Posts Tagged 'Christianity'

The Irrational Atheist by Vox Day



Awhile back (a long while), someone named Chris commented on my Reading List page (which I have to update) that I should read The Irrational Atheist by Vox Day. Since it’s free to download I agreed, but so far I haven’t gotten past the first chapter. I thought I would write about the first section of the first chapter, and then maybe you can tell me if it’s even worth my time to keep reading.

 

The first chapter is called A Pride of Atheists (barf). Below is the text of the book in black, and my comments in red.

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don’t care if you go to Hell. Shit! Well that’s one way to kick off your book.

 

God does, assuming He exists and assuming you know the mind of God, or He okay this is only the second “He” in this chapter and I’m already annoyed at the capitalizing of the word “he”…God cares about me but he’ll hold it against me if I don’t capitalize a pronoun? wouldn’t have bothered sending His Son to save you from it. Jesus Christ does, too, assuming he existed, if you’ll accept for the sake of argument that he went to all the trouble of incarnating as a man, dying on the cross, and being resurrected from the dead in order to hand you a Get Out of Hell Free card. Is God not omnipotent? He really had to go to all that trouble to give me a Get Out of Hell Free card? And if he went to all that trouble why is my ticket out of hell so conditional? Free my ass!

 

 

Me, not so much. I don’t know you. I don’t owe you anything. I don’t know you either, Vox Day, but if I thought you were going to hell I would care. I’d be absolutely outraged. Nobody deserves eternal torment. While as a Christian I am called to share the Good News with you, I can’t force you to accept it. Horse, water, drink, and all that. Barf.

 

So, it’s all on you. Your soul is not my responsibility.

 

I am a Christian. I’m also a libertarian. I believe in free will and in allowing you to exercise it. I believe that our free will is a gift from our Creator and that He expects us to use it. I believe in living and letting live. If you’ll leave me alone, I’ll be delighted to do you the courtesy of leaving you alone in return. I have no inherent problem with atheists or agnostics, I have no problem with Muslims or Jews or Hindus or Pastafarians, and I have no problem with the crazies who believe that humanity is the result of ancient alien breeding experiments. To be honest, I rather like the crazies—their theories are usually the most entertaining of the lot. I believe what I believe, you believe what you believe, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t both be perfectly cool with that. Sure, fine, I can go along with that.

 

Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens are not so much cool with that. Wha?? Wrong, they’re fine with letting people believe what they want too. Just because they choose to talk about atheism and criticize religion doesn’t mean that they want to force their views onto other people. Richard Dawkins was even part of an ad campaign that encouraged letting children choose for themselves what they believe, rather than labelling them from birth as Christians or Muslims or atheists, etc.

 

I’m not asking you to respect my beliefs. Good, I don’t. So far I don’t particularly respect you either. I mean, you just basically told me that you’ll be fine with it if I go to Hell. Why should you? Maybe you think I’m insane because I believe that Jesus is coming back one of these days, but does my insanity actually affect you in any material way? Not insane, but perhaps misguided. But it’s your prerogative if you think zombie Jesus is coming back. Is my religious madness really all that much more out there than my faith that the Minnesota Vikings will win the Super Bowl someday? Umm yeah the idea that some guy that’s the son of God but is also God who died 2000 years ago is going to come back to life and bring everyone up to heaven with him is kinda way more out there than the possibility that the Vikings will win the Super Bowl. Go Vikings! Talk about the substance of things hoped for . . . Vegas will give you better odds on J.C. this year. Who’s in the house? J.C.! As for your beliefs, I really don’t care if you want to question God’s existence or criticize the Pope or deny the Holocaust or declare that Jesus was an architect previous to his career as a prophet. Every member of humanity is at least a little bit crazy in his own special way, some just happen to make it a little more obvious than others. True dat, yo.

 

Vox’s First Law: Any sufficiently advanced intelligence is indistinguishable from insanity. I guess that’s supposed to be funny or cute or something, but it just doesn’t really work.

 

All I ask, all the vast majority of the billions of people of faith on the planet ask, is to be left alone to believe what we choose to believe and live how we decide to live. That’s fine by me, if only people were content just believing what they choose to believe. Unfortunately many believers want their faith to dictate what gets taught in the science classroom, or they want to decide who can legally marry or whether a woman can choose whether or not to stay pregnant. In some places peoples’ beliefs lead to terrorism and extreme violence against women. People can believe what they want to believe, but once those beliefs start affecting other peoples’ rights, we have to speak out against it. But the Unholy Trinity have no intention of leaving me alone. Richard Dawkins accuses me of child abuse because I teach my children that God loves them even more than I do. I’m not really sure if I agree with Dawkins that labelling your kid as a Christian (or whatever religion) from birth is tantamount to child abuse, but if what you want is for people to believe what they choose to believe, shouldn’t you avoid teaching your kids that there’s a god and let them discover that for themselves? Shouldn’t you let them be exposed to many different religions and to the idea that there may be no god and let them make their own informed decision without your prodding? Sam Harris declares that I should not be tolerated and suggests that it might be ethical to kill me in preemptive self-defense. Um, what? Sam Harris said that Christians should be killed? I seriously doubt that…anyone know what he’s talking about here? Christopher Hitchens asserts that I am a form of human Drāno, poisoning everything I encounter. He said religion poisons everything, not you. And I would sooner compare you to the clog in the drain, because you’re trying to stop the discourse and have everyone shut up about their beliefs, wheras Hitchens, Harris and Dawkins want to get the debate flowing. A fourth New Atheist, the philosopher Daniel Dennett, is less judgmental, but even he, bless his heart, wants to save me from myself. At least he cares enough to want to save you, you don’t even care if he goes to hell!

