Friday, December 20, 2013

Freedom of religion and speech is for everyone!

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

Many of my readers will recognize the above words from the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution. For those of you interested in reading an in depth analysis of this amendment in particular and its applicability to U.S. law and government there is some great information about it here. Note that this article refers particularly to the church in the U.S. only. I am not familiar with other countries and the extent of their religious oppression and suppression. 

One of the many things that I find quite disconcerting to the point of annoyance is the modern Christian movement claiming persecution in the U.S. by atheists. I am annoyed about this matter because I am an atheist and as a nonbeliever I think that theists as they often tend to do are misconstruing the facts. They are claiming that atheists have declared war on Christianity, that we are trying to eradicate their right to practice their religion and share their beliefs openly. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It seems that for the most part here in the U.S. theists believe as always under false assumptions, that this country was founded on Christian principles. Of course it was not, but it is because of this belief that theists claim the higher ground against any religion that is not Christian or any group that does not espouse and promote their beliefs. Christianity has often been defined as one of if not the most intolerant religion in the world. Their long and awful history obviously supports this claim. But they cannot be blamed entirely because they get these views from the Bible itself which supports an us against the world mentality. 

15Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 1 John 2:15

4You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. James 4:4

Finally, the apostle Paul speaking specifically to the church in Galatia in response to having heard that some had begun to stray from the beliefs that they had been taught by him alluded to the fact that there is no other gospel! 

8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! Galatians 1:8-9

As you can see the church has always claimed to be the one and only absolute truth and God revealed religion from its inception. Today's theists are just carrying on the tradition by espousing the beliefs of their religions founders as outlined in their so called sacred text the Bible. These verses and many others clearly explain the us against them mentality inherent in those who espouse these beliefs. The various inquisitions and wars which the church later defined as pagan religions are the direct result of religious intolerance. The very accusations that the church makes against atheists is more fitting and true about them.

They want us to believe that atheists have nothing better to do than to attack their beliefs and false assumptions about this country's foundations. They call anyone who presents a belief contrary to theirs false and Satan inspired. They claim the right to freedom of speech and religion in this country for themselves, but they forget that these rights pertain to everyone. The first amendment was not speaking exclusively about Christianity. It was speaking about all religions and this includes the right to freedom from religion.

Religious beliefs and practices are a matter of ones personal acceptance of whatever beliefs  they choose to believe and follow. Religious beliefs are not meant to be forced down peoples throats nor using or implementing their majority status in a country as leverage to influence politics and legislation. We've already seen what happened when Rome made Christianity the state religion and it later became a theocracy. The founding fathers have learned from history and this is why the U.S. Constitution alludes to the separation of church and state.

Contrary to what theists believe atheists have the right to defend their rights to freedom from religion. That is what we are defending and nothing more. We could care less if you believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But when you begin to force your beliefs on us and demand that we teach creationism in our tax supported public schools, allow for prayer in schools, make abortions illegal, ban stem cell research, ban gay marriage claiming that marriage is a Christian institution (another false assumption), then we have the right to oppose you. If anything, anyone who is not a Christian are the ones being persecuted and I mean by this everyone!

Christians attack evolution, equality of rights for all, our own rights of freedom from religion and speech. Atheists are not the ones going door to door with pamphlets, or handing out tracts in every public street corner in America, or "preaching" our non-beliefs in public. Although if we did do any of these things, like believers we are within our constitutional rights to do so and are just as protected by that same first amendment in our Bill of Rights.

The problem with Christianity is that they believe that since they are the largest religious organization in the world especially in the U.S. that they have the right to dictate what our states laws should be, who should be allowed to speak, and what religions should be accepted or denied. Anyone who tries to defend their right to practice another religion or as in the case of atheism no religion at all is declaring war on Christianity. In reality, this is nothing more than that same arrogant spirit of superiority that the church has had since its beginnings. But as of late they have changed their tactics to make them out to be the victims; every ones target of attack.

The Bible and fundamentalism itself are the cause of the churches ignorance of its own history or history in general. When it comes to their beliefs they practice cognitive dissonance better than anyone else. They ignore any facts that shed light on their primitive and outdated beliefs and take this as a direct attack on their institution! Unfortunately for them this is a country with laws and a melting pot of religions, cultures, and creeds. Although they may be the majority, it does not mean that they can ignore the Constitution and try to manipulate and influence our government to implement laws that will favor their beliefs.

It's funny how Christians oppose government actions that do not favor their beliefs knowing full well that the Bible even demands that they submit and obey those same authorities and in fact pay taxes. It claims that those authorities are place there by God himself but I guess this is one of those passages that they choose to blatantly ignore. Like I always say Christians are for the most part nothing more than hypocrites.

1Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Romans 13:1-7

Note: All biblical citations are taken from the New International Version of the scriptures. All other sources have been linked to in the text.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Another embarrassing biblical contradiction!

