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Ignore Probability & Logic, Just Take It On Faith!

funny-picture-1142018091Let’s suppose you had knowledge of an impending storm that had the potential to destroy everything in its path. This very same storm was 24 hours away. What would you do to spread the message to your family, friends, and neighbors? You might phone them, email them, drive to find them or tell everyone you know to spread the word. All rational, sensible actions to take. Would you quietly call just one person and tell him to secretly meet you so that he could pass your message on for you?

This is exactly what we are meant to believe God did. With our eternal salvation on the line, God chose to speak in secret with one person at a time (Moses, Abraham, Joseph Smith, etc.) in order to spread the word. Convenient that for most of God’s or his minion’s appearances there weren’t many or any witnesses.

We are told that Jesus was born by an immaculate conception. Says who, Mary? How difficult would it be for a woman who may have bore another man’s child without the knowledge or, I’m assuming, consent of her husband to lie? Is this really that difficult to believe? Remember this was the bronze age, a time period filled with illiterate and ignorant people ruled more by superstition than reason. Imagine further that to keep up the subterfuge upon his birth, the child is told he is the son of God and was born from a virgin mother. The lie becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

Am I suggesting this is what happened? No. I don’t know and neither do you or anyone (I’m talking to you Christians) who suggests they do. I do believe that this is FAR more plausible a foundational story for Christianity than Jesus being born of a virgin mother, curing the blind, walking on water, dying on the cross and resurrecting three days later thereby washing away all my naughty deeds. This leads us to the title of this article, religion is a setup.

Why would a God purposely put into motion a set of circumstances so preposterous, so witness-less, and then penalize mankind for not following it blindly; and by blindly, I mean just on faith. Think about it. If you were going to hold people eternally accountable for their actions, wouldn’t you at least give them reasonable assurances that what they were being asked to do was what you truly intended for them to do? You wouldn’t leave your true meaning shrouded in mystery . Your expectations would be clearly defined and verifiable.

You would never couch something so important in riddles and decades old hearsay. If there truly was an all powerful and all knowing God, he/she wouldn’t either.

God Hates Children

God told me to!

In the Indian village of Solapur, residents mark the birth of a new child by tossing the newborn from a 50 foot Muslim shrine onto a sheet below. The bizarre tradition is over 500 years old.

God has ordered some pretty despicable things to be done during his tenure over mankind. The destruction of entire cities, blights, plagues, multiple smitings, disease, pestilence, and genocidal floods. It’s an impressive resume by any mass murderer’s reckoning to be sure but there’s more! God loves to torture and kill children or gutlessly order his minions to torture and kill children.

Every night on the evening news we hear about murder, rape or any number of brutal crimes being committed.  Horrible to be sure but society does become immune. Rarely is the water cooler abuzz with talk of any but the most disgusting of these crimes, unless a child is involved. Our society finds, rightfully so, that crimes such as this involving children are of the most heinous nature. It’s a fact that more often than not, child predators are the first to be beaten or killed by their fellow inmates once incarcerated. Even criminals agree that these choice individuals are fair game for a rather rude introduction into our penal system. God help himself should he ever take up residence within the American penal system, for he would certainly be due a beating.

God has always had a special place in his heart for children. I suppose that’s why he at times singles them out for his own particular brand of cruelty and barbarism. Jesus may “love the little children” but God…not so much. Here’ s some of God’s greatest hits:

  1. In the name of God, Jewish males have the grand fortune of being subjected to ritualistic genital mutilation.
  2. Children who fall ill are medically neglected by those of the Jehovah’s Witness cult.
  3. Children are tossed off buildings in parts of India for good luck.

These are examples of a modern day misinterpretation of God’s will by man, you say? These are not actions that God would ever have endorsed, you say? Nice try. These are actually rather “meek and mild” examples of God’s depravity. We can look to God’s divinely inspired instruction manual, the bible, for some of his most horrid and genocidal greatest hits.

