Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Hell That Awaits Me

        So I suppose this will be a relatively short post.  I just want to take the time to discuss the concept of Heaven and Hell.  I imagine that most people probably don’t put too much thought into this, but recently I have.  Here's what doesn't add up for me: 
        Let's just assume, for simplicity purposes, that every human being lives to the age of 80.  This is, of course, also assuming that you die of natural causes.  That means you have 80 years to do everything possible to get into Heaven.  This means you lived a good life based on the teachings of Jesus Christ and accepted him into your heart.  For this, you are allowed to live for all eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven.  So, for only 80 years you get an eternity of happiness.  Honestly, you don't even need to spend your entire 80 years "living a good life", all you really need to do is repent before your time comes and you're golden.  You could have been an evil, sinful person for 79 years but "see the light" and change your ways during that last year and there you have it; an eternity in heaven.  Seems legit, right?  But what happens if at the age of 78 you are killed in a car crash?  Well, looks like you better pack your bags for some warmer weather.
        For only 78 years' worth of sin and evil doing you are to spend all of eternity in the flaming pits of Hell.  Seems a rather harsh punishment if you ask me.  Especially if my only "sin" was not accepting Jesus into my life.  I'm to be tortured and burned and live the worst possible existence for all of eternity simply for 78 years of wrongdoing? This fact, alone, tells me that the concepts of both Heaven and Hell are completely flawed.
        Now let's touch on another aspect of all of this.  Most Christians believe that God controls their destinies.  If this is true then, 1. God should already know that you were going to repent at the age of 79 and therefore you should actually end up in Heaven anyways and 2. Even with this knowledge he chose to end your life at 78 with a car crash instead of giving you the chance to live out the rest of your life and eventually repent.

        It seems to me that the concept of Heaven and Hell wasn't thought out too well.  If it was, well then, whomever came up with the idea was a complete idiot.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What about the other gods?

Christianity wasn't the first religion to exist and it certainly won't be the last.  This was the basis one of the first truly skeptical thoughts I had as a child.  I learned about ancient Greek/Roman mythology and it sparked my skepticism.  Surely those ancient Greeks held the same conviction about their god as Christians do theirs.  Trying to tell an ancient Greek that Zeus did not exist would have been a laughable ordeal back then.  There was no doubt in any of their minds, then, that Zeus was the "master of the universe".  My question is, "what makes them wrong and Christians right?"
You see, throughout the human existence there have been multiple religions worshipping multiple gods.  In fact, there have been over 150 gods that we know of.  That, of course, doesn't even include a complete list, not to mention whatever gods might have been worshipped that we may never know about.  You're telling me that the millions, possibly even billions, of people who worshipped these other gods we wrong?  Not to bring up Pascal's wager but, the odds that Christians are right in their beliefs is at least 1 in 151.  These other gods, whom some were thought to be omnipotent themselves, have all faded away and died out.  What makes the Christian God any different?  I see no difference.  I see yet another omnipotent being thought up by people to offer answers to unknown questions and provide solace when it is needed.  Nothing else.  The same faith that Christians have in their god all these people from our past had in theirs.  What makes the Christian faith any better?  I hate to sound cliché with this, but now seems like the perfect time for one of my favorite quotes:
"I contend we are both Atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."
Such a quote couldn’t be more fitting to one of the very first arguments I had for why I was an Atheist.  How a theist could hear such an argument and still not see the light is beyond me.  This is just one of many flaws found in the Christian religion.  I could go on and on about the other as well but since I have others things to do at the moment I will digress.  I only ask you to think about those other "all powerful" gods and remember their fate.

Friday, September 27, 2013

God…Eat A Snickers…

        When considering God, as he is in the Bible, one can't help but think how flawed he is.  One might even say that he displays "human" tendencies.  In debates about God the Old Testament is brought up quite often.  The rebuttal to the Old Testament is, according to Christians, the New Testament.  It's not my goal to argue morality here so the New Testament, as I see it, is irrelevant to today's topic.  Even if it is relevant it would only further my position.
        So the story goes that God created man and then gave them free will.  I'm not even going to get into that fallacy right now.  So anyways, God give man (the human race that is) free will because he wants their love for him to be genuine.  Kudos to God for at least giving us the option, right?  Now here's where flaws start showing up.  Take the story of Noah and his Ark, for example.  God doesn't like what we have done with our free will so he kills everyone except Noah and his family.  Hmm, if you're going to kill us all for using our free will doesn't make much sense to give it to us in the first place right.  What you're basically saying is that we are free to do what we want so long as it's also what you want.  Seems to me this whole "free will" idea wasn't exactly what you had in mind.  You made a mistake and had to correct it.  Hardly the work of an all-knowing and all-doing type of person.
        Then we have the exodus story.  Quick question; if you're an omniscient being why the lamb's blood on the doorways?  If you're God wouldn't you already know who those people are that follow you?  Let's talk about these plaques of his.  As an omniscient being wouldn't he already have known that all the plagues but the last one would work?  So why all the other plagues?  Is God just that sadistic that he simply enjoyed watching those people suffer through all the other plagues?  Not to mention the fact that, as an omnipotent being, isn't there better ways of getting your point across than killing innocent little boys?  This seems more like a story written by men than it does the actions of a great and powerful being.  God did, after all, create those Egyptians too.  All those first born sons never even had the chance to use their free will to eventually find God and let him into their lives.  That doesn't sound like the "just" God Christians speak so highly of.
        Now we come to the later portion of the Exodus story.  If you want the details read the Bible.  Apparently Moses pisses of God and so God forces the Jews to wander the desert for forty years.  One man does the wrong thing and an entire people are punished for it?  Is that a fair and just God?  I think not.   Also, apparently God promises all these people their own land to call their home.  Here's the catch, it's actually already occupied.  So let me get this straight, and omniscient God couldn't find these people some unoccupied land?  Seems to me like, once again, we have man trying to justify an invasion and conquering of someone else's home.  Why would God do such a thing?  Why would he allow the genocide of another race of human beings (still the same ones he created) and not give them a chance to, once again, use their free will to find God and let them into their hearts?

