Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bible translations and divine revelation

I have written separately on this issue, and so I have decided in this post to put all of my various reasons why the bible is unreliable as a source of history or divine knowledge. My eighteen years of study has led me to believe that there is no such thing as a divine or divinely inspired text. The main reasoning behind this is that the written word is such an inadequate means of a deity trying to reveal him or herself to mankind.

Anyone who is bilingual can attest to the difficulty of having to translate ideas or works from one language to another. The fact that the bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek makes it easy to lose itself in translation when doing so to any other language. Not to mention that those languages have changed and evolved as languages tend to do and therefore some of the words of the ancient texts had different and multiple meanings than they do now.

According to an excellent article on this matter, there are over 500 translations of the bible in the English language alone! This article cites several problems (eight to be exact) with biblical translations which I will paraphrase here for the sake of brevity.

1.       No original manuscript of any biblical book has survived!
2.       The extant (existing) manuscripts contain numerous textual variations!
3.       Important old manuscripts were found in the last 200 years!
4.       The meanings of some biblical texts are unknown or uncertain!
5.       Ancient languages are very different from modern languages!
6.       Every “translation” is already inevitably an “interpretation”!
7.       All living languages continually change and develop over time!
8.       Cultural developments require new sensitivities in language!

The first and most important point makes it quite clear why the written word is in and of itself and inadequate means reveal divine knowledge to man. Combine that reason with eight and you have a pretty solid case. Reading ancient texts requires knowledge of the culture and practices of the people from which these works are derived. Without it you are basically reading and interpreting everything you read incorrectly and out of context.

Point six in the previous list also makes and excellent point; all translations are interpretations! Not only are you trying to interpret the text and its meaning, but you must also interpret it in its original cultural context. 

Finally, Thomas Pain in his book ‘The Age of Reason’ also made an excellent point regarding revelations. He said:

“for the sake of a case, that something has been revealed to a certain person, and not revealed to any other person, it is revelation to that person only. When he tells it to a second person, a second to a third, a third to a fourth, and so on, it ceases to be a revelation to all those persons. It is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other, and, consequently, they are not obliged to believe it.”

As seen in the above quote Mr. Paine makes quite an important point by putting the idea of revelation in its proper perspective. Basically, a believer’s faith is not on God or Christ but rather on in this case the unknown authors of the scriptures who claimed to have received their knowledge from a divine source.

When a believer tells me that they believe in the “word of God” I have to correct them and tell them that technically they believe in the word of a slew of anonymous authors who claimed to have received those texts from God. Mormonism is one of today’s modern examples of this in that Joseph Smith claimed to having been visited by an angel Moroni in response to his prayer to God regarding which was the “true” religion. Taken in perspective what is the difference between this and the origins of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam? To the intellectually honest mind there is no difference! It’s the same methodology used in different times to promulgate a religion or belief system.

Regarding translations for those of you that might be interested in reading the article I referred to in passing above in its entirety at the link provided at the end of this paragraph. You will find that it goes into the eight reasons cited above very thoroughly so that you will have a better understanding of the difficulties that translating ancient texts must face. Enjoy it and may you be more enlightened by it, for the article please click here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Isaiah 53 is not about Jesus!

One of the fundamentalist Christian’s favorite Old Testament “proofs” of Christ, is found in chapter 53 of the book of Isaiah, but upon reading this text; I have a different interpretation as to its meaning and usage by the Christian church. I’ve seen others try to explain this text but they tend to get too wordy and turn what should be a simple explanation into a complex matter. Because of this I thought it was high time that I threw my hat into the arena for those who like me like to keep things simple.

As I’ve stated before in earlier posts, Christians love to take texts and verses from the O.T. and quote them out of context in order to validate their beliefs about Christ and Christianity in general. They refer to the old testament for so called prophecies (quote mining) about Jesus  and try to use those to confirm to themselves and anyone else that they could convince that these were in fact evidences that confirm Jesus as the foretold coming messiah.

