Sunday, July 27, 2014

Venerating the cross

When I was first converted to Christianity I used to wear a gold cross around my neck. When I began preaching the gospel and making the rounds around the local churches I was approached by a church elder who asked me why I wore the image of the cross. I replied that it was a reminder to myself of the things that the Lord had suffered for me and the rest of humanity. He responded by simply asking me if Christ had been executed on an electric chair would I wear the image of an electric chair on my neck? It was right then and there that I realized that he had a good point. After some thought I came to realize that it was not the cross but the person who died on the cross that was the source of my salvation. I took off my crucifix and never wore that image again.

Venerate: to feel or show deep respect for (someone or something that is considered great, holy, etc.)

Idolatry: the worship of a picture or object as a god

Worship: the act of showing respect and love for a god especially by praying with other people who believe in the same god : the act of worshiping God or a god
: excessive admiration for someone

After becoming an atheist and examining my former beliefs more closely I came to realize how pathetic and weak Satan and his minions were for fearing the sign of the cross. It's akin to Dracula and his vampires hissing and cowering in fear when shown a cross in the old vampire movies genre.  Today many claiming or professing to be Christians wear these images (especially Catholics) and rely on them for protection as you would if you were wearing some kind of magic talisman. They kiss their crucifixes and bless themselves before going out by making the sign of the cross across their own bodies. This is not veneration it is worship and in the end it is nothing more than idolatry. 

4“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them;... Exodus 20:4-5

According to the ten commandments as outlined in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 God prohibited the making  of images. But later on in Numbers 21 this same God punishes the Hebrews for complaining about their lot and so he sends snakes to bite and kill many of the Israelites. In response to this Moses prayed for the Lords mercy and he commanded Moses to make a bronze snake!

8The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived. Numbers 21:8-9

I guess like the rest of the commandments it's only a sin when God says so. Every once in awhile he makes exceptions to his own rules. For instance the famous "thou shall not kill" commandment is repeatedly violated by the Hebrews in the O.T. under the direct or indirect orders of God himself. 

Have you ever wondered what happened to that snake? The Bible said it was destroyed by King Hezekiah because they (Israelites) began worshiping it by burning incense to it. 

4He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan. ) 2 Kings 18:4

Many of today's Christians are guilty of the sin of idolatry not just on the matter of the cross but in their excessive devotion to the Bible. Some like to put an open Bible in their rooms or in the dashboard of their cars to ward off evil or to obtain God's blessings. Using the cross or the Bible in these ways is simply idolatry no matter how you spin it. Catholics like to burn incense and candles to saints and even for the dead. All of these acts are not based on biblical principles. Nowhere in the Bible does it say to pray to dead saints for favors. In fact, the role of intercessor belongs to Christ alone. 

Those of you who do the above mentioned acts should read your Bible's before you try to refute atheists about matters you yourselves know nothing about. The cross itself has no power Christ was not the first man to have ever been crucified in history. This was a very common form of execution utilized by the Romans in the first century. The Bible by itself is just a book it's not the book itself that has power but the words contained in the book. Now that is a lesson for you from you friendly atheist.

Note: All word definitions are taken from the online Merriam Webster Dictionary  which I have linked to and all scripture citations are from the New International Version of the scriptures.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Christians it's about the language!

When discussing the God issue with Christians I am often asked the following question: "If God does not exist then how were we created?" After some thought I have come to realize that one of the biggest barriers between atheism and theism is the language we use to describe what we believe or don't believe. Of course there are many other barriers such as our definitions of evidence and what we may consider to be valid evidence in favor of either position, but atheists rely on science and objective and impirical evidence while theists rely on faith and subjective experiences.

As a former fundamentalist believer myself, I do not accept subjective experiences as evidence for the existence of God. There are many reasons for this and many of those reasons are also based on some of my own personal experiences as a Pentecostal charismatic evangelist and believer. I've been so called "slain in the Spirit," have spoken in togues, prophesied, believed I was interpreting tongues, through faith imparted apparent healing, etc. But I have come to realize that these experiences are not unique to Pentecostals. In fact, they are quite common and widespread in many other world religions. I have come to the conclusion that these expriences are not the result of divine intervention or communication with the gods or the Christian God, but that they are all nothing more than different states of conciousness. In other words; it's all in the mind.

Faith in my opinion is not a valid means of obtaining valid knowledge about anything in the world. Through faith anything is possible and it is because of this that I do not accept any claims made entirely on a faith position such as the claim that God exists. The fact is that there is no objective nor empirical evidence for the existence of God or any gods for that matter. When you have no evidence faith is automatically the default position. It's like saying God exists because I believe that he does and I know it in my heart. If that's the case then Santa Clause, the tooth fairy, Bigfoot, Pegasus, Zeus, Thor, Odin, Satan, all exist because I believe that they do. This is the opposite of logic and is not proof of anything.

Now on to what I mean about the language barrier. Christians think in terms of everything from the universe, life, and everything that exists as being created. They are stuck in that position because they believe in a sole source for the existence of everything; namely, God the creator. Secularists and atheists on the other hand don't believe in a creator but rather we think based on objective and empirical evidence that all things came into existence through a gradual process of evolution. Contrary to religious beliefs this is not a faith based position but rather a position based on all of the evidence gathered to this point. The naturalistic view of life does not require a god or some mysterious creator.

At times the jargon can get confusing especially when you are not thoroughly familiar with the subject matter. There is a huge difference between things being created and those things naturally evolving and adapting to the environments in which they are exposed to.

I personally like the process of reverse engineering. When you look at the human body and its parts you will come to realize that we are entirely made up of and function via a series of chemical processes in  our brains and our cells. It is this very fact that makes it in my opinion quite obvious that we came into existence gradually via the process of evolution. It is not hard to imagine a primordial soup as the beginning of life when you think of chemistry and how chemicals react to each other and to the environments in which they are used in. We are the product of an innumerable amount of chemical processes that continue on even today.

To state emphatically that we were "created" is to presuppose a creator and it is this aspect of all theistic arguments in favor of belief that make it so hard for theists to accept evolution. Their religious indoctrination has made the idea of an invisible guy in the sky a logical assumption. Yet they never question the absurdity of an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent beings existence. Considering that fact that there are slightly over 7 billion people inhabiting this planet it is hard to imagine a being who can keep track of them all. A being who knows their individual thoughts, intentions, hears their prayers, knows when they sin, and acknowledges their prayers!

Theists believe this being sits on a throne in his invisible realm called heaven surrounded by angels and other strange beings who do nothing but worship him day and night! (Read Revelation chapter 4). This does not sound any different than the Greek myths about Zeus and other ancient deities. Once you come to realize that your beliefs are based not on facts but on ancient myths and superstitious beliefs then you will be able to take that next step forward in your search for origins. Once you eliminate the gods you are forced to look for a natural solution in nature.