliefs,” they will say.

Being gay is OK, but tell me you think my religion is wrong and I will break you.
 I can’t speak for every atheist but for me I think this question is the result of a basic misunderstanding between these two groups.  First, I am well aware that there is a wide variety of Christian beliefs.  I may have been a fundamentalist myself, but I interacted with many moderate/liberal Christians while I was a believer and since I became an atheist.
 
Some of these theists, like me, left some form of fundamentalism themselves, and I think they, more than anyone else, have trouble understanding my issues with religion.  I did actually consider becoming a more liberal Christian during my own disillusionment with fundamentalism; I also considered becoming a Buddhist and Taoist and several others.  I ultimately decided against all of those options because I felt the claims of all of those options were not proven by the evidence.  

See, I think the key difference is that the more liberal believers were offended or bothered by the social results of certain fundamentalist teachings, while atheists, by and large, have an issue with the lack of proof that religious people offer for their claims.  Don’t get me wrong, atheists also often have a problem with much of the social teachings of fundamentalists, abet for different reasons, but it starts with empiricism, which translates into a basic philosophical disagreement about how best to understand reality.

(From SMBC)
 Every person who believes there is a god must, at a minimum, believe in something for which they can offer no conclusive empirical evidence.  Indeed insistence on evidence is often maligned by more liberal believers, and I have found myself on the receiving end of criticism from so called “open minded” liberal Christians.  The thinking among more liberal believers seems to follow a post-modernist bent where the emotional content of your beliefs is more important than the factual content.  In an odd twist I have had many of these same theists suggest that I was just another form of fundamentalist no better than Christian fundamentalists I left, which relates to another question I plan on answering.  

So to sum up, I acknowledge that there is a myriad of various theist beliefs out there that weave a rich tapestry of diversity…and all of them have failed to produce evidence to suggest their beliefs correspond to any being that actually exists.

Maybe he is hiding behind the couch.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Christians say the darnest things...to atheists

The last few months I have been feeling the urge to write down my thoughts on a set of questions that seem to come up repeatedly whenever Christians or other theists engage me in debate or conversation.  Of course these “questions” are rarely actual questions.  You see when someone asks a question they usually are looking to find information they currently do not know yet, in other words they actually care to listen to the answer that is given.  

With these questions that is rarely the case, they are usually asked by a person who thinks they have come up with some question that will stump all atheists and presumably cause us curl up into a ball in a corner and lament the meaningless of our existence.  

Perhaps they imagine me doing this.

 To be honest some seem surprised when I don’t.  “How can this question not make you see how vacuous your world view is?” they seem to wonder.  Though I am, perhaps, projecting a view onto them that only exists in my head.  It does seem a reasonable assumption since I find time and time again if a discussion goes on very long the theist will ask the very same question again, often claiming I never answered it the first time.  

Maybe if I ask a few more times.
Now I am sure the answer I gave was not satisfactory for some reason but I have never had any of them explain why it is not satisfactory, they just repeat the question.  In many cases this is likely because they heard the question from a pastor or read it in an apologetics book presented as a question to stump atheists, and books on apologetics are usually bereft of a section on counterpoints to the argument they just made.  

They apparently think this is kryptonite for atheists.
You might think that as common as these questions are they have already been answered about a billion times, and you would be right.  This is probably the number one reason I had not bothered to write something on these before.  However, given the likelihood that these questions will come up I thought it would be a good idea to write out my own explanations.  If nothing else I will at least have a sort of FAQ to point to every time they are brought up. 

I'll make a post on the first of these questions tonight.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Personal issues

I'm going through some personal stuff in my life at the moment and as a result I am going to be taking a short hiatus from blogging.  I just don't have the presence of mind to continue with it right now.  Hopefully I will get back to this soon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Biblical stories that will freak you out. #1

After going through the ten commandments I began thinking about all of the really disturbing stories in the Bible and thought I might start an occasionally writing about passages in the bible which were disturbing or immoral.

www.thebricktestament.com
Today's entry is a gem of a story from Judges 11.  Jephthah goes to make war against the children of Ammon, this in itself is not that remarkable, but the there is much more to the passage starting in verse 30.
And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. Judges 11, 30-31
So we see here at the start of the passage Jephthah makes a promise to God.  He tells god that if he is granted a victory over the Ammon he will kill and make a burnt offering of whatever comes out of his house first.  I find this a really odd promise to make, given that he was going to be coming home from a war did it not occur to him that it might not be an animal that came out, but a fellow human being?  Further, God, though silent in this passage, seems to find this arrangement acceptable.  He certainly speak up to tell Jephthah he might want to rethink his promise.