        None of this has anything to do with human morality.  Although one could argue that it makes God seem imperfect and definitely immoral.  This is usually the part, though, that you here Christians bring Jesus into the picture.  According to them Jesus came and changed everything.  That argument really only seems to work when talking about the morality of man though.  Even then it's flawed but I'll leave that alone for now.  If you try to use that argument for the case of God you are simply further perpetuating the notion that God was an imperfect being and had to come down to Earth as a human being himself (don't get me started on that) to let everyone know that he made a bunch of mistakes but he's sorry and he promises he's a changed God.  Wow, only a couple of examples and already I think this God is a jerk.  Imagine if I took the time to point all of God's other fallacies.  This blog post would probably turn into book if I did such a thing.  So all I have to say is: "God…eat a snickers….because you turn into a jealous, egotistical, immoral asshole when you're hungry."

Monday, September 23, 2013

God? Is that you?

        I've touched on this in the past but it always seem to come back at me: "I know God exists because I can feel his presence in my life."  Are you sure it's not just indigestion?  Seriously though, come on people.  This "proof" has got to be the biggest copout of them all.  How convenient for you that the proof you have for the existence of God is something only you can know.  "But you could have a relationship with him too if you just had faith."  Oh really? So all I have to do is forget about all the evidence that points to the inexistence God and just believe he exists?  I couldn't do it even if I wanted to.  If I did who is to say that the feeling I have isn't something else?  "Feeling" God or having a "relationship" with him doesn't prove anything.  That feeling you have is probably something else.  In fact, it might indeed be related to your faith but most likely due to the fact that you no longer allow doubt an uncertainty in your life.  Imagine how it feels when you already know how something is going to turn out in your favor.  There's no worry, fear, or doubt.  You know that everything is going to work out nicely.  So you can just kick back and let it happen.  It's a good feeling is it not?  Probably a feeling or relief and confidence.  I would bet it's the same type of feeling those who have a "relationship with God" have.  At least something similar to it.  So you're not proving anything, not even to yourself.  Only that through turning a blind eye to the facts and willfully remaining ignorant to the evidence you can feel good about yourself.  If I were in that position I don't think I could feel good about it at all.  It's like knowing something bad is happening and allowing it anyway.
        I'd like to share a story that was written by Sam Harris:
        "I recently spent an afternoon on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, atop the mount where Jesus is believed to have preached his most famous sermon. It was an infernally hot day, and the sanctuary was crowded with Christian pilgrims from many continents. Some gathered silently in the shade, while others staggered in the noonday sun, taking photographs.
As I sat and gazed upon the surrounding hills gently sloping to an inland sea, a feeling of peace came over me. It soon grew to a blissful stillness that silenced my thoughts. In an instant, the sense of being a separate self-an “I” or a “me”-vanished. Everything was as it had been-the cloudless sky, the pilgrims clutching their bottles of water-but I no longer felt like I was separate from the scene, peering out at the world from behind my eyes. Only the world remained.
The experience lasted just a few moments, but returned many times as I gazed out over the land where Jesus is believed to have walked, gathered his apostles, and worked many of his miracles. If I were a Christian, I would undoubtedly interpret this experience in Christian terms. I might believe that I had glimpsed the oneness of God, or felt the descent of the Holy Spirit. But I am not a Christian. If I were a Hindu, I might talk about “Brahman,” the eternal Self, of which all individual minds are thought to be a mere modification. But I am not a Hindu. If I were a Buddhist, I might talk about the “dharmakaya of emptiness” in which all apparent things manifest. But I am not a Buddhist.
As someone who is simply making his best effort to be a rational human being, I am very slow to draw metaphysical conclusions from experiences of this sort. The truth is, I experience what I would call the “selflessness of consciousness” rather often, wherever I happen to meditate-be it in a Buddhist monastery, a Hindu temple, or while having my teeth cleaned. Consequently, the fact that I also had this experience at a Christian holy site does not lend an ounce of credibility to the doctrine of Christianity."
          For those of you who read the debate I shared in my last blog post this will be familiar to you.  While I'm sure I could probably think of a similar event in my life that gave me such feelings it's just easier to use this example.  It just goes to show that just because you think you feel some "divine presence" that doesn't mean you have a relationship with God.  It just means you had a moment (or moments) of clarity and peace for some reason or another.  That's it.  So please, those of you of the religious persuasion, stop trying to counter my arguments with some crazy story about how you have a relationship with God.  It's both annoying and a bit delusional.  You're making yourself look bad.  What this world really needs if for you to question that feeling and investigate it.  Find out what it really is that's making you feel that way.  Then realize that it's most likely not God and start affecting change in the world to better it.  Trust me, religion is not the answer.