 

And now we have a problem.

 

That’s why I’m writing this book. I’m not trying to convince you that God exists. Why not? If you convince atheists that God exists then they won’t be out there doing all those horrible things like talking about skepticism of religion and criticizing the Bible. I’m not trying to convince you to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. I’m not even trying to convince you that religious people aren’t lunatics with low IQs who should be regarded with pity and contempt. But I am confident that I will convince you that this trio of New Atheists, this Unholy Trinity, are a collection of faux-intellectual frauds utilizing pseudo-scientific sleight of hand in order to falsely claim that religious faith is inherently dangerous and has no place in the modern world. You won’t succeed if the rest of the book is as full of crap as this first little bit has been.

 

I am saying that they are wrong, they are reliably, verifiably, and factually incorrect. Richard Dawkins is wrong. Daniel C. Dennett is wrong. Christopher Hitchens is drunk he reminds me of Julian from the Trailer Park Boys, always a drink in hand, and he’s wrong. Michel Onfray is French, and he’s wrong OMG, wrong and French?. Sam Harris is so superlatively wrong that it will require the development of esoteric mathematics operating simultaneously in multiple dimensions to fully comprehend the orders of magnitude of his wrongness. All I can do is roll my eyes here.

 

You make the call. Here’s what I think so far: the rest of this book will be a waste of my time.

 

 

***

 

Okay I’m back to black text now…so what do you think? Should I keep reading?

I’m Elated to Be an Atheist

There were a couple of threads on Reddit a little while back about how atheists should talk more about how great it is to become an atheist after being stuck in religious thought for so long. This is something that I think atheists should really advertise, because too often it seems that people who self-identify as atheists are perceived as always just living and thinking in opposition of something. Although it’s true that atheism is purely the rejection of theism, it also, at least in my experience, opens up a whole new world of discovery and possibilities.

As a theist I always had this sense that my thoughts were constantly being monitored, and that my actions were always being judged by big brother up there in the sky. It’s not fun to worry all the time about pissing god off. If I thought a bad thought about somebody I would immediately have this feeling of guilt and dread, and I would pray for forgiveness. I wasn’t actually sure if my religion taught that your thoughts are being policed, but at one point I scoured the Bible to try to find something that said that your bad thoughts don’t count against you, but just in case I made sure that I asked for forgiveness about anything that could count against me. I was scared of hell, y’all, you understand.

Aside from worrying about my own eternal damnation, I was also concerned about my friends and family going to hell. How could I guarantee that they all did the right things so that they could get into heaven with me? Did my grampa accept Jesus as his personal lord and saviour? Did my gay brother guarantee a ticket to hell just for being himself? In highschool a boy on my swim team died by suicide – I must have prayed every night for a year that he wouldn’t be punished for taking his life.

I also feel like I had less of a sense of wonder about the world as a theist. When I would see something like a photo of a beautiful nebula or a video of a coral reef, I would thing “wow, what an imagination that god has.” And the curiosity for how those things got there just didn’t exist. When I believed that god could just magic anything into existence, there just wasn’t that much mystery about the world.

For these reasons and more, the moment I realized that I no longer believed in my God or any other gods was one of the most freeing feelings I had ever experienced. Seriously! For that first few months I would get choked up reading about evolution or listening to podcasts about astronomy. There was this whole world of science out there that I had never allowed myself to absorb. The universe became a giant mystery and my mind was no longer being monitored so I had the freedom to explore questions like “what is the frickin big bang anyways?” and “how did single-celled organisms turn into that beautiful coral reef?” and “what is gravity anyways?” People, gravity is amazing!

I love being able to think whatever I want now. I don’t have to worry about offending sky-daddy with my thoughts, and I can entertain any ideas without worrying about consequences. I also no longer waste time with prayers. People often say that prayer is a nice way to look back on the day and get a nice fuzzy feeling even if it doesn’t work, and that was true for some of my praying, but truthfully I had a lot of anxieties about praying. At my Bible study they would pray so formally, but I tended to just pray as if I was talking to a friend – was I doing it wrong? Was I offending God? I also worried that I would forget to pray for somebody, so my blessings would go on and on until I would just say “and anyone else I may have forgotten” – what a silly exercise! I would also be really careful about what I prayed for, because I worried that if I prayed for something and it didn’t come true that it meant that I wasn’t faithful, or wasn’t a True Christian (TM). No joke – in order to counter this worry that my prayers wouldn’t come true, I would build an out into my prayers. For example, “dear God, please let so-and-so get better, and if he/she doesn’t please be with his/her family in this difficult time, in Jesus name, amen.” I’m so happy that prayer is no longer a part of my life.

There are so many fun things about being an atheist that I just couldn’t experience as a Christian. It’s not that I lost my moral code and I’m just going to run wild now and start trampling over people who get in the way of my fun. I still know what right and wrong is, that had nothing to do with my god-belief. But now I can break all those ridiculous little rules that religion imposes on you that have no reason behind them other than “because god wouldn’t like that.” For example, swearing! Swearing is a wonderful thing. When you stub your toe, screaming “ffuuucckkkkk” is the best pain relief I can think of. Religion gives so much power to these completely harmless groupings of letters, and it’s not just the four-letter-word kind of swearing that I can enjoy now. I can also say “I swear to god” or “oh my god” now. I used to think that those were the worst things I could say, and I’m pretty sure it’s an unforgiveable sin to take the lord’s name in vain. I used to be so careful about not doing that, so it’s so fun to me now to be able to use those words without those silly worries. To give an example of how silly it got with me, my favourite band (The Tragically Hip) has this awesome song called New Orleans is Sinking, and there’s one part that goes “She says Gordie baby I know exactly what you mean She said, she said I swear to God she said” but when I sang along I used to go “She says Gordie baby I know exactly what you mean She said, she said hmm hmm hmm hmmm she said.” Come on, how ridiculous is that? As an atheist I even get to enjoy my favourite songs more!