While we are on this subject I think it might be worth bringing up that this bargain looks very much like some sort of magic spell.  Offering up blood sacrifices in exchange for deities reorganizing reality in your favor seems very similar to the sort of things I often hear Christians condemn about other religions.
So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands.  And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel. Judges 11:32-33
So, fairly straight forward here, Jephthah goes out to war and wins.  Indeed he apparently chases them across 20 cities.
And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.  Judges 11:34
So, unsurprisingly, Jephthah's daughter comes out to greet him.  His only daughter as it turns out.  You might think Jephthah would have deemed it a good idea to tell his daughter not to come great him when he got back, but clearly he did not think that far ahead.  His daughter came out to greet him because she was presumably happy that he hadn't been killed in the war, unaware that he had struck a blood bargain with his preferred deity for that safe return.
And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back.  Judges 11:35
Well, at least he is upset about this turn of events.  However, he simply says that he can't go back on a promise he made to God so he is going to have to kill her and make a human sacrifice of her.   Again, God could have popped in at this point to tell him human sacrifice is wrong, and killing ones own daughter is even more wrong, but He continues to be silent.
And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon. And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.  And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains.   Judges 11:36-38
To being told her dad is going to have to kill her now she responds rather calmly in this story.  I rather expect if this event were real she would not be so understanding.  She only asks that she be allowed two months to hang out with her friends to bewail that she will die a virgin.  Considering the age of marriage at the time this means that Jephthah's daughter (funny they never give her a name) would probably be no more than 13 or 14.  There is also some rather inherent sexism in this passage, the fact that she chooses to bewail her virginity rather than the fact that she was about to be made a burnt offering focuses on her role as a producer of babies to the exclusion of any other value she might have possessed.  "It's just a shame she has to die before she could pop out a few babies," is the way this reads to me.
And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel, That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year. Judges 11:39-40
www.thebricktestament.com
Well, as promised she calmly comes back to her father so that he can preform the sacrifice.  If she had any sense she would have run away from that abusive nut job that calls himself her father, but she comes back and he goes through with it.  Again it should be noted that God could have intervened here but did not.  He did so for Abraham, not that God showing up at the last second up and yelling, "Psyche" makes the story all that great, but at least there was no actual human sacrifice in that one.

I have actually had Christians try to absolve this story by treating it as a object lesson about the need to keep the promises one makes to God.  The passage actually even supports this conclusion when Jephthah says, "I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back."  I personal think if there is any lesson to be found here it's that we shouldn't make bat shit crazy promises to invisible beings, but I am just weird like that  I guess.  Mostly I just point out to them that this kind of thinking can only lead to a rather openly relativistic moral position.  (you know, the sort of position that Fundamentalist Christians claim is a flaw with atheism)

How does one know that all of those parents who killed there kids weren't doing God's will?  Perhaps all those pedophile priests in the Catholic church were told by god to do what they did?  God wouldn't do that?  Why? Because it is wrong?  Just like human sacrifice is wrong even if its to keep a promise to god?  One cannot have it both ways, either we always keep our promises to god and this guy is a spiritual hero for his actions, or there are somethings that should never be done in any circumstance and this guy is the poster boy for what religion can make people do at its worst.

If it is the first, then Fundamentalist can not reasonably claim to have the moral high ground on anything, If it is the second then the it becomes increasingly difficult to treat the Bible as if it has anything useful to say about our morals.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Biblical Contradictions both exist and do not exist.

I found an very funny and informative video on biblical contradictions today and thought I would share it with everyone.  Enjoy.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

New age guru James A. Ray found guilty of negligent homicide.

Since this news is relatively local to where I live I thought I would comment on it.


If you haven't kept up with the news this guy promoted a lot of pseudo-science in and around Sedona.  

He promoted his sweat lodge as method of removing "toxins" from the body. 
If you don't know what a sweat lodge is you can read more about it here

He charged people 10,000 dollars a person to be a part of a program back in 2009 that ended in three deaths due to dehydration in his sweat lodge.

He was convicted of negligent homicide and is awaiting sentencing.  Perhaps this will be a lesson to people try to treat people with pseudo-science treatments when they are not qualified physicians.

Of course the people who paid this snake oil salesmen must take some responsibility.  The reason people like Mr. Ray are able to make the large amounts of money they make is because people do not think skeptically about the claims these "gurus" make.  People paid a man 10,000 dollars to have a sweat lodge remove toxins from their body even though there is no evidence that it does any such thing.  Even if the medical risk was nil it would still beg the question of why someone would spend that kind of money on something with no proven benefit?  If they truly had an illness they could have been treated by a real doctor, most likely for much less money, using treatments that have proven efficacy.

While I agree the guy was guilty and its good he is going to be punished for his negligence, I can't exactly jump for joy over it.  I am sure there are a dozen more shysters out there willing to take large sums of money from anyone they can prey on.  The only way to avoid being taken in by these peddlers of woo is to educate oneself and think skeptically about the claims others make.

Commandment #11 of 10....wait...what?

Roy Moore's 10 commandment display being removed.

OK, there are no more commandments, but I thought I would make a final post about the commandments to comment on one of the most troubling things about the ten commandments.  The biggest issue I have with the ten commandments is not with anything in them as much as it is with what they left out.  The commandments speak about a wide variety of subjects to be sure, but as I have pointed out much is included that is either unneeded or downright unethical, on the other hand many things are missing from the ten commandments which would have made this set of commands much more useful as an ethical guide, and considering the author is supposed to be omniscient it does beg the question of how they didn't make the list.