    Do not withhold discipline from your children; if you beat them with a rod, they will not die. If you beat them with the rod, you will save their lives from Sheol.
    (Prov. 23:13-14)
    Pardon me if I don’t begin singing, “My God is an Awesome God”. God is not only in favor of strict discipline but he fully endorses all out beatings.
    From there Elisha went up to Bethel.  While he was on his way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him.  “Go up baldhead,” they shouted, “go up baldhead!”  The prophet turned and saw them, and he cursed them in the name of the Lord.  Then two shebears came out of the woods and tore forty two of the children to pieces. (2 Kings 2:23-24 NAB)
    God  only knows what he would have done had the small boys taken his name in vain. Maybe he could have resurrected them and killed them twice. …”my God is an awesome God”…(keep singing, keep singing).
    If even then you remain hostile toward me and refuse to obey, I will inflict you with seven more disasters for your sins.  I will release wild animals that will kill your children and destroy your cattle, so your numbers will dwindle and your roads will be deserted. (Leviticus 26:21-22 NLT)
    NO, not the cattle!! Yes in God’s eye the loss of children is equated with the loss of one’s livestock.
    I could continue in this same vein, citing example after example of God’s pitiless hatred for those who are weak and guiltless but I think you get the point. I haven’t even begun to touch on all of the instances where God ordered the death of children for the inequities of the parents or their parent’s parents. God’s big on generational smiting.
    A society can often be judged on how it treats its weaker members. How a civilization treats its handicapped or helpless children can tell you a lot about that civilization’s foundational morality.  Christians love to suggest that God provides society with a moral compass and that atheists are immoral. Well I don’t kill, mutilate or maim helpless children. I don’t order others to do what I don’t have the guts to do myself, while holding eternal damnation over the heads of my witless  accomplices and I don’t worship anyone who does.
    If these forementioned acts are the acts of the loving Christian God then I want nothing to do with him or his ignorant, mentally retarded followers who would support such cruelty. Make no mistake, to be a Christian means you DO support these acts. The bible is allegedly the inspired word of God and is therefore infallible. You simply CAN’T be a Christian without believing God is omniscient and  omnipotent. If you truly consider yourself to be a Christian you are a willing supporter of all of these vicious decrees.
    …”my God is an awesome God”…(keep singing, keep singing)

A Visit to Borders Books

Borders Books and Music I had a 25% off coupon for Borders that expired today, so I headed there to pick up a couple books. I ended up getting (among other things) Losing My Religion by William Lobdell and 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God by Guy P. Harrison. I also picked up The Real Face of Atheism by Ravi Zacharias to see what kind of straw men he was going to set up for his attack.

When I got to the checkout counter, the woman ringing me up paused briefly to look at 50 Reasons and then paused longer to look at the cover when she was bagging my items. I smiled and said, "That one seems to fascinate you, huh?"

She looked up and smiled and said (a bit tentatively), "Yeah. I’m kind of an agnostic. You know, I could go either way. The books in the religion section can be pretty interesting."

I nodded in agreement and simply said, "I’m an atheist."

The reaction was priceless. Her whole face lit up and she said, "Oh, our atheist section has some really great books! The God Delusion and The Portable Atheist… I haven’t read those yet, but I’ve read some of the others."

I told her that The God Delusion was, indeed, very good and that The Portable Atheist was a huge collection of essays, also very good. I think she mentioned one other book in the atheist section, but I don’t recall which one. It was as if she’d found a kindred spirit. Her statement about agnosticism was very tentative and casual, something a disinterested person would have just said "Oh" to, but after I said I was an atheist, she very nearly gushed with enthusiasm.

It was refreshing… and heartening.

Ray Comfort and Divine Injustice

876335-god_made_it_superMost evangelical bible thumpers are a parody of themselves and as such, pose little or no harm to a moderately rational person. There are however, those who appear to be well meaning , normal folk who just want to do the “Lord’s” work and help people. Many of these worry me. They appear to be harmless and as such, are left alone.

There is one man who seems to pop up on my early warning crackpot radar more than any others, that man is Ray Comfort. Ray Comfort is the man who developed the theory that the banana is inspired proof of God’s existence.I do not think Ray “Banana Man” Comfort (here after referred to as BM) is either well meaning or normal. I have spent hours watching videos of BM.

Bm has mastered the art of linguistically manipulating people. BM likes to establish an absolute such as,”lying is a sin and punishable by God”. BM then asks his prey if they have ever lied in their life. I dare say NO one is capable of saying they have not. Bm has now established you have broken a commandment ( false witness), are a liar and are due punishment from the almighty.  He then tries to summarize his point by using an ignorant analogy.

Bm says, “You have broken your “legal” contract with God. If this were in court you would be found guilty and punished”.  Bm seems to forget that in the real world we have varying degrees of guilt for different crimes, that’s why we take into account intent for sentencing purposes. We would not punish a man who steals a loaf of bread to feed his starving family the same way we punish someone like Bernie Madoff. These are two drastically different levels of theft with drastically different levels of intent and premeditation. Bm actually tells those he speaks with in his open air preaching fests that a lie is a lie in God’s eyes. If you have lied you’re a liar, period.

What kind of God would punish a person who has lived a relatively honorable and altruistic life but told a few white lies, the same as a lying, cheating pedophile? It’s the type of God created in the two dimensional, black and white mind of primitive man. The same kind of simplistic mind that would suggest that banana’s are proof that God exists and wants us to get plenty of potassium.