Every once in a while I like to draw my sword of logic and my shield of reason as I pierce through the lies and the mythological and nonsensical narrative known as the Bible. It's always fun to see the Christian response to some of the contradictions I have exposed on my blog as I marvel at their corruption of reason and twisted logic.

Today we will be focusing on the claim that the biblical deity Yahweh possesses the attribute of being omniscient or as we say in layman's terms all knowing. Note that I will be quoting quite often from the scriptures for reference purposes.

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:7

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah1:5

"And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 1 Chronicles 28:9

The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good. Proverbs 15:3

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13

So according to these various verses I have quoted from both the O.T. and the N.T. God is in a lot of ways like an early version of Santa Clause who happens to see you when you're sleeping, knows when you're awake, he knows when you've been bad or good so be good for goodness sake! I don't know about you but the idea of some invisible guy in the sky who seems to have more flaws than myself watching me and knowing my deepest darkest secrets is kind of creepy.

Having said those preliminary words let's get to the contradictions.

If Yahweh is all knowing and wise then why would he have to ask stupid questions and do stupid things in the scriptures to verify certain things.

8Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”10He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”11And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” Genesis 3:8-11

There are several things wrong with this passage. First if God is all knowing then the idea of "hiding" from him is utterly ridiculous. Some theists have said to me that this is not a contradiction God knew what happened he just wanted to give them the opportunity to confess their sin themselves! I beg to differ. When you read that part of the narrative the good Lord seems genuinely surprised and caught off guard at not knowing for sure. He asks the question with authority and apparently demanding an answer. Another problem I have with this story is the idea of the Lord strolling through the garden it sounds kind of silly and makes the story in my opinion more unbelievable. Also, the fact that God has to ask the the two questions: Where are you? and whether or not they had eaten from the forbidden tree make him look like he doesn't know anything and is not omniscient at all. So we have the good Lord taking a Sunday stroll through the garden looking for his friends, pets, servants, and slaves Adam and Eve followed by actually three stupid questions he should have known the answers to.

It's the equivalent of sharing an apartment with your spouse and you making a sandwich and putting it in the refrigerator for later. Then when you come back to it later you find that it's not there and immediately go to your spouse and ask: Did you eat my sandwich that I left in the fridge earlier? A stupid human habit that we all seem to possess. 

9Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”10The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.Genesis 4:9-10

This time two stupid questions that an omniscient god should already know the answer to! Somehow the brothers blood is crying out from the ground ratting on his brother for murdering him. It is not till then that the good Lord knows what has happened. 

5But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. Genesis 11:5

This ones a hoot! He actually had to come done  from heaven to have a look at the tower he heard they were building. Once again for an all knowing being he seems to have to confirm things an awful lot in the scriptures. I will end this post with one of my favorites.

20Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.” Genesis 18:20-21

This one is especially revealing because it states that God had to come down from heaven in the form of a man along with two angels to confirm if what he heard about Sodom and Gomorrah was as bad as he heard it was. In other words he didn't know or wasn't so sure about it so yet again he goes through great lengths to confirm it. It's also interesting that he confesses his lack of knowledge at the end of the 21st verse. I think I have sufficiently proven the contradictory claims of the Bible regarding God's so called attribute of omniscience. It seems to me like the good Lord doesn't seem to know much about anything. Contradictory stories and claims all throughout the scriptures are rampant and quite honestly if I really put my mind to it I could do this all day. 

Note: All biblical citations are taken from the New International Version of the scriptures.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Incest in the Bible!

As a former believer one of the things that I found disturbing was the teaching of our creation and propagation as a species as it is narrated in the Old Testament. I found it odd that God allegedly created all the animals and their species separately but in some unknown number or populations so that they too could propagate and spread. I think that the creation story would have been much more believable if it just said God created whole populations of people and spread them out all over the earth. Instead, he makes one pair and tells them to be fruitful and multiply. So basically what the Bible teaches is that humans are the product of many incestous relationships! I find that to be offensive and embarrassing that a loving creator would choose this method for the propagation of the human race.

Let's think about this for a minute if the Garden story is true (which it obviously isn't) then Adam had to have intercourse with his wife who later gives him two boys Cain and Abel. You later find out that after murdering his brother Cain is separated from his family and condemned by God to be a "restless wanderer."

10The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 11Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” Genesis 4:10-12

17Cain made love to his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch. 

Notice that here is where this story gets a little less credible. God curses Cain and claims he is going to be a restless wanderer but then we find out in verse  17 that he actually has a wife and builds a city! That's one of those questions most ministers have to dance around to answer one of the most popular questions atheists and even some believers like to ask. Where did Cain find a wife when according to the tale the only people that existed were his parents and his brother who he had murdered? He actually lived in the land of Nod (wandering) and built a city. Not bad for a man who has been cursed and condemned by God.

