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Found 35 results

  1. An Unexpected Thank You

    I don't know how well this blog is going to go over, and I probably haven't thought this completely through, but I am posting it anyway. I have to get this off my mind, and I am sure just the idea of what I am suggesting will infuriate a few out there, but hopefully if read all the way through, I make sense, just not articulated well. This all began earlier this week when a friend of mine, our very own Brother Jeff, was being persistently pursued about the concept of Hell, and the need to open his mind to the possiblity because of NDE experiences that incorporated the fiery land of sulfur. These experiences should be considered as proof of the reality was essentially what the poster was insisting on. Further than that, he even made the assumption that Jeff is far too involved with atheist acquaintances, which might be why he doesn't believe in the concept at all. Atheist friends like myself. While this commentator's blame laying on atheists for being part of the main reason Jeff had left behind religious belief (see what I did there?) and lava filled oceans was flattering, his accusations were at best desperation. Even more desperate? He was hell bent on convincing Jeff to at least just visit a particular website called http://www.hellisreal.net, because the internet must only have accurate information and evidence. As is typical of such proselyting tactics, when Jeff remained unfazed and determined in his views, the poster went the last desperate step in argumentation. Desperate equates to fallacious, of course. "What about all of the Islamic terror and political bias? You aren't being fair in your slander." This type of tu quoque argumentation is a favorite of mine to read. It's classic avoidance by meeting criticism with criticism instead of actually answering to the charges. And it's an easy one to fall into. Meeting criticism with much of the same is a great way to avoid talking about topics you are hard pressed to defend rationally. Ironically, his accusation that my friend only feels comfortable criticizing Christianity brings up an interesting perspective about showing preference. First, I think it is plainly obvious why one often focuses on the majority religion in their communities. The majority religion has the largest impact on day to day life, upbringing, and political ideology. Christian extremism has affected my life 99.9% of the time. I am in a country that truly believes that the Christian god is personally blessing our nation in particular, every day. (C'mon, share the wealth with livable wages then, right?) Islam? Hasn't played a significant role in my day to day life until the last decade, and even then the footprint is minor, but somewhat significant in my relationship with our nation's evolving obsession with Christian culture and rules in our everyday society and government. Now, when I read interactions like that of Jeff and a religious commentator and the accusation of sympathizing with terrorists for not equally criticizing Islam, I start to bristle at the absolute ridiculous comparison. Are there terrorists who are Muslim? Absolutely, I won't deny it or defend it. As this commentator should acknowledge there are Christian terrorists today. The Identity movement, evangelical pastors convincing African nations to pass "kill the gays" legislation. Potential vice presidents of our nation wanting to jail gays for even applying for a marriage license. Every group has extremists, but the ones that have truly influenced your life are likely the ones you will focus on. And that is okay. Lack of focus on other religious extremists isn't a denial of what they have done. If one cannot relate to the substance of particular sects of violent ideology, why is one obligated to give it equal air time? Personally, extreme political cults like ISIS and Al Qaeda have had an unusual positive impact on my perception of the world, and influence of belief within politics. I could actually send a thank you note for the awareness their extremism has introduced into my once clearly biased attitudes. My bias had always allowed me to minimize the damage our country's majority Christian outlook has wrought against those who wouldn't conform. But no longer. Children killed in the name of teaching Syrian parents they must follow ISIS. Children killed by their own mothers in America because they were not following God's laws. Muslim children being denied vaccinations because it was considered worldly and an affront to Allah. Christian children denied vaccinations because God supposedly condemns worldly intervention over divine providence. Gay Muslim men thrown from rooftops in Iraq for their sexuality. Then I remembered having read about James Byrd Jr.'s dragging death in Jasper, Texas for being gay. He was drug to death by Christian white supremacists. I listened to Muslim clerics explain to fathers in Afghanistan that their women and daughters should not go in public without a family member, or they would invite sexual assault and be permanently dishonored. I watch Christian fathers in our country tearfully accept their daughters' promises of virginal purity until marriage because these young girls' sexuality belongs to their fathers. I cried as Boko Haram handed out school girls as sex slaves, and I cried as my Christian politicians condemned abortion in cases of rape because babies are gifts from God, regardless of how conception occurred. Up until the daily news casts started sharing with me the extreme imposition of theocratic policies in extreme Islamic belief, I was able to rationalize that we could be a lot worse here in America, and that it wasn't so bad. And it is true, we could be a lot worse, but there is so much we suffer under today that is outrageously unconstitutional and is still permitted because we are a supposedly "Christian Nation" even though our Constitution tells us otherwise. When I had a daily visual to compare our own nation's attitudes and practices against? I realized we put up with a lot of unfair demands for conformity or face retribution on many unimaginable levels. While it is very true that extreme Christian acts of violence like mothers and fathers murdering their families are met with judicial justice head on, we still allow deprivation of legitimate education, deprivation of necessary medical care, and theocratic conspired laws to force submission in matters of family law and women's autonomy. If it weren't for extreme groups like ISIS, Osama Bin Laden, or the Taliban, I don't know if I ever would have seen the horrifying depths we have allowed Christian extremists to dive to in the name of belief. I hear all these arguments that we are allowing too many special exceptions for Islam, and that we are inviting extreme views and practices from Muslims to start taking root. All I can say is that in order to prevent extremists, you have to enforce the boundaries of church and state. By already allowing blatant preference for Christian agendas on every level of federal, state, and even local government, you have already set the precedent for other extreme religious ideologies to have their fair place too. So at the end of the day, maybe Jeff's persistent cheerleader for Christ might take his own advice and pay more attention to the similarities between his belief system and that of every day Muslims. He ought to be grateful that the majority doesn't act as depraved as the extremist minorities in either version of God. Most importantly, maybe he ought to hold the same standard against his personal belief as he does Islam and see how the two ultimately are similar in goals, and even methods, in order to secure authority in community.
  2. Going to be a fun night on political issues. The esteemed Alan M. Gold, funny man Joe Dixon, and my opinionated self will be having a discussion of the 2016 elections, issues surrounding it, and how we see the impact of the years to come with a new president from our current selection of terrible options. Catch it tonight!
  3. Episode 2 Jacob: Dick for Hire Genesis Chapter through all of 30. This tale literally plays out like an episode of the Jerry Springer show in telling. If you like HBO soap operas like Spartacus or Borgias, then you will enjoy this pretty juicy tale of love, politics, sex, and man whoring. Join me, the Bluegrass Skeptic, in enjoying some of the more colorful tales of biblical tales and myth in their full entirety that most don't hear in church. The Bible doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. Especially if you read it purely for entertainment purposes only.
  4. Spiritual Eugenics Is Really A Thing

    My eldest son and I were making the daily commute to school this past week, and we ended up on the discussion of extending human life to hundreds of years. He’d overheard a news article about slowing down the aging process, which got him thinking. Naturally, I’m somewhat against extending human aging. I think if we don’t die out in a reasonable time frame, society will stagnate. The younger generations keep human society always moving forward to bigger and better advancements. I was explaining this to my son, and he almost immediately realized another downside to extending one’s life span. What would be the cut off? And how would that be decided? Further than all that, I pointed out not only how would a limit to age be set, but is it really a good thing to live two hundred years? Does a longer life span mean one will find success and wealth? Or just an extra one hundred and fifty years of working in a gas station instead of forty? The realization that an individual with an extended life time could possibly spend three times longer in a dead-end job was staggering to my son. But I wasn’t done with that thought. Surely, gaining an extra hundred years would mean that eventually, humans would be forced to re prioritize their life goals simply because they possess more time to work on them. Would we humans then take more time for education? Or would many of us continue to follow our instincts of creating families and working our extra time away? And we never jumped into how much more social program would be needed. Instead we moved on to other good subject matter involving PS4s and Steam games. After I dropped him off to his school, I went back to the social risks involved with the extension of human life. For a brief few seconds I found myself justifying selective extension if the individual was an asset to society. I’d fallen into the murky pit of eugenics. For those who aren’t familiar, eugenics is often defined as a controlled and purposeful evolution of human races by controlled breeding practices. In today’s day and age, this is being considered (and experimented upon) on the genetic level. World War II saw the horrors of eugenics gone wrong after hoping for a more perfect German race. Extermination of millions of Jews, homosexuals, and more, all in the name of advancing the German gene pool. But Germany didn’t get this idea on their own. In fact, they had a role model that was already doing another form of eugenics that later would eventually bring about Germany’s defeat. Yes, America. There was a mandatory sterilization policy for the disabled here in the United States that started in the 1930’s, and lasted until the end of World War II. One could say that the Nazis took a page from the land of the free and went a whole step further, all thanks to our own eugenics programs we had already implemented. On top of these practices gone wrong, you can see a type of spiritual eugenics within many religious families, and even in biblical doctrine during this time, but it wasn’t dominating in society yet. I found it a rather disturbing realization that there is a weird belief of a family line being stronger through mutual religious faith. This started to really take hold after World War II when many churches began abandoning some of their support for sterilization and other .....Read more here at my new blog The Bluegrass Skeptic... http://thebluegrassskeptic.com/2015/05/15/spiritual-eugenics-is-really-a-thing-2/.
  5. Trial And Error Isn't A Complicated Topic

    "You're an atheist. How can you know right from wrong then if you don't have God to show you?" I was asked this by a representative of a local Catholic church at a community small business event last night. You know the type of event, where the businesses stay open extra late and let customers hang out till late in the evening. This church had decided they would be a "business" too. A business of saving souls. So, they were offering Communion to anyone and everyone. Well, everyone except me because I had to beg the question,"How is this a good practice? Aren't there standards involved for this?" Which immediately solicited a knowing look between booth staffing and my admitting I was an atheist and a quick false argument hurled my way. You know, this line of reasoning is mind numbingly dim witted. I'm just putting my personal opinion out there up front. Whenever I am scrutinized on a personal level, being immediately reduced to a potential criminal simply because of my secular way of life, I can't help but think you are extremely stupid. So stupid, I don't understand how you graduated high school, attained a college degree, or even had the right to reproduce. "Don't they have a general exam one must take before they reach adulthood?" kind of incredulity is in my mind when I am told I can't know right from wrong all because I don't bow to the throne of Jesus. It took a me a few years to really pinpoint what it was about such a poorly thought out assumption regarding my being an atheist that would just irritate me to a fury. In all seriousness, it wasn't so much insulting. I've been accused of being all kinds of things by people very close to me, so the moronic hypotheses of strangers really don't get to me very much. No, it definitely wasn't a feeling of being personally attacked. It was the sheer stupidity of such a statement. It was the fact to believe such a thing about atheists implies the believer is being simple minded, lazy, a re dubbed cassette tape filled with a diatribe of nonsense. Now, I could dig into the whole fallacy behind this and rehash the usual discussion regarding how human social structures work. But that isn't what irks me. It's the sheer contradiction in their own life experiences and beliefs which are in plain fucking sight (No, I am not sorry for the fuck given). Common sense dictates a few things in this morality argument I hear so much. Now I won't argue against God based on morals. It's a supernatural farce that cannot be defended or decently assailed because we're talking supernatural. Reality just doesn't deal with imagination fueled deification of myths. But, the nature and biology of man completely refutes the morality argument pretty obviously. I don't need to go into evolution, biological programming, or genetics for ...Read more here at my blog The Bluegrass Skeptic http://thebluegrassskeptic.com/2015/05/15/trial-and-error-isnt-a-complicated-concept-2/
  6. The Padded Cell Of Apologetics