1. How about a "thou shalt not own other humans as you would property?"  Most Christians quite rightly distance themselves from slavery these days, but until less than two hundred years ago many Christians felt that slavery was not only acceptable, but an entirely ethical practice, and based their arguments on the bible.  I pointed out that in commandment #10 it actually mentions slaves under the list of things you shouldn't covet with not the slightest hint of condemnation for the owning of slaves. But this is hardly the only passage mentioning slavery.  Exodus 21, just one chapter after the 10 commandments is full of laws expressly telling people how to properly go about owning slaves.  Not once in this or any other passage in the bible does it so much as say, "but it would be better if you didn't treat other human beings as property."  It is a hard truth that few Christians will admit but the bible not only does not condemn slavery it encourages it.

There is an argument out there presented by some Christians that slavery as laid out in the bible was not as bad as the practice of slavery was in the American south.  In other words, they argue that our impression of slavery in America "poisons the well" of slavery in general, which is, apparently, carried out in such a humanitarian fashion in the bible that no one could rationally object to it.

Not quite it turns out, because I object.  First, no matter how well treated a slave is still property, and I find it inherently unethical and logically unjustifiable to own other human beings.  Second, the Bible makes it clear that the slavery therein was anything but kind and gentile.

Take this passage for example:
And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.  Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.  Exodus 21:20-21
In case you are unsure of the meaning here, this passage says it is not a crime to beat your slave to death as long as they survive a day or two.  No, slavery in ancient Israel was not humanitarian.

2. Here is another one that would have been nice, "thou shalt treat women as equals."  Imagine how many problems throughout western history could have been avoided if this had been in the bible.  As bad as the treatment of slaves was in the bible, the treatment of women was often worse.  If you were unlucky enough to be both slave and woman then you might as well forget having any sort of freedom.

Take this cheerful piece of literature:
Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.  But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. Numbers 31:17
This is after the extermination of the Midianites.  Moses is essentially telling the Israeli soldiers, at the behest of god presumably, that they, after destroying a city including the girls parents apparently, they may force said girl to marry one of the very people who just murdered her parents.  Even worse it specifies virgins meaning these women were mostly likely younger that 15 years old.

Or should we talk about some of the statements about women's rights in the Pauline and pseudo-Pauline letters.  How he tells them to remain silent in church in 1st Cor. 14 or in 1st Tim 2.  If there is a treatise on women's equality to be found in the bible I have not found it.

3. How about a command against racism, or religious intolerance?  Not found anywhere in the 10 commandments I am afraid.  However, we can find plenty of passages in the bible where God orders genocide against whatever race, culture or religious group he happened to dislike, or happened to be on a patch of land he promised someone else.

All in all the Ten Commandments leave out a lot of things which would have helped make peoples lives much better.  Instead we get commands demanding worship and leveling threats at those who  refuse, and thought crimes.  If these were merely written by bronze age men who did the best they could, it would be understandable, in fact it would make perfect sense.  However if they were written by a all knowing God, it seems he could have done quite a bit better.  I find it impossible to believe that these were written by any sort of god.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Queen's Guitarist Publishes Astrophysics Thesis


I heard about this on The Skeptics Guide To the Universe podcast.  This is one of the most awesome things I have read in sometime.  I had no idea any of the members of Queen had any scientific leanings, but I now have another reason to be a Queen fan besides the awesome music.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Commandment #10 of 10

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's.
Exodus 20:17

Well, since I actually praised the last commandment it is appropriate that we end with one of the worst commandments in the lot.  There are so many things wrong with this command I am not even sure where to begin.

For starters god is criminalizing thoughts. This is both entirely opposed to common sense and very much in opposition to American law.  How does one criminalize a thought to begin with?  Exactly how is god expecting the Jewish legal authorities to detect a breach of this law?  Of course the American legal system is pretty clear on this.  Thoughts cannot be considered crimes in and of themselves.  

Of course another problem stems from what thought he decides to criminalize.  He could have criminalized thinking about something bad, like "don't think about being a serial killer," or "don't think about furry porn," but no, he criminalizes coveting, which last time I checked was the basic thought process that makes capitalism possible.  Coveting is practically an American institution, and considering the number of Christians out there who seem to think that American free market capitalism is exactly the economic system their god wants in this country I submit that many of them do not know the bible as well as they think they do.

Lastly, I would point out the type of things god says we are not to covet is probably the most disturbing thing in this command.  That is, that among the "property" of your neighbor you are not supposed to covet he includes both his wife and his slaves.  For those who don't think god approves of slavery in the Bible, feel free to point them towards this command.  Of course women are property right?  I mean what else would they be, certainly not individuals with their own desires and thoughts separate from your own.  That's just crazy talk.

So there you have it, in one fell swoop god condemns free thought, capitalism, and civil rights.  Well that's just great god, I mean really really great, way to end on a high note.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Commandment #9 of 10

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.  Exodus 20:16

Okay, we now come to the only commandment that I actually think is good.  I actually have nothing bad to say about it.  Though interestingly the reason I have nothing bad to say about it is because the command doesn't actually seem to be saying what most Christians assert that it says.  