Considering the high risk of birth defects due to incestuous relationships I don't believe that an all knowing all wise deity would choose this method for populating the earth. The limitations in the human gene pool would make for a very boring and sick species. It's obviously a myth a badly written one at that. I find the idea of our so called beginning being incest repulsive and offensive in every way. Although from a naturalistic point of view minus gods it actually would make more sense as a means of our early beginnings. 

Note: All biblical citations are taken from the New International Version of the scriptures.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Believing is not enough!

16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3:16-18

If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

For many non-practicing self proclaimed Christians and so called "believers" out there, it is these two passages and others like them that have led to a great deal of confusion regarding salvation. It's passages like these that have led many to believe that they are automatically going to heaven because they believe in God. What they fail to understand mostly due to a lack of knowledge regarding what the scriptures say about salvation is that it is not as simple as it seems. For instance there are many in my family who claim to believe in God but they live their lives no different than the rest of us. Many claim to have Jesus in their hearts and assure themselves that although they may not be living according to God's ways that the Lord "knows what's in their heart." 

The United States is considered a Christian nation not because of it having been founded on Christian principles as some believe, but because of the influence that Christianity has had on this nation as a whole. There are many here who claim to be Christians but have never read the Bible nor set foot in a church a day in their lives. These are for the most part the ones that have inherited mom and pops religion as I like to refer to it. They believe not because they have had an encounter with the Lord or committed their lives to their faith. They believe because they were told from a very young age that there was a God that created all things great and small. Unlike the Santa myth the God myth is not taken away or exposed as false, but rather it continues to be reinforced in them well into adulthood to the point where it becomes second nature to believe. 

If non-practicing believers are brought up in a household where their parents are either non-practicing believers or it's opposite they obtain these influences in their own conception of belief. The former will believe like many that just believing in God is the default position and that it is not rational to question that. The latter will believe with much more commitment and zeal and will try to live a life that he or she thinks will be pleasing to the Lord. Orthodox Jews, fundamentalist Christians, and Islamist are criticized often for being too extreme but in reality this is what the scriptures actually require.

I considered myself a fundamentalist Christian to the extreme. My daily routine consisted of praying to the Lord the moment I opened my eyes in the morning. I believed deep in my heart that I was speaking to the Lord and that he lived in me through his Holy Spirit. I considered my body his temple and I worshiped him with all my heart, mind, and soul. I preached on the streets on Saturday's and Sunday's every weekend without fail. I made house calls and visited the sick at the hospitals upon request from members or friends of the church. I was always evangelizing hoping to convert and lead to salvation yet another soul to Christ. I was part of a deliverance ministry which consisted of my friend and ministry partner at the time. He preached in Spanish at times and I preached in English or Spanish when required. Contrary to what some may believe I did what I did because I believed in what I was doing. The fear of hell or the glory of eternal reward was the furthest from my mind.

You see Christianity for me was not about just saying how much I loved the Lord or simply going to church to socialize and do nothing. Christianity was for me in those day a way of life. I tried to live the gospel to the best of my ability. Although, I knew that this was impossible I had to try to be more Christ like every minute and every moment of my waking life. I guarded my tongue and my thoughts very carefully. I asked for forgiveness when I offended or felt that I had done something offensive to the Lord. My time as a believer was a life changing experience in that I not only read and professed the gospel as true; I lived it! 

19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. James 2:19

Many people here in the states have been led to believe that it's not what you do but what you believe that will eventually lead to your salvation. But that is clearly not true. As in the O.T. the N.T. requires that you separate yourself from the "world" and live in the light according to God's will. If you were to conduct a survey for instance you will find that a majority of the shadiest people in the city believe in the Christian God in one way or the other. Drug dealers, addicts, prostitutes, thieves etc. all claim that they believe in God. Some of them go out to commit their folly while wearing a crucifix around their necks, carrying a rosary, or even sporting a religious tattoo! The irony of it all is that they Seek God's protection while they go out to commit their crimes against innocent unsuspecting passersby.

A very nice Jesus tattoo! 

People like the ones being described rationalize their behavior by insisting that they do what they do because they have no choice and that God sees and knows this and thus will forgive them. I'm here to state for the record that believing is not enough! If you are not living the life that the Lord requires of you then hell awaits you of unfaithful and hypocritical believer. Of course I don't believe in God nor hell anymore but I am pointing out what you as believers should know. 

20You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. James 2:20-24

This is what Jesus meant when he mentioned that false prophets would be recognized by their fruits. You as a believer are supposed to be a living example of the gospel. Your life is supposed to illustrate what you preach. Otherwise you are being a hypocrite by claiming to be something that you are not. Jesus life as narrated in the scriptures is the prime example that all those claiming to be believers should be following. 

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

According to this passage they were seemingly believers. They prophesied, cast out demons, and performed miracles. Yet Jesus will claim to have never knew them! This is not hard to understand, could it be because they were living double lives? On the pulpit or in their public life they gave a semblance of piety and holiness but behind closed doors they were no different than you average nonbeliever. Living their lives as if God did not exist. In other words they were being hypocrites! 