Isaiah chapter 53 is comprised of twelve verses which appear to describe a man who is made to be a sin offering, he is described as a man of sorrows who upon himself was bearing our (nations of the world) rebellions etc. If you are familiar with the New Testament narratives about the trial and crucifixion of Christ, especially as described in the four gospels you will see the parallels between them and this chapter of Isaiah. But is Isaiah 53 really talking about a man or a coming messiah? Is this apparent prophecy for the world or is this a prophecy about the future of Jerusalem/ Israel? 

The first thing we must do in order to understand this chapter in its correct context is to identify who is this “man” that the prophecy is referring to. In order to understand chapter 53 we must first read chapter 52 where this so called man is identified unequivocally. Isaiah 52:13-15 makes the identity of this suffering servant abundantly clear. After reminding them of their suffering and maltreatment at the hands of the Egyptians and the Assyrian’s Isaiah prophesies that Israel will now rise above it all. 13 Look, my servant will prosper, will grow great, will rise to great heights. Note that in this verse the servant is identified as Jerusalem.

Verses 14 and 15 continue to speak of this servant as if it was referring to a man, but in fact it is still talking about Jerusalem as a whole. Another important thing to remember is that in Isaiah 52:10 it says: ‘Yahweh has bared his holy arm for all the nations to see, and all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.’ Chapter 53:1 confirms that we are still speaking about the same subject and ties the two chapters together: ‘Who has given credence to what we have heard? And who has seen in it a revelation of Yahweh's arm? ‘ In other words through Israel God was going to reveal himself to the world, he was going to be glorified through them.

The rest of chapter 53 continues this trend by referring to Israel/Jerusalem in the singular and not in the plural sense. Another thing to note is that the narrative as translated speaks of the sufferings of this servant in the past tense. No prophecy that is supposed to be about the future refers to the future in the past tense.  Chapter 53 ends with verses 11 and 12 going back into the future tense and once again stating what the future brings to Israel and why they suffered so.  The purpose was so that through them all the nations of the world would come to a knowledge of God and in turn be justified by that knowledge.

In closing, I can say that there is a lot more that can be said about Isaiah 53 but I think that what I have said should suffice to prove that it is about Jerusalem/ Israel and not a prophecy of Jesus Christ. If anyone would like to get a more thorough yet more technical interpretation of this I recommend that you read an article on the matter by Rabbi Moshe Shulman here. In parting this also goes to prove what I said initially; that Christians like to take texts out of context to promote their beliefs in Jesus as being the messiah.  In fact, the entire life of Jesus in my opinion has been reconstructed by utilizing many texts from the Old Testament therefore negating the belief that Jesus Christ was an historical figure.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Old Testament and the New Testament

When I was a believer I saw the Old Testament as more of a prophetic text and the New Testament as the fulfillment of those prophecies. Eighteen years later as a learned atheist I no longer believe in prophecy of any kind, and have had to rethink my views regarding the old and new testaments of the bible. I remember the days when I relied on what I believed to be the Holy Spirit's guidance in my understanding and interpretation of the scriptures. I got goose bumps when I read a text and had what I believed at the time to be a revelation through the scriptures. I still have those moments but I no longer get goose bumps because I recognize them for what they are; a moment of clarity.

One bad habit that Christians in particular have is that they like to interpret Old Testament scriptures out of context and apply them to their beliefs. They call them fulfilled prophecies of events that allegedly occurred as described in their N.T. scriptures. It has been my contention for years that the fact that the bible is subject to human interpretation is one of many reasons why I don't believe that the book is of divine origin or divinely inspired.

The fact that even among Judaism there are many sects that have arisen from the original form of Judaism as is the case with Christianity is a testament against the church that their book is divine. All of these sects grew out of disagreements on interpretation of texts and doctrines. That there were already divisions in the early church was made evident when Paul was addressing the church of Corinth in Corinthians 1:10,11 10 Brothers, I urge you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, not to have factions among yourselves but all to be in agreement in what you profess; so that you are perfectly united in your beliefs and judgements.11 From what Chloe's people have been telling me about you, brothers, it is clear that there are serious differences among you. (NJB)

As demonstrated above Christianity was already having issues with unity from its beginnings. Today there are around 38,000 Christian denominations in the world! You can read about this and some other facts about Christianity in an article on right here. This contradicts what the author of John claims Jesus allegedly said about the Holy Spirit being the guide to truth to all those who believe in John 16:13,14.