    Friend of mine brought up his increasing frustration with how easily the religious swallow ridiculous doctrine and unhesitatingly apply it to everyday life. He cannot stand how easy it is to live with a mind so warped that even the word "the" might mean that the End of Days will happen by noon time after a lunch at Subway. He isn't the only one just flabbergasted at how easy it is for believers to accept that God doesn't do any one on one counseling anymore, and they are oblivious to the fishy way a prophecy is changed to fit a prediction after an unexpected earthquake shatters a small mountain community in the world somewhere. He wasn't sure how to put his thoughts on the subject into words, and while I follow his line of thinking, I think a bigger discussion on the pointlessness of arguing in apologetics is more on task this time. I apologize ahead of time how semi analytical this might sound, but after a few re reads of this entry, I just don't see an easy way to make it conversational at all. It's apologetics. They suck. So, first of all, compartmentalized thinking, especially within religion, protects one from the difficult concepts of life. Concepts such as failing in becoming successful or accepting the process of death and its permanency. Instead, compartmentalized thinking allows one to latch on to certain ideas about life and death with whatever fanciful ideology one chooses to solve the dilemma with, no matter how irrational. These notions are completely protected against scrutiny and enforce ridiculous concepts of what creates success or defines death. Notions like faith, everlasting life, and supernatural punishment for immorality are hallmarks of many Judeo-Christian faiths. Now, much like algebra, what you do to one side, you must do to the other. For every compartmentalized idea or belief, there has to be a real answer that can shatter the carefully bricked up wall one puts around it. So how do you rationalize the truth of what you believe to actually equate into a result that you want? You have to use a handy little evangelical tactic known as dispensationalism. Dispensationalism provides a proposed historical timeline, on an evangelical level, to reinforce the aforementioned compartmentalized religious thinking process. It provides a cushy soft barrier of excuses and rationalizations to bolster one's aspirations to achieve the sectioned off understanding of how life works. Again, reality is not required, just targeted interpretation of biblical events that are neatly divided up into sections that cover certain time periods in scripture and .... Read more at my blog The Bluegrass Skeptic http://thebluegrassskeptic.com/2015/05/15/the-padded-cell-of-apologetics/
  7. "The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living... as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language. Thus Luther put on the mask of the Apostle Paul...Entirely absorbed in the production of wealth and in peaceful competitive struggle, it no longer remembered that the ghosts of the Roman period had watched over its cradle." Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon. I've dwelt a lot on Karl Marx the last few years. Like many philosophers of his time, there was a recognition of the re application of past control tactics to shape the future, and I am sure we can all see this trend even now, some 150 years after Marx wrote the above quoted work. This particular analysis of revolutionizing of society really came into sharp focus while I watched news coverage of Indiana's Governor Pence sign in to law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) on March 26, 2015 (S.B. 101 https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2015/bills/senate/101). He was surrounded by representatives from the American Family Association, Franciscan Monks, nuns, orthodox Jews, and lobbyists who contributed to the writing of the bill. Micah Clark, most notably, was in attendance, who is the leader of the Indiana branch of the American Family Association, as well as Curtis Smith (President of the Indiana Family Institute), who actually helped write this bill. From the just the presentation of the situation, you get an icky feeling. Still, I held out hope that the war cries of "discrimination", "legalized hate bill", and "Jim Crow is back act", were misunderstood and overblown. It isn't uncommon for both sides of an issue to misrepresent what an impact of new legislation is, would, or just could be. Here is the digest of this controversial bill: "Religious freedom restoration. Prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person's exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the governmental entity can demonstrate that the burden: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest. Provides a procedure for remedying a violation. Specifies that the religious freedom law applies to the implementation or application of a law regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity or official is a party to a proceeding implementing or applying the law. Prohibits an applicant, employee, or former employee from pursuing certain causes of action against a private employer." I'm going to call this for what this is. It's a line in the sand. It's the trench being dug in before a big battle. It's the grim determination as one is facing that fateful hour of fighting against the inevitable. And it isn't just in Indiana that the line has been drawn. In fact, these RFRA laws have been around for decades, it's just that Indiana has gotten more creative and has pushed the envelope a bit further than the rest. As everything in legislation, the devil is in the details, specifically I think it's just the last couple of lines, coupled with existing anti discrimination laws in Indiana: "Specifies that the religious freedom law applies to the implementation or application of a law regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity or official is a party to a proceeding implementing or applying the law. Prohibits an applicant, employee, or former employee from pursuing certain causes of action against a private employer." I will try to keep this from being overly legal-ese in language, but no promises. To understand how Indiana's RFRA is different than that of, let's say the state of Maryland, you have to first look at the anti discrimination laws that are already on the books. These laws are pretty similar to legislation in every other state, except when you start looking at what classes are protected. Race? Check. Gender? Check. Disability and age? Check, check. Sexual orientation? Uh....no. According to NOLO , these are the protected classes in the state of Indiana. You cannot discriminate against anyone in these classes. Race Color National origin Religion Sex Disability: physical or mental (15 or more employees) Age (40 to 75, applies to employers with one or more employees) Ancestry Off-duty tobacco use Sealed or expunged arrest or conviction record (Courtesy of NOLO, http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/indiana-employment-discrimination-31981.html) Now, compared to Maryland. Race Color National origin Religion Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions) Disability: physical or mental Age Genetic information Marital status Sexual orientation (Courtesy of NOLO, http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/maryland-employment-discrimination-31809.html) This is a huge deal. Legislation like that of RFRA are always trumped by anti discrimination laws, but what happens if LGBTQ has no class protection in that state? This is where Indiana is taking things further than any other state ever has. Now, this isn't an automatic pass to just start denying service to those who are objectionable to your religious beliefs. You can, and probably will, be drug into court for denying services or showing disfavor to an employee based on sexual orientation, differing belief system, or what ever it is you didn't like about that person. Essentially, this legislation is going to test every possible instance of denying services based on religious belief since there isn't any existing class protection for LGBTQ in the state of Indiana. All in hopes of finding just that one single case, or scenario, that holds up and provides a bit of an umbrella for the evangelicals to hold onto their version of America underneath of. My gut says that these cases will more than likely find for the side of the one being discriminated against, though I imagine there will be some judges who will initially support the right of the believer first, and let appeals sort it out over the course of many years later. The mess from all these cases, in the meantime, will be costly, polarizing, and just plain ugly. There is no way to convince me that this isn't directly aimed at the same sex marriage cases that are winning all over the United States right now. This bill's success hinges on the fact that there isn't any class protection for sexual orientation. Indiana is trying to hedge its bets by leaving the LGBTQ community as an unprotected class and pursue preemptive legislation that they think somehow protects the rights of the religious. What these politicians fail to comprehend is that the right to to your beliefs is already protected to some degree. Religion is a protected class. I can't deny a job to a Christian. I can't give promotions to atheists over Christians just because of a shared common lack of belief. I can't deny a loan to a pastor because I think it is bullshit that he won't have to pay taxes on the church he is getting a loan to build. I certainly can't be hired on as a mail carrier and then turn around and selectively choose to not deliver mail to the Christians on my route simply because I find their beliefs offensive. This is what class protection is all about. Not to give protection to your personal efforts to make every aspect of a person's individual freedom fit neatly in the square peg hole that you personally find palatable. What has been even more disturbing is the almost stoic behavior of the larger evangelical associations since the bill was signed this past week. While there were a few enthusiastic social media posts about the bill's passing, there weren't too many shared thoughts on the act being signed from the larger advocate groups. There wasn't any major chest pounding incidents by the local churches, AFA branches, or even by Pro Life Indiana. It has seemed oddly quiet, other than the general public doing the gloating or decrying of SB 101. This silence isn't from fear of being bullied or turning the other cheek. No longer willing to stamp their feet and throw tantrums to get their way, conservative evangelical power players are settling in for the long haul. It's a grim determination you can see and feel in their posturing, as these politicians, lobbyists, and followers, see the looming storm of change coming at them. They are going to find themselves on a peg board with different sizes all around them. This isn't good for their constituency. You see, It isn't enough to just fit in the life style that is so desired to be lived in by these people. Their surrounding scenery has to match what they envision for their lives. The old meme about making donuts illegal since one is on a diet always comes to my mind when I see this kind of demand for accommodation. That's all this bill, and other similarly motivated legislation which are claimed to "protect religious liberty" really are designed to do. It is an extra accommodation to keep the pot kind of sweetened when other classes start to reach the same level of benefit. It's outright indulgence in special interest pandering, which is exactly what a protected class is not about. Protecting a class of people means ensuring their constitutional rights are equal to that of everyone else, not enhanced to allow rights that circumvent the laws or offer exclusive perks. It gives the opportunity for the public to start segregating legally, no matter how misguided their intention to buffer their world to only one type of peg hole truly is. It is a stubborn irrationality that is determined to keep itself entrenched in government legislation in a last ditch effort to save their pristine beach front view of divine living. May their God forbid having to actually agree to disagree and carry on with an unsightly difference in lifestyle living next door. So, in a nutshell, Indiana Senate Bill 101 does not automatically allow shop owners to put up "No Gays Allowed" signs in their windows. It does open the door for easier legal challenges, though victories are certainly far from guaranteed for the religious trying to escape the rules of the proverbial playground sandbox. The move to keep one of the core values of a religious person's sanctity has moved from the public referendum to the majority rule of right wing dominated congressional buildings. The reality that there isn't a majority of public support has motivated this change in field of play. I don't know if the rationale has to do with the idea that somehow just getting the law on the books will unite the rest of the nation and turn it into the perfect representation of what our founders intended. Or maybe it is the idea that they can unite the rest of the splintered religious groups under one party and then more conservative politics can rule the land. I think it all has a ring of truth to it. I do know it has little to do with being closer to God. This is simply because the long run goal to being religious is Heaven, and one doesn't need to legislate religious law in order to get into the blissful graces of divine companionship. A simple prayer and heart felt talk to those you love would fulfill the demand of sharing the "good news". A propaganda laced call to unify isn't the answer, and I really think they are missing the clear disconnect that is going on between the general public and their efforts. Propaganda is scary, and the younger generation has picked up on this quite clearly thanks to the access of information out there. Mom and Dad's Fox News channel isn't going to be enough anymore. Long term, bills like RFRA will require a lot of clarification and trial by fire in the courts. They won't hold water for very long either as the discriminatory days of the past being revisited will be too obvious to deny. As Martin Luther put on the mask of the apostle Paul, eventually, politicians like Governor Pence will not be able to look in the mirror without seeing the likes of Ross Barnett or George Wallace smiling back at him. A daunting visage of times past being used to justify the repression of the future rights of America's billions. All in the name of religious pandering. ***Want to read more? Check out my short compilation with an additional nine new essays not published anywhere else. http://www.amazon.co...dge of survival ***
  8. Judas: Sinner, Saint, Or Catalyst?

    I read an interesting article on CNN the other day by Craig Gross. For those who aren't familiar with Craig, he's a pastor and founder of xxxchurch.com, which helps fight porn addiction. The article he wrote was entitled "Is Judas In Hell?" , and you can read it here: http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/19/living/judas-hell-jesus/index.html. In a nutshell, he acknowledges that Judas made a big, big mistake. As did Thomas. But, he skates the question for a larger dialog about what is important to focus on this Easter, which is that "we all fall short and deserve death....", and of course JESUS! Now, I can't leave the main question alone because I think the wrong question is being asked. I differ with Craig's article in that he seems to be agreeing with the rest of Christendom that Judas made a huge mistake. We need to decide if Judas actually did something wrong. Is Judas a sinner, saint, or catalyst? It seems to me, from a mythological stand point, that Judas' actions were necessary for Christ to ultimately intercede on man's behalf. Up until Jesus' execution, the ministry was struggling. Sure, there was a following. Many had started to become interested in Christ's ministry of eternal reward, compassion, and forgiveness, but it wasn't gaining much political momentum. The Sadducee were crawling up Rome's ass more and more every year. The Pharisees didn't think the inflexible interpretation of the religious laws, and subsequent application, were fair. There was an ever growing rift between the two political factions, and Rome sat back and took advantage. Meanwhile, Christ is inspiring hope, but he has to be careful where he is performing at. How many times have we read him getting scrutinized by the clerics? Too many to count! This prophet didn't pick the outskirts of villages because he needed a large venue. He didn't go blend in with the Egyptians because he liked the food. No, he didn't have a strong enough momentum to influence the political war that was brewing within Jerusalem. His meddling more of an annoyance, and borderline heretical. Christ had no teeth. He was another of many self proclaimed prophets of his time. So how do you propel yourself to the top of the dog pile in those days? Martyrdom. This is the classic go to plot twist of any good lore. Politics, drama, intrigue, and death. Osiris was betrayed by his brother Seth. Zeus was betrayed by his former comrade Prometheus. Vibhishana was betrayed by his half brother Ravana. Thor was betrayed by his brother Loki. And Jesus was betrayed by his apostle Judas. Without the needed climax, what would have happened to Jesus ministry? Would Jesus still have drawn the crowds on his own at age eighty? Or would miracles eventually be all he was remembered for? Jesus was not much more than another Simon of Peraea before Judas came along and stirred things up with the Sandhedrin and Rome. Granted, Jesus did cause some notable scenes at the temples, but he didn't burn them down. He certainly didn't want to lead an uprising. Jesus was a hands off kind of boss. He would give a great show and expected followers to somehow become cohesive and effect a social change among the different classes of Hebrews. Jesus sought unification, and to do that requires more than just creative interpretations of the same old message. He knew this, and that is why he later made vague announcements about his death, not just at the Last Supper, but several times during the year prior. Check out Matthew 17 and Matthew 20. On top of it all, not all of his apostles were okay with his miracle working (walking on water scared some shitless). Not all were comfortable with his associating with the ill repudiated (whore and perfume). And not all were even sure he fit the description of the predicted Messiah (Judas' betrayal). Jesus was a walking contradiction, and Judas was the key to the final sell. But I'm not playing fair here. If I have to answer the question: "Is Judas in Heaven or Hell?" I would posit he is in Heaven. He certainly was remorseful, after all, he did try to return the silver. And he never blasphemed the Holy Spirit. Never do you see any sign Judas absolutely doesn't believe, in fact, his actions could be interpreted as out of his control seeing how as Jesus handed him the dipped bread, Satan entered Judas and then he went and betrayed him. Judas had a lot riding on this rabbi, and at this point of the biblical tale, Jesus has had to watch out for being arrested, thrown out of towns and so on. The man would not step up to the plate and really lead. John the Baptist wanted to lead, and Judas was originally following John, so his appetite was wet with change. So, nothing Judas did was unforgivable. Only outright blaspheming the Holy Spirit gets you unforgivable doom. Judas didn't do that. Yes, he ratted out the hidden location of Jesus. Yes, he initially accepted blood money. Yes, he committed suicide, was stoned to death, or was crushed by a chariot (you decide which). His remorse is of little doubt though, in my opinion. And because of that, I would say Judas is in Heaven, if a location must be picked. Whether his betrayal should be considered a sin or not truly means nothing. Without Judas and his classic story book behavior, Jesus would have faded into the annals of supposed history and be no more appreciated than all the other random philosophers of his time. Judas was certainly no sinner in my book. He made no mistakes in my view either. He made Jesus put up or shut up. He was a catalyst. ***Want to read more? Check out my short compilation with an additional nine new essays not published anywhere else. http://www.amazon.co...dge of survival ***
  9. Celebrating Is Better Than Defending

