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Get out of jail free… almost.

The Onion has a great satire piece that hits the bullseye when it comes to Christian dogma. I’ve written before about how Christianity gives a free pass to sin, but The Onion, as usual, puts its satirical wit to good use and hammers the message home.

The first few months behind bars were the worst of my life. Every night I’d stare into the darkness, waiting for the nightmares, waiting to hear those horrible screams all over again. Even here behind these thick penitentiary walls, there was no hiding from what I’d done to that poor family.

Then, one night, it happened: I lay alone in my cell, my only companion the visions of wickedness that filled my head. Suddenly, there was a light, and somehow the light spoke to me. It was the voice of Jesus Christ. He told me he had died for the sins of mankind and all could find peace through his salvation. Was I ready to repent?

Uh, let me think about that for a sec. Yup!

It was a stroke of unbelievable luck. Here I thought I’d spend the rest of my life agonizing over that night I broke into a random house and methodically tortured all five of its residents, but Jesus was like, “Nah, you’re good.” He took all those years I expected to wallow in suffocating guilt for having forced a mother to choose the order in which I strangled her children and wiped them away in a jiff.

Which is ironic because the family I murdered in cold blood was praying to Jesus like crazy the whole time.

It gets better… and really shows the horrid problem with Christianity. It really says that you can do whatever you want and all you have to do is accept Jesus and confess your sins and everything is put right. It’s a free pass to engage in abhorrent behavior. (more…)

Creation Museum – The Last Adam

The Paleontologist At the end of the Creation Museum’s “Walk Through History,” they show a video, The Last Adam, that encompasses their final three C’s of History… Christ, Cross, and Consummation. If you’ve read my six-part write-up of the museum, you’ll understand that, by this time, I was worn out from keeping myself from bursting out with ridiculing laughter or derisive criticisms of the museums disturbingly shoddy “science.” So, in a way, it was nice to just sit in a dark room to passively watch a video instead of walking the halls and reading ridiculous plaques that bastardized science.

Sadly, I didn’t get much respite from the shenanigans.

The Last Adam talks about Jesus, his crucifixion, and his resurrection… sort of. It talks about a lot of other stuff, too. It starts off with the paleontologist (who we’d seen in other videos) holding a T-Rex tooth, “a relic now,” he says. But it reminds him of “something real… something powerful.” He then picks up a bible and says (predictably)…

Now this book some people think it’s just an old relic, too. Tales and stories from another time and place. Not to me. This is written by someone who was actually there.

I’m not sure what being written by someone “who was actually there” has to do with it… or why that makes the book more important to him. He doesn’t elaborate. The video does, however, by quoting from 2 Timothy 3:16.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

It’s the classic “the bible is true because it says so” ploy and the paleontologist says that he believes all of it.

Sacrificing lambs for the children The video is structured so that it brings up things that were seen earlier in the museum… the paleontologist, the dinosaurs, Adam, sin, death, etc. Bible verses are displayed and quoted throughout as the narration continues. The main point of the video is, of course, that Jesus came to Earth to die for our sins, cleaning up the unholy mess the “first” Adam created 4,000 years before… when T-Rexes were vegetarians.

There’s an segment where Mary speaks of her childhood and the sacrificing of lambs… and how the angels came and told her that God was going to get her pregnant… and that her son would be Jesus… and would be called a lamb. Nice sacrificial circle. She seemed a bit bitter about it.

Jesus suffering There’s also a testimony of a Roman Centurion who was there when Jesus was crucified (“Actual Footage” as Penn and Teller would say) talking about how Jesus said, “Forgive them father. They don’t know what they’re doing” and then said “It is finished” and then died. Strangely, there was no mention of Matthew and Mark saying that Jesus also said, “Father, why have you forsaken me?” I guess that didn’t fit into the whole “God’s Plan” scenario they were trying to convey.

What is really striking about this video is the blood. From the sacrificial lambs to the scenes of Jesus being beaten and hung on the cross, it’s a mini Christian gore-fest. There are multiple scenes of a hammer coming down to pound the spikes through Jesus’ hands.

Pounding spikes Now, I’m not squeamish, but this is a “family museum” and there are little kids watching this. It’s appalling. Not only is the blood and gore inappropriate for young children. It’s a horrifying thing to show this to children and then tell them that they must worship this god and revere this religion that so glorifies blood and death.

More blood! More blood! If the museum is trying to show the greatness of the Christian religion, they’re failing. What they do with this video, however, is portray the death cult mentality that this religion so vehemently embraces. It’s a very high production value synopsis of Christianity: create a problem and then offer a solution, but make sure there’s lots of blood, suffering, and death.

The end consists of a summary by the paleontologist where he delivers the message that God’s gift is eternal life through Jesus  (Christians have an odd definition for “gift” but perhaps that’s a topic for another post).

Here are some of his lines.

The power and plan of God were demonstrated when Jesus conquered death. He rose from the dead. His resurrection was witnessed by over 500 people.

Strangely enough, the only place we hear about the resurrection being witnessed by 500 people is in the bible. Self-referential evidence is no evidence at all, I’m afraid.

But in Jesus we can find life and live forever with him in a new world that God is preparing where there will be no more sin or suffering or death.

I find it odd that God wasn’t able to create that kind of world the first time. If he can do it now, why couldn’t he do it then?

In the Garden of Eden in the dawn of creation, God looked upon all he made and said it was very good… perfect… but the first Adam polluted it and because of him all things were broken. The world’s still reeling from that first act of rebellion. But in the last Adam, Jesus, all things will be made new. The first Adam brought sin and death into the world, but the last Adam, Jesus Christ, brings life to the world.