Based on the evidence of religions and their growths and their relativity to ancient mythology, I have come to the conclusion that new religions are created by borrowing from older religions and myths. The Hebrews were influenced heavily by ancient Babylonian, Assyrian, and possibly other myths and since Christianity borrowed from the Hebrew myths they also share some of the same influences. If you think of Jesus as a mythical fabrication then it stands to reason that they would create him as the fulfillment of the previous myths they hoped to supplant.

A careful study of the Old Testament as compared to the New would make it quite apparent that many of the sayings attributed to Jesus were ripped directly from the Old Testament. There is an excellent article on this subject that deals with the historicity of Jesus right here. Be warned though! This article is very thorough and pretty long so read it carefully and take your time with it. In fact it's in two parts, so when you are done with the first part you can find the link to the second part right on the page itself.

In the end the New Testament as the Old and other former religions are nothing more than a conglomeration of ancient plagiarized myths. I would not be surprised if long after I'm gone Christianity becomes a thing of the past and is subsequently supplanted by a new religion.

In closing, this article demonstrates clearly that myths/religions simply build upon one another and like all things change and evolve according to the culture into which they are introduced. Religion is a creation of man, thus gods are a creation of men, and like men they are subject to change. There is nothing divine about the process.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A highly recommended site!

To all of my followers, both subscribers to this blog and non-subscribers I would like to take a moment in this short post to tell you about a site that I think is very beneficial to all of us. As you can see on the side bar I have added a new badge that states that I am a member or What is Well, it’s literally a social networking site for bloggers, and as such a great place for all of my fellow bloggers to be able like myself to advertise your blog and thus bring more traffic to your blog and gain more subscribers.

Aside from what I have just said purebloggers is much more than just a site for bloggers,  its main page states that it’s a site for blog owners, blog readers, companies, bands, artists, and sellers. On this site you are given the ability to advertise your personal blog and if you don’t have one you can also discover many other blogs that suit your personal interests. You can also advertise giveaways, sell products, conduct polls, participate in their many forums, share videos and blog links etc. 

Like any other social network you can also make friends and post comments on other peoples posts. One other feature is that you can link your contacts from twitter, facebook, windows live, etc. to your account on purebloggers. The best thing about this site is that it is absolutely free of charge! I highly recommend this site to every one of you that have been coming to my blog since I first started it over a year ago. As a blogger I can definitely admit to the fact that when it comes to advertising your blog and getting more traffic; that we can use all the help we can get.  Please take a moment to visit the site and sign up here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Saved from what?

A couple of years after I renounced my former faith and accepted the fact that I was an atheist, I started to think about the concept of salvation. Christianity claims absolute truth when it comes to their beliefs, and they view other religions as false "delusions" of the world or Satan; in order to trick the world into not believing the "truth" as taught by their texts and beliefs.

As a fundamentalist evangelist my go to text to affirm the above beliefs was John 14:6 where Jesus supposedly said: " I am the Way; I am Truth and Life. No one can come to the Father except through me." This verse cites one way and that one way to salvation is only through Christ. Obviously it excludes all other beliefs and religious systems. The biblical God is the one and only true god despite the probably thousands of gods and religions that preceded both Judaism and Christianity. This makes this claim from Christianity not only arrogant but exclusive. There is no such thing as freedom of religion for Christians unless that religion is their religion!

This is made apparent by what is considered to be one of the pillars of Christianity in John 3:16,17 where the author of the gospel of John states: 16 'For this is how God loved the world: he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
17 For God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but so that through him the world might be saved.' According to these verses the fate of the world rests entirely on the person of Christ and his so called "sacrifice" for the sins of mankind.

There are certain words in Christianity that I personally think are not real words and would not make any sense outside of a religious context. One such word is sin; sin is nothing more than doing those things that are offensive to God. For sin to have any meaning you would first have to believe that God as defined by Christianity exists. Once you become an atheist this and many other words lose sense or meaning. In order for me to be "saved" for instance, I would have to accept that I am a poor, lowly, pathetic sinner in need of salvation and of God's approval.