It’s fantastic being an atheist, and no amount of badgering from a religious person is going to convince me that I’m not a hundred times happier now than I was as a god-believer. That’s why I think all atheist logos should look like this one:

I Used to Be One of those Awful Christians that I Can’t Stand

So I’m still in the process of moving, and I wasn’t planning on doing anymore blogging until I had made a significant dent in my unpacking, but I came across something today that I couldn’t wait to write about so here I am!

I’ve kept a lot of things from my childhood like letters, cards, journals, newspaper clippings, etc. and as I’m  unpacking I decided that I would go through this stuff and try to get it organized. I found a bunch of journals from when I was much younger, and I started reading one that I had to write in as part of our daily class participation when I was in 10th grade (15 years old).

At first I was cringing at what an annoying keener student I was, constantly pestering the teacher about different assignments and class work. But then about a month into the journal things got interesting. After we made our journal entry for the day, the teacher would read it over and put a comment in the margins.

On March 7th, I’m guessing in response to something we had talked about in class, she wrote “Are you involved with your church?”

She would probably regret writing that for the rest of the year, because this was the perfect opening for me to try to save her soul. Some of the things I wrote were unbelievable. I knew that I was passionate about Christianity in highschool, especially in Grade 10, but I had no memories of being so obnoxious about it.

To give a little bit of background, 10th grade was my first year in highschool, and it was also my first exposure to evangelical Christians. These new friends had a big influence on my thinking about Christianity, and they introduced me to the wackaloon ideas of the Rapture and the end times. They also got me hooked on reading that ghastly Left Behind series (click the link if you don’t already know what that is, the rest of this may not make sense if you don’t).

*****

Alrighty, time to start showing you what an insufferable Christian I was when I was 15…here are selected quotes from my journal (leaving my poor punctuation choices intact), with the notes from the teacher in italics, and comments from me in red, starting with after she asked about church:

March 8 – I wouldn’t say I’m involved much with my church because the sermons don’t really capture me, and I don’t feel I belong. I’d like to start going to [the local evangelical megachurch] because I’ve heard a tape of their pastor, and he’s really good. This is explained in a note I found in my memories box from an evangelical friend, who lent me a taped sermon on prayer from her church. I remember listening to that, and I seem to remember the minister talking about how dinosaur bones were put there by the devil to test our faith. I took notes from these tapes in my Bible, which I talked about in this post. I’ve been really devoted to God ever since I started reading this book series. The first one is called Left Behind…you should read them because they might save your life. Save your life??? WTF was wrong with me?

“I have faith and am an active member of my church. Thanks for giving me the names of the books though.” In other words, please stop pestering me.

April 27 – Have you ever read the books called Left Behind? I guess I forgot that I had told her about them already. I love those books! …It’s a series, and they’re really amazing…When you read the back it will sound like science fiction, but it’s soooo not! Of course it’s not, no science fiction could be as craptastic as the LB series. READ THEM!!!!!!!!! You’re guaranteed to love them. They get better each new book!!! Tell me if you read them!

“I will.” She then went on to explain how she doesn’t read much fiction, she probably thought that would be the end of it. Ha! I’m trying to save her soul here!

April 28 – No you have to read them!!!!!!!! It’s not fiction at all!!!!!!!!! All the stuff in them is taken from the Bible! The only thing made up are the characters!

I guess I misunderstood. I will tell you if I read them. Ha, she can’t get rid of me that easy!

May 5 – Today the world was supposed to end! Guess not! Huh? I had no idea what I was talking about here, so I looked up 05/05/2000 and found this. The world won’t ever end. First Jesus comes and takes all his people, then theres 7 years of destruction on the Earth, then the world is rebuilt and living on Earth is like living in heaven! Source: a crappy fiction series loosely based on the zaniest book in the Bible. I got no response from the teacher on this one…

May 9 – Aren’t you going to answer our journals from May 5th? Have you read those books yet? You really should!

“I haven’t read the books. I’m pretty much at peace with my beliefs. Thank you for thinking about me.” If you thought I could take a hint, you thought wrong.

May 10 – You really should read them, though. What are your beliefs exactly? Have you read the Bible? She wrote “Yes” in the margin. I love reading the new testament. It’s beautiful. My favourite Bible verse is 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 “We are often troubled, but never in despair. dometi…I forgot it! But it’s beautiful! Oh Christ I can’t believe how annoying I was.

Yes it is beautiful. I don’t discuss my faith because it is so personal and important to me and I don’t feel I should have to explain it or defend it. I am happy that you have found your faith and that you have such serenity. I definitely didn’t have serenity with my faith if I was spending so much time trying to tell someone that the world would end soon.

May 11 – I disagree that you feel you shouldn’t discuss your faith, because it’s very important to share, and in doing so you may save other people. But I understand that it’s against policy for teachers to discuss subjects like that, even though I believe that rule is wrong. That’s right, I was one of those ignorant buffoons who thought that Christianity should be taught in schools.