I'd like to take this time to invite you all to check out my Facebook page.  If you're a fan of my blog and you have a Facebook account please stop by and like it.  I don’t have near the amount of "likes" as I'd like to see.  You can find it here: 

P.S. – Please feel free to comment anytime.  I'd like this blog to be more of an open forum rather than a rant.  I welcome all your comments, concerns, and complaints.  So don't be shy.  Contribute!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sam Harris vs. Andrew Sullivan debate


I just finished reading a debate between Sam Harris and Andrew Sullivan on Sam Harris' website.  You can find the debate here (although I warn you it is a rather long read if I do say so myself):


I won't be going into details about this debate.  Instead I'll let you check it out for yourself to form your own opinions.  However, there was a brief exchange I would like to talk about a little bit.  A piece of Sam Harris' argument really caught my attention in an inspiring way.  After reading it I knew I had to share it here with all of you.   Then I read Andrew Sullivan's response and thought it was at least worth sharing as well if only for the sake of clarity.  So here are the excerpts from the exchange:

Sam Harris:

        "I’m asking you to imagine a world in which children are taught to investigate reality for themselves, not in conformity to the religious dogmatism of their parents, but by the lights of truly honest, fearless inquiry. Imagine a discourse about ethics and mystical experience that is as contingency-free as the discourse of science already is. Science really does transcend the vagaries of culture: there is no such thing as “Japanese” as opposed to “French” science; we don’t speak of “Hindu biology” and “Jewish chemistry.” Imagine a world that has transcended its tribalism—racism and nationalism, yes, but religious tribalism especially—in which we could have a truly open-ended conversation about our place in the universe and about the possibilities of deepening our experience of love and compassion for one another. Ethics and spirituality do not require faith. One can even achieve utter mystical absorption in the primordial mystery of the present moment without believing anything on insufficient evidence."

Andrew Sullivan:

        "My first thought is: where are all these children separated from their parents? Would they have to be sent away to protect them from the influence of parental dogmatism? And my second thought is amusement at your use of the passive tense: “are taught”. By whom? You? Who is teaching these finally liberated children, and on whose authority? And where is this discourse they will enter that is “contingency-free”? I have never heard or read or engaged in one.

That is because I have never met a human being or a human mind that is “contingency-free”, and never will. No child grows up without the contingent facts of their family, place, genes, and any number of details that make us who we are. You and I would be very different people if we had different contingent genetics and different contingent histories. This is the experience of being human, an experience eternally different from the dream of your new, unfettered, purely rational “education,” where the young are severed from the toxins of contingent culture and faith and family. You echo the later themes of Plato’s Republic in this respect, and Socrates’ irony still echoes through the millennia. You are not the first person to come up with such an idea, Sam, and I have no doubt that the guardians you will pick to educate the young will be selected in good faith - your good faith, not the children’s or their parents’. And I am not the first person to find this project for all mankind absurd in my lighter moments and deeply sinister in my darker ones."

Okay, so the point Sam Harris is trying to make here is one that we can all agree is a very nice concept.  Essentially he is talking about a world in which we do not indoctrinate our children and instead simply teach them how to think for themselves and form their own conclusions/opinions.  Andrew Sullivan points out the flaw in Harris' use of "contingency-free".  I respect Sullivan's argument against such a concept in that we as human beings cannot truly be contingency-free.  I think, though, that he was completely missing to point trying to be made.  In fact even Harris points in out in his reply later on.

If we, as a species, could simply disregard our own personal beliefs (or lack thereof when talking about Atheism) and just simply let a child's development happen naturally the world would be a much better place.  For one, children would be free to develop their spirituality without all the religious dogma and doctrine.  In this way their enlightenment and views of the world would most likely make them more tolerant of others and their beliefs.  This assumes, of course, that they develop a sense of spirituality in the first place.  If they do not and instead take a more methodical, scientific approach to everything then it will be no worse for wear.  The point is the advancement of our species could only benefit from such a utopian existence.  That is something I strive for.  Something that I believe, since I am an Atheist, puts me at an advantage when it comes to raising my two boys.  I would hope that others, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack of, would think and act in this same way.  If we are ever to advance to a state of world peace, of technological advancement beyond our imaginations, to a level of understanding of our universe and its origins that we could never think to comprehend, then the first great step in that direction is to raise the next generation in as a contingency-free world as we possibly can.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Who Made God?

When I was a young boy (around 8 years of age) I asked my dad, "If God made everything, who made God?"  His answer to me was ridiculous but I can't blame him because the question was thrown at him from out of nowhere and he had no clue how to answer something like that.  Needless to say "God always was and God always will be" didn't sit too well with me.  Everything has a beginning.  I probably would have accepted something along the lines of "God just came into existence one day" more so than the answer my dad gave me.  Even so, most Christians really do believe God is outside of time and space and that's why we couldn't possibly fathom his existence in the first place.  However, to those people I say that if that is true then miracles, visions, and any other interference/intervention by God couldn't possibly have been the work of God.  That would require that he be in both time and space to accomplish these things and if this is true then he wouldn't be outside them would he?  The idea of a personal god is just plain ludicrous.  A creator of the universe, however, is definitely something that could be possible.

Imagine an entity that is a part of a species that has existed for millions of years.  Through evolution or even technology over such a long span it is logical to assume that such a species would be very powerful.  When you think about the progress being made currently by our own species involving the technology of terraforming planets it's not such a far-fetched idea.  Now with millions of years to perfect and even improve such a technology, being able to create a universe is seemingly plausible.  So maybe there is some alien species out there that is responsible for creating the universe we live in.  Hell, maybe our universe is currently within some petri dish style object in some laboratory of some alien species.  We might possibly be some science fair project currently being examined through some sort of microscope.  As crazy as this all sounds, it still seems more likely to me than the Christian account of the origin of the universe.  If I happen to be right then every single inhabitant of this planet has been worshipping the wrong "god" this entire time.

This brings me to the creation of the Christian God.  The most plausible explanation of his existence is that of man.  Long before God ever spoke to Abraham human beings had worshipped this god or that for a very long time.  Where was the Christian God then?  Was he too busy with other things to bother to correct humans on who it was they should have been worshipping?  Most likely Abraham (or some other random guy, who knows?) felt some need for answers to questions that he had.  He decides that "God" must be the answer.  He then goes on to create an entire religion based upon this belief. There you have it folks!  The creator of the creator.  Well, maybe that's not quite how it went but I'm assume it was something along those lines.  If humans just simply invented all of these other religions than how is it so hard to believe that Christianity doesn't follow the same?
So, now that I got that out of the way I would like to plug the Facebook page I created for this blog.  If you're on Facebook and would like to check it out you can find it here:
If you're a fan please like it and share it with your friends/family.  I will update the page with every new blog post.