According to the scriptures I would have to give up my reason and common sense and accept that Jesus Christ rose from the dead! In 1 Corinthians 15:17 it states the following: 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is pointless and you have not, after all, been released from your sins. So the death and resurrection of Christ is key to Christianity and salvation. Based on what I have shown here; in order to be saved you have to believe in the improbable and the absurd.

Salvation as taught by Christianity when analyzed critically is a problem that originated with God and ends with your belief in his so called solution to the problem of his own making. But that's is a story for another post some other time. But once you reject a belief in the biblical God, sin, and the need for salvation then you don't need it. I don't feel the need for an imaginary sky daddy to grovel and cry to in my times of despair. I don't see myself as corrupt or vile but rather as a great guy and a moral person without a belief in God or gods.

In conclusion, I have to ask what do I need to be saved from? Let's see, I need to be saved from Christians trying to make their ridiculous beliefs and divine laws part of my country's laws. I need to be saved from believers trying to shove their delusions down my throat every day of every hour. I need to be saved from discrimination caused by my lack of belief in our nations largest religious group. The biblical God is not a threat to me, it's his believers that I have to deal with on a daily basis and they are the ones I need to be saved from!

Monday, March 19, 2012

The fear of God from a fundamentalist perspective

In keeping with the theme of my previous post, I have decided to do some research on the very real mental phenomenon known as a fear of gods; in this case, the Christian God. Although this analysis can apply to any deity of your choosing, especially if the system of beliefs surrounding him/her/them is a system of rewards and punishment.

I decided to go online and do some research regarding what I had experienced as a Christian who was beginning to doubt his beliefs. As I mentioned in an earlier post this fear is very real and its symptoms are at least to its sufferers very palpable. I was surprised to find out that there was not much online about this subject but some very brief descriptions of what it was by psychologists who obviously have never had this experience. So I am taking it upon myself to explain if from the point of view of someone who has lived it, namely; myself.

My fear of God was two pronged: first there was the fear of God as in reverence, I was in awe of his great power and merciful goodness, and second I was in fear of him as I would fear any authority figure but much much greater. My fear was based entirely on my literal and fundamentalist interpretation of the biblical texts. I had an intense desire to "please" God in every way I could in my life by reflecting that not just in my daily speech, but also in my actions. I wasn't shy about my beliefs of course, I wanted to be like the apostle Paul and shout it out from the roof tops. I evangelized everywhere at anytime to anyone who would listen.

Because of my expertise in the ministry of deliverance (exorcisms) I took the forces of darkness very seriously and at the time believed that they were very real and that I had plenty of evidence for their existence. Of course, all of this so called evidence was nothing more than subjective evidence, based on my personal experiences and those of the people I believed to have helped through my ministry.

After some digging online for awhile, I was surprise to find that this particular phobia has a name: Theophobia and was not quite uncommon as I thought. You can read more about this in an article right here if you are interested in expanding your knowledge base on this subject. I am pretty sure if you dig hard enough you can pretty much find as much information as you would like. As the name suggests it is basically a fear of gods, but we can extend this into the category of irrational fears due to extreme fundamentalism and indoctrination.

As a child loved and feared his earthly parents I too loved and feared the Lord, and in the same manner I dreaded the thought of getting on my God's bad side. I was under the impression that as long as I stayed on his good side that he would do nothing but be pleased and bless me in life. So I tried my damnedest to the extreme to please my Lord with all my heart and mind and soul. If a bad thought or temptation popped into my head at anytime, I immediately mentally rebuked it and asked the Lord for forgiveness and to help me to overcome future temptations and thoughts. I believed these thoughts and temptations came from one of two sources; Satan or the desires of the flesh (carnal lusts).

I couldn't think nor reason outside of my faith because I believed that to do so would open up the flood gates for the Devil to corrupt my heart and mind against my God. But in my former mindset the Devil was the least of my worries, I feared nothing  more than incurring the wrath of God.

When I first separated from the church I had nightmares for weeks, and at times I would get little small panic attacks in the form of an elevated heart rate and sometimes even sweats. Just thinking about hell and eternal torment, and the idea that I did not know the day nor the hour when I could die scared me beyond reason. What if I was wrong? Upon my death would I have time to at least repent, even if this was done in the form of my last words spoken on this earth?