There is a difference working in the public school system and the private school system. At [Mennonite School] or [Catholic School] religion is separate and integrated so teachers talk about their faith. The public school system has students and teachers of all faiths and if religion is discussed it can offend Buddhist students or Jewish students or Jehovah Witnesses – all of whom have distinct beliefs they value. You will notice there is no public praying in schools.

Although she was a Christian, she made a compelling argument against faith being brought into school, but of course 15-year-old me couldn’t let it go. When I read this next part today I was horrified, my face turned red, and my husband wondered what was wrong with me…

May 12 – I still hold to my belief that Christianity should be brought into the school, because all those people who are in those other religions are going to hell, pardon, I was pardoning myself for saying a swear word, not for saying those people are hell-bound…oh the horror! and same with the kids who don’t believe anything. kids! And I had no problem with this stuff! People think that being a good person will get you to heaven, but you have to confess your sins and ask for forgiveness from God and truly believe in Jesus and God and know that Jesus died to save us to get into heaven. And that’s a fact! Why do people think atheists are the smug ones? This might make it seem like God’s bad, um, yeah. but it’s man’s fault, because when Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they gave the world to the devil, so he’s controlling everything on earth. And you could say God’s like a car, and we’re his gas. He needs our prayers to help us, and he wants us to go to heaven, but some of us don’t believe, and the devil keeps them to himself and they go to hell.  What the poop was I talking about? If this journal weren’t in my handwriting I probably wouldn’t believe that I could ever write down such ignorant and awful things.

In your adult life perhaps that is one of the ways in which you can serve – get involved in politics and make changes in the way schools are run. Translation: I’ll ignore the part where you went batshit insane and insulted almost everyone in the world and try to focus your crazy into a future goal.

*****

The journal went on and I would say it even got worse, but for now I think I’ve put you through enough. When I found these words that I had written what I really wanted to do was to burn them so that nobody could know about these horrible thoughts I had, but I swallowed my pride because I think it’s interesting to show how far I’ve come.

Finding that journal has shown me that it’s possible for people with fundamentalist beliefs to learn to use reason and to come around to a skeptical worldview. I’m so glad that I’m not that person anymore.

I may blog about the rest of the journal another time, but I also came across a few other interesting artifacts from my religious past: (1) a letter I wrote to the Bishop when I was confirmed into the Catholic Church, (2) a letter explaining why I wanted to quit going to my church, and (3) a philosophy paper from my first year in university in favour of the existence of God. I hope to write about those soon!

Now back to unpacking…or to bed, wow it’s late!

Response to a Christian Comment

While I was away on my trip, a Christian named Josh posted a comment on my About page, and since it contained a mish-mash of things I commonly hear from Christians I thought I would make a post out of responding to it.

Hey,
Just thought I’d share something. I am a christian and have recently been watching some clips of “Jesus Camp” “Religulous” and some of Dawkins videos (thats how I stumbled onto your site lol). I try to understand the Atheist point of view but can’t quite get my head around it.

I’m not a fan of your decision to capitalize the word “atheist”, because atheism isn’t the name of a belief system or religion. Atheists are without theism, that is without a belief in any god or gods. That’s the point of view that all atheists have in common, and what they believe apart from that has nothing to do with atheism.

A lot of it is just totally bashing Christianity or any other organized religion, but mainly Christianity.

What you may see as bashing, to an atheist may just look like fair criticism. Many atheists, such as myself, feel that religion shouldn’t be immune to criticism, skepticism and doubt, and choose to openly criticize it. You may feel that Christianity gets the worst of it, and that’s probably because you’re a Christian so you notice more, or because you live in an area where Christianity is common, so it’s naturally what people who criticize religion will talk about. Personally when I talk about religion on my blog it’s generally going to be Christianity because I was a Christian for most of my life, so that’s where my experience with religion lies.

I also watched a clip of Ben Steins video “Expelled” in which he interviews Dawkins and he comes up with a very complicated example of how live could have started. He believes that it is very much possible that a being of higher intelligence could have created life on earth.

Watch that clip again. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen Expelled, but if I remember correctly Stein was leading Dawkins into that answer by asking if it’s possible for an intelligent life form to have created life on earth. Dawkins is not closed-minded to the idea that life was placed on Earth by an intelligence, so he entertained the idea be answering that maybe we were placed here by an intelligence, without departing from the reality that there is no scientific evidence of any supernatural being. Ben Stein knew what he would get when he asked that question, and he knew that he could make Dawkins look crazy by telling people that he believes we were placed here by aliens. I believe it should be clear to anyone who sees that clip that Dawkins was being misrepresented.

I wouldn’t take Expelled as an authority on anything. The filmmakers were completely dishonest during the making of Expelled. They lied to the atheists and scientists they interviewed about the topic of the film, the name of it, and they even went as far as making up a production company and website to trick people into getting on board. Stein’s interview style was also designed to try to bring out the worst in the scientists being interviewed. If you’re interested, this website talks about the making of Expelled and it responds to the dishonesty and lies that run rampant in the so-called documentary.

So essentially he is willing to believe in a higher intelligence, but it CANNOT be God.

Saying Dawkins CANNOT believe in God is dishonest. He always makes it clear that he doesn’t completely discount the possibility of a God. Like me, he doesn’t say with absolute certainty that there is no God. I believe that it’s more likely that we were seeded on Earth by aliens than popped into existence by a god. The reason for this is that we have no scientific evidence of anything supernatural or god-like, but we do have evidence of intelligent beings evolving from simple life (ourselves), and scientists are getting close to creating life from scratch in the lab, and we’ve done some modest space travel. Maybe we’re only a couple hundred years off of seeding life on other planets ourselves, why couldn’t that be how we got here? Of course I don’t believe that we were put here by aliens for the same reason I don’t believe we were put here a god – there’s no evidence for either. Right now I’m satisfied with saying “who knows how we got here, I hope science can eventually give us the answer.” I’m sure that’s what Dawkins would say as well, although I’m sure he would put it more eloquently.