Almost without fail, Christians will tell you that this is a command to never lie.  I would argue the wording is much more specific.  In the context, the rule seems to be much more specific.  To "bear false witness" seems indicate a legal meaning, meaning that the command is telling people to not accuse others of illegal activities they are not guilty of.  In essence this command is one against perjury.  

As such I find this command like the others, reasonable, clear, concise, and fairly closely matches laws in our own legal system.  Of course it doesn't provide for what the punishment will be, but otherwise I have nothing really bad to say about this commandment.  I just wish Christians would read it more closely and realize that this commandment does not deal with lying in general.  Don't get me wrong I prefer honesty, but I don't think it makes sense to make lying a crime.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Commandment #8 of 10

Thou shalt not steal.  Exodus 20:15

To be honest I don't have much to say about this one that I didn't say about #6.  It sounds good on the surface but is too vague to be truly useful.  There are plenty of reasons that stealing might end up being ethical in certain situations.   If it were to save someones life for instance I would be willing to steal, this law seems to fail to make any such exceptions.

The other thing about stealing is that the concept goes hand it hand with the concept of property ownership, just about every sufficiently developed society in human history has developed this concept, usually about the same time they traded hunter-gather culture for that of an agrarian one.  The point is that the idea that, in general, we shouldn't take others stuff is not unique to Christianity and requires no god to mandate it.  Stable societies require such a law if they wish to stay stable.  It seems to me there is no real way to claim that our founding fathers only made theft illegal because the bible said so, even if they were super religious.  Plenty of societies prior to Judaism's advent made this a crime and plenty since. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Commandment #7 of 10

Thou shalt not commit adultery, Exodus 20:14

This happens to be one of the few commandments I generally agree with.  I do have a couple of small disagreements though.  My first problems comes from what was generally considered adultery, until modern times the only person who would be blamed for breaking this law was generally the woman involved.  Men were mostly overlooked.  

The other issue I have is that I think this is primarily an issue of honesty.  If people agree to some form of poly-amorous relationship, as long as all parties agree and no one is being dishonest or forced into anything against their will I don't really see the problem with it, though technically such behaviors would run afoul of this command.

In any case, I can't think it is good or reasonable to criminalize sexual infidelity on its own.  This seems to be something those in sexual relationships need to work out on their own without interference from the government.

This commandment, at one time, had a larger place in the legal system in the U.S.  In fact are still states that carry a law punishing adultery varying from a life imprisonment in Michagan, to a 10 dollar fine in Maryland.  Of course these laws are very rarely used, and several supreme court decisions have made most states reluctant to attempt to prosecute people under these laws, since they are often overturned in higher courts.

Though the government has been rather inconsistent when it comes to laws against sexual behavior I generally find that making sexual behavior illegal between consenting adults to be something unneeded and counter to the constitutional guarantee of equal rights.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Commandment #6 of 10

Thou shalt not kill.  Exodus 20:13

Now we reach the first commandment to actually be codified into our laws and stay there.  We do of course consider it wrong to kill other human beings, except in certain limited cases like self defense or war.  

However, I have a major problem with this command.  Besides being vague, god regularly violates his own law, and even hands out orders which regularly violates this law.

Take this passage from Samuel 15 for instance:
Thus saith the Lord of hosts ... go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare him not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
Now, understand if this were just a war I would have a certain modicum of understanding, we in the modern world still unfortunately end up in wars, but the command god levels here clearly orders the killing of non-combatants, to be frank he orders a genocide on a level more extreme than any 20th century dictator.  War is always ugly, but in the U.S. we make a special point to avoid injuring non-combatants.  God, on the other hand, seems to think murdering infants, elderly, women, even pregnant women we can assume (so much for abortion being wrong by god's standards) is fine, you know as long as he commands it.

This leaves those who believe morality is commanded by god in a odd position.  Most Christians like to claim their morality is objective, however it seems in this case to be completely relative to whims of god's command.  It's wrong to kill, until god commands you to kill babies, and then suddenly its time to pick up swords and stop lopping off baby heads.

Perhaps I am being crass, but I think its needed.  I cannot stress how horribly immoral and unethical I find the bible to be as a whole.

This leaves the modern Christian with an interesting logical conundrum.  Many of you may remember the story of Deanna Laney who, in 2004, stoned her children to death because she felt god told her to.  Now as an atheist I think its clear there was a lot more wrong with her than her religion, she clearly had mental problems.  Most Christians would of course join me in that assessment, but how do they justify their position?

Christians must believe that god does hand out commands to his followers, and clearly god has had no problem in the past telling people to kill children so how can they be certain that people like Deanna Laney were not told by god to kill their kids?  This is the basic problem with a supernatural centered world view.  The belief in forces that are undetectable by any natural means leaves it fundamentally impossible to determine if people's subjective views of reality are true or not.

Of course this a bit far afield of the original topic.  The point I am trying to make here is that even though this command is built into our legal system in theory, in practice U.S. law is much more clearly defined, and more consistently practiced than the biblical law.  Odd isn't it, that god, a supposed perfect being, can't even create an ethical system as well organized and consistent as us flawed humans.  It's almost as if these laws were just created by men and not by a god at all.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Gay marriage legalized in NY

For a while it seemed like the whole thing was going to be stalled out by religious wingnuts trying to add lines in the bill that allowed them to continue to be bigots while the rest of the world went on without them, but reason won through in the end and the bill past.