14“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 7:21-23

14“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

This is why I tend to call many Christians I run into hypocrites. It's because if you are not practicing what you are preaching you are not being true to yourself and your commitment to the Lord. It's good to believe but it's simply not enough. If it were so, then everyone would be saved and there would be no point in rejecting this belief, living as you please, and being rewarded for it. This is the one and only circumstance where Pascal's wager would be absolutely right! 

Note: All biblical citations are taken from the New International Version of the scriptures

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

You've got to have faith!

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Believe: to accept or regard (something) as true

Hope: to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true

Faith: strong belief or trust in someone or something

The number one requirement of God according to the book of Hebrews chapter eleven is that you have faith in him. In the two verses cited above from the same chapter you will notice that there are three key words that work together to the Christian meaning of the word faith. I have taken the liberty of identifying and defining those words. In order to please God you must first believe that he exists and that he rewards those who believe in him. In other words you must simply believe in him. But this is not just any kind of belief. It is a belief based on zero evidence and basically taking him in this case at his word (the Bible).

Once you accept that the Bible is the word of God and that he exists then based on how you interpret those promises in the scriptures and relate them to your own desires you will experience hope. You have accepted that the God's word is true and hope that he will fulfill his promises to those who put their trust in him.

Upon hoping again without seeing or having any evidence to believe or hope you begin to cultivate faith. Your trust and beliefs in God's words and your desires breed faith in what you have chosen to accept and believe from the scriptures as they pertain to your life. For a Christian this is not a problem and it is often claimed to be a reasonable position to take. But in reality, it is far from reasonable to believe in something out of the ordinary (supernatural) without empirical and objective evidence.

The Bible has a contingency plan for all of the most common doubts that you may raise about this whole faith without evidence thing. First as demonstrated in the text on faith above, belief without evidence is a requirement. You have to make a personal investment in the form of committing your life to an invisible being whose existence is no more evident than that of Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, Thor, etal. There is a well known quote amongst the faithful:"let go and let God."  In other words, stop trying to handle all of lifes problems on your own and trust in God to pull you through. When there doesn't seem to be a way He will make a way for you.

Upon further reflection though, this is not a situation that is unique to the Christian belief system. In fact, all religions that believe in some form of anthropomorphic god or gods have the same requirement! This is also true of hypnosis, astrologers, fortune tellers, etc. you must believe in order to receive. This makes belief in God not an objective truth but rather a subjective truth. In other words it's only true to those who choose to believe it. For the rest of us we are doing fine without belief in  superstitions, lore, and ancient myths.

Most people who claim to experience the "presence" of God in their lives don't realize that their experience is entirely psychosomatic due to suggestion. What you are experiencing does not come from God's holy spirit but rather from your own mind. Christians and other religionists tend to overlook the power of suggestion and the mind. Through both we can at times achieve incredible things. Why is it that in many religions they too claim to experience their gods, dead ancestors, etc? The answer is because it's all in your head. Once you've convinced yourself that God exists and you have accepted his so called guidance and protection for your life you will begin to feel as if he is there looking out for you. You will believe that he cares for you and is ever present to respond to your every need. This is not called a sensible belief it is referred to in psychiatry as a mental delusion.

psychosomatic :  of, relating to, involving, or concerned with bodily symptoms caused by mental or emotional disturbance 

delusion:  a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary 

The Holy Spirit/ comforter is said to be in you and will lead you to all truth. But the fact that there are so many Christian sects all claiming to have the truth while at the same time having such different theologies testifies against this claim. Either the Holy Spirit isn't doing his job or there is no Holy Spirit and believers are all equally deluded. 

The Bible teaches that in order for God to be able to work in your life you must first make an investment. That investment is having faith in what you neither see nor know to exist. Then you must accept it, submit to it, and surrender your entire being in the form of your will to it! Without you first meeting any of these requirements God is helpless. So much for omnipotence! 

4Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6He was amazed at their lack of faith. Mark 6:4-6  

When you really think about it faith, hope, and belief are things we all have even without the belief in gods. I always believe that things will get better, I always hope for a better tomorrow, and I have faith that if I try hard enough things will always work out for the better. But I also believe that you are the only one who can make your dreams and wishes come true. Sometimes we make it and sometimes we don't but the one thing we don't do is ever stop trying. The idea of an invisible man (God) living in some nonexistent realm outside of time and space makes absolutely no sense. The very idea of him being able to hear literally the prayers of billions of people simultaneously is beyond absurd. 

If you want to test your beliefs try using the outsider test for faith. It is a concept that has been put together by former pastor John W. Loftus. It basically asks believers to judge their faith and beliefs with the same critical mind that you judge other belief systems and religions. You can read all about it here.  This link will take you to other links about the outsider test for faith and help you find the book he has written on the matter. 