This is looking at a Scientific and logical perspective:

The atheist generally claims that belief in a God without proof is essentially silliness. Additionally, an atheist generally accepts modern science and attempts to use it as means to prove or disprove the existence of God.

I would rephrase this to say: “atheists generally claim that belief in a god without evidence is intellectually lazy. Additionally, an atheist generally accepts modern science and uses it as a tool for examining claims and evidence made for the existence of a god.”

But the problem comes in here for me: Science can only “prove” something if it is able to be tested. The possibility that God exists cannot be tested (because it is a spiritual existence not necessarily a physical one) and therefore cannot be proven to be non-existent. So if science cannot prove or disprove God (however, it can and does give evidence for both sides of the argument) then there is some “belief” involved in the unbelieving atheist. You see, the common atheist says God doesn’t exist because it can’t be proven, but therein lies the problem in their position: God cannot be disproven either. Therefore there is some type of belief/faith involved in being an atheist. They don’t have absolute proof they just think they do.

Let me rephrase this too, and hopefully you can see why I think that what you just said is absurd:

But the problem comes in here for me: Science can only “prove” something if it is able to be tested. The possibility that Leprechauns exists cannot be tested (because it is a magical existence not always a physical one) and therefore cannot be proven to be non-existent. So if science cannot prove or disprove Leprechauns (however, it can and does give evidence for both sides of the argument) then there is some “belief” involved in the unbelieving aleprechaunist. You see, the common aleprechaunist says Leprechuans don’t exist because they can’t be proven, but therein lies the problem in their position: Leprechauns cannot be disproven either. Therefore there is some type of belief/faith involved in being an aleprechaunist. They don’t have absolute proof they just think they do.

Your phrasing here indicates a few things:

1) You believe that not being able to prove that something doesn’t exist is a good argument for its existence. Hint: it’s not.

2) You believe that atheists claim to have proof that there is no god. Not true. Like most atheists I talk to, I know that it’s impossible to disprove something, so my non-belief comes from the fact that I’ve never seen any evidence for the existence of any god. I’ll keep on not believing until I see evidence, and there’s no faith needed there.

3) You said that science gives evidence for both sides of the argument, so this indicates that you have scientific evidence for the existence of a god (even though you said God can’t be tested). How does this make sense? And what scientific evidence do you have?

Now I can tell you that God can be proven as real. If you have never experienced God, then you would never know how real He is. Atheists would logically explain that it is impossible to experience God because He isn’t real. How can you prove that? The truth of the matter is, you can’t if you don’t have a relationship with Him to really know Him. He isn’t like a boss that stays up in heaven and doesn’t like coming out of His office. He loves to be in fellowship with His children. Those who think of Him as that kind of God (the kind that just sits in heaven not showing Himself) will never be able to find out of God is real, its simply not possible.

I am being very honest right now in saying that I know that I know that I know God is real, because of the relationship that I’v developed with Him. And people have no clue the power of prayer. Not prayer for selfish reasons or to fulfill our own goals, but the kind that believes in God’s power and is obedient, humble, and patient for God’s perfect timing.
(Jeremiah 29:11-14)

So you’re saying that the only way to believe in God is if you have a personal relationship with God, but how can I get this personal relationship with God until he shows himself to me? Why can you have a relationship with God but I can’t? If God has proven himself to you then he should prove himself to everybody. Why can you have a personal relationship with him but I’m supposed to just believe you that God’s real? Shouldn’t God know that I require scientific evidence to believe in him? So why doesn’t he provide some? Does God have such petty disregard for souls that aren’t satisfied with taking things on faith?

And what of the people who say they have a personal relationship with a different god or with a ghost or an alien? Why should I believe your personal experience over theirs? Should I believe everyone who tells me with sincerity that they have a personal relationship with their god? How many gods are there??

Do you see why this personal relationship thing is unconvincing? Not to mention I was a devout Christian for most of my life, and I never once heard God speaking to me or felt a presence. How do you define a personal relationship?

I mean I have seen God do amazing things in my life and in the people around me. I have seen 8 people healed of cancer in the same year, without Chemotherapy (mind you there is no cure for cancer). All these people believed in the power of God, and they waited patiently and humbly and were healed.

That’s fantastic that they were healed of their cancer but there are other ways besides Chemotherapy that doctors use to fight cancer. You haven’t given me any specifics about these 8 people but I sure hope their health is being monitored by doctors. I believe that the most sinister result of belief in prayer is that some people rely on it in favour of medical treatment. There are stories in the news all the time about people dying of easily treatable diseases because they (or their parents) believed that prayer would save them. If you care for these 8 people you’ll advise them to visit the doctor for regular checkups. Even if you believe that God is healing these people, at least be open to the possibility that God heals through doctors and medical treatments.

I could share many more miracles (lost things coming back, running on an empty gas tank for 20 miles, many many more).

Finding something you lost is a miracle? Running on an empty gas tank? I’ve done that – you know the needle says empty well before the tank is actually empty right? Your standards for miracles are really low.

It’s amazing how those who don’t have a relationship with God never experience such things.