If you still don't understand these fears, then try and imagine a child who is told that if he doesn't behave that a boogie man is going to come out of his closet at night and drag him away. Parents who use these tactics as means of controlling or disciplining their children have no idea of the psychological damage they are causing their child. Once that seed is planted it can lead to a whole bunch of irrational beliefs and fears that could affect that person for the rest of their lives.

Finally, all of the reasons stated above and maybe more, are the reasons that extremists cannot see reason nor come to the rational conclusion that what they believe is no different from other prevalent myths and beliefs in our society or throughout the rest of the world. You can't see reason when you are in the shackles of faith and fear. The only one who can break those shackles is yourself, and I believe it takes something very drastic to cause someone to take the plunge and face his fears and challenge his faith. I will be discussing more on some of these motives in a later post.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fear as a deterrent to apostasy

There are several things that atheists who have never been extremist Christians will never understand. When I was a fundamentalist Pentecostal evangelist; I took the bible at its word literally. We were taught to believe that everything written there is absolutely true, and that anything that contradicted these truths were false and delusions of Satan. The bible repeatedly admonishes all that read it, that first and foremost they should fear the Lord.

This same mentality is demonstrated clearly by Dr. William Lane Craig in his book entitled 'Reasonable Faith,' where he makes the following statement: "Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then it is the former which must take precedence over the latter, not vice versa.” Atheist's who apply reason to their arguments have demonstrated a lack of understanding when it comes to interpreting this statement. But when you have lived it and see if from the point of view of a fundamentalist, the statement makes perfect sense!

'Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Matthew 10:28

According to the book of Matthew the above cited passage is something allegedly spoken by Jesus Christ himself! That's a little hard to do when you've never existed, but as you know the existence of God or Christ is not a question of evidence, but instead of faith to believers. Of course as you can see the only one capable of destroying the body and soul in hell is God. It is passages likes these that I believe help instill boldness into extremist Christian believers to the point of martyrdom for what they believe to be the truth. It is similar passages like this one in the Koran that emboldens believers to die for Allah and for their beliefs in Islam.

28 We have been given possession of an unshakeable kingdom. Let us therefore be grateful and use our gratitude to worship God in the way that pleases him, in reverence and fear.
29 For our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28,29

As you can see again even in the N.T. fear is a recurring theme. For those of us who took the bible at its word, we believed that God demanded and deserved respect! When I first began having doubts about my beliefs I was genuinely terrified about the thoughts I was thinking, because I believed that God could hear my thoughts and see what was in my "heart." I feared for my life everyday when I finally made a break from the church. I awaited the wrath of God to fall on me at any moment, and if not the Lord then Satan's eminent attack on me since I no longer had God's protection over me.

As you might know the word Islam actually translates from the Arabic into submission or surrender. This is essentially the mindset of not just Muslims but extremist Christians as well. According to the book of Mark in reply to a scribes question Jesus said:

30 and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.

Most extremist, including my self when I was a preacher, took this passage quite literally and tried to reflect that in  my daily life. To love God is to obey God and to submit completely to his will, when this is done the effects are quite powerful on your psyche. This and only this is the reason that logic and reason don't quite get through to Christian fundamentalist. They see the logic of man below that of God as they have been taught in their scriptures. Because of their deep devotion to their beliefs they don't think as we do.

Finally, all that I have said is made evident and backed by the scriptures themselves. The bible from the beginning condemned the seeking of knowledge that was not given by God. And many times makes a distinction between the knowledge of God and the knowledge of men or the world.

19 As scripture says: I am going to destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing the understanding of any who understand.
20 Where are the philosophers? Where are the experts? And where are the debaters of this age? Do you not see how God has shown up human wisdom as folly? 1 Corinthians 1:19,20

We think and reason in very different ways than a theist would, and even the definition of the words reasonable and rational take on a very different definition to believers than it does to the rest of us. The bottom line is that when an atheist tries to apply philosophy and reason to prove the ridiculousness of theistic beliefs, they are just wasting their breath because we are not even speaking the same language.