Monday, September 9, 2013

What do you believe in?

“So if you don’t believe in God, what do you believe in?”  I’ve been asked this question numerous times by many different people.  Most are theists and all have been religious.  In fact, just the other day I was asked this question by a fellow soldier.  As I have stated in the past, I have recently become more outspoken about my Atheism.  Most people don’t say anything to me about it although I can often tell they are thinking something.  Well, this soldier, I assume, had enough of biting his tongue about it and struck up a conversation about my “beliefs”.  While most people try to avoid discussions on religion and politics, I enjoy talking about those things (well religion more than politics, but still).  I couldn’t help but laugh when I was asked what I believed in.  “Surely you have to believe in something, everybody believes in something” is the reply I get when I answer that I don’t believe in anything.

First off, I think the problem begins with the word “Belief”.  Belief in a religious context is really just another word for faith.  This is where things get tricky.  I have had it argued that surely I have trust and faith in certain people, my wife for example.  However, that sort of faith is earned by me through demonstrable evidence that leads me to conclude that I can, indeed, trust someone.  Ultimately you do have to “put yourself out there” so to speak and that requires having faith in someone but I do not generally go around and give my faith to random people I do not know.  So it could be said that I do believe in something.  I know this is not the type of belief the people asking me this question are talking about though.  They are referring to some “higher power”.  Until I was able to differentiate between the different meanings of the word “belief” I often found this question tough to answer.  I would say things like: “I believe in myself.” Or “I believe in nature.”  While these statements are true they weren’t the answers they, or I for that matter, were looking for.  The real answer is I don’t believe in anything, period.  Now, as an Agnostic Atheist I reserve judgment on whether there is a “higher power” or “ultimate being”.  There could or could not be something like that in existence.  There is not enough evidence to form a good opinion one way or the other on that fact and so I cannot form a valid opinion on the matter.  I lean towards the nonexistence of such a being but do not except it as undeniable truth.

Religious people just cannot grasp the concept of not believing in something.  I suppose when you think you know that God exists it is difficult to understand my point of view.  However, I pity those who are not willing to open their minds to such a concept.  The funny thing about that is; this person asked me to go to church with them one Sunday.  I declined because I feel that would be just a waste of my time.  I did, however, express my interest in attending some sort of bible study to better understand its contents as well as religious dogma.  Due to my denial of the request to attend church I was accused of being closed-minded and afraid of being "converted".  I couldn't help but laugh at this for the simple fact that this same person (who claimed to be different from me in that he was, in fact, open-minded) was showing in his inability to understand my point of view and the thought of this hypocrisy I found amusing.  Well, after further discussion on the topic of religion I actually showed (several times) that I knew more about this person's religion than he did.  Understand that I did not do this to show my superiority of knowledge on the subject, but only to prove that I do have an open mind and that I have actually studied religion.  The fact is that having an open mind is the very reason I am an Atheist.  Instead of just blindly following the majority in their religious doctrines I opened my mind and questioned their beliefs.  I looked for answers to questions that most religious people are afraid, or at least unwilling, to ask.  Through logic and reason I concluded that most, if not all, of it is complete nonsense.  Still I research and attempt to learn more about religion, though.  I am still looking for the answers to the questions that are yet unanswered, and yet I am closed-minded?  Oh the frustrations of dealing with theists!

So, I am going to go off topic now because I'd like to take this time to talk about something that I consider at least a little relevant to this post.  A family member of mine shared a link to this blog on Facebook the other day.  Someone on her friends list made a comment to the effect of: "So if you're an Atheist than why do you think you should get Christmas and other religious holidays off from work?"  Well I knew my family member probably felt trapped by such a comment and so I commented as well.  What I had to say is irrelevant here.  The point is, that family member contacted me afterwards and expressed concern with not being able to answer such a thing.  I sympathized with being in such a situation.  There was a time that I, too, was afraid of expressing my point of view as an Atheist.  While there were many factors causing this fear, one of them was the inability to refute such comments and answer similar questions.  This is partly what motivated me to become more active in the Atheist community as well as do a hell of a lot more reading.  While I had the answers all along I realize now that the problem lied in to not being able to properly express them.  I found that the same conclusion I came to on my own were the very arguments just about all Atheists agree upon.  In fact, from the extensive research I have done thus far I have found that there are only a certain number of arguments used by theists in the first place.  There are different forms of these arguments but they are only a specific amount of them.  I am still looking for something new.

So to Atheists I say this; READ!  Pick up a book written by an Atheist and learn to better understand your position.  Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Dennett, Russell, there are many, many good books out there to help guide you to better understanding yourself.  Learn about religion too!  There is a saying that "The fastest way to become an Atheist is to read the bible."  This is true in so many ways.  While I have not sat down and really read the bible I have read and learned enough about it to point out the many contradictions, hypocrisies, and immoral lesson within that book.  Sitting amongst a group of soldiers who considered themselves "Christians" I pointed out on numerous occasions that they, themselves, did not practice the very dogma they were currently defending.  It felt good to prove my point (although I was still the only one to actually "get it") that most people who call themselves Christian are in fact mere imposters who know nothing about their religion.  The reason for this fact I that religion doesn't require them to have any knowledge; they simply have to have faith.  That is something I cannot, and will not, do.  So to answer the question, "What do I believe in?"  I say this: "Knowledge is power!"