I don’t have a relationship with God and guess what? I find things I’ve lost all the time! I have a story that when I was a Christian I considered a miracle: When I was in university once I went to campus for a final exam for one of my classes 8 hours early so that I would have time to study. I wanted to make sure I had the location right for my exam, so I checked the schedule only to find out that my exam would be starting in 15 minutes! I thought God made me check the schedule so that I wouldn’t miss my exam. Now I realize that it was pure dumb luck. You know what would have been a miracle? If God had stopped time so that I’d have an extra 8 hours to study…maybe that way I wouldn’t have gotten a C on that exam…

Many would argue why God would do that, but its not God at all. It was sin that destroyed man’s relationship with God. (Genesis 3:23-24)

It wasn’t my sin, it was Eve’s. Your petty God is holding a grudge against everyone alive today for something someone did thousands of years ago, and you worship this guy?

And when I say sin it sounds sooo cliche, but God created us in His image (Genesis 1:27) so that we could be in constant fellowship with Him. But if our spirit is not righteous and holy like He is, then we simply cannot fellowship with Him. Its like the polar sides of a magnet, they simply cannot attract its impossible.

I see nothing righteous about the God depicted in the Bible.

When it all comes to an end, every person on earth must die. We are NEVER guaranteed tomorrow. And when each person dies, at that moment, they will know the truth of this issue of if God is real or not. The scary part is if someone is unprepared when they finally face the truth. Because at that moment you cannot go back and try to relive your life correctly.

I’m not worried.

Many say why live a Christian life because its so hard. Not really, not when you realize how much God loved us to sacrifice Himself to restore us to the place that he created us.

I lived the Christian life and it wasn’t hard. Now I try my best to live the skeptical life and that’s hard, but, I feel, way more fulfilling. Trying to hold your beliefs up to high standards of evidence and critical thinking is a challenge, but it is rewarding and I learn and grow more every day. As a Christian I felt that I had the answer to life and the afterlife, and I could look to the Bible for easy answers to everything. The faith I had suppressed my curiosity and it didn’t allow me to freely learn and explore ideas like I do now.

I really don’t know why, but I felt like sharing this with you.

Thank you for sharing. I know some of what I said may have felt harsh and like I was bashing Christianity, but I hope you are able to read my thoughts without taking them personally, and I hope you’re able to consider some of the questions and criticisms I’ve put forward. I think it’s fantastic that you’re looking into atheism and thinking about questions of evidence and faith. I think it’s important to examine your tightly held beliefs, to make sure that you’ve got good reason for holding them. When I started looking honestly at what I believed and why I found that I no longer believed. For some people this type of inquiry may lead to strengthened faith. Either way, I applaud anyone’s willingness to test their faith.

How Can Women Stay Catholic?

I’m sorry about the rare posting lately, July has proven to be a crazy month. I bought a house so I’m packing up the apartment, looking for new tenants for our old place, I’m also in a wedding party for a wedding next week, going camping with the fam soon and getting ready for a trip to Europe next month. So I think I’m excused for my poor attendance on my blog lately!

What prompted me to write today was a post on Friendly Atheist. You may have heard about this recent news out of the Catholic Church:

The Vatican today made the “attempted ordination” of women one of the gravest crimes under church law, putting it in the same category as clerical sex abuse of minors, heresy and schism.

The new rules, which have been sent to bishops around the world, apply equally to Catholic women who agree to a ceremony of ordination and to the bishop who conducts it. Both would be excommunicated. Since the Vatican does not accept that women can become priests, it does not recognise the outcome of any such ceremony.

I want to talk about the question (more like a questatement) that Hemant Mehta posed on his blog post in regards to this news:  “I really want to know why any self-respecting women would remain in a Church that treats them so poorly.”

It’s an interesting thing to think about, and I’m sure a lot of atheists would have a hard time seeing why any person would remain in the Catholic Church even before these new rules came out. I know I express all the time my incredulity at anyone who stays in any religion. But really, for most of my life I was religious, and there are billions of people out there who have no problem belonging to religions that tell them they’re worthless without their god of choice.

So why is it that people will go on believing in a religion that has so little respect for them?

Here’s the comment I posted on the Friendly Atheist post:

When I was a Catholic I accepted that as a woman I was inherently inferior to men due to Eve’s mistake. Stupid, I know…but if other Catholic women think like I did then they’re not self-respecting women, so the Church’s declaration would probably just be swallowed like all the other bullshit the Church dishes out.

I want to elaborate a little on that because it got me thinking back into the mindset I had when I had no problem accepting such a harsh doctrine.

Growing up my parents never pigeonholed us into gender roles. My brother played with Barbies and I played with Hot Wheels and they never discouraged us from doing non-girly or non-boyish things. So where did this idea come from that I’m inherently inferior to men? I think it started when I was in highschool and I became friends with a couple of evangelical Christians. We had our spares together, and my friend would bring her Bible and we would discuss various topics of interest to Christians. I only had a passive interest in my Bible until she started telling me about this and that inspirational story, and that’s when I started really looking at the thing (of course I looked selectively like a true Christian would, see the post on my childhood Bible).

I think that once you allow yourself to be immersed in the culture of Christianity it’s only natural to start to believe things like abortion is always wrong, homosexuality is a sin, women should stay in their place, etc. I believed that the Bible was true, and I believed that God was good and loving. I also bought into that crap about humans being sinners who need to repent. I believed that all humans had to pay for the mistakes of Adam and Eve, and somehow it didn’t cross my mind that God was at fault for putting the apple in the garden to begin with. And of course, I believed that Jesus would save me from my sinful ways.