...Now if only we could get Arizonans to agree that providing equal rights all citizens is a good thing.

Commandment #5 of 10

 Honour thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. 

On the surface this seems like a pretty good command doesn't it?  I mean who doesn't think honoring ones parents is a good thing?  However, upon closer examination this commandment is of little real value.

First off, it is quite vague, what exactly does it mean to honor ones parents?  What actions qualify as honoring them and which don't?  You would think that a command which includes a threat of a shorter life span for disobedience would be more specific about the details.

Secondly what about parents who don't deserve honor?  Some parents are abusive, or bad, or criminals.  Recently Damon Fowler was kicked out of his own house for standing up for church state separation in his high school graduation.  He was effectively disowned by his parents for this.  Many parents are not worthy of honor, do we honor them anyway?  

If you're father is a thief do you help him steal....wait that violates another commandment doesn't it?  Is it possible for god to create a set of 10 rules which don't contradict themselves?

Not only is the command a rather useless one upon close examination, politically it is no where to be found in our laws.  It doesn't directly contradict anything in our laws unlike all of the earlier commandments, but nothing in our laws command children to honor their parents.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Commandment #4 of 10

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.  
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 

This is the first commandment that actually deals with behavior as it pertains to humans and the effects said behavior has on them rather than god. 

On the surface it doesn't seem to bad to suggest that people take a day off, but once we read it carefully we find that a big part of this command turns the focus back on god again, in that we are supposed to do this because god did it.  Further, it is not simply a requirement that people take a break once in a while it is a specific day that everyone must take not work.

The nature of this command becomes more clear when viewed in the context of Number 15:32-36. in this passage a man is caught gathering sticks on the Sabbath and at the behest of god is put to death for his violation of this law.  Once you read that it becomes clear that once again this law was not really about making things better for our fellow humans, but about control.  God wanted his followers to take a day off and spend it worshiping him.  In fact isn't this exactly the mentality of many modern Christians when it comes to Sunday?

Certain pieces of law have been put into our legal system based upon this law, such as laws prohibiting sale of liquor on Sunday, but by and large this is another commandment that is largely ignored by our government.  Little wonder since it would violate the establishment clause, plus a death sentence for work on Sunday would wipe out just about everyone in the country.  In modern society it would be impossible for us to implement a common day off for everyone.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Commandment #3 of 10

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.  Exodus 20:7



On to number 3,  god still seems majorly concerned with his how people view him.  Considering he is now 3 for 3 he seems to have a major preoccupation with himself.

History:

The main thing to note here is that this commandment referred to a use of god's proper name, of course which proper name is a debate in and of itself.  One that can, and has, filled entire books on ancient Jewish religion.  God was referred to by many names in the Christian Old Testament, especially the earlier parts which has caused some scholars to speculate on whether early Judaism might have been polytheistic.  I don't personally have an opinion on this as I am not well versed enough in the history, nor do I really care, polytheism is no more rational then monotheism in my book.

Modern Spin:

Most modern Christians spin this to speak about using swear words, specifically things like "god damn it" or "god is a fucking asshole."  Christians always hate it when I say that last one for some reason...

Criticism:

Well, for one, its a threat.  God doesn't really say what his is going to do, but considering some of the other stuff he does in the bible it probably won't be good.

Politics:

Now we reach the first commandment to actually make it into American law in some form.  I speak, of course, of blasphemy laws.  Of course the federal government never had such laws as they would have violated the first amendment.  However state governments often have had such laws.  Though as far as I know no one has been successfully prosecuted for them since the 14th amendment extended the effects of the bill of rights to all levels of government.

I would say that  the 1st amendment puts our law, in a philosophical sense, in a rather strong opposition to this commandment.  The government, unlike god, choose to not criminalize what people say in and of itself.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Commandment #2 of 10

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.  Exodus 20:4-6
So this one is bit longer than the first one.  It also contains some rather interesting lines.

History:

This one, like number 1, was very literal, but was not necessarily a commandment against any form of art.  Almost all art at the time was religious in nature, so it was a warning make idols and then worship them and serve them.  In many ways it is a rather similar command to the first one. God seemed to want to make sure people were paying attention to him and not a statue.

As an aside this particular command resulted in the destruction of quite a bit of catholic art work during the protestant reformation.  Many protestant groups decided that all the art the Catholic church had commissioned counted as graven images.

Criticism:

Wow, where to begin.  If commandment #1 made god sound like a bit of a narcissist, then he openly admits in in this commandment when he points out that he is "a jealous God." He then follows it by a threat to punish the children of anyone who dares not love him.  It is one of the many places in the bible where god sounds like an abusive prick.  Oh of course he loves you if you do what he says...but its a rather conditional love, rather like the love of a husband who gives his wife a black eye when she burns his dinner.