Friday, September 6, 2013

One Nation, Indivisible…

Since one of the driving influences of starting this blog in the first place was to speak out in favor of a Secular nation in which there is a clear separation between church and state, I find it fitting that I discuss the ongoing Pledge of Allegiance Massachusetts Court Battle:

               I was waiting for the day that someone would finally step up and fight against such an intrusion of our personal freedom as Americans.  It is a great day, indeed, to see this injustice opposed.  What is even more amazing is the 97% of Americans out of over 3 million votes who agree that “under God” should be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance:

               I do not understand how such blatant disregard for the separation of church and state could have gone on unopposed for as long as it has, let alone being allowed in the first place.  Even so, the fact that the American Humanist Society is now taking a stand now is something I find very admirable indeed.  I’m proud to count myself among them.

               This, however, is merely the first step down a long road of fighting such theocratic ideals.  Abolishing “In God we Trust” as our national motto, removing invocations and prayers from government functions, and overturning state bans prohibiting Atheists from running for office should be next in the war for secularism.  

               While nowhere in the Constitution is the phrase “separation of church and state”, it is adherent to the 1st Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion…” is all that needs to be said on this matter.  By passing bills that make “In God we Trust” the national motto or adding “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance our government has directly violated the very Constitution it affirms to uphold.  Those who founded this country did so on the principle that true freedom would be had by ensuring that religion was kept out of government hands.  They wanted to avoid the theocratic state of affairs that caused the first settlers to come over to this land in the first place.  Religious persecution has no business in our present times, especially within our government.  The repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act was yet another triumph in returning our country to its former glory.  This fight is not over yet; there are still many battles to be fought.  But I am glad to see this fight push on during my lifetime.  I believe that we, as a country, need to speak up more than just in a NBC survey on these matters.  If we do not win this fight regarding the Pledge of Allegiance we need to push onward even harder than before.  It is our duty as citizens to ensure that infringements upon our constitutional rights not be tolerated any longer.  I, for one, am tired of having “God” forced into my life daily.  Even if you believe in God and therefore are not bothered by such things you must look at it from a different perspective; what if “God” were replaced with “Zeus” or “Buddha” or even “Odin”?  Would you tolerate such a thing?  This isn’t an attack on religion.  It is a fight for your freedom of religion or lack thereof for the rest of us.  If you find yourself preaching about your rights to free speech, or of the press, or the right to peaceably assemble then just remember that all of these things are a part of this same amendment.  To think any differently about religion is to contradict yourself in a manner of hypocrisy.  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

My Review of “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis

               So in an effort to better understand how someone could possibly buy into the whole religious ideology, I’ve begun to explore Christianity a bit further.  After scouring many websites and forums “Mere Christianity” seemed to be the most highly recommended book to give to an Atheist according to Christians.  So I took the bait and read this book.  I’ve been trying desperately to find a valid argument for the existence of God.  Not so much because I want to believe, but rather I want to know what could possibly make someone else believe.  I was optimistic that I might find it within “Mere Christianity” since it is so highly regarded among Christians.  However, what I found instead was simply more of the same.  In fact, I found this writing to be one of the worst cases for Christianity that I have yet discovered.

               The last 2 chapters did very well at making the “Modern Christian” look like a sinful heathen.  I actually found it humorous, at times, to read.  The fact of the matter is, based on C.S. Lewis’ interpretation of Christianity I have yet to actually meet a Christian.  That is to say that no one I have yet to meet who call themselves Christians actually live a life of a true Christian according to this book.  So maybe he just got it wrong.  I could believe that if the very same things he preaches in his book weren’t the very things I hear so called Christians say as well.  The discrepancy shows itself in the hypocrisy of these very words.  These people who call themselves Christians and who claim to live by this particular doctrine indeed do not.  They claim they are better people by living their live through the teachings of Jesus yet I have not yet seen it.  Maybe these very same people should read this book as well.  While I’d hate to see them become even narrower minded at least they would be practicing what they preach (as the saying goes).

               I’ve pulled some quotes from this book.  These are just some things that, while reading it, I decided that I would like to touch upon and add my opinion on the matter.  I will add the disclaimer that it is possible that I might have simply misunderstood the point being made or simply took it out of context.  I leave it to you to read the book for yourself and decide.  As it is, this is my take on some of the things C.S. Lewis had to say:

“But when the older thinkers called the Law of Right and Wrong ‘the Law of Nature’, they really meant the Law of Human Nature.”

“…but the law which is peculiar to his human nature, the law he does not share with animals or vegetables or inorganic things, is the one he can disobey if he chooses.”

               So the gist of this portion of reading is basically on morality.  Not necessarily what is right and wrong but that there are rights as well as wrongs.  This is basically the argument of objective morality that Christians try to use to prove that there must be a God for how else would we know these sorts of things.  Well, if you choose to believe that such a thing as objective morality exists rather than it being a subjective matter, so be it.  The thing is, his whole argument centers around the premise of the aforementioned quotes.  What I find fascinating is that he calls it the “Law of Human Nature”.  Human Nature, even he italicizes the word Human.  The interesting fact about that is what he is going on about this whole time sounds more like Humanism than Christianity.  All he is really doing here is validating the Humanist subculture of the Atheist movement.  That only seems to make the case for Atheism that must stronger in my opinion.  A bit ironic, isn’t it?

“If there was a controlling power outside the universe, it could not show itself to us as one of the facts inside the universe – no more than the architect of a house could actually be a wall or staircase or fireplace in that house.”

“Do not think I am going faster than I really am.  I am not yet within a hundred miles of the God of Christian Theology.”