    I hate to admit this, but I have a trophy folder on my laptop. Not game trophy images. Not racks of deer I've hunted. Not the typical photos of my children standing all posed with academic or sport awards. No, it's a folder full of screenshots. Frozen images in time, with winning moments in debates with religious followers who attempted sparring with me about belief. There was a time when I wasn't feeling confident about my lack of belief. I didn't realize it then, of course, that this was the case. On a daily basis I needed to feel superior, and crushing my opposition in an argument was my go to fix for said lack of confidence. It's not atypical to have doubts about your perceptions on life, death, and the Universe. It's even more common to find affirmation of yourself in the failing of others who have a different view than yourself. In atheism, it's often referred to as the angry atheist phase, and likewise in Christianity, I've heard similar behavior for affirmation being called the "crusading for Christ" phase. Both sides of the coin are still seeking justification, and I don't think either party realizes it's a lack of self belief. Now, I'm not talking about general discourse here. This isn't friendly debating I'm referring to. No, this is about the condescending "debates" that devolve into semantically driven arguments that lose the focus of understanding, and instead try to gain mental points for each zinger that can't be topped. You know, an old fashioned pissing contest. Anyway, I really started looking forward to these text based gladiator events. Entering various forum arenas. Sometimes just a comments section on CNN would provide challenges that would spawn day long battles of words, shared links, and pasted text from one scholar or another. Looking back, I can see how ridiculous I was, but it was a necessary place for me to be at that time. And for some, it will always be their preferred method of affirmation. And there isn't anything truly wrong with that. Like anything in life, there is more than one way to skin a cat, or in this case, justify your personal belief style. Though, my personal experience has shown me non believers tend to step away from the argumentative proof seeking. I don't know yet about the religious though. Some of my close Christian friends who range in their late 60's to early 80's, while not full of fire and brimstone anymore, still never fail to end a genuinely friendly discussion with,"Well, you'll find out later." A bit of a double edged joke. Recently I was having a discussion about this meme: It's fairly innocuous. You could see it as I did. A referencing to the early doctors of dissection who stole cadavers in order to continue their study. A tip of the hat to human determination to understand himself, if you will. One poster interpreted it as a good cop - bad cop reference. Mental inquiry of the third degree. He also made an interesting self statement. He mentioned that while defending his faith, the onslaught of people who didn't share his view often trolled him; they would leave him feeling sick and outnumbered. I think many of us can relate to that completely. Every counter to my perfectly thought out rationalizations for disbelieving would send my mind into a manic tail spin. Adrenaline would literally start pumping. Heart beat racing. Fingers slipping all over the keys as I would hurriedly to try to pound out a well crafted response to any loose ends I perceived I had left out there. So what changed? How did I go from an apex atheism debate predator to a quiet circling observer that was happy to just munch up insightful tidbits from the parameters? I started celebrating my disbelief. I took a page from some theists I know and applied some of their own dogma to my atheism. I began sharing more joy. I began empathizing. I picked my battles more wisely with the perspective I gained form listening and comparing experiences. Add a touch of more humbled attitude and I discovered my personal confidence in my convictions. This eliminated a lot of self inflicted negativity I would experience when in mixed faith groups and discussions. I've become the atheist that religious leaders absolutely despise. Calm, collected, confident, and convincing. I don't have be an alarmist. I don't give immediate argument when questioned. I'm downright affable and compassionate. I shock the shit out of people all the time with how giving I am. Even more flabbergasting is my genuine desire to understand while politely declining to join. Evangelists don't know what to do with the secularists who embrace the differences while maintaining boundaries. These religious leaders can't compete with real life proof that pulpit propaganda is bullshit. These leaders are totally scrambling because there truly are atheists out there who have no problem with religious believers, and are living examples of what Jesus meant by being forgiving. They can't blind their followers forever unless they lock them up in a cave. So, how can one celebrate their disbelief without sounding like a door to door missionary? By experiencing everything you can without dogma coloring it. By having those conversations with religious folks and not focus on who is right. By taking advantage of real discussions, and enjoying the fact you don't have anything to prove. Appreciating your own decision making skills on what is right for you. No where in the scheme of things does it say,"Whatever you personally believe must be proven 100% true." Contrary to what the internet seems to perpetuate about society, we aren't operating on a Reddit forum. Personal freedom is a simple concept, but with peer pressure and the daily conflicts of self, it isn't an easy thing to practice, even in our minds, the most prized of private personal space. Trust in oneself, along with publicly displaying it, is a difficult road to travel. Nothing is above questioning, but questioning isn't necessarily a judgement, and one must constantly be reminded of that. There are days when I am reading an off the tracks discussion, and I see the same traits of offense being taken by atheists that you can see in a theist whose beliefs have been questioned. This is why people like the commenter on my meme, get physically queasy. It's rattling to the very core of personal belief when being asked about certain aspects of faith, or lack of in my case. Rushing to defend when really, all they have to do is answer a question. This can cause an individual to to misplace the value in their personal choice of belief, making one look for the value by how many people they can successfully argue down instead. And when you don't win, or feel you could've done better, where's your confidence then since it is founded on the failure of others? So, Zomberina, are you saying we need to be blindly following whatever we want so long as we feel good about it? No. If you reached a place where you are committed, I am saying you should personally own it. Not gain your assurances by trampling on the beliefs of others. Simply put, don't allow yourself to be in a defensive position, but that of celebration instead. You'll find a more rewarding confidence outside the fray. This is just my take on it all, of course. As always, remember this:
  10. Before you begin this blog, and if you are not familiar with Shalom Auslander's writings, I ask you to enjoy this podcast from This American Life that reads a brief short story of his called Chicken Coop For The Soul. This story is the basis for my discussion today. 8 minutes of your life, go ahead and listen. http://m.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/369/poultry-slam-2008?act=5 Okay, so hopefully you listened to the piece and I ask you, if you could reveal the truth, would you? Even more than that, should you? Obviously, this is a very situation based type of decision. If you were to actually be a first hand witness to that which is considered godly, and it went against everything ever taught, it's an almost unfathomable scenario. Whether Chicken made it clear it didn't matter to Him what you wanted to do with your life, despite your teachings, or the harsh realization you'd gone without for no gain, it seems a no win revelation. First, who would truly believe you? Secondly, would they even want to listen? Gabe seemed to point this out pretty clearly, and I wonder if the refusal to even consider the notion that everyone has their deity all wrong is due to confidence, or fear of not having a larger power in control. I tend to lean towards the latter reasoning. Maybe if there were a better scenario to be offered in Chicken's place, you might be given more credibility. But to just rip away the very foundations of a person's reason for existence never seems to go well without a consolation prize. Most of all, should one reveal the truth if it is known for sure. And take Shalom's story a bit further. What if Morganstern came back with PROOF that was undeniable? Literally, anyone who saw the proof would know without a doubt they have been following the wrong program altogether? Should you shake it up? I don't think I would necessarily do so. Maybe with the younger generation, and I might make it clear that such belief should no longer be taught. Let it die with the older generation, you know? I can't do that. To just rip it all away feels like theft. Like taking away someone's personal joy in gardening by pointing out all their herbs are still just weeds. As long as their weeds aren't ruining my own garden.....
  11. Most of my mornings are filled with top 40 hits of pop music as I commute to work, kids in tow. This radio station is a clear favorite for all of us with its variety, and usually I can ignore the music and let the kids enjoy a little be bopping before going to school. Recently though, we discovered that on Sunday mornings there is a half hour of programming starting at 7:30 a.m. that is evangelical in nature. "We are going to tell you how to improve your life." "Through God all things are possible." "Cynics find a way to eliminate all the good in their lives...but I am here to bring Jesus to them." Insert the sound effect of a record being ripped off the player as I heard that last line above being mentioned. Wow, huh? Cynics find a way to eliminate all the good in their lives..but I am here to bring Jesus to them. Being in reference to non believers and doubters, apparently he is confident in the converting power of the Lord and his much celebrated Son. Because, you do know that a skeptic and a cynic are totally the same? That small thirty second sound bit was enough to send my pot of coffee fueled brain into overdrive, and I realized it is important to clear the air yet again about a skeptic's thought process. Even further than that, I think it is high time it is made clear that religious folk, especially Christians, that love to misuse a word's meaning in order to make their case, are truly the cynics here. Probably more so than any other group out there. First off, let's break down blatantly obvious differences between one who is a skeptic, and one who is a cynic. In general terms, a skeptic is one who is willing to question just about anything out there, including accepted opinions. Notice the key word "opinion" at the end of that last sentence. Most skeptics are not going to question facts. We aren't going to call bullshit on the theory of gravity. Falling from a building hurts and has been clearly demonstrated as deadly. Tell us men came from dirt and women from a rib? Well, that is an awfully vague creation account. We might need more information on that. Skeptics do not just immediately doubt everything out there. We are open to the idea that nothing is above questioning. Questioning doesn't mean something is automatically suspect or false. Questioning is essential to the learning process, and without it we would have a difficult time differentiating between fact and fiction or purpose and process. It isn't our fault if religion in particular doesn't hold up to genuine scrutiny. Skeptics don't simply outright deny a belief the first time they are exposed to it only because personal bias wants them to do so. Skepticism requires a certain level of rational knowledge, which we even, at times, have a hard time being sure is truly rational. And philosophically speaking, religious arguments do not accommodate for this type of thought. Still, when confronted with a skeptic, many religious believers like the preacher on the radio, try to turn skepticism into something sinister. A normal human learning process transforms into an unyielding denial. Skepticism turns into a a crusading philosophy laden with allusions to unreasonable suspicions of the intentions of everything in the world. A skeptic is hell bent on the idea that there is no selflessness in the world, and that anyone can have anything if they are willing to only put their own motivations above all else. The skeptic is a cynic. That is what the majority of the religious world have their masses believe about myself and others with agnostic belief sets. After all, they have to be a cynic if they are skeptical of God, creation, and the morality guidelines set out by the Bible. Skeptics are just like cynics is the war cry of the religious clergymen. They can't handle the Christian's desire for eternal ease and pleasure in Heaven. Hell, the skeptics have utter contempt for getting everything easy. Pleasure? Hah! Skeptics only want misery since they clearly want to go to Hell. Skeptics are cynics! The mental contortions that some believers in faith must perform is astounding, isn't it? In reality, this exercise is yet another projection to avoid a long hard look in the mirror. I would postulate that the true cynics, are and always have been, the religious. Rigid in belief. Suspicious of anyone's motives who are not part of the same faith. Shit, one of the biggest characteristics of believers would be their insistence on anything pleasureful, like masturbation for instance, or enjoyment of a Sunday in bed instead of prostrated in church, as too easy and sinful. Apparently, without God and His omnipotently planted morality chip in our being, there is no way skeptics could do anything without a selfish motivation being involved. If we do somehow manage to save a kitten from a tree, breaking a leg in the process? It's because Satan is using us to trick that little girl it belonged to into trusting us so we can blacken her soul and molest her. We are the evil influences of Lucifer's demonic forces, out to poison the faith of others with our mere presence in the same office space. I hate to break it to you believers out there who think about skeptics like this, though I do enjoy supposedly being in Satan's upper management team, but that type of thinking about skeptical people is a cynic's school of thought. We aren't out here trying to poison your belief, we just want you to keep it to yourself. Quit forcing it on others. We aren't going to convert, and you shouldn't be try to force us to sign up either. You have to understand we just want everyone to have the right to decide on his/her own if religion is a good program to base an entire lifetime on. If you get to apply pressure to convert via legislation, in classrooms, in the media, and in your home, how is this allowing for a fair discussion? To automatically call disbelief misguided, an easy way out, an avoidance of accountability, a clear sign of evil in one's life? That is cynicism. And it's abusive at that. One has to understand what skepticism ultimately provides that cynicism does not. To be a skeptic is more than just exploration of thought. It is examining of authority. Skepticism does not demand that a guilty verdict be handed down. It isn't a judgment process, it is a learning process. It allows for the final conclusion that everyone was right after all to stand. See, falling off a building will probably kill you. But it also allows for disagreement on whether Justin Timberlake really had his dick in that box. Cynicism doesn't care if anyone was right or not, or if that singer's penis really held that box up. Cynicism says that there is only one answer, and that answer has to be what you want it to be no matter what anyone else says because disagreement means there is a selfish motivation behind it, and people cannot be trusted on their own merits anyway. Cynicism eliminates the exploration of further explanation and understanding, instead happy to just keep following a path blindly because it fits whatever agenda that is in mind and doesn't deviate from it. To be a cynic is to automatically treat everyone in the world as a guilty party to a selfish plot. It is true that both of the words skeptic and cynic involve questioning. The first questions how a belief/practice/opinion is accurate and true, and then determines the veracity of the claim, the latter questions a person's motivations only and subsequently makes a judgement based on personal biases. As I have come to understand it, religion has become about questioning motivation of yourself and others, automatically handing everyone a guilty verdict to madly spend a lifetime expunging from their Heavenly records so they don't burn in Hell. That's a very cycnical world view if I ever saw one, and just one more reason I am glad to not spend time in organized religious environs anymore. You've gotta be a die hard cynic to keep rationalizing such thought processes within organized doctrine.
  12. The Best Larping Around: Religious Services