Politics:

Once again, I see nothing the U.S. constitution which would mirror this command.  In fact I noticed  a rather strange while reading this. People like Roy Moore, or Rep. Patrick Williams (D-Shreveport) consistently try to push for large displays of the the 10 commandments to be placed in public places, in an action that, ironically, seems to go against this very command. Am I the only one that finds it odd that these people demand the right to put up a large stone plaque of rules they think everyone should obey, which specifically tells them not to build monuments?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Commandment #1 of 10

So I am writer out some posts speaking about each of the 10 commandments.  As I mentioned in my last post, there are many people out there under delusions that the 10 commandments are brilliant and that they are the basis for our moral code in this country.





Thou shalt have no other gods before me.  Exodus 20:3

Well there you have it, one of the shorter commandments in the list, commanding us to put god first. 
History:
Historically this passage actually referred to other gods.  Judaism formed in in the middle of a world which was polytheistic.  As a result the Israelite believed in multiple gods, this command was to let them know that they had to put their god before these other ones.  This is actually a fairly typical command of any tribal deity (as Yahweh certainly was at this time).  Worshiping the god of another land would have looked very similar to treason to most of a persons neighbors at the time.


Modern spin:

Most modern Christians like to ignore the tribal roots of Judaism and instead tend to interpret this commandment as a metaphor.  Instead of talking about literal gods modern believers will refer to mundane things that distract them from "following god."  A pastors jargon from the pulpit will typically reference things like money, fame, sex, porn, video games, and generally anything that people enjoy.  

Criticism: 

Well this most obvious criticism is that it makes god look like a narcissist.  He gives a top ten list of ethical rules and the first thing out of his mouth is "hey everybody look at me!"   It is hard for me to imagine that a being capable of creating a whole universe is going to be terribly concerned with whether or not I remembered to thank him for it.

Of course Christians try to spin this by saying that the command is really for our benefit.  They will often say that god only wants us follow him first because it will make us better or happier or more attractive...

OK, I made that last one up.


In any case this argument really doesn't work either factually or logically.  Factually it doesn't work because there are so many people who believe in other gods, or no god at all and seem just as happy and well adjusted as any Christian.  Logically it doesn't work because it leaves unanswered the question of why god would choose to create beings that must kiss up to him in order to be happy.


To illustrate lets compare god to a parent for a moment, since that comparison is made quite often by the bible and by believers.  Would anyone of us think well of a person who raised their child to be totally dependent on them for their entire life and unable to make even the simplest of choices with out checking with their mom or dad first?  Or would would think better of a parent who raised their child to be independent, to go their own way, and to live their own life?  I think we all know the answer to those questions.


Politics:

This should be really obvious, there is nothing anywhere in the constitution or any part of the law that mirrors this commandment even slightly.  For that matter it would be impossible to do so in its present form. If one wanted to make it a law they would need to be much more specific, giving very clear instruction on what actions would count as putting something ahead of god.  

So commandment #1 is not part of our legal system and is far to vague on its own to even count as a law.  I see no reason to think that the founding fathers of the United States ever once took this commandment into account when designing the constitution.

I'm back....also, what the hell is wrong with people.

I ran across an article on the Washington Examiner this morning by a guy named
Gregory Kane.  I had never heard of him, but apparently he once won a Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Journalism, and he thinks Roy Moore is "too honest."


For those of you who don't know or remember Roy Moore was Chief Justice of the Alabama supreme court who refused to remove the rather large stone display of the 10 commandments he posted in his courtroom at the behest of a court order.  This, of course, resulted in his removal from office.  


So, now jobless, Moore did what every religious/pseudoscience nut does, he goes out on a lecture circuit leaching money off of people who are willing to pay to hear him whine about how the establishment is out to get him, and destroy whatever nonsense he happens to pedal.  It appears he has now been doing that at least 8 years now.

Moore's particular nonsense, if you haven't guessed, is typical of Christian dominionists.  He thinks homosexuals are evil,  that there is no church/state separation in any meaningful sense and that there is a huge liberal conspiracy to silence Christianity.  He has also stated clearly that he believes our justice system is based upon Christianity and the 10 commandments.


I could write a huge article talking about how inane and ridiculous Moore's ideas are, but I wouldn't be saying anything I haven't said before.  What really bothered me was a post that was made in response to the article.


I'm not religious. I belong to no church. I RESPECT everyone's right to believe, or not, in God, Allah, the hereafter, nothing, or whatever.  I understand that a crucifix is a symbol of death, predating Christianity. The 10 Commandments have always seemed to me to be a good set of rules, along with the Golden Rule, of living life in a satisfactory way. I have also observed, in my long life, that people who live this way seem to be more secure, happier and content than those who would rather impose their intolerance on others,


This post reminded me of an odd phenomenon I have noticed from some people ever since I left my religion behind, people who though not religious seem to think that religious ideas on the whole are positive and good for society.  The part on the 10 commandments caught my eye most of all since I have to conclude that anyone who is not a believer and thinks they are a "good set of rules" has clearly never read them.


I expect Moore and his ilk to irrationally make claims that our justice system is directly based upon these 10 rules, but anyone who would claim to be skeptical of religion ought to know better.  Therefore, I have decided to do a series of posts debunking the notion that the 10 commandments are good rules, 1 commandment at a time.