Jesus on the cross That sounds like scapegoating to me. In the bible, God created everything and set Adam up to fail, knowing that he would fail and “screw up” this “perfect” creation. That’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination unless you’re a pulp crime fiction author. The whole paragraph is just absurd when you consider Christian theology.

The final verse is one of the most dogmatically horrible verses in the bible, in my opinion.

If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. – Romans 10:9

This is the verse that negates any worthwhile concept of morality that the bible has to offer. This one verse is what gives Christians a free pass to sin their entire lives away with, in their theology, no consequences. No matter what they do, no matter how horrible their crimes, no matter how depraved their actions, no matter how many people they hurt, no matter the harm they do in the world… all they have to do is confess and believe in Jesus, and Christian theology teaches that they are saved and going to Heaven.

That is abominable.

Poor Ray Comfort

Ray Comfort in FlamesAnyone who’s seen Ray Comfort speak or has read anything he’s written knows pretty well that he’s a couple bananas short of a bunch. Aside from the mind-dizzying irrationality of his assertions, he moves firmly into the land of untruth when it comes to speaking about the Theory of Evolution. So far so, that according to Ray’s own preaching, he’s going to Hell.

You’ve heard his shtick. It’s the same one that Kirk Cameron uses. He’ll approach someone and ask him if he’s a good person. Then he’ll proceed to ask if the mark has ever lied, stolen, taken the Lord’s name in vain, or committed adultery (based on his biblical definition). Of course, then he’ll tell the mark that he’s a lying, blaspheming, adulterous thief and is going to Hell… unless… and then Ray gives the whole Jesus solution.

I recently watched a YouTube video of Ray doing some open-air preaching in what might be Huntington Beach (he preaches there a lot, evidently). After the regular bit mentioned above and some of his classic religion-based drivel, he starts talking about evolution and goes way off into the realm of grand liars.


Ted Haggard and the Sparkling Gem of Hypocrisy

Ted HaggardI just finished watching the Alexandra Pelosi documentary The Trials Of Ted Haggard. Before watching this documentary, I had always felt that Ted Haggard had gotten what was coming to him. I had an empathetic feeling of sorrow for his wife and five children, but thought that he deserved the public scorn and humiliation that was assailing him. After watching this documentary, my opinion changed a little bit.

Now make no mistake, Ted Haggard did lead a life of double standards to be sure. There is video example after example of his preaching that homosexuals are sinners who need help, and all the while he was using methamphetamines and partaking in the massage skills of Mr. Mike Jones, a known homosexual prostitute.

Believe it or not, this obvious breach of pastoral etiquette is not the hypocrisy to which the title of this story refers.

No. I am, in fact, referring to the hypocritical treatment that the Haggard family et al, received from their New Life Ministry “leaders.” Once again, allow me to be crystal clear that I am not defending Ted Haggard. He got what was coming. I just found it over-the-top crazy that these religious leaders felt the best way to shepherd their lost sheep (Haggard) back into the fold was to publicly humiliate him and force his family into a settlement requiring exile from the state of Colorado.

I am not a Christian but I do believe this is not what Jesus would have done (I also believe that rising from the dead was something that Jesus would not have done…but I digress). These leaders are men who preach forgiveness, loving the sinner but hating the sin, and the power of redemption. The best they could come up with was exile? Now we’re getting biblical.

Did Haggard wander around a desert after his exodus? Yes… although it wasn’t Egypt and it didn’t take 40 years. Haggard explains how he enjoyed going to the desert in Arizona, reading scripture, and praying to God for guidance.

Here is what I believe was the bottom line. Reverend Ted’s actions could undermine the faith of New Life Ministry’s parishioners (customers) and the leaders (religious business men) of New Life Ministries didn’t want their church (business) to be tainted (drop in revenue) because of  Reverend Ted’s behavior.

If I were a parishioner of the New Life Ministry I would be just as ashamed of its leaders as I was of Reverend Ted.

Tony Blair at the National Prayer Breakfast

During the National Prayer Breakfast, which itself causes some consternation among atheists, former Prime Minister Tony Blair gave a speech stating that “restoring religious faith to its rightful place” is crucial to our world’s future.

There’s a clip on YouTube of part of his speech. I listened to it today and was saddened. While his speech was definitely appropriate for the venue, it highlighted some things that many atheists (and some non-atheists) feel are huge barriers to civil, benevolent behavior and scientific progress in our world.

I believe restoring religious faith to its rightful place as the guide to our world and its future is itself of the essence.

The 21st century will be poorer in spirit, meaner in ambition, less disciplined in conscience, if it is not under the guardianship of faith in God.

I beg to differ. I think recent history has demonstrated, rather vividly, just the opposite. From the atrocities in Iraq (before and after the U.S. invasion) to the situation between Israelis and Palestinians to the oppression in Saudi Arabia to the sexual indiscretions of Catholic priests, religious faith has undeniably demonstrated its function as a catalyst for mean-spirited ambition, inexcusable behavior, subjugation of human rights, and horrid acts of violence.


License to Sin

Anyone who’s been an atheist for more than a few weeks has heard the accusation that without religion, there’s no basis for morality. Therefore, we’re told, we can run around like crazed hedonists, raping, stealing, and killing to our hearts’ content. We know it’s nonsense and generally speaking, the person who makes the accusation must know it’s nonsense, too, because it’s just not happening.

What I find ironic is that religion provides the biggest license to sin that any self-respecting, lascivious, lusting hedonist could possibly wish for. Atheism, having no dogma (since it’s not a religion and is purely the lack of belief in a deity), gives no free pass. Because of that, atheists must maintain a much higher interest in practicing moral behavior than religious folks do.