All biblical quotations are taken from the New Jerusalem Bible which is a Catholic translation of the bible published in 1985.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Two different types of atheists

It has been my experience that when it comes to religious discussions and groups, that there exists within those groups two types of specific atheists. Not too long ago, I was at an atheist meet up here in New York City. It had been my first, so I went not really knowing what to expect.

At the end of the meet up the floor was open for discussion and one of the things most were interested in was my experience in the church as an evangelist and my deconversion story. Someone asked me: ' What made you renounce your beliefs?' The best answer that I came up with was that before I read the bible in its entirety I had already started having some doubts, but after reading the bible it pretty much sealed the deal for me that my beliefs were in fact false.

As I described my experiences in the ministry some of them looked at me as if I was a damn nut job! At first I was perplexed and it took a while for it to register when they began to reply to my questions. I had been dealing with a whole different class of atheist! There are only two; there are those that at one time or another were former theists like myself, and there are those that never had known what it was to be a believer. This second class of atheists see religious beliefs very differently than myself since they themselves have never had a "spiritual" encounter such as speaking in tongues, being slain in the Spirit, or having visions ( I've experienced all of these and more first hand).

This experience helped me to understand greatly why I find their approach to dealing with Christianity so different to my own. They look at it from a purely reasonable position (which I do now), and they analyze everything through the eyes of science, history, and mythology. When it comes to the supernatural experiences they technically don't have a  clue what the hell you are talking about. They fall back on their knowledge of psychology, and the mysteries of the mind and body connection such as psychosomatic disorders as a means to explain some of the apparent faith healing claims.

I have to ask myself though: Is this method of confronting religious beliefs effective? I honestly don't think it is. To put this into perspective, think about a drug counselor who has never used drugs trying to counsel a user struggling with addiction. It is my opinion that all of the book knowledge in the world would not suffice in helping that addict unless you have personally walked in his shoes. I believe that when it comes to theism and confronting Christianity that my approach is different than many because I have been there and had many similar experiences as the most fundamental believer anywhere. Because of my experiences with what I believed to be encounters with God, because of what I believed was a solid relationship with the divine, I can help others explain those feelings and encounters much better.

Book learning is good, but if you really want to help some of these theists break free from the bondage of superstitions and get back their self esteem and confidence and help them understand  that they too could be good without God, then nothing beats experience. The premise here is that it takes a thief to catch a thief. Even our government does this when they hire former convicted hackers to help secure our nations secrets.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What exactly is confirmation bias?

According to confirmation bias is described as: 'In psychology and cognitive science, confirmation bias (or confirmatory bias) is a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions, leading to statistical errors.' What exactly does this all mean, and how can we apply it to those that argue for a belief in God?

The definition cited above came with several other similar definitions and for those that are  interested in reading those you can do so right here. For now this definition will suffice for our purposes so let me dumb it down first for those whose understanding of these concepts eludes them or are difficult to grasp. The key to understanding this is in the name of the term itself which in this case is the word bias which basically means according to my trusty Sage dictionary and thesaurus: 'A partiality that prevents objective consideration of an issue or situation.' Basically, because of your preconceptions about a belief, in this case Christianity; you tend to take the side of that belief and only seek evidence or arguments that confirm your beliefs.

As a believer I can honestly say that apart from reading the bible in its entirety several times, I have also read over a hundred books on different subjects regarding my beliefs. As a fundamentalist Christian I tended to dismiss any argument that contradicted those beliefs and favored all those that confirmed to me that my beliefs were true.

Like most modern day believers I have encountered on this blog and other atheist blogs I relied heavily on my interpretation of the bible and its teachings. I quoted scripture to back my arguments and when there were no scriptures that suited my purpose at the time I fell back on the passages about how God's ways were higher than ours and how his ways at times were unknowable. As an atheist I find it hard to believe how theist's claim to have a "personal relationship" with God and at the same time state that they don't know him fully. I find these arguments contradictory and evidence of one of the many underhanded means utilized by believers known as special pleading.

Some of the arguments I've seen and heard online and debates on youtube for instance blow me away on how irrational they sound. Theist's blame our lack of a relationship with God as one of the many reasons why we don't get it! They claim as does William Lane Craig that the witness of the Holy Spirit is to be trusted over any contradictory evidence. Is this the best a so called top Christian philosopher can do? All so called apologetic arguments for faith end in this manner and I am sure that it is due to confirmation bias.