Ray “The Banana Man” Comfort -VS- …The Vatican?

ray-bananaThere is an article on The Living Waters website about “The Banana Man’s” (hereafter referred to as BM) disagreement with the Vatican’s “endorsement” of evolution.  Yes, in February the Vatican officially endorsed the notion that Darwinian evolution is compatible with the Bible’s account of Genesis. BM decided to take the gloves off and evoke the written testimony of non other than…wait for it…JESUS! Yes, I said Jesus. BM actually said:

Ray Comfort, author of the hottest Christian book on Amazon, “You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence But You Can’t Make Him Think,” points out Jesus himself backed up the Genesis account of Creation when he said, “In the beginning God created them male and female.”

 Well, that seals the deal! I didn’t know Jesus said it. I think BM was serious too. BM would make a great prosecuting attorney, “Your Honor, allow me to call forward my next witness to this terrible homicide…the tooth fairy. The tooth fairy herself was hovering above the house of the victim and will back up the prosecution’s account of how the murder took place”. Calling forth Jesus as a witness to the validity of creation is like verifying the existence of Santa’s workshop by …asking Santa. I can’t understand why anyone even listens to BM. Every time I hear or read anything he says I find myself confounded by his sophomoric ramblings. Here is BM’s next revelation:

“But the Vatican has chosen to officially believe Darwin rather than Jesus,” added Comfort. “That belief reveals a shallow understanding of the claims of atheistic evolution. God gave us six senses, and the sixth one is common sense. That one doesn’t get used when it comes to Darwin’s theory. And that’s the problem – its devoted believers don’t think too deeply. That’s why I wrote the book. It shows that Darwin’s theory is a fantasy – a ridiculous and unscientific fairy tale for grownups.”

BM suggests (in his support of Genesis) that Darwin’s theories are, “fantasy – a ridiculous and unscientific fairy tale for grownups.” Yes, one of the biggest evangelical proponents of creationism (Adam’s “rib”+ God =Woman) believes that Darwin’s theories are a, “…fairy tale for grownups”.  Truly boggles the mind.

The story ends with a commercial to promote the sale of BM’s books. He has written over sixty. Nice little business BM has going. Remember what Jesus said BM, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” I know it’s true because Jesus said so!

Attack and Defense

Imagine No Religion - FFRF BillboardOne annoyingly common accusation levelled against atheists is that they “preach” atheism with evangelical fervor and promote atheism in an attempt to rid the world of religion. There are various versions of this claim, but a common thread is an implication that atheists have suddenly decided to make their lack of belief known by attacking the poor persecuted Christians (or Muslims or Jews, etc).

A couple days ago, I read this opinion piece by Reverend Eric Strachan which makes a similar accusation with special emphasis on the recent bus ad campaigns in London, Calgary, and Toronto. He mentions “the Christian era,” referring to something that was in the past.

In the Christian era there was a bit of a stigma associated with not believing in the existence of God, but in this postmodern era, with the focus on individual autonomy, and a move away from institutional religion, atheists by the score have come out of the closet, and they’re “preaching it, brother,” with evangelical fervour!

He seems to imply that we no longer live in “the Christian era.” It seems an absurd statement in a country where 85% of citizens are still admittedly some type of Christian… where Christians are continually making attempts to create legislation based on their 2,000-year-old holy book… where sham science organizations like the Discovery Institute continue to push their agenda to destroy science education in this country in favor of the supernatural.

As for the “stigma” involved, there is no minority group with a more negative stigma than atheists. In repeated surveys, atheists rank significantly below African-Americans, Jews, Muslims, and homosexuals in public acceptance. So Reverend Strachan’s statement seems to indicate a bit of ignorance regarding the current social stigma associated with atheism.

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Obnoxious and Rude? Definitely.

This month, the Freedom From Religion Foundation erected two new billboards in honor of Charles Darwin, one of them in Dover, Pennsylvania which is about 15 minutes away from where I live and where I grew up. Today, in our local paper, there was an opinion editorial by Larry Hicks, a regular contributor to the paper. In it, he accuses the FFRF of being a “gloating winner” and that by putting the billboard in Dover, they are being obnoxious and rude.

I responded via a letter to the editor and decided to post my letter here as well.

In the February 4th edition of The York Dispatch, Larry Hicks wrote a Viewpoint editorial concerning the newly erected “Praise Darwin” billboard in Dover. While I agree with Mr. Hicks that  both sides of the Evolution/Creationism(or Intelligent Design… same thing) debate tend to get a bit touchy about opposing views and freedom of speech, there are a number of common misconceptions perpetuated in his editorial that I would like to clarify.