    Let's talk about a past time I thoroughly enjoy now and then. LARP. For those unfamiliar, LARP is an acronym for Live Action Role Play. Essentially, a bunch of similarly minded folks get together and collaborate to have fun pretending scenes out of their favorite movies, books, comics, etc. This is strictly pretending, of course, but with rules involved. The basic goal of LARPing (yes, you can make the acronym a verb, how cool!) is to create a desired fantasy environment where participants interact in a way that produces an environment they enjoy being a part of. These participants follow set out guidelines in order to properly take part in events of their community they are playing a part in. This usually requires a posted rule book of sorts to study, follow, and enforce amongst themselves to help maintain the desired fantasy environs. Additionally, it isn't unusual for some type of hierarchal authority to be put in place to further interpret and lead others to appropriately follow the outlined rules. Now, take this very basic understanding for LARP and overlay a religion on top of it. Do we have a fantasy based environment? Check. Do we have a set of rules and etiquette in place so members can participate appropriately? Check. Do we have participants that work together to maintain not just the fantasy, but enforce the rules? Check. Do we have leaders to guide, encourage, and teach participants how to be a part of the fantasy? Check. Yes, religious ceremony matches with the basis of LARPing, just substitute Creflo Dollar for Gandalf the Gray, and Pat Robertson as Smeagol. Instead of polished leather Dwarven armor, picture a double breasted suit with complimenting tie and shined shoes. Scratch the orb holding staff, and imagine a rosary being clutched instead. No more Orcs chasing your party through the Haunted Wood of Candle Reach, it's just the Catholic priests rounding up choir boys in downtown Chicago. The foretold times of war with Zeus' children has become the battle for Earth between the arch angels of Heaven and the legions of Satan's hordes in the under realms. The fate of all mankind still hangs in the balance though, and it is on us pitiful humans that the futile struggle for divine acknowledgment resides in order to save us. Sounds all so eerily alike, doesn't it? That's because it is. The fantasies of Allah's masses, Krishna's orgy laden temples, and a charismatic Pentecostal church are drenched in the tell tale hallmarks of role playing fantasy. Fantastic tales of man's conquering evil supernatural forces set out to punish us. Inspiring songs of self determination and victory against Lucifer's meddling influence. Sorrowful recognition of imperfections that are bringing us closer to the sulfuric acid filled pools of Hell. And the always popular prophecy of untold wealth and fortune on the golden paved roads to Heaven never cease to be retold. Be wary of such adventures, readers. Not all who play the divinity RPG are truly welcoming. Much like the Borg, you must be assimilated to join their ranks of play, and like them, you might find yourself so lost in prophetic tales of exploring supernatural pleasures that you won't be able to tell reality from the game anymore. You could lose friends, and maybe some family, when you begin to incessantly play your role in the religious fantasy realms. It should be said that loss of long time friends and close family members will be by your own doing. When one takes LARPing to the extreme like religious ceremony does, you will find that you only want to be around fellow members of your congregation as you are too uncomfortable to face reality anymore. Being addicted to the fantasy games and role play assigned to you by the local priest, mullah, or rabbi will feel more real than your actual life. Psychologically speaking, role playing has been shown to be extremely addictive. The enticement of escaping who you are for a few hours a week is hard to resist. How about having the opportunity to completely set aside all the responsibilities, aggravations, pressures of your everyday life? This is what role playing offers - a momentary escape from your personal reality. Religion offers this environment at least twice a day Sunday, and at least during one evening mid week. This doesn't include all the extra curricular activities as well, like a Tuesday Word of Power walking group., and more. During these myriad of events, players get to drop their everyday pressure and assume roles in their fantasy filled communities. Some are the clerics, offering console and understanding for the weeping sinner cast players during an altar call during Sunday mass. Some are psychic and directly connect with their God, prophesier visions of approaching dark days in a mysterious lost dialect. During all this LARP style worship, there is no worry of being laughed at, judged, or ignored, because everyone else follows the same environment rules as you do. Unless you try to change or contest said regulations of play. Then you face possible banishment, prejudicial treatment, and mean spirited humiliation in front of your peers. So long as you observe the rules, everyone has to accept you. I've tried to have a conversation with a pastor at a local non denominational church (name rhymes with wine), about the similarities between LARP events and religious services. Naturally, I tried to not us Lord of the Ring references or anything based on Dungeons and Dragons, since these franchises do not sit well in most of these kinds of churches. The pastor eagerly followed along, but as soon as I equivocated prophecy and speaking in tongues with some kind of fantasy role play, he shut down his listening skills and began to challenge. Unable, or unwilling, to recognize the similarities I pointed out between speaking Elvish and speaking in tongues. Both are clearly in the realm of pure fantasy. "Of course Elvish is fantasy. It isn't based on anything real." Yes, he totally went there. Greg continued to insist that while predictions of dragons razing the world to dust were clearly ideas propagated by ancient mythology, I had "zero basis for dismissing personal experiences with God's awesome knowledge of space and time." Needless to say, I thanked him for his time and the conversations was over. He wouldn't even entertain the idea that at least some, not all but just a bit, of religious fan fare was pure show and fantasy to keep the crowd coming back for more. He did acknowledge there is definitely a community rules aspect,"But an individual is still an individual of their own choosing, as long as they stick to the basic doctrine of our church, anyway." Greg also agreed that most Christians tend to take their belief more seriously while at church events. "Birds of a feather," he told me, and then another awkward silence. So I pressed even harder, politely asking why he thought that was the case. "Sheep need their shepherd so they don't wander too far off from the pasture." I shit you not, this was his exact reply. My reply? "So, you are the dungeon master who enforces or as you say teaches the rules and lays out the map to follow so adventurers stay on course with the games end goal." "Kind of, but this isn't role playing. It's a life choice." This pastor pretty much convinced me of what I had suspected, that LARP and religious ceremony or one and the same. Whether one truly believes the story line takes little difference when comparing the two. LARPers understand the collaboration they work so hard to create, and participate in isn't actually real.I know some who wish it could be their reality. Religion's participants seem determined to make the prophecies come true, and they don't care how much of society they alienate to achieve their goal. Religious ceremony can be fun. No dice needed, just a prayer mat and a submissive personality is all you need to qualify!
  13. I used to be involved with a guy that liked to point out all my flaws, offer to work on our relationship, and then would do the exact opposite. Would avoid working on the relationship and blame me, screw around with many other women, and insist it isn't fair he has to change who he is since he likes himself as is. I was the problem, not him. God is pretty much the same. "You are a screw up. You need to do all this to be with me successfully, and I will do this for you in return." Then God turns around and does nothing, and supposedly blesses everyone else who isn't trying nearly as hard as you are. And of course, it is all your fault, because God is above needing to change. It is you that isn't trying hard enough. Yeah, religion is definitely inspired by man. Misogynistic ones in particular. Is it a wonder why so many are walking away from a shitty relationship like that? For some reason, many evangelicals do not understand the distaste for an emotionally abusive relationship with an unseen deity. Forever in love with the idea of suffering for attention, they cling to their abusive ideology, gaining self satisfaction in their personal martyrdom. To suffer, within the religious world, and to do so with a head held high and little to no complaint falling from their mouths, is an esteemed way of life. Especially when dealing with an unfaithful spouse or shaky marriage. Nothing makes a woman more noble than to suffer such treatment with an undying loyalty to her faith and her man. In reality, when you take off the religious blinders, maybe these women could see how actually pathetic they are for tolerating such treatment, let alone enabling it, and even being stupid enough to perpetuate such a mindset in their own children's perceptions of what relationships are supposed to be like. For at least a decade now, I've read, watched, and listened to many news reports and sermons where various religious groups cry that the traditional family is being ruined by liberal agendas. I never truly bought in to that analysis, of course, since the logic was seriously flawed behind such a claim. The supposed downfall of the traditional family, at least within the religious community, has to do with the fact that many people take life more seriously than just praying on Sunday. The availability of the internet has made knowledge about other places, experiences, and cultures so readily available, that many families have shifted their priorities as far as life goals. This includes perceptions on relationships and marriage. Many have learned that the whole "suffer to receive Heavenly rewards" doctrine doesn't have to be that way. Why stay in a relationship with someone if s/he clearly cannot commit to the responsibility? Unlike sixty years ago, it is not as difficult to branch out on your own, single with children. Unlike sixty years ago, wanting to be happy and make the most of the singular lifetime you get to live doesn't sound overly selfish. Especially with all the easy access information out there on how to accomplish said happiness. One is not limited to the small pool of potential mates in their home towns and church vestibules either. The advent of affordable travel has made such long distance relationships become a feasible reality. To stay in a non salvageable relationship is almost like giving up on life. What is to be admired about that? Martyr type behavior in a relationship not only enables the abuser to keep right on expecting that perpetual second chance, but it leaves the would be martyr in a constant world of "Poor me" and "You did this to me, and this to me, and this to me, and this to me..." diatribe. The same goes for those who suffer from depression and are waiting for their chosen deity to come heal them, or irresponsible families up to their eyeballs in debt just praying away for a miracle while everyone stands around watching their house be repossessed. This is a sick cycle of attention seeking. A constant tidal wave that echoes,"Look at what I am going through." Religion does not teach proactive behavior. Everything that a doctrine teaches one to do is reactive. The old saying about an ounce of prevention does wonders is often not repeated enough. In the case of religious proactive behavior? Why not encourage some accountability within the flock? Instead of Mrs. Jones walking in every Sunday, fake smile pasted on her face as she holds on to her lecherous husband's elbow, taking humble pride in how tough she is to stand up in public under such a scrutinized embarrassment, why not encourage her to be proactive and actually hold her husband, and herself, accountable for the break in the relationship? Because to do so puts God on the hook, as well. I normally do not dissect deities and their subsequent obvious lack of action, but this is a topic that has always held me in the most severest of attitudes when evaluating idols and their worshipers. The main reason for this lack of discussion is due to the fact the most common rebuttal is,"Well, God doesn't operate the way we do." Famously known as "God works in mysterious ways." Folks do not like hearing miracles being relegated to mere instances of good odds or just flat out dumb luck, but it is the truth of the matter. When one prays for their puppy to show up after being lost, or for a relative to make a journey safely home, and it actually happens, it is simply a matter of good odds that the puppy was not that far away to begin with, and that Aunt Martha had a very slight chance of 1 in 1,000,000 that her plane would crash. It has nothing to do with having prayed hard enough, or having been righteous enough in His word, that this deity extended a blessing. Folks managing to survive a car crash in the foot lands of Oregon without extra water for five days? That is determination, luck, and maybe genetics. Faith healers and psychics are never found working their trade in hospitals, and the same can be said of an unseen deity in the every day world. Yet, relationships are based around the promise of rewards from these deities anyway. "Pray harder." "You must have true faith (whatever the hell that means)." "Don't overthink it, and just trust Him." "God rewards those who suffer." All of this translates in to the religiously based relationships too. When a husband loses his job? "Pray harder." When a wife cheats? "God rewards those who suffer." When a child dies? "Don't over think it, just trust His wisdom." Where is the accountability? Husband lost his job? Why and how to avoid it next time? Wife cheated? Why and what can be done now? Child died? Why and can you help prevent such a loss for someone else? This isn't over thinking. This isn't showing doubt. It is finding accountability. Religion and accountability have a hard time reconciling with one another. In religion, accountability is fault finding. In a secular world view, accountability is reason finding. That is what I had to do when I cut ties with my now ex. It wasn't all his behavior that made me leave, it was my taking accountability for the direction my life was going and I realized he just wasn't going to be able to be a part of it. I either had to tolerate the continued shifting of responsibility of the relationship on to my shoulders as the unreasonable girlfriend who wanted his loyalty and communication issues to be rectified, or I could move on, and enjoy life without him there. I opted for the latter. We both can find happiness now, though sometimes, it is still a bit of a sour remembrance of wasted time. Always remember this when confronted with turmoil:
  14. We have all been there and done it. Sitting on a couch, consoling a friend over a terrible mistake that has been made, and used our own personal flaws as a buffer before giving advice on what to do about the mess at hand. This is self deprecation, and while a very useful tool while navigating social situations, there is a fine line between using it as a tool, and using it as a facetious psychological mind fuck. Usually, self deprecation is a general statement of flaws, like,"Well, Judy. I've been in your shoes, sweetie. I've had my bouts with - insert flaw here -. But I learned from it. Did my best to make it right, and now all is okay. And you will be too." Basically, what is being said is, "I'm a fuck up too." I think it is a given that in most awkward or stressful situations, one rarely goes wrong diffusing some of the tension with a little self deprecation. There is a time and place for doing so, otherwise you will come across as unbelievably modest, or as a conceited asshole that is rubbing in the faults of the other person(s). It seems Christianity, and most religions in general, have not figured this important detail out though. "I'm a fuck up too." This seems to be the motto emblazoned on every calling card, tract, and service invite that the religious use to spread their message of idol worship. While admitting one isn't perfect is admirable, there seems to be a twisted psychology behind its use in religious doctrine that I will get more in depth about as we go along. For the sake of length, I am not going to go into the fact that religious self deprecation is just another form of secret narcissism, as well. Nothing grabs attention like,"Oh, I fucked a married man before too! We all make mistakes, but Jesus it away, mkay?" First, as many reading this blog already have learned, it is important to recognize mistakes, seek to correct those mistakes, and try to seek the forgiveness of those you wronged. Additionally, it is essential to forgive yourself too. That is the problem with the religious and their usage of self deprecation. They skip the last step that involves forgiving oneself. Well, not really. They just do not realize that by going to God for forgiveness, they are simply granting themselves the right to move on. It's really messed up when you think about. Until one feels they have shown enough penance to God (I couldn't put in literal terms how one knows if it is enough), they live in a state of self perpetuated guilt. Now, this is where a Christian that I discuss such topics with likes to say,"See, atheists have no conscience. Why do you get to decide you've done enough for your sinning against another?" I know. With an eye roll, I explain for the umpteenth time I am not erasing what I have done wrong (which is impossible in the real world anyway). I am simply allowing myself to move forward so I can apply the lesson learned. One should always reflect on the mistakes made. Repetition needs to be avoided after all. Dwelling on mistakes for an unspecified amount of time? Waiting for an unseen deity to somehow communicate that enough penance has been suffered? It just doesn't make sense to do such a thing because it isn't truly helpful to the situation, and it is downright unhealthy. Now, it doesn't just stop at living in a constant flux of self hate and pity parties. Many take it a step further and try to pull others into this depressing view of reduced value when attempting to convert others. It is the same scenario taking place, only instead of an atheist consoling Juday, let's imagine it is a Christian friend. Not only will this Christian friend declare s/he is imperfect and has made many mistakes, this friend will also point out that s/he could not have learned the real leasson without accepting God, and that Judy needs to get a clue. Yes, that's right. Claims of not being able to accept who s/he is, an imperfect sinning child of Yahweh, until s/he laid everything at His celestial feet. S/He learned that without Him, s/he would have always been a fuck up beyond repair. It's like sitting down next to Judy, saying,"You aren't just a whore, Judy. You're a godless whore. And you will never understand how horrible it is to be a cock gobbling godless whore until you let God pull the cock out of your mouth once and for all. Put Him there instead, honey." Okay, maybe that is a little too crude, but you get the idea. "We're all fuck ups, but I am not as bad a fuck up as you because...God." Which translates even further into,"You are such a fuck up that you have no way of ever becoming better because you don't have God. You are not capable of improving your life on your own." It is a disgustingly facetious use of self deprecation, which leads into attempts at completely undercutting any positive self image in his/her target. Not only was zero tension alleviated, but the Christian in this example compounded the damage on a psychological level. Why is it necessary to further pound a person's self worth to dust in order to show how wonderful faith is? It is akin to a pick up artist at a bar, trying to find an emotionally vulnerable woman he can proceed to lay out all his accomplishments to while gently pointing out his target's failures. Ironically, this stands a chance of elevating his desirability as a role model in the victim's eyes, hopefully eliciting a knee jerk response to want to prove she is worth his interest. The bottom line within religious communities is that you are not allowed to decide for yourself what your true worth is. No, you aren't worth a wooden nickel without completely demoralizing your personal confidence and then allow it to be determined by God's influence in your life. Any boasts of "I am successful and am so happy in life" must be immediately followed by "but there was a time I wasn't. I owe it all to my Lord God for helping me stay on His path to heavenly reward." Self worth is always the primary target in any religion. An individual's healthy level of self confidence and value is equated to arrogance. To assess yourself ,and independently determine that you are valuable, is treated as self righteousness in religious circles. So, as you can see, self deprecation in proselytizing is just another insidious method of grinding down your personal confidence. This leaves you vulnerable, sometimes even desperate. Simple psychology that we all use from time to time in order to ease crisis, tension, or a really awkward first date. In Christianity, though? It is an effectively mean little hammer to beat you down into the mold of hopeless screw up. If you are ever in Judy's shoes, and wonder if your proselytizing friend might have a point, think before you act. Don't rush to any decisions while in a vulnerable state. Most importantly, understand what the real message is. It isn't only about accepting God, but agreeing you aren't worth two shits unless God is in your life.
  15. Preaching On Social Media