A lot of believers I have encountered these days don't like the use of the term blind faith, but that's just what their beliefs are founded upon. Because of confirmation bias "Christian philosophers" simply don't see or don't care about finding the truth. They seek the truth by first stating what they believe that truth to be and then trying to find evidence which in fact is not valid evidence at all to support those beliefs through the use of apologetics and the misapplication of philosophy and reason.

I've said it before and I will keep saying it: "there is no such thing as reasonable faith." You can't be reasonable or rational about matters of faith because faith is not founded on reason. Faith is founded on subjective experience and trust that these experiences are actually encounters with God or as WLC likes to say "the witness of the Holy Spirit." When faced with these types of arguments you simply just can't win, since the person you are arguing with has already made up his mind about his/her beliefs.

Atheism is  journey that you basically have to take on your own by honestly looking at your beliefs without fear and reverence of the so called sacredness of the scriptures. It's scary for someone to do this, especially if your are a fundamentalist believer. But thankfully, these days we have the internet and many former believers writing books about their individual journeys from faith to reason. Sometimes you can relate to these stories and begin a journey of your own.

In closing, in order to conduct an honest search for "truth" you must first acknowledge your inability to do so because of confirmation bias. Honestly, some people don't even realize that they are doing it! But their arguments demonstrate and make it apparent that they are and exposes their inability to see any evidence presented to them clearly. In order to see things as they are you need to change your frame of mind from that of a subjective thinker to an objective thinker. Whenever arguments are incomplete instead of falling back on apologetics you need to just acknowledge that you just don't know. That's a start and a step in the right direction. Inserting God or God did it into the ignorance regarding the subject just does not cut it if you want to argue effectively. Thanks for taking the time to read this and I will see you all on my next post.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Wrong beliefs lead to low self esteem issues

Why is it that Christianity is so popular? I guess its because people just want something to believe in. But if we insist on having beliefs then why not just believe in yourself? Why not believe in the unlimited possibilities of the human will? Anyone who has taken the time to read the bible will immediately see that it does nothing but degrade mankind to serve at the feet of an imaginary god.

Genesis chapter six verses seven and eight express clearly what the biblical deity thought of mankind. '6 Yahweh regretted having made human beings on earth and was grieved at heart.
7 And Yahweh said, 'I shall rid the surface of the earth of the human beings whom I created -- human and animal, the creeping things and the birds of heaven -- for I regret having made them.' These are the words of the so called great and loving creator that Christians profess their loyalty to. The funny thing is that the biblical God has never loved us.

It's funny that believers say that this deity is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent when passages like the one mentioned above exist in their bibles. God is shown to have changed his mind about mankind, and even after the flood he shows regret for having destroyed the majority of the worlds population!. What would it take to make a believer see that what he has believed is nothing more than a lie and a myth! Anyone who reads the bible in its entirety can see it for what it is; a book of myths!

The very idea of some imaginary guy in the sky sitting up there hearing the bitching and moaning of believers in the form of prayers is outright ridiculous. They kneel and thank the invisible man for saving their drug dealing sons from dying in a shoot out, or they thank him for keeping their gang banging kids safe while they run the streets committing crimes against others. Christian hypocrisy is like a plague in this nation. Politicians use it to get votes and curry the favor of believers so that they can get elected to office.

The latest phenomenon of mega-churches adds another low to the Christian church as a whole. A bunch of sorry ass needy people pack these churches several times a week in search of a miracle or a touch from their imaginary god. When will humanity wake up! We already had a theocracy in this country and let's just say that it did not go too well for the public in general. Basically the rule of thumb was believe as we do or die! People in the dark ages were coerced into accepting Christianity by threat of torture and death.

When I renounced my beliefs as a Christian one of the first acts of defiance that I did was to burn my bible literally. It felt good and liberating for me and it had some real value and sentiment for me to do that. It was necessary for me to finally demonstrate that the imaginary guy in the sky did not exist. Years prior to that event my mother told me a story about a man who burned his bible and supposedly went crazy! I thought that the tale was a crock of shit and so I decided to do the same thing!