Without faith it is impossible to please him simply because he doesn't exist. There is no God or gods that are watching over or working against man. There is just you and the human will to do good and progress in life. Because of the randomness of life events not all things work out to our benefit or how we plan them but once we realize this fact we learn to overcome and adapt to our situations accordingly. Stop relying on gods, luck, or any other silly superstition you may hold and trust in yourself. Find the strength within yourself to not let life's hardships hold you down. 

Note: All biblical citations are taken from the New International Version of the scriptures and all word definitions are from the online version of the Merriam Webster Dictionary.  

Saturday, November 16, 2013

God is not good!

1The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.2The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Psalm 14:1-2

Based on this text which theists love to lob at atheists every chance that they get, it seems that the religious idea of good and the secular idea of good are defined differently. According to this verse and many others like it man is inherently evil due to his so called inherited “sinful nature.” The Bible teaches that we have a dual nature composed of the desires of the flesh and the desires of the spirit. According to this our spirit knows its creator and longs to be reunited with Him. But our flesh rebels against God and refuses to submit to his laws. 

5Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:5-8

The word spirit is capitalized in this text because it is referring to the Holy Spirit which according to the scriptures will lead you to all truth and help you to overcome the desires of the flesh. In order to get a better grasp of these concepts in context I recommend that you read the entire chapter 8 of the book of Romans carefully. 

Jesus actually is made to confirm this with the words put in his mouth by the author of Mark.
"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone. Mark 10:18

The Merriam Webster online dictionary defines good as most members of society do. In reference to people a good person would be someone who by society’s standards obeys the laws of the land, is kind, helpful to others, and at times is considered a role model to those  he comes in contact with. A good person is someone who we would look up to and would want to emulate in our own lives. I am an atheist but I tend to do good deeds quite often without expecting nothing in return. I do these deeds because I understand the human condition and know that life is unpredictable and at times cruel. 

I believe that everyone is susceptible to picking up bad habits but how we handle them when they show up in our lives determines where we end up. At some point or another in our lives we have all been exposed to drugs, alcohol, or have been asked to partake in some form of criminal activity by bad acquaintances posing as friends. But as individuals we have to take responsibility for all the decisions and actions that we take in this life. You don’t need a god to tell you that murder, armed robbery, rape, pedophilia, etc. is wrong. Our society, culture, and laws of the land help us determine what is right and wrong. Unless you are some kind of psychopath or sociopath then you should be able to learn and understand the concept of morality. It has nothing to do with gods. 

Psychopath:  A person with an antisocial personality disorder, especially one manifested in perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior.
Sociopath: people displaying anti social behavior which is mainly characterized by lack of empathy towards others that is coupled with display of abnormal moral conduct and inability to conform with the norms of the society.

History is our best teacher regarding the origins of morals. For instance one of our greatest taboos is cannibalism. We think of cannibals as devoid of morals and we also think of cannibalistic behavior as abhorrent. But history has shown us that there were ancient civilizations where cannibalism was perfectly normal and in fact expected. You don’t need a degree in psychology or psychiatry to see through observation alone that morals are learned and not inherent. 

While many Jews, Christians, and Islamist insist that morals come from the gods they are quite often betrayed by their own natures. We hear about the misconduct or even sometimes the criminal activities of the religious on the news all the time! Christians claiming to have the Holy Spirit which according to the scriptures is supposed to help you become more spiritual and to reign in immoral thoughts and desires seems to have a hard time doing so! There are several possible reasons why people act the way they do.

One of the many reasons that in my opinion there are good and bad people is that they are either mentally ill, have suffered greatly as children and were taught abhorrent behavior, or come from cultures where certain activities like grown men marrying minors is commonplace. Notice that I did not add the final option to that list: the devil made them do it. The reason for that is because as an atheist I take responsibility for my own actions. If I commit a crime against someone it is only logical that I will soon find myself before a court of the law and would have to fulfill whatever punishment that court and the laws of the land impose upon me.

I don’t know about you but it actually feels good to do good deeds. I am a regular monthly blood donor in my city and I get this feeling of satisfaction knowing that my blood might be used to save someone’s life somewhere. I feel great every time I help a blind or elderly person cross the street. Or when you are able to give a homeless person a meal and are rewarded with the most beautiful smile of gratitude. I do good deeds and try to be a good person simply because I am a compassionate person and it feels good to be good.

Like most people I am no angel, and I have been bad. I once resisted arrest during a domestic dispute and an officer was hurt trying to restrain me. Afterwards I felt like shit and thought to myself that I could have handled that a lot better than I did. But just as good deeds are rewarding bad deeds also have their consequences. I picked up a felony assault charge in the second degree, had to serve four months in Rikers Island, was put on five years of probation, and was forced to undergo a twenty six week domestic violence counseling program which cost me out of pocket $35 dollars a class! Finally, I had to pay a $210.00 incarceration fee when I was released. Whoever said that crime doesn’t pay was wrong; it pays quite well. The consequences of stupidity can affect the rest of your life.