    We've all been there at some point. You log onto your favorite social media website like Facebook, and as you scroll through the many status updates in your news feed with highlights about your Aunt Martha's cat, or your friend's son that lost a tooth, you see this: If you are irreligious like myself, all you see is this: Why do people do this? Where is this urge to shout from the digital rooftops about God's touching one's soul coming from? And even more importantly, do these folks even realize that their pious platitudes and preaching are nothing more than selfish cries for attention? Everyone learns something differently in church when it comes to appropriate social protocols when witnessing to the masses, publicly declaring your faith, and celebrating the glory of a god. One thing has always been made clear to me though during my 20 years in a pew. I was always told in the 6 different churches I attended that one should unequivocally be only giving the glory to God. God's amazing invisible finger of knowledge will automatically follow and anoint those you addressed if they are willing with little to no effort on your part. There was no telling someone how sad you were that they had no faith. It wasn't necessary to insist that you would pray for someone if they didn't want to hear your message. One certainly didn't have to debate for hours on end with atheists and other religious groups on Facebook in order to convert a few souls. No. My mere channeling of his divine presence would be enough to effect change in the person(s) I was engaged with. If I had to do more than just share a brief five minutes of His word, then I wasn't doing it right. What on earth has changed? Anymore, I feel like whenever I see a long copied post on my news feed, I am dealing with a Jim Jones wannabe. I mean this most sincerely, and I know this is not the intention of the witnessing spokesperson of Yahweh. These people really come across like charismatic psychopaths who think they can draw few flies in for dinner before mass. Quite literally they are pulling a Jim Jones maneuver from the man's own playbook. Let me explain. It is never enough to just have attended church, accepted Christ, and have lived as righteously as possible. It's enough for God in Heaven, but not enough for the interpreted version of Him within the church walls. This is especially so with all the constant nonsense about a war on Christianity that has started permeating the news. Last I checked, Christians are not being purposely put to death in this country. Hardly a war, but it makes for interesting talk around the Communion trays. Couple that with declining church attendance? Well, it's time to get the word out! At least, that is the mindset I had always come across. Proselytizing on Facebook isn't just about sharing faith, sharing joy, or sharing eternal life. It's a rallying cry to sign up. And like Jim Jones, while these social media soap boxers are full of scripture, they really don't want you to read it. As soon as you start asking about the scripture, you get rants about politics, disease, sexual abomination, and overall fear of Satan ruling the Earth. They literally pull a Jim Jones. They throw their Bibles down on the ground, insisting that you pay more attention to them than their original source of information. This same thing happens on discussion boards, even here on Ex-C. Someone posts a long opener about the seamless genius of a preferred deity. "It's so simple and clearly laid out, even a grade schooler can understand," this person says. Lines of scripture follow, including poorly made flow charts of historical context. Your eyes glaze over, but you manage to point out a number of errors in the flow chart by using the Bible said chart is based off of. What happens? Slam! Bible is on the floor, the patronizing insults of "You are over intellectualizing what I am saying" or "Your lack of faith is disturbing, I will pray for you" begin to flow. The focus has left the shared data and compelling arguments, with all attention shifted to the proselytizer. God is back in the wispy realms of fantasy, only being brought up as a holy reference to add to the pious demeanor of your rabidly biblical preaching poster. You will manage to somehow go in this discussion from lack of faith to the End Times, where all prophesies become interpretive dancing of fantastically hopeful outcomes. There might even be a bit of frothing as the witnessing individual's mind leaps from one potential sign of the times to another, as the influx of far fetched links begin to work this person's brain into an almost crack fueled frenzy. So, next time you have the urge to engage a lengthy Jebus post, realize it is just a psychiatric need for strength in numbers playing out on your wall. To solve this problem, and if you are on Facebook, do the following: If you are in a regular discussion forum, show restraint and leave the conversation. No matter how you engage, in the religious gladiator's mind, he's victorious. Either you didn't engage because of his awesome faith, or you didn't engage because Satan compels you to leave him alone. Those who engage in this type of behavior are addicted to this type of attention. They are usually very charismatic and have some very lofty ideas of how convincing their faith is on its own merits. Religious preaching on social media is a clear sign of addiction to the holy crack they are sucking in. Holy crack being fantasy and escape from a world that one is finding too difficult to reason out alone.
  16. Do Your Best And God Will Do The Rest