First, the issue of “Evolution versus Creationism” is not a debate between Christians and atheists. It’s a debate between Creationists and Evolutionists. Framing it as a debate between Christians and atheists not only trivializes the issue by stereotyping each side, but it is inaccurate and dishonest. Not all those who accept the Theory of Evolution are atheists. Far from it (Biology professor Kenneth R. Miller, a key witness for the plaintiffs in the Dover trial, is a Roman Catholic). Nor are all those who do not accept it Christians. The sides consist of those who accept the scientific evidence with its resulting theory and those who do not.

In addition, though the “battle” was won in the Dover case (though not by the FFRF, which was not involved), it is absolutely not over, and the Creationism proponents have most assuredly not “accepted their loss” or “licked their wounds and moved on.” Since the Dover verdict, there have been multiple challenges throughout the country related to this exact issue, one just recently in Texas. The Creationist movement refuses to give up, instead continuing their attempts to corrupt the teaching of science by claiming that supernatural explanations should be placed on equal footing with exhaustively researched evidence.

So not letting “well enough alone” is an accusation that should be leveled against the Creationist movement. It is because they won’t “let well enough alone” that the scientific community has to continually spend an absurd amount of time defending science against the Creationists’ misinformation.

Though I agree with Mr. Hicks that the display of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s billboard is a freedom of speech issue, the issue of Evolution versus Creationism in our classrooms is not. Nor is it an issue of separation of church and state. It is about education standards and intellectual honesty. Anyone who has followed this issue even passively has probably heard that the scientific community generally has no problems with Creationism being taught in schools in a philosophy class or a comparative religion class. It simply has no place in science class… because it is not science. That is the real issue.

I have no doubt that the Freedom From Religion Foundation chose Dover as one of the locations for their billboards because of the fame that Dover now has due to the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial. I’m sure it’s not personal. It’s not a matter of wanting to “rub salt in the wounds” of Christians in Dover. It’s a matter of effectiveness. Location. Location. Location.

Mr. Hicks says that placing the billboard in Dover is obnoxious and rude and that it has everything to do with respect. He says, “Isn’t that what the non-believers were accusing Dover Christians of five years ago? A lack of respect for their point of view.”

No. It wasn’t. Again Mr. Hicks perpetuates a common misconception. The “non-believers” were accusing the Dover school board of corrupting the science education of their children.

The Creationists continually peddle the idea that supernatural explanations are scientific.

And that is what’s obnoxious.

Looking in the Mirror

The now (in)famous London bus ads which read “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” are about to work their way onto the Toronto Transit System in Canada. As with similar ads in other places, the ads are drawing kudos and complaints from interested parties.

One such complaint came to my attention today via an article on globeandmail.com. It seems that Dr. Charles McVety, president of the Canada Family Action Coalition and the Canada Christian College in Toronto, is claiming that the ads are “attack ads.”

This bit from the article is what really caught my attention (emphasis mine)…

“These ads are not saying what the atheists believe, they are attacking what other people believe,” [McVety] said. “And if you look at the dictionary definition for … bigot, that’s exactly what it is, to be intolerant of someone else’s belief system.”

First, I’d like to point out that the ads specifically do say what atheists believe… there’s probably no God. That’s pretty straightforward and unambiguous.

The major point, however, is McVety’s statement about bigotry. This man, who is complaining about an atheist statement by calling it an attack, whose group, the Canada Family Action Coalition, fought against the legalization of same-sex marriage,  and who is a “prominent evangelical leader” according to the article, has the audacity to accuse someone else of bigotry? His statement is a bald-faced example of classic hypocrisy.

Sadly, however, it’s not an uncommon example of hypocrisy. It’s all too common. Fundamentalists who make accusations of bigotry need to first look in the mirror before opening their mouths.

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.

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Attempted “Logic” Fails

On the website CantonRep.com, Ron L. Dalpiaz wrote a letter to the editor about the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s “Imagine No Religion” billboard in Canton, Ohio. The letter appeared on December 18th, 2008.

Mr. Dalpiaz evidently does not approve of the billboard, nor does he approve or agree with the FFRF’s Annie Laurie Gaylor’s comments about religion. That’s understandable. I don’t always agree with everything she says, either, even though I’m a FFRF member. One of the wonderful things about this country (the USA) is our freedom to disagree and express our disagreement. The First Amendment of our Constitution guarantees that.

In that light, I would like to point out the logical failings of Mr. Dalpiaz’s statements and show that, in numerous cases, his statements are the exact opposite of what is actually true. Sadly, I see this kind of illogical rhetoric all the time and it’s frustrating to say the least.

Here’s the letter (quoted) along with my comments.

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