It’s ironic that believers and the Bible insist that God is the source of all morality and as Jesus said in the quote earlier only God is good. Anyone who took the time to read through the Bible from cover to cover would beg to differ. God murders many, punishes people with infertility, poisonous snakes, fiery hail, flood, and even utilizes the earth to swallow up many! How is this behavior considered moral and good? Man has shown himself to be more moral than the biblical and Koranic depictions of God could ever be. In fact by human standards God is a most immoral, unjust, and terrifying being! If God was to be a role model for humanity and we were to imitate his deeds against man we would eventually annihilate each other or we would have to build a hell of a lot more prisons than we currently have.

I consider myself a good person because I have compassion for my fellow man and I prefer the benefits of being good over the consequences of being bad. I don’t need the threat of a stalking deity looming over me to make me do good deeds and be on my best behavior. I don’t need the empty and ridiculous promises of eternal life to motivate me to being a moral and responsible person. 

2The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. 3All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. Psalm 14:2-3

This is one of the many things that the Bible and many other religious texts get wrong. Despite what you may think the world is full of good people as well as bad.

Note: All biblical citations are taken from the New International Version of the scriptures. All word definitions and other sources are linked to directly.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

JREF Million dollar challenge

Recently I was watching a show on the travel channel called The dead files. It's a paranormal show starring so called psychic medium Amy Allan and retired NYPD homocide detective Steve DiSchiavi. The team investigates paranormal cases involving hauntings and alleged demonic infestations in various settings such as bars, private homes, and other commercial locations. They approach each case from their two separate perspectives. Steve researches the cases from the perspective of a detective trying to solve a homicide and Amy uses her abilities as a psychic medium to sense what is going on at the location. Amongst her abilities she claims to be able to see and talk to the dead.

The interesting thing about the show is that in a recent episode Amy was asked the standard "why don't you use your gifts to divine the winning powerball numbers?" to which she replied: " It doesn't work that way we are not allowed to use our abilities for personal gain." Fair enough, but this got me thinking. If not for personal game why not take the James Randi Educational Foundations one million dollar challenge for free? Or better yet why not take it and then have them donate your winnings to the charity or charities of your choice?

                                                      James Rani/aka The amazing Randi

According to the faqs section of the website: "The Challenge was first introduced in 1964 when James Randi offered $1,000 of his own money to the first person who could offer proof of the paranormal. When the word got out, donors began stepping forward to help, and soon the prize had grown to One Million Dollars." This challenge has been ongoing since 1964 and to date no one has been able to claim the prize or demonstrate any so called paranormal abilities in a controlled and testable environment.

One of the most famous of psychics that Randi has been trying to take the challenge for years has been noted psychic to the stars and Montel Williams buddy Sylvia Brown. Of course she at one time claimed that she would take the challenge but has never followed through.  Randi has published videos and information about the Sylvia Brown fiasco on his site you can view and read that information here.

The way I see it is that if you are claiming to have psychic or paranormal abilities then just like a theist has the burden of proof of proving the existence of God a claimant of supernatural powers and abilities should be able to demonstrate his/her abilities under any conditions. But it seems that when it comes to psychics, mediums, faith healers, etc. they all are unable to perform when they are asked to provide evidence of their claims. I've heard an abundance of excuses by many of these claimants that simply amount to what we all suspected in the first place: that they are full of it!

Even psychics require that you believe in their abilities just like faith healers and other require that you have faith in their so called divine gifts. It's funny but in the Bible even the fictional Jesus Christ had this same problem. In fact, the Bible states that God also requires that you have faith in order for him to act on ones behalf.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

53When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55“Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”58And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. Matthew 13:53-58

Note: All biblical citations are taken from the New International Version of the scriptures. All other sources are liked within the texts themselves.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Christianity is spiritism in disguise

"'A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.'" Leviticus 20:27

10Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Deuteronomy 18:10-11

1. The belief that the dead communicate with the living; spiritualism.
2. The practices or doctrines of those holding such a belief.
John Edward/Psychic Medium

There are many from time immemorial to today who've claimed that they have/had the ability to communicate with the dead or long departed. The practice of communicating with the dead is called spiritism and the actual conduit between the dead and the living is called a medium or a spiritist. For the most part many of the more modern and prominent of mediums have been found to be nothing more than con artists, fakes, and frauds. But there are those that believe that this practice is very real and that there are some mediums out there who are the genuine article. 