    For many, many years, I have always found an unending fount of devilish giggles whenever I read sappy church signs. You know, the ones that are thought up by the honorary witty member of the church congregation that plays on puns, abuses homophones, and loves to dabble in sappy poetry attempts. What better way to market a deity than with comedy? I very rarely come across one that doesn't make me laugh. Dare I say, maybe these little billboards of religious recruitment are a little guilty pleasure of mine. There really aren't any real conversations to be inspired. In fact, if my children are with me when I see one, I often repeat it out loud as we drive by, and then proceed into a fun literary exercise of mad libs where we substitute other puns or homophones to match the intent. It's sickly educational. I've always learned to never say never when it comes to proclaiming there isn't a sign that hasn't made me snicker a little bit as I read it, but tonight, due to whatever emotional circumstance my mind was in, I saw a sign on a local evangelical church display that actually bothered me. As the further down the road from it I went, I realized I was getting angrier and angrier. What horrible affront to my sense of humor could have possibly been on that sign? Something about being a sinner? A little rhyming ditty about not being a "whole" person until God fills you up? No. Just a nine word little sentence. Do your best and God will do the rest. My oldest son was with me, and as we initially approached, I read the little slogan aloud, giving an eye roll and chortle. After we got right by the sign, I said it again, and I could feel inside of me the churning waters of the past beginning to boil up from all directions. Now, for the Christians reading this, I realize you would diagnose this as the part of me possessed by Satan rebelling. I assure you, this is not the case as I have already been elevated to the status of Lucifer himself a few short months ago by a right wing Christian conspiracy theorist on a local chat board. The onset of my sudden angst as I had passed the sign piled on more as I again said this seemingly harmless little sentence again. This sentence wasn't harmless, it was straight out victim shaming. Shaming the twelve year old losing her battle with cancer. Shaming the widow who was losing everything she and her husband had built together, but now was buried in bills as he was buried in the ground. Shaming me for not doing my best enough to earn reprieve from the abuse I endured as a child. Shaming me for not doing my best enough to earn healing so I wouldn't struggle for another 18 years after finally getting free of that home life and having no basis to make choices on. Such an insidious, backhanded judgement, neatly wrapped up in a playfully toned rhyme. Naturally, or unfortunately, I was reasoning all of this verbally, and my thirteen year old really can't fathom this level of pain. I seriously hope he never does, but it made the normally fun ritual of playing with dopey messages into a personal melodrama. Looking back, I realize I could have easily managed this sudden rush of scorn with a more accepting nature. Just looking at my current line of thought and dealings in life should reassure me tons. I'm an atheist now, and with my lack of belief comes a lifting of divine testing. A lifting of desire for judgement, which eliminates the draining shadow of needful vengeance against those who have harmed me in such a way that I will never know what it is to be normal. My atheism allows me to step back from a situation, and decide for myself what is best for me. No mandatory forgiveness. No mandatory turning the other cheek. No mandatory anything. I'm free to do what I want and handle it all as such. Compared to a decade ago, my life is much improved. Peer pressure is really only a problem on my job. Religious pressure? Zilch. While coworkers and family sit in a pew every Wednesday and Sunday, listening to sermons about how imperfect they are, singing songs about self martyrdom for God's glory, and being programmed to believe that faith is rewarded and prayers are answered if your litmus test pees the right color, I get to find more meaningful things to do with my day. I get to enjoy myself for who I am. I get to enjoy the satisfaction in realizing that I've improved many aspects of myself once I got off my knees at Calvary and carried my own damn cross. The day I realized that saying yes to God did not mean healing and wholeness were included, set me free to improve myself with reckless abandon. I could feed strangers on the street without giving thanks to God while I did so because I was there out of my own compassion. I could donate money to a few homeless vets in the area and not worry about making the tithe payment the next week because I realized God doesn't truly care about something as material as money. I could now turn to those I had wounded over the course of my life so far, and tell them how wrong I was without being worried if God would accept my actions as genuine enough because the only true apology given is one from yourself, not a higher motivation. I could tell people to quit advising me with ridiculous biblical standardized relationship advice because the idea that God is the foundation of a marriage simply doesn't work. I could parent my children with respect for my presence in their lives, not out of fear of an ancient guilt tripping commandment that was so vague, I don't think anyone could agree on what "honor" really stood for. And most of all? I could admit what a lie a church sign like "Do Your Best And God Will Do The Rest" really was, because a five year old's best should not be required to save her from abusive family members. Obviously, after all my introspection within the span of ten minutes of seeing that insidiously tainted message of encouragement, I am just fine, but I have taken away an important message out of it that I need to remind myself of on the daily: The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off. --Gloria Steinem
  17. In the general public, there is an expectation when discussing the infighting amongst atheists, that there will never be a concrete movement away from God due to lack of cohesion. That because of atheists’ insistence on individualism and no clear rank and file, atheism in itself, is a flawed logic doomed to go out of style. Obviously, the only flawed logic being applied is the assumption that atheism needs a concise rank and file, that it is necessary to form some type of dogmatic guideline in order to succeed. For the gazillionth time, the general public is trying to automatically tie some type of philosophy into atheism, and unfortunately, leaders in atheism are doing so too. This is the very large error that is the detriment to the atheism movement. Individualism is necessary to being an atheist because the only requirement to be an atheist is a non belief in deities. Everything else that one decides to do as a result of not believing in gods has nothing to do with being an atheist. It has to do with that individual’s personal lifestyle choices. But, the New Atheism and Atheism+ movements seek to tag on guidelines for being a proper atheist. And if you do not conform, you are ridiculed, ignored, or sometimes shunned. This type of behavior is very much puzzling to atheists around the globe, wondering why a difference of opinion on whether religion should be stamped out or permitted would preclude one from one form of atheism versus another. There is only one form of atheism! The answer to that question was provided by Freud over a century ago. “A narcissism of small differences”. And that is what plagues the atheists of today. Freud had coined this phrase after studying some earlier works of a British anthropologist by the name of Crawley. Freud recognized that there was a desire “to achieve a superficial sense of one’s own uniqueness, an ersatz sense of otherness which is only a mask for an underlying uniformity and sameness’. The term appeared in one of his later books entitled Civilization and its Discontents, where it demonstrated the relation to the use of the inborn aggression in man to ethnic conflicts. It should be said that this is a process still considered by Freud, at that point, as ‘a convenient and relatively harmless satisfaction of the inclination to aggression’. One would have to ask how harmless this satisfaction is in today’s age, where seemingly small differences are tantamount to the rise and fall of a politician’s career. Where a conflicting viewpoint entitles an individual to obscene amounts of negative backlash that remains available for public viewing until the internet evolves, yet again, into a different form of communication. Unlike the world of Freud’s Victorian atmosphere, we live in an age where all we have are small issues to argue over. Globally, priorities are very much aligned on the same page now, leaving us with smaller conflicts to pick at in order to keep pursuing the ever desired individualism our ego craves. For those unfamiliar with narcissism, here is a very bare bones definition: nar·cis·sism ˈnärsəˌsizəm/ noun noun: narcissism excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance. synonyms: vanity, self-love, self-admiration, self-absorption, self-obsession, conceit, self-centeredness, self-regard, egotism, egoism More “his emotional development was hindered by his mother’s narcissism” antonyms: modesty Psychology extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type. Psychoanalysis self-centeredness arising from failure to distinguish the self from external objects, either in very young babies or as a feature of mental disorder. (Via Google Dictionary) As a larger analysis, atheism is not inherently narcissistic. It is just a lack of belief. Period. The narcissism comes into play when those who classify as atheist then start applying philosophical and social practices to their identifier to further exemplify their statuses from others. For some, to be atheist means to be materialist. For others, to be atheist means to be humanist. And even further than that, there are those who treat atheism as meaning to be anti religious. One atheist’s crusade to stamp out religion would appear as inhumane to another. An atheist’s embrace of evolution can appear as pseudo science to another. These differences are perfectly acceptable. It is the overriding avarice to be standing out above the rest, and to attain notable recognition for that feat, that a trickier cliff of solidarity is being climbed, and one easily falls into alienation with a single misstep. Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and even Dennet, have made the cliff the size of Mount Everest for those of us out there who do not want to reach the apex of such a precipice, but instead maintain a healthy respect for all aspects of secular living in the world while still showing our support. Are we less atheists because we do not agree 100% with their philosophical or social causes? Of course not. To suggest otherwise diminishes their missions, but somehow, they do no seem to recognize this. Much like the religious, if you do not agree, they seek to convert your views to match their own, or relegate your significance to the larger spectrum of the atheism movement to nil. Hitchens was frequently known for his abrasive attitude towards atheists who didn’t support Israel, and his vitriol to anyone who supported the right to abort. He frequently interchanged humanism, secularism, and atheism, as being identical concepts, and this did the atheist community no favors when trying to garner further understanding in the global community. There is a sense of moral absolutism brewing in the atheist community. Do we really need to divide our classification of lack of belief into further genus? Feminist atheists, humanist atheists, secular atheists, material atheists, etc. What do these divisions accomplish? Atheists around the world have seen how divisive the genus of theists are. Shiites vs Sunnis. Catholics vs. Baptists. It goes on and on. Can we not rise above such things? Be unified in our lack of belief, and quit giving the general public ammunition to tear us down by not allowing our representatives of atheism to conflate atheism with philosophical and moral absolutes. This is the key to help speed along the acceptance of atheism in more communities. By allowing for such small differences to greatly divide us, our accidentally nominated spokesmen are making us appear as haphazard and disjointed as the very theistic cultures we set out to be apart from. When will they do the right thing and cease applying extended humanities to a mere classification?
  18. There is nothing more aggravating than being in the middle of a discussion about the parameters of what constitutes a God, and another atheist in the discussion says to you,"You are being intellectually dishonest by saying deities absolutely do not exist. You cannot know 100% for sure if a god exists or not. You're making our cause look as stupid as that twat you are talking to." This is a frequent sticking point betwixt the religious and atheists, as well as between atheists and their fellow atheists! It's a frustrating topic, but I would put forward that it doesn't have to be so long as you have a lot of patience, and are tolerant of those who are really being intellectually dishonest. You can say with clarity and in proclaiming tones of confidence,"Gods do not exist! 100%" if you lay the appropriate foundation for understanding in your conversation. First things first, there is an equivocation problem with the concept of god in the religious and atheist communities. The concept that there are mysterious beings/forces/entities in the Universe we have not yet discovered that might possess amazing powers of healing, immortality, and psychic afterlives, is not far fetched. In fact, it is impossible to say with 100% certainty that they do not exist. But the statement "Gods do not exist! 100%" has absolutely nothing to do with fantastically powered beings that watch you masturbate, and cry for your wasted semen in that kleenex. Godliness has to do with worship, dogma, reverence, and sovereignty. We are not going to automatically worship the wonderfully different creature that just made that amputee's leg grow back. It's still just an alien of sorts. When this thing crosses the threshold of awe and brings the euphoria of worship, then you have a god. But how does it cross that threshold of importance? Well, it is an individual decision that one embraces after a certain level of criteria has been met emotionally, as well as intellectually. As you can see, there is a very obvious difference between god and an all powerful being somewhere in the Universe. Yet the religious, and many atheists, tend to equivocate the two as one and the same, and it just isn't so. This equivocation is actually the intellectual dishonesty here, and you have to be clear about where you are coming from because many really cannot wrap their heads around the difference. Quite literally, the two concepts share similarities, but are most certainly not the same. You will need to point this clarification out in your conversation if you hope to get them to quit classifying these two different concepts with the same label. God. It is a vexing conversation, causing a lot of sideways looks of disdain, frustrated commentary, and incredulous criticism at one making the declaration that deities are not real, and 100% not real on top of that. That is why, yes, all powerful beings could possibly exist. No, deities do not exist until you accept them as such in your mind. Agnostic atheists really seem to have a tough time with this one, and the best solution is to put it in a different frame of thought. Make sure you differentiate between the status of godliness and a not yet discovered being with power beyond our understanding. Make sure you differentiate between reverence and worship. More importantly, I think you need to get clarification from nay saying atheists if the trait of godliness is inherent or given. If they agree it is given, your discussion will be a lot easier. "I am not 100% sure there isn't something in the Universe I wouldn't consider worshiping." This sentence is what the discussion should really be about. It's about personal accountability instead of shifting choices on to other manifestations and ideologies. This sentence doesn't say "Yes, deities might exist." It says one is willing to consider giving that reverence to something in the Universe if the appropriate amount of personal standards are met. Too often, many people, even famous writers and historians, have a tendency to round up their belief system to the next qualifier, misunderstanding that what they perceive as a small leap in reasoning is actually a very large one. "Maybe it's because we like to make things simple. 9/10ths of a pie is almost a whole pie. 99% is almost perfect on a test. We say "eh, close enough". Some possible being out there who we don't understand, and who may have powers we don't understand - if we ever found one of these beings, a lot of us would also say "eh, close enough", and round "mysterious powerful being" up to "god", and then start worshiping it. This is laziness, and you will find it all over the place in the religious and atheist communities." (via L. Megan) And why would all these mainstream intellects like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitches, or Sam Harris just "round" things up? Maybe because they haven't taken the time to learn the difference. Now, if you are unlucky enough to run into an atheist that has the attitude that the trait/status of godliness is inherent? That brings up a whole other conversation for another day regarding absolutes and how they just don't work, and we will touch on that later next week on this blog. I will part with these final words on the existence of gods. I'm not atheistic about whether there are mysteriously powerful beings in the Universe. I'm atheistic about godliness.
  19. Just.... A#*()*(Piehfiuw(#&&*)~~!#(*$&@(*#$~!