Okay, here we see one of the greatest cop-outs of Christianity.  I add the second quote only to prove that he isn’t even actually arguing about the God from the bible but simply taking a Deistic approach to the subject.  Even so, the point here is that this is what Christians do all the time.  They say that God is beyond our comprehension and therefore there is no possible way to prove/disprove the existence of such a thing.  Basically, we are all too dumb to ever understand it for ourselves so we should just take the word of those who wrote the bible instead.  Then, of course, we have Jesus who is the “bridge” between the level we are at as humanity and the level of the divine in heaven.  So the only way we could possibly ever understand is to follow the teachings of Jesus and transcend from our humanity into something much more.  It is this appeal that has people brainwashed into all this nonsensical doctrine.  I hear many people, most of them Christians, talk about how crazy Mormons are or any of these suicidal cults that have existed.  The funny thing is that Christianity is no different!

“But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men’s toes and stealing other men’s money?  Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give his conduct.  Yet this is what Jesus did.  He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured.  He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offenses.  This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin.”

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell.  You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.”

It almost seems unfair to even touch on these quotes.  If this is the best you have to argue that Jesus was the Son of God than maybe you should rethink your faith.  So, what I gather from the first quote is: because a man calling himself Jesus forgave a bad person on behalf of a victim he must surely be the “real deal”.  Well, that’s some rather hard evidence to contest (that was sarcasm just in case you didn’t pick up on that).  Based on this argument I could forgive a rapist on behalf of the woman he raped and by doing so it would prove I was God.  I hope you realize how silly that really is.  As for the second quote, well, that’s just too easy.  I choose the latter.  It has always been my opinion that if Jesus actually did exist and said the things the New Testament claims he said, that he most likely was just a crazy cult leader no different than the likes of David Koresh.*

“I have explained why I have to believe that Jesus was (and is) God.  And it seems plain as a matter of history that He taught His followers that the new life was communicated in this way.  In other words, I believe it on His authority.  Do not be scared by the word authority.  Believing things on authority only means believing them because you have been told them by someone you think trustworthy.  Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority.  I believe there is such a place as New York.  I have not seen it myself.  I could not prove by abstract reasoning that there must be such a place.  I believe it because reliable people have told me so.  The ordinary man believes in the Solar System, atoms, evolution, and the circulation of blood on authority – because scientists say so.  Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority.  None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Armada.  None of us could prove them by pure logic as you prove a thing in mathematics.  We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them: in fact, on authority.  A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do in religion would have to be content to know nothing all his life.”

This here is an excellent example of the true ignorance of the Christian mindset.  To start with, you cannot prove that Jesus ever existed (at least it has yet to be undeniably proven) nor that the things he said or did ever happened.  Therefore, to consider him such an “authority” is an error.  Now, let’s talk about this “authority concept” some.  First off, it is incredibly frustrating to have to explain this over and over again to Christians: An Atheists sense of faith is completely different than a Christians.  Lewis is right in that most, if not all, of us take it on faith that what a physicist tells us about the universe is correct.  But the difference lies in a very crucial point.  Science is conducted through something we sane people call the Scientific Method.  This means we don’t just seem something and make a conclusion based on that alone.  Tests are conducted based on hypotheses and only when there is enough demonstrable evidence are conclusions made.  Even then, nothing is written in stone.  Once our knowledge on things grows and we develop new ways of testing or gain some new knowledge not yet discovered those conclusions can, and will, change.  It was once concluded that the Earth was flat but as well all know today that is not now the case.  Furthermore, when we are told of some new conclusion we are not forced to believe such on faith.  If we so choose we can run the tests and find out the answers for ourselves.  That is science.  Now I must admit that the point, as far as it relates to history, is a little more valid.  There is really no way for me to know for certain that Lincoln ever gave a speech at Gettysburg.  However, I do not base any of my choices in life on this knowledge either.   History is not a doctrine which I live by.  I may take lessons learned from the history I’m taught and make better decisions because of it but I do not do so because they are true.   I do so because I see the logic and reason within the lesson.  I do not go around and kill in the name of George Washington, but people have done such things in the name of Jesus.  And this only pertains to some aspects of our history.  Many other historical facts are derived through the same sort of principals used in science.  Evidence of arrow heads does indeed tell us when our species started to use tools.  We might only be able to speculate how those tools were used but we do know they were man made through to procedure or running tests/experiments.

“According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride.  Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vide: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”

“The more you delight in yourself and the less you delight in the praise, the worse you are becoming.”

“We say in English that a man is ‘proud’ of his son, or his father, or his school, or regiment, and it may be asked whether ‘pride’ in this sense is a sin.  I think it depends on what, exactly, we mean by ‘proud of’.  Very often, in such sentences, the phrase ‘is proud of’ means ‘has a warm-hearted admiration for’.  Such an admiration is, of course, very far from being a sin.  But it might, perhaps, mean that the person in question give himself airs on the ground of his distinguished father, or because he belongs to a famous regiment.  This would, cleverly, be a fault; but even then, it would be better than being proud simply of himself.

               Yet another technique used to brainwash the masses.  This type of doctrine causes the religious to feel lowly and undeserving.  This is the type of tactic used by slave owners back before it was abolished.  Make the people believe they are beneath you and they will do as you command.  That’s exactly what Christianity is, slavery.  It’s amazing how easy it is for those people of religious authority to use this type of thinking to their advantage.  It’s this type of doctrine that allows little boys to be molested by priests.  Christianity forbids pride.  In my opinion pride, especially in the sense used in this book, is another word for self-esteem.  It is people with low self-esteem who are most susceptible to joining new cults.  Charles Manson, David Koresh, Marshall Applewhite, these were people who preyed upon those with little or no pride.  I, for one, have plenty of pride and will continue to have it regardless if it’s a so-called sin or not.