Moore and others like him would like to turn this country effectively into a theocracy, so I think it would be good for everyone to see exactly what is being promoted when judges post the 10 commandments on the wall of a courtroom and see for yourself if it seems reasonable to say our legal system is based upon it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

I've been busy.

I thought I would make a quick post letting people know I have had quite a bit going on in my life the last few months.

Some bad, some very good, but it has distracted me from posting.  I should be making posts again this weekend.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My life story, Part 33 and 1/3.....err....I mean Part 3


As I mentioned last time, when I graduated college I had no job and ended up moving in with my parents.  I was jobless, I interviewed with several churches for youth minister positions, but my heart was not really in it.  Either because they could tell or for some other reason I was not hired for any of the positions I interviewed for.  So I ended up working in numerous bad jobs, a 12 hour shift at a factory for about 6 months, Wal-Mart for about a year.

During my first year out of college I had a lot of time to think and reflect on things.  I had steadily become more liberal in my theology over the last year of college.  Biblical inerrancy had gone fairly early, which led me to doubt quite a bit of my religion as time wore on.  If college only did one thing for me, it made me good at research so I began reading a lot, both on other religions and on science.  I began to realize that many ideas I had taken to be true for years had no basis in reality.

I had read many anti-evolution books written by apologists that had told me that evolution was unscientific, was a lie, was nothing but a creation story for evil unbelievers....etc. I wondered if this was as true as I was told, so for the first time in my life I actually started reading the science.  What I found was astounding.  I had been told constantly that there were no good scientific answers for many of the "problems" that were put forward by apologists.  Not only were their good answers, many times I found that that the very questions that were being asked by apologists made it painfully obvious they were totally ignorant of some of the most basic ideas in the theory.  With even a small amount of knowledge most of the anti-evolution rhetoric did not even make sense, much less make a coherent case against the science.

To put it mildly, I was angry, I felt I had been lied too, but I still had to admit that this in itself did not mean that Christianity was totally false.  I had already abandoned the idea that the bible was scientifically inerrant several months earlier, but perhaps it was still valid as a spiritual/moral guide.  However, the more I read the bible the more I doubted its quality as a guide for anything.  Just as with evolution I began reading works by various people who took issue with various teachings within Christianity.  I wanted to disagree with them, but I could find no counter-arguments against any thing I read.  Instead I began to see passage after passage full of "moral" laws that would seem harsh in communist China.

About a year after I had graduated I remember being up at about 3:00 A.M. working through my thoughts and trying to figure how I was going to continue believing after all I had learned.  All at once a thought occurred to me that I had not considered.  I did not need to keep believing.  In fact, I was pretty certain I already did not believe.  I prayed for the last time ever on that night; I asked god to give me some proof or reason to believe.  I felt nothing, then I said to myself, "well that's it then," and went to bed.

After that night I realized I had no idea who I was anymore.  I had spent the last 6 or 7 years of my life defining everything I was by way of my religion.  I ended up getting back into a lot of hobbies I had previously denied myself, gaming, anime etc.  I also tried looking into other religions, but invariably found that they had the same unfounded assertions and questionable beliefs.

At some point I realized that most of the reasons I rejected Christianity could be applied to every religion I studied.  They all contained bald assertions which they offered no proof for.  I began to read a lot of information written by atheists and agreed with most of what they said, but I was a bit skeptical of the claim that one could know there was no god.  Eventually, I realized that being an atheist was not about rejecting the possibility of a god, instead it was simply an rejection of the unsupported claim that he does exist.  I realized at that point that I had been an atheist for quite a while without knowing it.  This was a rather shocking revelation to me.  My liberal religion professors viewed atheists as narrow minded, and my conservative back ground in religion had drilled into me the notion that all atheists were immoral, or at least had no reason to be moral.  As someone who had rejected Christianity because I found many teachings to be immoral I wondered if being an atheist somehow defeated my own argument. 

I wont go in to detail here about how I settled those issues in my own mind, but reading my regular posts should reveal that anyway.  In any case, I did settle these things in my own mind, and eventually became the well adjusted, awesome, genius guy that I am today. (also humble)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Busy life

Sorry I have not been keeping up with my blog lately, I have had lots of things going on in my life the last few weeks.  I should be getting part 3 of my religious deconversion out in the next day or so.  Hopefully regular updates will resume at that point.

Monday, February 28, 2011

My life story, Part II

Me in college
As I said in my last post, my parents decided to take me back to church.  We started attending a small Methodist church, and not long after my parents discovered a local Christian radio station that rebroadcasted many things from Focus on the Family.  They slowly started becoming much more conservative in their religious beliefs.  When I was eighteen I was baptized in the same church we attended.

Not long after that we moved, I ended up doing home school my last two years of high school because we had to move several times and it would have been too much work starting new schools every couple of months.  This hurt my science education, but at the time I really didn't care, nor even realize I was being shorted.  I still managed to get into a good private college, Hendrix, in central Arkansas.