Famed magician and debunker of all things magic and mystical James Randi has issued a $1,000,000.00 dollar reward to any one who could prove the existence of the paranormal under an observable and  controlled environment.Here is the challenge as it is presented on the James Randi website. 
James Randy aka the amazing Randy
At JREF, we offer a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event. The JREF does not involve itself in the testing procedure, other than helping to design the protocol and approving the conditions under which a test will take place. All tests are designed with the participation and approval of the applicant. In most cases, the applicant will be asked to perform a relatively simple preliminary test of the claim, which if successful, will be followed by the formal test. Preliminary tests are usually conducted by associates of the JREF at the site where the applicant lives. Upon success in the preliminary testing process, the "applicant" becomes a "claimant."
On his site Randi has a faq section about that challenge and you can acces that directly right here. I have been an admirer of James Randi since the 80's when he started showing up on television specials exposing the many frauds and the most common techniques that they used to deceive the gullible. I have read all of his books but my favorite one was The Faith Healers where he exposes some of the deceptive techniques used by some of the most prominent faith healing proponents of the day.

Since yesterday I was thinking about some of the practices of the adherents of Christianity. Particularly those of the fundamentalists type like I once was. First of all I came to the realization that the worship of Christ is not that much different than the practice of spiritism. Think about this for a moment. Christians worship a man who if he lived at all died around 33-35 AD, they claim to have a very personal relationship with him, and they claim to feel his presence/spirit around them or within themselves. Granted they claim that he rose from the dead therefore technically he is not dead but very much alive. But the fact remains that this resurrection claim is very easily nothing more than a myth that has been fabricated by the various authors of the New Testament.

The whole idea behind the resurrection myth is to demonstrate that Jesus Christ defeated death and that death itself could not hold him. By doing so he in turn frees those who choose to believe in him from the condemnation of death by providing them with the promise of eternal life in a glorified body or form after their physical deaths. 

24But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. Acts 2:24 

The resurrection of Christ would have been so much more convincing if he later showed himself to his enemies and they too wrote and attested to the truth of this claim. But the authors of the gospels make no such claims. He appears to his followers, believers, and 500 anonymous witnesses whose names are not given and their identities could never be ascertained. Diregarding the resurrection claim, then Jesus if he ever existed is pretty much as dead as dead can be. 

One of the many claims Jesus allegedly made was that he would never leave his followers alone. He promised that after he left the earth that he would send a comforter (the Holy Spirit). 

15“If you love me, keep my commands. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

The very fact that Christianity is basically based on the belief that they are communicating with the spirit of a dead man makes it amount to nothing more than spiritism. It's no wonder why many traditionalist Jewish sects were quite resistant to this sects doctrines. 

There are various methods that spiritists utilize to communicate with the dead and some are even highlighted in the Bible. 

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 2 Peter 3:16

20Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

This sounds alot like automatic writing.

automatic writing:  writing produced without conscious intention as if of telepathic or spiritualistic origin 

19But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Matthew 10:19-20 

This sounds alot like channeling.

channeling: The act or practice of serving as a medium through which a spirit guide purportedly communicates with living persons.

In closing, Christianity is nothing more than just another form of the practice of spiritism despite what any Christian may invent to try to refute this claim. They practiced automatic writing, channeling, and through prayer sought to communicate with the spirit of the Lord. In fact, that is what they are doing they are communicating with a spirit whether they consider it to be holy or not.

Note: All biblical citations are taken from the New International Version of the scriptures. All word definitions are taken from the Merriam Webster online dictionary or the free dictionary

Friday, October 25, 2013

Can a good person go to hell?

8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

According to the New Testament texts there is a little formula that if followed and taken literally would lead any man to salvation. Let's take a look at that and then dissect if for those who don't quite get it. The very first ingredient is faith so let's take a moment to define what the Bible means by faith.

1Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

For the most part faith is synonymous with hopes and beliefs. The Bible clearly teaches that without faith it is impossible to please God. Notice that the entire point of belief is to please the good Lord and creator of all things great and small. Although the Bible often condemns vanity which is defined as : the quality of people who have too much pride in their own appearance, abilities, achievements, etc. It seems that God suffers greatly from this ailment. He often reminds us in the so called "good book" how awesome he is and how great his works are etc. But I digress.

God wants you to believe in him and that he will fulfill his promises and reward you for your belief and hope in him. Now you know where we get the term believers from, just read the Bible and you will find it just about everywhere. To have faith is to believe in something without sight or when everything else seems contrary to what  you believe. There's nothing esoteric or mysterious or mystical about it contrary to what apologists and theologians have led you to believe.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

As you can see Hebrews 11:6 sums up everything I have stated about faith so far. So now that we have covered faith what is it that God wants us to have faith in besides just him? Once again the "good book" provides a pretty straight forward answer to that question.

16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3:16-18

In other words your so called "salvation" is contingent on your believing in Christ as God's sacrifice for mankind. He is "the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Because of the fact that we are all born in sin only his blood is pure enough to satisfy God's price for our sins and our souls. So once you've got belief in place and have committed your life and will to that of God's you have to obtain the final ingredient.