“It is very different for the nasty people – the little, low, timid, warped, thin-blooded, lonely people, or the passionate, sensual, unbalanced people.  If they make any attempt at goodness at all, they learn, in double quick time, that they need help.  It is Christ or nothing for them.  It is taking up the cross and following – or else despair.  They are lost sheep; He came specially to find them.  They are (in one very real and terrible sense) the ‘poor’: He blessed them.  They are the ‘awful set’ he goes about with…”

               Yet another example of the type of person Christianity targets.  Isn’t it great how well this religion thinks of its people?

“I want to start by saying something that I would like everyone to notice carefully.  It is this.  If this chapter means nothing to you, if it seems to be trying to answer questions you never asked, drop it at once.  Do not bother about it at all.  There are certain things in Christianity that can be understood from the outside, before you have become Christian.  But there are a great many things that cannot be understood until after you have a gone a certain distance along the Christian road.”

               I added this quote only because I think it is complete nonsense.  All it is basically saying is to really understand Christianity, to really buy into all the illogical irrationality of it, you have to brainwash yourself first.  Which further proves my point that Christianity is nothing more than just another cult, like any other, except that it does a much better job at it than the others.

“The other set were accused of saying, ‘Faith is all that matters.  Consequently, if you have faith, it doesn’t matter what you do.  Sin away, my lad, and have a good time and Christ will see that it makes no difference in the end.’  The answer to that nonsense is that, if what you call ‘faith’ in Christ does not involve taking the slightest notice of what He says, then it Is not Faith at all – not faith or trust in Him, but only intellectual acceptance of some theory about Him.”

               This here is just a small sample of what lies at the later portion of the book.  And an example of what most Christians say and do as opposed to what Christianity is supposed to be all about.  It’s amazing how many Christians get offended or pissed off at things I say about their religion when, in fact, I know more about it than they do.  I know more about what it means to be a Christian (especially after reading this book) than most Christians and yet I still think its complete nonsense.  Ignorance is the ammo of religion.  Well, I choose not to be ignorant.

               Well, that about wraps up my review of “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis.  I would have to say that I would not recommend this book to my fellow Atheists.  In fact, I found it very difficult to even put forth the effort into reading a lot of it, let alone the entire thing.  The last couple of chapters were the worst as it was really geared towards those who have faith (or at least think they do) rather than a general interpretation of Christianity itself.


 *- Those of you who found this statement absolutely appalling fail to realize that I do not worship Jesus nor believe in any of the Christian doctrine.  So therefore, a statement such as that is nothing more than that, a statement.  There’s no blasphemy in something that does not exist and therefore I stand by my statement.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why Christianity Still Exists…

             I often ask myself, “How can people buy this crap!?” when I think about any religion.  Take Christianity for example; people worship a man who was supposedly the son of himself who sacrificed himself to himself.  Sounds crazy, right? I’ve just read “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis and towards the end of the book he does his best to describe the “Holy Trinity”.  As hard as he tried to make it sound sensible I couldn’t help but feel as though he was only trying to find logic in an illogical idea.  So you could try to argue how Jesus was both God and the Son of God all you want but it’s just plain ludicrous.  The fact remains that it takes some real ignorance to actually believe in a religion.

               I’m going to focus on Christianity for this topic because, as stated in previous posts, I’m most familiar with it.  I’ve been trying to gain a better understanding of Christianity lately.  I know all about the crazy, immoral parts of the Bible but for some reason Christians still have faith regardless of the facts.  My personal quest is to try to understand why this is.  Why is it that people can’t look at this religion the way that I do and see how crazy it all is?  I’ve come to some interesting conclusions on this very subject from the little research I’ve done so far.

               How has Christianity endured through centuries?  Here’s what I think: Christianity has survived for so long because one of its main principles is to not doubt God.  To not question God or his actions/inactions.  To have blind faith that the world is the way it is for some unknown reason.  So even those who might see how illogical it really is are forced (if they want to get to heaven) to just except things for what they are and let it be.  It has survived because it takes a tremendous amount of courage to “defy God” and really search for the truth.  If every Christian had that courage I would bet that Christianity would die out sooner rather than later.  Of course it requires less courage, though, if you haven’t had religious doctrine shoved down your throat since before you could walk or talk.  Christians indoctrinate their children before they reach the age of reason.  Once those children do reach the age of reason they have already been taught that “God works in mysterious ways” and doubting him is a sure way to end up in Hell.  Amazing what that creates, isn’t it?  A steadfast doctrine that is immune to rational thought.  Even if you can’t help but to question God it all comes back to having enough faith to trust that God has a plan and everything is all a part of that plan.  Which brings me to my next subject.

               The default position of all the horrible things that exist in our reality is that we could never understand God’s intentions.  And to try and do so would be impossible because God is beyond our comprehension.  That is the most frustrating thing I hear Christians say and I hear it all the time.  The amount of ignorance it takes to except a concept such as that is insurmountable.  If I told you that I was going to drink motor oil you would think I was crazy ask question me as to why I would do such a thing, right?  You wouldn’t just think that maybe I knew better than you and trust my judgment on such a thing.  So why do so with God?  I’ll bet if you’re a Christian you just caught yourself saying something along the lines of “Well, you’re not an all knowing, all powerful god” or something along those lines, right?   There’s no metaphor that I could use to get you to see the point because you’ve been brainwashed into thinking that your God is above and beyond anything and everything.  There’s a saying that the “fastest way to become an Atheist is to read the Bible”.  That book is full of contradictions, immorality, and fanciful ideas.  However, a Christian is indoctrinated to somehow ignore such things.  It’s unfathomable from where I stand on the outside looking in but such is the case.