    I think the picture says it all. I know this person (father) and it just angers me to no end when folks share stories of "miraculous" recoveries and leave out all the background detail. In this case it would the medical community, and all the hard work he put into his health to get where he is now. This type of testimony gives a false sense of hope to those who read it. At the very least he could say the fruits of his labors were rewarded with a stellar recovery. By only discussing what God has shown him in a "vision", he is leaving out some very important details. How overwhelming would it be to fill your head with half truth stories of divine healing to only go through the intense surgeries and find out there is a long and painful healing process entailed? I hate false prophets, false worship, and blatantly misleading testimony. And yes, he still has diabetes. Why wouldn't God have given him a full recovery you think?
  20. The Last Time I Visited A Church

    I was perusing through many of my essays, rants, and memes on here, realizing that I have spoken a lot about my experiences within a religious family. I've spoken only a few times on religious experiences at a church. Seems I am overdue for a lascivious story of scandal in a small 42 member church in the southwestern town in Ohio called Monterey. Grace Bible Baptist Church had a holy roller of a pastor with a compassionate flair of theatrics for discussions about Hell and Israel. Be sure he never used the two in the same sentence! And, I joined this church on the recommendation of a young man I was dating. Being only 19 at the time, still believing there was a higher power, but my taste for organized religion souring, I thought it would be alright to attend. Everyone seemed to like me, and I even knew a few other folks that were extended family of a man I'd dated a year prior. At first, this church seemed like a good fit. There were never long arduously drawn out organ reveries of At Calvary being played with our pastor and his brothers in Christ pleading for sinners to repent. I respected the fact that he preferred this to be done privately for the most part and only encouraged church members and guests to gather at the altar during revivals or holidays. This program was very different than what I was used to at other holy places I'd attended, and it was a great relief to have little of this type of show boating going on. Women were friendly and rarely spoke on one another. Most were older than me by at least 20 years and just showed gentle concerns for my well being and my then boyfriend's battle with severe eczema and ailing mother. There were weekly potlucks, and after about three months, I began to attend Wednesday Bible studies. It was here that the woo was strong in this congregation, and it was here that I realized once and for all I would no longer have any part of organized religion, but would opt to satisfy my own needs with faith and the Bible. Now, I guess I should mention I was very, very poor. Having just rented an apartment that needed cleaning and repairs done by myself, and working a shitty security job for less than six bucks an hour. Needless to say, I put everything I had into my children and had very little for myself. This especially showed in how I dressed. If I was not wearing my assigned uniform for work, I was in a blouse and jeans. Having been raised in a Pentecostal household, I knew that this was as low as I could go for Sunday finery without receiving a complaint from a church usually. I mean, most don't say anything so long as you are not in flip flops, sandals and a tank top. And for the first three months there, that seemed to be the case. Well, once I was in Bible study, and we were digging through passages, by month seven we started digging into social topics and I remember distinctly the topic of clothing and proper dress being brought up. I have always held the view that vestments should be of little issue. Teachings in this church and others had taught me that the ancient laws of custom in church had pretty much been acknowledged as outdated. I also went a step further to point out in general discussion that to discriminate against others, even over clothing, would be a way to discourage God's presence in the lives of those who were lost. At this point of my membership, I had begun to participate in the bi-weekly "debates". We would have a topic to debate for or against, having teams of 3 people on each side of the issue to represent. So, you can imagine how folks felt looking at me in my pants and shirt, clearly not a fine example of Sunday raiment, touting on about it being wrong to demand certain attire. They didn't care if it were a money issue, that is why one could ask for donations, right? I railed that this was shallow on their part and discredited the promise of heavenly rewards for being poor on earth. The discussion had gotten so heated that our Pastor stepped into the middle of our small circled group of chairs and said we would debate this very topic the following week. Naturally, I was assigned to the side that felt dress in church should not matter, and you had the usual well to do ladies on the opposite side saying otherwise while they fidgeted with their hair clips and laced collars. The following Sunday, dress and materialism was discussed during the sermon. Quoting from Deuteronomy and then showing the conflict within the NT saying a woman should just be modest, he fired up the crowd for the following Wednesday. I had two other members on my side of the argument, but they were not really willing. It was obvious in the way they spoke about what their personal perceptions of dress would be and their outright refusal to evaluate if their preference alienated others. Needless to say, when I walked into the church that next Wednesday night, I was not the least bit surprised to see that I was the only person on my side of the debate to be there! There was also a bigger turn out than usual! Yeah, I was pretty incensed. I knew an intervention when I saw one, and that is exactly what these people had intended the whole time probably. So we debated. The view that supported dresses and skirts and blouses? The only support they had were their personal experiences growing up, and that if they didn't maintain a strict dress code that people would attend in outfits like Paula Abdul and Madonna wore. Their crown piece of an argument? They felt it was disrespectful to wear pants in the house of god. I am sitting RIGHT THERE next to them in pants!! I made a point of standing up in my jeans and work shirt, and asked the entire group of twenty or so people,"Should I just leave now? I can't afford dresses, dress shoes, panty hose, or make up. You say if I can't afford them I should beg for them. What kind of message does this send to me or any other person who has a genuine love for God that wants to attend church HERE? I came here for my Lord and savior, not your opinions on fashion. And that is why I don't ask to be a member. This is GOD'S house, and I do not need your approval to worship him in the only clothes I can afford. I would think my wearing my best pair of second hand jeans and my work shirt I earn tithe money in would be a real acknowledgement of my faith." Crickets. No one had anything to say because it wasn't just the truth of what passed through my lips, but it was the epiphany I blurted out loud right there in front of everyone while I was standing on the raised alter steps. The pastor stepped in within seconds of the awkward silence pervading the group saying that it wasn't fair I was the only person to represent my side of the team. That really burned my ass... Instead of acknowledging what I said as a fairly accurate representation of what was happening within his church, he opted to discount me completely. In front of everybody. When we gathered at the tables in the back meeting hall for some potluck that night, I was even further outraged when one of the women on the opposing "team" came over to me with two large paper sacks filled with clothes. Not just simple things like t-shirts or jeans, no she went the full tactless church bitch route and had extra dresses she didn't wear anymore and hose and shoes. And she said to me," I have all these extras so you can dress like the rest of us and not have to worry about trying to find nice things anymore. We've got you covered, sweetie." I quite literally took the two bags from her with a smile, saying,"How thoughtful!" Then I walked to the donation can by the door and dropped the two bags in there, adding,"I know there are women out there who need them more than I do." Followed by a loud,"Fuck this shit!" as I walked out of that damned place. I've never entered another church again. Ever. Oh, and Grace Bible Baptist? I say that they were never sanctified because of the poisonous attitudes they preached towards one another. And here is the proof of it: They split two years later and never recovered. It's just a rundown hollow shell which is a pretty accurate representation of what it really was to begin with. They never built their new church on the purchased property down the road. They never expanded their reach into the community. But who could have afforded to attend their church anyway? It didn't matter your love for God, but your submission to selfish prejudices.
  21. We Are Just Animated Pieces Of Meat

    If you haven’t read the recent Daily Mail piece by A.N. Wilson, I would recommend you do so to follow along with what I am about to go on about. Some of you might already be familiar with his emotional appeal drivel for Christ and might be able to save yourself the agony of reading more of his blatantly misleading depictions of atheism. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1169145/Religion-hatred-Why-longer-cowed-secular-zealots.html With that said, he likes to akin atheists belief that there is no soul to that of us believing we are “animated pieces of meat”. Sigh. I know what you are thinking, and what is brilliant about his work is that he actually proves that theistic beliefs in a deity being responsible for emotions and empathy would be considered “animated pieces of meat”. His article is essentially proving why it is a good thing to NOT believe in such things as divinely programmed morality and empathy. Now, let’s tackle the article. From the get go, after his long rant about Easter, his emotional appeal for Christ based on his own “anger at being conned into believing that story”, and a hateful secular government that is ruining Britain, he decides atheists, well more specifically “material atheists”, have decided that humans are only composed of chemicals, and that does not explain emotion. So, I am going to assume that in this article Wilson has decided to toss all of neuroscience and biology out the window and put “God dunnit” in place instead? I cannot accept the somewhat generalized view of material atheism. In all honesty, I think most atheists would be considered materialists, so I really do not understand why he would bother isolating such a specific word. We do not generally believe in souls or spirits. We do not believe in after lives. Overall, the atheist community accepts the idea that we are of our brains. Still, his framing of the atheist as being so detached from humanity is ridiculous. I think he is trying to distract his readers from what the heart of the issue really is, and it is at the center of a religion’s belief system, not that of the atheist. We are not saying we are just animated pieces of meat. That is a very unfair analogy. Why not ask why it is such a terrible thing to believe that our emotions and reactions come from stimulus of our very complex system of senses, nerves, neurons, and chemicals produced by our bodies? I will tell you why, because this FACT of how our bodies works means is even more less likely that a higher power is in control. Let’s take this even further. To say human emotion is derived from an idol and not from the complex workings of nerves, hormones and neurons is truly sad and insulting to the individual.By saying a higher power is the one making such experiences possible, then one is relegating a human being to something akin to an automaton. We are apparently programmed ahead of time to react to certain things in a way God deemed fitting, after all, we are all individual. So He decided Mary will feel fear when she sees a spider, and William will feel immense distress if he has lost sight of his son in a crowd at the local mall? How is that different than an animated piece of meat? You have no control over how God programmed you to react because you are programmed. I would think that is the very definition of such a thing in all honesty. At least with the scientific understandings of body signals and chemicals we can lend a more independent response to the world around us and not some programmed soul that risks damnation for not believing in a Holy Spirit. I respect A.N. Wilson’s choice to reconvert to Christianity and I would like to know what it is like deciding that he is now simply an animated piece of flesh only operating on the software God installed long before he was ever conceived of.
  22. An Exercise In Hypothetical Vengeance

    Edited because I did a shite job at writing it the first time: Many of us who have been subject to the fanciful hopes and malicious hate of the religious world enjoy many conversations where we describe what we would like to do the church we once belonged to or how we would like to turn the tables on those pesky Jehova's Witnesses knocking at our doors at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning with the intention of getting us interested in gawd again. Those conversations are always so satisfying and enjoyable. There is little doubt in our minds that these are long overdue consequences of the bullying we have tolerated throughout many eras of mankind's existence. And on this, I can usually agree, though my rational mind tells me that not everyone under the religious umbrella deserves a good thumping. In all honesty, they do not all deserve it. I will be the first to admit that I agree if you are ascribed to a certain belief sect, then, like it or not, you are representative of all it encompasses. Good and bad. I, like many others, refuse to acknowledge as Christian those who decide to pick and choose what they want to believe out of the Bible. Treating it like it is a "Make it your way" Burger King menu. But, you will not see me fantasizing about torturing a Christian who believes in a deity who supports their pastor NOT using political commentary in their sermons. You won't see me planning a thought out public humiliation of a Muslim who uses their better judgement and decides that while he/she may not like it, homosexuals should not be discriminated against. When deciding how you want to torture religious believers for millenniums of abuse, there are factors to consider. And while some may not understand this idea, I have to say the consideration of torture fantasies should not necessarily apply to this "God" of theirs as well. So, let's dig in here by starting with the age old question many atheists are asking amongst each other or by religious believers: What would you do to God if you had his powers? Now, I hear this question all the time. In fact, already for the second time this week when I came across a newer forum posting on the same subject. These questions never fail to inspire, but on what level of logic or even rational thinking are these inspirations based? I would argue that you cannot even ask this question hypothetically. At the very least, you are going to have to become extremely detailed about the parameters of this exercise before opening the room for contributions. Here is why. First of all, the question in and of itself is pretty much a false start. Which idol are we discussing, and which version? Usually it is in regards to the Bible, but even that version of a god has many different and conflicting accounts. AND that leads to my second reason why you cannot necessarily punish a hypothetical savior of the Bible. Despite the theoretical conditions of which version of God it is, you still have the issue with your source for this deity: The Bible. This is the main and pretty much only reason why I do not fantasize about punishing this biblical being in the most horrendous ways possible. The Bible cannot be used as a basis for any question we ask in regards to the legitimacy of who or what a god is. EVER. Not even in hypothetical questioning. Why? Pretty simple. The religious are not allowed to use their holy books as evidence, so how in the hell can you justify positing any type of question about this deity based on a book that we refuse to accept as evidence of anything factual? Hypothetically, I cannot justify torturing a being that I do not know for a fact did anything wrong. I have no basis for my justification of such punishment beyond the Bible, and that source should obviously be off limits.
  23. The Reality Of What Tragedy Really Does