Yes I am in this photo, top row 6th from the left

During freshman orientation I met several people who were involved in a campus ministry called Student Mobilization. This group was heavily focused on mission work and evangelism.  I became increasingly focused on religion, I even decided to major in religious studies, with the plan of becoming a pastor or something along those lines.  My first two summers I went to a summer retreat with Student Mobilization to teach me how to be a better evangelist.  I stopped playing video games very much by the end of my sophomore year because several people in the ministry thought it was a waste of time that could be better spent sharing the gospel with other students.  I gave up listening to secular music and only listened to Christian rock, which except for 3 or 4 bands is almost universally horrible. I ended up giving up many things that made me who I was in a effort to fit in.

During this time I believed myself to be happy, after all I had friends that I fit in with, a group to belong too, and, of course, I was "saved."  However, there were a few dark clouds.  I occasionally felt like I didn't fit very well, like religion was the only thing I had in common with many of my friends.  I still "struggled" with pornography from time to time.  (there is a masturbation joke waiting to be made there but I will resist the urge) Also, I had niggling doubts about things, particularly theology.  These issues would occasionally make me depressed but I mostly ignored this stuff.

My first real doubts about religion came after my third year of college.  I did not attend Student Mobilization's camp that year, instead I decided to go on a mission trip to India, and I did this by going through another group that some people in Student Mobilization recommended to me.  I ended up in Calcutta for the summer, and as it turns out more than half of the group I was with came from a charismatic Pentecostal background.  I had, of course, read about these groups in classes and had talked with a few before.  However, as a guy with a background in Methodist, Baptist, and Non-denominational churches I had never been in the middle of a large group of people charismatic Christians.  The way the approached religion was so different than I did that it was hard to relate to them.  For instance, I believed in demons, but was rational enough to know how germ theory worked.  Therefore, when I got sick I went to the doctor or took some medicine.  I didn't blame demons for things that were caused by completely natural causes.  However, most of these people did blame demons, and wanted to pray over people, and preform faith healings on them when they got sick.  I thought it was common sense, we were living in a strange country with all sorts of germs we were not accustomed too, it was more likely for us to get sick than back home.  I felt like I had stepped 400 years back in time while speaking to some of my fellow missionaries.

Furthermore, some of them had prayed over me to receive the gift of speaking in tongues.  I felt nothing, but eventually I just started speaking gibberish because I was rather uncomfortable and wanted out of the situation.  I was certain they would see through the ploy, but instead they fell for it.  I knew I was not doing anything but spouting nonsense, there was no mystical experience.  There was just...nothing.

These events gave me pause, especially when I got home and had time to reflect.  The position they took would have seemed perfectly reasonable a few hundred years ago, and in fact seemed scripturally sound.  My thoughts on these things were more scientifically based, and they had thought I was not a faithful enough Christian because of it.  The question that came to my mind was how much of my own beliefs were might seem just as crazy to someone else.  I didn't have a good answer, but I did not like the implication of my thoughts.

The year after I came back from India the ministry I was involved in had a change of leadership on my campus.  They guy who took over had been a friend of mine for several years so I was naturally supportive of what he was doing.  However, he ended up being rather controlling and making massive changes to the ministry.  Many of these changes ended up pushing me out much of my active role there, the biggest of which was the shut down of the meeting in which I played guitar for the worship band.  I felt a bit put out by this, but still tried to support him.

I ended up staying in college for a 5th year for various reasons, at this point the new leader became almost hostile to me, he told me outright that I was "not submitted enough to the authorities that god had placed in my life," and told me that he would not write any recommendation for me to join any ministry upon graduation. (which was still a career goal of mine at this point.)  I can only guess this was because I was developing a habit of asking uncomfortable theological question, and because I did not share certain personality traits he found were needed for being a evangelist.  At the same time he decided to start a new weekly meeting for the ministry, and unsurprisingly he did not ask me to be in the worship band.  He instead picked a "disciple" of his that he clearly liked better than me.

Of course since I was a 5th year student most of my closest friends who would have defended me had already left, so with no one to turn to I was quickly ignored.  I became depressed, stopped attending church, barely paid attention to my classes and as a result almost didn't graduate.  I ended up a credit short and had to take a summer class to get my diploma, and on top of that I had no job prospects when I graduated since any ministry was going to ask for references, which I knew I would not get.  Plus I was having serious questions about my religion which no one, not even God, seemed to be able to answer.  By the time I finished college I was an emotional wreck.

I'll leave this to be finished in part 3, don't worry, it will end on a happier note.  Haven't you guys ever been to the movies?  Trilogies always look worst for the protagonist at the end of part 2.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Jesus dance

For those of you who think I am going to hell for my atheism here is a video I found on YouTube made by someone who may well end up there first.  This video made me smile.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

UFO meeting in the phoenix area


I did not know this until I saw a local news report on TV, but apparently Arizona is hosting one of the largest UFO conferences in the United States this year.  They will be in town till this Sunday.

I had a good laugh at the news report.  One minute you had a guy trying to convince everyone that this wasn't a group of people who belonged in a loony bin, and the next minute a person was telling the interviewer that they were only 23% human and the rest of them was made up of various other alien species.  They never said which parts were which.  How many people wanna bet that if we took a sample of their DNA it would look 100% human?

On the other hand the largest UFO conference is only slated to have about 1,000 attendees, so maybe people aren't quite as gullible as I sometimes think they are.