               One other thing I would just like to lightly touch on is the story of Jesus itself.  From what I have seen one of the key points of this story preys upon one the greatest weaknesses of the Human race; emotions.  More specifically our empathy.  The very symbol of Christianity is the cross.  The object used to crucify Jesus.  We are bombarded with images of Jesus on the cross, bloody and broken.  We are told that all he the pain he endured he did so for us.  How ungrateful would we be if we rejected him and his teachings?  Instead we try so hard to feel his pain to remind us of what he did to a point that we can’t help but feel guilt for not believing in him. 

               It’s my opinion that either Jesus was a con man who undoubtedly duped the first Christians or he never even existed at all.  Maybe those who wrote the New Testament saw a chance to reform an already existing religion into something more to their liking.  And throughout the years it was edited numerous times to conform to others’ school of thought.  The most expertly crafted part being that to doubt the word of the Bible would mean eternal damnation.  And it is this very book (or rather the ideas within) that people having been both killing for and dying for centuries.

               Now let’s talk about one more aspect about Christianity.  The community that is so incorporated into this religion.  The sense of belonging to something greater than yourself.  It’s yet another fact that we Human Beings just can’t seem to avoid.  When you become part of a religious community it’s very hard to question doctrine when you are surrounded by it.  Outnumbered would be how I describe it.  It’s difficult to doubt when you’re constantly being reassured that your faith is all you need.  It’s hard to break out of something like that.  So, those who are forced into it when they are young know of no other way and see it as being the only way.  It becomes an “Us” against “Them” and joining “them” seems like an outlandish act. 

               While Christianity might die out eventually or maybe just evolve into some new religion it’s not going to go without a fight.  It will endure until everyone finally has the courage to question everything.  To except doubt as a possibility.  Then and only then will our race be free from the shackles of such oppressive doctrine.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pascal’s Wager: Are You Feeling Lucky?

           Okay, so the topic of this post is Pascal’s Wager.  For those of you unfamiliar with this, it is an argument theists use all the time.  Quite simply, it goes something like this: “It is better to believe in/worship God even if he doesn’t exist, than to spend an eternity hell if you are wrong about not believing in him”.  Blaise Pascal was a mathematician and religious philosopher who lived during the mid-1600s. What he was basically saying was that believing that God exists is a safer bet than not believing in him.  If you do believe in God and die and it turns out God doesn’t exist than it won’t matter anyways.  However, if God does exist and you die, by believing in and worshiping God you will go to heaven instead of burning in hell.  Better safe than sorry, right?  Wrong.  I will explain to you why below.

               First off, let me direct you to another blogger’s post and pretty much the main inspiration for this post’s topic.  This blogger tackles Pascal’s Wager in a much more in depth examination than you will get from me here today so I highly suggest you check it out for yourself here:

Now, let’s get down to it.  I hear it all the time, “What if you’re wrong about the existence of God? Are you willing to risk going to hell for your lack of belief?”  In my younger and much less wiser years I actually wrestled with this question quite a bit.  I thought that even if God didn’t exist it would at least be worth it to pretend there was a God “just in case”.  That is, until I started to learn about ancient civilizations and the religions that went along with them.  Most notably would be the Greek and Roman civilizations.  They, for the most part, worshiped the same Gods (notice the “S” at the end of God).  Learn about their mythology got me thinking, “What if they had it right all along?”  What if Zeus, Hades, and the like actually existed and the idea of the singular Christian god was just that, an idea?  It was then that I took notice at the fact that there are many different religions in the world both past and present.  Surely they’re not all right so what makes one set of beliefs more legitimate than the others?  The only real logical approach to this that I could come up with was that more than likely they were all wrong.  I mean, if you’re a Christian and believe without a doubt that your god is the one true god don’t you think the Greeks felt the same way about all of their gods?  All religious people have the same convictions towards their own specific religion.  Someone has to be wrong though.  The question is, who?  Maybe it’s the Christians that were wrong all along.

               Okay, let’s just assume for a minute that there is only one god; the God.  Now, you have another problem.  There are 3 major religions that people follow and all of them believe in the same god:  Jews, Christians, and Muslims.  So then, who has it right?  Although they all worship the same deity they do so by different doctrines.  Christians believe the road toward salvation lies in accepting Jesus Christ as your “lord and savior”.  Does that mean that all the Jews and Muslims are going to hell?  If you’re a Christian who believes in the Bible surely you must have to think that.  What if, though, believing Muhammad was God’s prophet turns out to be true?  Well it looks as though the Christians and Jews are on the “highway to hell”.  Are you getting the point yet?

               So maybe you’re a Christian and have some rebuttal to what I’ve already stated.  Maybe my interpretation of Christianity is all wrong, or maybe Jesus Christ really was the Son of God and so Christians are the ones who are right.  Well then, which form of Christianity gets you into heaven?  Whose doctrine should you follow?  Catholics? Baptists? Lutherans? Methodists?  Choose wisely because only one of them can be right.  The odds are stacked against you and the stakes are higher than you could have ever imagined.

               As I stated before, I highly recommend you read the other blog that I linked to in the beginning of this post.  The graphical representations alone will have you doubting yourself as a “believer”.  I’ve shown you only a couple of examples of other religions.  Take a moment to think about all the other religions that you know exist or have existed in the past.  What about the religions that might exist in the future?  Once you start to tally them all up you soon realize that the odds of being right decrease exponentially.  Now, let’s move back to the beginning.  There are essentially two points of view here: that of the Theist and that of the Atheist.  That’s a fifty-fifty chance.  Those odds aren’t too bad.  The problem arises once you break down all the different Theistic points of view.  You believe God(s) exist but there are many variations of Theistic principles.  So while you might have a one percent chance of being right in your beliefs about God(s), an Atheist has a fifty percent chance of being right.  I’ll take those odds any day.  As Steven F. Roberts once said, “I contend that we are both Atheists.  I just believe in one fewer god than you do.  When you understand why you dismiss all other gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”