14What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 24You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.  James 2:14;17;24;26

The final ingredient is works. It's not enough to just run around claiming that you believe in God and that Christ is your savior. It's not enough to talk the talk my dear Christian, you have to walk the walk. The whole point of being a Christian is to be an emissary of God on earth you represent God and Christ and have to act as such. Your goal as a believer is to be as Christ like as you possibly can and be guided by his example as it is outlined in the scriptures.

15“If you love me, keep my commands. 21Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:15;21

So to answer the question posed as the title of this post; can a good man go to hell? The answer is absolutely! Simply because without Christ your works will count for nothing and your sinful nature is not covered in the blood of Christ. His alleged sacrifice does not apply to unbelievers because you have not accepted him as your Lord and savior. Also, it's not enough to believe because as the scriptures say even demons believe and tremble. So when you hear a Christian stating that maybe God will have mercy on you and judge you by your works then you can safely assume that the believer doesn't know the Bible, the plan of salvation and its requirements, or what the hell he or she is talking about.

God's so called plan of salvation is entirely contingent on your being subservient to him. As I stated earlier you cannot please God if you don't have faith. Atheists such as myself who does no wrong by anybody for the most part, who helps out the homeless from time to time, who donates blood regularly, and enjoys doing good deeds often is hell bound because I refuse to bow down to God and submit my will to him. In the eyes of God I am his enemy and am evil. 

4You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.  James 4:4

10As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”  Romans 3:10-12

Note: All biblical citations are taken from the New International Version of the scriptures. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Crime in the church of Christ!

Have you ever wondered why some religious institutions tend to handle their affairs internally without involving the local legal authorities? The Catholic church for instance is notorious for hiding cases of child molestation by their clergy or sweeping it under the rug completely. Their solutions have varied from moving the guilty party to another parish out of the reach of the long arm of the law; like moving them to another country, or buying off victims to keep them silent and resolve the issue without involving the law.

1If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? 2Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? 5I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers! 1Corinthians 6:1-6

Contrary to what some may believe this texts refers to believers suing other believers in the courts of law. This has absolutely nothing to do with actual crimes and criminal offenses that are normally handled by the law. For example I don't think that any amount of brotherly love or prayer is going to reform a so called brother in church who comitts murder. Or as is so common today is involved in child molestation. For as long as I can remember sexual immorality has always been a problem in the church. I am not speaking about the Catholic church exclusively but about the church in general across all denominations.

I personally knew a pastor in the Pentecostal faith who was having affairs with some of the female members of his church. He was married and when his wife found out she left him, the church, and to my knowledge never looked back. Ultimately I dont know what happened to the pastor because even when his wife left him this dirt bag continued to lead his flock although when he was exposed he lost some members. Televangelist Jimmy Swaggart got caught on one occassion with a mess of porn magazines in his vehicle during a routine stop and on another occassion picking up a prostitute.

I believe that for the most part when ministers, priests, etc. start molesting young people in the church that the church is more concerned about protecting its public image then protecting its flock. It's even more offensive because a person of authority whom members of the church view as a holy man of the cloth abuses this positions authority and the trust that is put on them. Who can you trust if not a so called man of God? You leave your children with them thinking that they are learning about the word of God and how to serve the Lord only to find out later that they were being molested for years. Also, not many victims speak up till years later because they fear that they will not be believed. Their parents trust the good reverend unconditionally and in most cases are known to attack their own childrens trust blindly because of their erroneous beliefs about the ministers reputation.

§130.75 Course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree.

A person is guilty of course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree when, over a period of time not less than three months in duration:
(a) he or she engages in two or more acts of sexual conduct, which includes at least one act of sexual intercourse, oral sexual conduct, anal sexual conduct or aggravated sexual contact, with a child less than eleven years old; or
(b) he or she, being eighteen years old or more, engages in two or more acts of sexual conduct, which include at least one act of sexual intercourse, oral sexual conduct, anal sexual conduct or aggravated sexual contact, with a child less than thirteen years old.(Eff.11/1/03,Ch.264,L.2003)

The above mentioned legal statutes refer to sexual misconduct in my home state of New York. I have linked to that page which elaborates on various statutes in our law books that refer specifically to sexual assault and misconduct. Other people will refer to the little clause in the first ammendment that states:" Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances"

 This ammendment to the Bill of Rights of course does not refer to criminal activity in the church whether it's sexual misconduct, white color crimes etc. Crimes are to be handled by the proper authorities and the position of a church in a community should be irrelevant. In a court of law whether you are a reverend or the Pope if you commit a crime you should be tried like a criminal. I think that because of your position of authority that the law should be even more tougher on you than it would be towards a regular citizen who committed the same crime. Romans chapter 13 actually supports my argument that the law should handle matters of the law.

1Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.  Romans 13:1-3

Note: All biblical citations are taken from the New International version of the scriptures. All other sources have been linked to within the text.