I remember once telling someone…I can’t remember who it was, or what we were discussing…I think I was telling someone why I believed feminism is stupid, and my reasoning was Eve ate the apple and that’s why women have the joy of menstruation and that’s why our job is to serve men. Women have to pay for her mistake, too bad, so sad. I have no idea if that’s really what the Bible said, but it was enough that it seemed like something that the Bible would say, because it was nice to have a pat answer.

Christianity was easy. It had black and white responses for almost everything. Rather than delving into the complicated ethics of abortion, I could just refer back to “thou shalt not kill.” I think that’s a large part of what drew me to the religion. I thought I had all the answers, and I felt like I was in on the secret to everlasting life in heaven. It’s a nice feeling provided your thoughts don’t drift to those poor souls who haven’t heard the good news.

Okay I’d better get back to the topic, which is why Catholic women stay in a church that treats them like second-class citizens. When you’re a part of a church you generally buy into the idea that you’re a sinner, and that this church has the answers you need to gain entry to heaven. The problems that exist in the world are caused by the evils of humans rather than of God. You trust the church leaders because they speak with authority, they’ve studied the religion all their lives, they must know what God wants you to do.

Once you’ve accepted this then it’s in your best interest to act how your church wants you to act. When I went to church on a regular basis with my family, I revered our priest. I felt like when he shook my hand or handed me the sacrament that I was getting a special gift from a holy person. I trusted that what he taught was the truth, and I thought that all churches were probably like mine because what I was being taught just seemed to make sense.

It’s hard for outsiders to see why someone would associate themselves with an organization that, it seems, is always in the news for the horrible things it says and does. But when you’re indoctrinated to believe that you’re a worthless sinner, you don’t have self-respect, and you go along with what the Church wants you to do because that’s the way to be saved from your horrible self. Although it may seem from the outside that women shouldn’t belong to an organization that has so little respect for them, that’s just the harsh reality that the believer accepts. You believe that the Church has your best interests at heart, and that when they say something like “the ordination of women is a crime,” they’re really just trying to save the souls of would-be female priests.

Atheist/Rationalist Reading the Bible

Just sharing a link,

Here‘s someone who is reading the Bible cover-to-cover, and rationalizing as she goes. The tag line:

My journey through the pages of “The Holy Book,” what I uncover and how my knowledge of history and my rational thinking explain its secrets.

She’s plugging along at a good pace too, so if you’ve ever wanted to read the whole book you might want to read along with her!

Good stuff!

Update 2 – Jesus Camp Kids, Where Are They Now?

A long time ago I posted a couple of unsatisfyingly vague blog entries on what I could find out about where the kids from the documentary Jesus Camp are today. Based on the amount of people that get here by Googling “Jesus Camp where are they now”, this is something that a lot of you are interested in, including myself.

Personally, I was hoping to find out that the reactions to the movie made them question the beliefs they were brainwashed into. Unfortunately, today I found this video of Levi O’Brien, which shows that the camp leader Becky Fischer’s brainwashing worked, at least in his case.

EDIT: I obviously wasn’t paying close enough attention when I watched the video – this is actually Levi’s brother Luke.

If you don’t remember, Levi is the boy with the rat tail who started preaching at a young age. The video I linked to shows Levi preaching. His preaching style matches that of Becky Fischer in the movie perfectly…it even sounds like he slips into speaking in tongues at one point, though he might be scatting? Can’t be too sure…

It doesn’t say it on the video, but a bit of quick research tells me this was filmed in July, 2009 at the Kingdom of Light Conference, which I believe is put on by Kids in Ministry International. He’s 17 in the video.

In case you can’t watch the video, here’s my transcript. It was hard to hear at parts, so I tried to get it as close as possible to what he actually said:

It says in the Bible “the kingdom of God”, that’s how it starts out, and we know the kingdom of God, “God is light”, so the kingdom of God we could call it the kingdom of light. It says the kindom of light is an ever-increasing kindom.
Right? So you can get the light. You ask Jesus into your heart, you get the light, right? But then, look at this, it’s up to you. It is an ever increasing kindom, but it’s up to you how bright your light is. I want my light to be so bright. You know really I hate this line “this little light of mine”, I hate that line, it’s in Samantha’s song but then she says “it can grow” or something like that so I’m not putting that song down, I love that song, she wrote that song, isn’t that great? I love that song.
But “this little light of mine”, why I hate that song is because we can choose to have a little light. It’s up to us how bright our light shines. So this little light of mine, it’s up to me how bright my light is. I can have a little light if I want to. Just a little light, I can be saved going to heaven, but if I only want a little light you know what? That’s all God will give me. You just want a little light? I’ll give you a little light. But it’s an ever increasing kingdom, which means it never stops how bright your light can get, boys and girls. It never stops how bright your light can get. Which means it can get brighter and brighter and brighter. Just ask, just ask God I want to be brighter today than I’ve ever been before. Ever been before.
You know what lets stand up I’m getting pumped up. I’ll have Emily come play piano. I want to be brighter than I’ve ever been before, right? Isn’t that the way it is? If that’s you just get up here right now. I want to be brighter, I want to be brighter than ever before.
I gave you my light, and I say let me go! I want to be bright! And God I make a statement right now, I won’t turn back, I’ll keep getting brighter! Amen! [theaudience is repeating after him throughout this prayer]
Jesus! Thank you, just praise Jesus right now. We thank you God, we thank you God that you gave us a light, you gave us a bright light. I’m just going to pray, see what God wants us to do right now. Shoobeedoobeedoobeeshweebeedoobee…Jesus! Jesus! You know what? Just keep this in your hearts, keep this in your hearts. And tonight, tonight I believe there’s going to be an explosion tonight. It can be exploding you right now but lets wait until tonight. Keep that in your hearts. I believe God wants us to go out and pray for everybody right now. I guess it’s close to break time it’s like 12:10, but tonight it’s going to explode. We can get brighter and brighter, it’s an ever-increasing kingdom. God bless you guys, thank you.
And guess who walks up on stage at the end? None other than Becky Fischer herself.
I don’t get what he’s trying to say…God is light so the kindom of God is the kingdom of light, but he wants us to try to get a bigger and bigger light so does that mean we’re claiming more and more of God to ourselves? And if a little light will get me into heaven, why be so greedy? Why would I need more? Maybe get a little light and then stop spending time demanding more light from God? And I guess he doesn’t mean literally “light”, but what does he mean? I don’t understand…but making sense and preaching don’t generally go hand in hand.