Honestly, if you really want to believe in something believe in yourself. Recognize your self worth and strive to be a better person. Make something out of yourself that you can be proud of. The bible says that pride cometh before a fall, I say fuck God! Our own self esteem is worth a thousand times more than what an imaginary god could hope to give us. Remember that in this world you are number one, look out for you. Do what's best for you and what makes you feel good as long as it's not illegal or hurting anyone in the process you have my approval. Wrong beliefs create wrong ideas about ourselves, it's time to kick those myths to the curb and work on yourself and to help those you value and love in this world now.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Parallels between Slavery and Christian Servitude

Contrary to popular belief, the relationship between the biblical God and man is not one of loving father/creator to son/creation. Instead, it is more akin to the relationship that existed between a slave and his master. If one were to take the time to analyze the scriptures and its language they would see that this fact is made abundantly clear in the various narratives, psalms, etc. both of the old and new testaments.

In the olden days here in the United States slaves were acquired by either being purchased at auctions or through some sort of trade for goods. In the book of Acts, Paul was speaking to the elders of the church of Ephesus and he uses similar language. ‘'Be on your guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you the guardians, to feed the Church of God which he bought with the blood of his own Son. Acts 20:28(NJB) In the King James version the word “bought” is translated as purchased. The sacrificial act of Christ on Calvary is often referred to as atonement and redemption as in redeem.

Before moving on let’s refer to my trusty Sage dictionary/thesaurus for a definition of those two key words. Atonement is defined as: ‘compensation for a wrong.’ The word redeem has several definitions but I will use the one that I think will best help clarify my position: ‘Exchange or buy back for money; under threat.’ In this case the price of our salvation or atonement was the price of blood. ‘In fact, according to the Law, practically every purification takes place by means of blood; and if there is no shedding of blood, there is no remission.’ Hebrews 9:22 (NJB) 

As seen above mankind was bought at the price of blood and not just bought but purified through that sacrifice. Like a slave master, God requires absolute obedience! 'You know well that if you undertake to be somebody's slave and obey him, you are the slave of him you obey: you can be the slave either of sin which leads to death, or of obedience which leads to saving justice. Romans 6:16 (NJB) As you can clearly see, even the bible makes that same parallels as I have chosen to make here between a slave and his master.

Just like a slave here on earth you are to fear and respect your master just like you are commanded to fear the Lord. 'Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell.’ Matthew 10:28 (NJB) Obedience and fear are the two key components necessary to keep you in the good graces of your loving father in heaven. Worshiping God is not just praising him and singing songs to him about how wonderful and great you think that he is, but is also done through your obedience of his word and his commandments.

Finally, just like the slave a lack of obedience had with it some dire consequences. Most were whipped to within an inch of their lives, and I’m pretty sure that some slaves may have even been beaten to death for disobedience or some form of rebellion or another. I am sure that in the days when slavery was prominent here in the U.S. that if a slave ever dared to raise his hand to a white man/master or even had some sort of illicit sexual relations with a white woman, the penalty for these actions was death. In the case of God the penalty is eternal torment in hell depending on which churches interpretation of scripture you choose to believe. 

This is one of the things I find most disturbing about the Christian belief system. They call their God loving and just but unlike human justice God is not satisfied with taking your physical life or making your life a living hell, he must continue to torment you after death! What sort of justice is this? If God did exist, instead of having my praise, gratitude, and admiration he would get what he has now: my disdain, and disgust! There is nothing loving about this celestial slave master! He is no different than Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao or any other earthly tyrant. It reminds me of the old mob movies where the Dons cronies are said to love their patron, but that my friends isn’t love at all, it’s fear! 

In closing, I think that I have made my point here regarding the relationship of God and man. It is not a father son relationship as many believers tend to think. It is that of a master and his slave, in this case; the slave being humanity. 'Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?' Jesus said to him, 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. Matthew 22:36,37 (NJB) To love the Lord is not really a matter of choice but rather a commandment! Obeying him and keeping his other commandments keeps you in his good graces. Come to think of it, this does remind me of the movie ‘TheGodfather’!