    So, today is that day in my lifetime's history that garners specific attention to the catastrophic events of September 11th, 2001. The common descriptive phrase I hear being used is "another day that will live in infamy." Myself, it doesn't have any catchy phrases or memorable quotes attached to it. I never fell into the hype that surrounded that day, and I think my own personal misgivings about the events that transpired was set ablaze by the absolute selfish hysteria I saw the rest of our beloved land fall into. I remember vividly the shock of the images playing across our office's large television screen in a conference room we never used. Having just bore my third child exactly eight weeks prior, when seeing such destruction and then stunned by the sight of another plane fly into a building right before my eyes on national t.v., my first instinct was to go home and hold my child close. Still, the four of us that made up our small corporate team sat there, watching in disbelief, flabbergasted into complete silence. Within twenty minutes, I watched cameras zooming in, sharing the most intimate moments of victims' lives as they started falling, even jumping, from the blasted out windows of the buildings they were trapped in. Seeing them drop, often head first, down the many stories to the rubble below, was heart wrenching and peaceful all at once in the midst of the chaos that had erupted around them that morning. There is no imagining the mix of emotions that must have been leading up to and during the follow through with such a decision. It makes me wonder if the individuals that did fling themselves from the destroyed buildings had believed in some type of deity or another. I realize there are many who contend that these victims were either thrown out or so blinded by smoke and flame that they had dived out thinking they had found a cleared doorway to safety. For the purpose of this discussion, I am eliminating those two possible factors. There have been numerous occasions where folks have purposely flung themselves to their demise in situations that were hopelessly futile and this is a mind set I want to focus on here. Yes, there are a lot of assumptions in this blog, so please bear with my ambling around, through, and within the issue. So, I am sitting there with my coworkers, watching people falling from these wrecked buildings (at this point in my life, I'm skeptically agnostic). Seeing individuals dropping off burning buildings was a very new experience for me. I'd never witnessed desperation played out live before my eyes. As some who have read many of my previous essays on here know, I'm not unfamiliar with pain and suffering, still this was a game changer for my perspective on reality. Naturally, I immediately sympathized with the situation these doomed people were faced with, and felt incensed at the spectacle being made of their decision on national television. My coworkers, on the other hand, were dismayed at the victims plunging down the sides of the building amidst smoke, paper and other clothing raining down with with them. Two were outright incredulous and disgusted at the jumpers, not the camera crews filming. "What are they doing?" "Why would they do that?" "God forgive them. I think another one decided to jump! Look at that!" The last line is particularly chilling to me. Automatically assuming these men and women had turned into unforgivable sinners for jumping to their deaths instead of choking on smoke or burning alive? These statements further highlighted, in my own mind, the sharp divide between Christians over whether one is saved by grace or saved by action. Personally, I was raised on doctrine that espoused saved by action. I was routinely fed the whole multiplying of talents bit, though I never truly bought it since it didn't make sense that you would ask this deity into your life and then, in order to keep his favor, you had to follow rules that seemed to constantly conflict with one another or couldn't be applied consistently. I was a very literal child, to say the least, and had a very difficult time interpreting the same biblical rules five different ways depending on the situation. And this is the exact mind set I still possessed when listening to my fellow peers' commentary regarding the events streaming to us live on 9/11. Turns out, the one who made the forgive them comment was a Catholic, which, while explaining a lot, still disturbed me greatly that day. How does allowing oneself to die of smoke inhalation, or being crushed by a flaming building all around them, demonstrate more faith than someone who makes the choice to welcome death sooner? To me, the show of faith seemed equal. Still, the judgement passed by onlookers that day seemed to question to what extent one must seek martyrdom when faced with a situation resulting in severe injury or certain death. Is it really God's will to expect suffering in the worst way imaginable when in the middle of a disaster? Or is it the constant comparison to Christ's own martyrdom that fuels this type of religious scrutiny against those that suffer? Who is it that is truly demanding such levels of penance to be necessary? I think it the practice reeks of selfish ego resulting out of a very sick and twisted jealousy. My own upbringing had taught me that those who take their own lives have sinned, no matter the situation, and that they would face judgement for their actions, ultimately receiving a lesser reward in God's kingdom. Essentially, it was disgraceful to take your life, no matter the situation. But whenever someone died, it seemed members of my church focused on how much the individual suffered prior to dying. Sisters of our congregation would prattle on for hours over how many hours they sat by so and so's bedside during their final hours and describe in great detail every needle prick or surgery complication that further delayed their death painfully. So, to my point of this rambling blog entry. The day of the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Shanksville tragedies taught me a very important lesson: Step back from the horror and observe the many ugly facets of humanity that are drug out into the light of its aftermath. There wasn't only Islamic extremism showing its ass to the world that day. In the hours, days, months, even years to follow, the hypocrisy of the Christian Right came charging out from the closet, with their political machine in tow, pushing a sick agenda similar to the Red Scare of the '50's. And, it seems it has been a successful push. The groups of Christian extremists have managed to gain traction and now have stronger footholds in our government once again. Groups like the Tea party or the Christian Liberal party have provided doorways for members of these minority splinter groups to have a legislative voice in arenas deeper inside the congressional halls of Congress-- literally in the Senate committee offices. They have more than just lobbies now. They have Super PACS and corporate sponsors who buy their candidates. To me, this is the equivalent of Hezbollah or the Muslim Brotherhood's own successes in becoming legitimatized political parties within Middle Eastern governments. The idea that the American Family Association could ever get a sponsored candidate into office seemed ridiculous twelve years ago, but not anymore, and it is a frightening reality. The Muslim Brotherhood managed to get Morsi in, and look at the turmoil Egypt has now found itself in thanks to the extremist policies his government rammed down the citizens' throats. This is a day of remembrance for me, but not so much because of the large number of lives lost and injured. Today is a reminder of how all tragic events, big or small, should not cause us to jerk our knees in hysterical abandon. It should be a call for calm analysis and healing. A lesson in continuing our lives day to day by allowing ourselves to think outside our carefully constructed boxes that have been over insulated by special interest groups and doctrine tainted patriotism. Much like the act of those who opted to take control of their fates that day, we must do the same in our own lives. Hurling ourselves from the proverbial towers our nation has forged out of disillusioned patriotic ego over the past decade. Letting the tower crumble under the weight of misguided fear it has represented instead of reinforcing it with further misconceptions about the world around us. Allowing ourselves to end the cycle of Cold War Era demonization of other cultures and nations to justify our selfish wants. One must learn from this tragedy, and many others we have experienced, that while the threat can be very real, retaliation and preemptive prejudice will not prevent others from harming us, but instead make it more likely we will be struck again.
  24. Like many of us on Ex-C, being confronted by relatives, friends, trolls on discussion boards, and co-workers that have faith in one deity or another is a part of everyday life. Some folks, you just know not to even waste your breath on. Others you might converse with, merely like the debate. Of course, a confrontation isn't a good one unless it involves someone on a mission to "save your soul from eternal damnation". Ultimately though, pent up frustration with confrontation, the exchange of viewpoints and sometimes just flat out shitty behavior of slams, verbal slaps and sarcastic twits, keeps us coming for more sharp tongue abuses. Whilst coming back for more ignorant lashings, I wondered how many take a few minutes to breathe before pounding out a smart ass reply on their keyboards? Do you take the argument that no God is worthy of worship when he encourages prejudice, bigotry, murder and degradation? Or do you start taking apart "facts" of the Bible with scientifically proven facts? Do you just pull out Hawkings, Krauss, Dawkins, and De Grasse, and just pummel the shit out of creationism in general? When asking this, I am coming from a straight laced Atheistic point of view, no room for agnosticism. You outright do not believe there is a deity of any kind whatsoever. Period. No wiggle room. See, that is where I come from in my arguments. There is nothing out there in the present, or future for that matter, which would ever have the qualitative substance to be considered a deity. For me, it is an impossibility simply because the term "deity" doesn't exist to me as anything more than what a mermaid represents to everyone else. Deities, leprechauns, faeries, unicorns, and ghosts are terms for folk lore and mythology in my reality. I cannot label something a deity just because it can pass judgement, tell me what I am thinking, or even heal my wounds and make my mind free of sorrow. These are not powers of an omniscient being that created the world and passes judgement on its creatures. These are the powers of something I do not understand. Fin. This basis for my line of reasoning, while many can attack it, holds up like a dam because it is impossible to debunk my line of thought, and there are a plethora of examples one can use to clearly, factually, and rationally, demonstrate my point. Instead of pointing out the erroneous nature of the Bible, Talmud and Quran, I go further to the definition of faith and deity. Once I make it clear that none of the latter terms exist as a reality and why, there isn't any further argument really, just petty attacks, moving of goal posts, or just outright lack of comprehension of what I am trying to explain. If I were to argue over points of the Bible that do not agree with one another, or point out that revisions have been mistranslated, used and abused, I would get nowhere. It allows for circular arguments. It enables those blinded by faith to manipulate and translate their points however they wish, which is the malevolent nature of the holy works to begin with - to twist their meaning in to what you want. I could insist that cherry picked scriptures be put in context. I could easily expose ignorance of certain passages that are taught in mainstream churches inaccurately. And still, my challengers would have footing to continue arguing till they are blue in the face. Asking someone why it was moral for their idol to condone drowning billions, or to explain why incest was condoned in the story of Lot, or even further, why killing first born innocents of Egypt was appropriate to punish the parents, will get you no where. I can understand why as well. Most Christians will agree that God has His own way of doing things that are at times beyond our understanding. Kind of like the movie Rubber, which pays a tribute to the typical movie detail of "no reason". Why did she pick the blue pants before going on the date? No reason. Why did Mel Gibson decide to choose a plaid tartan for his costume in Braveheart that didn't match everyone else's? No reason given, just is the way it is. Why did God kill the firstborn of Egypt as a punishment instead of their parents? No reason given, just how the story is going to go. How can you argue morality of a deity's actions if the decision doesn't really have a basis to begin with anyway? You can't. So why bother arguing the details so much? Now to switch gears for a moment. Why not just smash these religiously ignorant bigots with science and proven fact? I will tell you why. Purposely keeping oneself ignorant, while a dirty tactic, is still a smart one. If you are too ignorant to understand the basics, nay, purposely ignorant to not understand the basics, you are still going to win. Why? Because in ignorance, one can win any fight. Lack of knowledge gives one the authority to reject any answer given. For example, you can't blame someone for not wanting to fly a plane when they don't understand the basic mechanics. For some, aviation is overwhelming in its technical knowledge requirements. Can you really blame everyone out there who doesn't know how to fly a plane for not showing initiative and go to school and learn? I think not. And we purposely decide to stay ignorant for many reasons. To some, physics and the known Universe is so vast a topic, it is overwhelming, much like aviation. They are sticking to what they know when they cite the Bible and quote Jesus. You can only blame them so much. There really are those out there who are too intellectually weak minded to grasp their world. That is why I stay away from fact and fiction arguments with theists for the most part. I find those I do engage on a more scientific level of debate are willing to listen, willing to use rationale, and 98% of the time admit right off the bat that the Bible facts are rather misguided and ill-informed foundations of thought. Really, when arguing, your best line of persuasion is going after the source: God. Not so much whether He exists, but rather, what his definition is, and why the definition isn't possible. See how easily you can dismantle it by making it clear the definition alone makes him impossible to exist.
  25. First of all, welcome new readers! Was terrific hearing from several of you this week and sharing your thoughts! A quick introduction might be in order since there are so many new faces around here. I'm an Atheist who used to be a fundamentalist Christian. I enjoy discussing matters of science, religion, quackery and sometimes philosophy so that's what you'll find here on this blog. With that said, let's get on with today's discussion: Atheism, is it really a moral cop out? No, by far, it is the ultimate in taking responsibility for your life! It is an understanding that YOU are solely responsible for your actions and the consequences thereof, good or bad. It is an acceptance that there are things in life you cannot control, and you have to either move on from them or let them rule your life. It is understanding YOU are the architect of your life, not a supreme being that will either reward or punish you later on when you die. Still, many theists try to say that if you are atheist, you are immoral. Why? Well, because theists are taught early on that if it weren't for God, there wouldn't be morality. Therefore, if there isn't God in your life, you must be immoral. Kind of a quacky attitude isn't it? Especially if all the atheists were to be deported, we would account for 94% of the National Council of Science, and only 1% of the prison population. Hmmmnn...morality huh? I think what disturbs me the most about the whole morality question is simply stating that if it weren't for God, we wouldn't know right from wrong. Innately, humanity is compassionate for its own kind. Just like other mammals for that matter. Theists really are stretching themselves thin on this one again. Simply because it calls in to the argument that their opinion is strictly based on their belief in God, and again there isn't any proof. Why do we as atheists have to simply believe what is said by hundreds of different authors over the course of at least 300 centuries of writing, rewriting, ommittance, and recantations, as proof of a divine being? Basing a whole religion on "faith"? Seems kind of shady don't you think? I might as well go and buy that gallon of gasoline and drink it to cure cancer on "faith", right? Absolutely not! Why? Because we know gasoline is harmful! I wonder how we figured that one out. Couldn't have had anything to do with science? If God sends another prophet to earth and says there are new commandments, including one that says it is okay to steal another's wife, murder your neighbors and totally disrespect your parents, you would have to do it? Or would you say wait a minute! Where's your proof our God said this? A lot of the Bible's testimony are from "private" encounters with the Lord. No proof necessary because they wrote it in with a collection of other "private" encounters? Get off the crack pipe people! I find that living in the now, and accepting that where I am in life are because of choices I made is a true way to be divine. God is YOU. God is your conscience telling you,"Jack ass! What did you do that for! Now you have to repair this relationship!" or "Man, that felt good! I think we should work here at the soup kitchen next Christmas!" Why do you need to have a supreme being give you rewards or punishment when it is obvious you deal with that here on earth everyday? I've been abused by a Christian, and because he had the Lord's forgiveness, he doesn't need mine. THAT sounds rather immoral to me. I have hurt two very important people close to me, and for the last 7 years I have been trying to get my shit together so I can be there for them like I am supposed to be. NOT because God is going to punish me later for it. Fuck God, he isn't my family that I have to spend my lifetime with. He isn't my peers next door seeing and judging what I do. And please spare me the whole "we don't judge because we're Christian" argument. History has very well shown the opposite of that. Ultimately, RELIGION is the cop out. You pray for forgiveness, you kinda sorta make things right with people you fuck over, but as long as you are forgiven by God, it doesn't matter anyway. It would seem that the whole atheism is a cop out argument is simply a projected denial on the part of the theists. As usual, faced with hard truths, theists try to find a way to avoid the reality of consequences, relationships, and death. Or basically, LIFE.