Christian Philosopher Fails at Exploring Causes of Atheism

I came across this article, which purports to be an exploration by a Christian philosopher into the root causes of atheism, but in the end is just a laundry list of ignorant statements about how the philosopher, James S. Spiegel, sees atheists.

I think it’s a great idea for Christians, and people of all religions, to look at the reasons behind why others reject their beliefs. If Christians listened to why atheists are atheists, it could help them to see the problems with their faith that need to be fixed, but it could also force them to challenge their own beliefs and see how strong their faith really is.

Spiegel has written a book called The Making of an Atheist, but based on the sampling that this article takes of his ideas, it amounts to a waste of time, as he hasn’t made any attempt to honestly represent atheists’ rejection of religious beliefs. This becomes obvious in the second paragraph:

“While atheists insist that their foundational reason for rejecting God is the problem of evil or the scientific irrelevance of the supernatural, the Christian philosopher says the argument is “only a ruse” or “a conceptual smoke screen to mask the real issue – personal rebellion.”

So rather than thinking about the problems with belief in God that atheists bring up, Spiegel conveniently dismisses these as a cover for what is really just rebellion. It’s an easy way for him to go on and make unfounded assertions about what atheists think, but it’s also insulting. My atheism has not arisen out of some desire to rebel against the beliefs I was brought up in, it’s simply a result of questioning whether my beliefs had any basis in reality.

God has made His existence plain from creation – from the unimaginable vastness of the universe to the complex micro-universe of individual cells, Spiegel notes. Human consciousness, moral truths, miraculous occurrences and fulfilled biblical prophecies are also evidence of the reality of God.

But atheists reject that, or as Spiegel put it, “miss the divine import of any one of these aspects of God’s creation” and to do so is “to flout reason itself.”

If “look around you, there are lots of complex things! Therefore, God” is reason enough to state that God’s existence is obvious, then fine. But that’s not good enough for an atheist. His evidence for “the reality of God” is pitiful.

Human consciousness? Doesn’t outlive the brain. Moral truths? They’re subjective, they change over time, and we certainly don’t gain any insight into moral truth from reading holy books. Miraculous occurences? Either explained by natural phenomena, or unexplained – which is not a synonym for “god did it”. Biblical Prophesies? If Spiegel spent a couple of hours reading criticisms of the prophesies made in the Bible, he would see how unconvincing they are.

This suggests that other factors give rise to the denial of God, he notes. In other words, something other than the quest for truth drives the atheist.

No, the quest for truth is good enough for me.

The explanation behind Spiegel’s ignorance of why atheists are actually atheists is that he is taking his reasoning from the Bible, rather than asking atheists. Seriously! Yeah that’s a good start, just ignore what atheists have to say and use a bronze-age book to support your pre-formed conclusion.

Here’s a face-palmer:

“There is a phenomenon that I call ‘paradigm-induced blindness,’ where a person’s false worldview prevents them from seeing truths which would otherwise be obvious.

Fixed:

“There is a phenomenon that I call ‘paradigm-induced blindness,’ where a person’s faith or religion prevents them from seeing truths which would otherwise be obvious.

That’s better.

What really bothers me about Spiegel’s characterization of atheists, and it’s a view held by a lot of religious people, is that he repeatedly insists that people become atheists when they want to sin:

Religious skepticism is, at bottom, a moral problem…”Atheism is the suppression of truth by wickedness, the cognitive consequence of immorality. In short, it is sin that is the mother or unbelief.”…Spiegel, who converted to Christianity in 1980, has witnessed the pattern among several of his friends. Their path from Christianity to atheism involved: moral slippage (such as infidelity, resentment or unforgiveness); followed by withdrawal from contact with fellow believers; followed by growing doubts about their faith, accompanied by continued indulgence in the respective sin; and culminating in a conscious rejection of God.

It’s really upsetting to me that people like Spiegel see atheists as just the dregs of society. He thinks that we’re all addicted to sinning and that our brains are so corrupted by it that we can’t believe in God. This prejudice against atheists is completely unfounded, and it’s a pathetic argument to make. I’m curious to see if he included any studies or statistics to back up his claims that atheists are immoral, but somehow I doubt that he has any.

This article also talks about how Spiegel thinks that having a defective father leads to atheism. To support this idea, he cites a paper called the Psychology of Atheism by Paul C. Vitz. The article says that Vitz has “revealed a link between atheism and fatherlessness.” What? I read the paper (here), and he hasn’t revealed anything! To briefly summarize, Vitz sees atheists as people who hate their fathers, and therefore want to rebel against their heavenly father.

There is no research, just examples of some atheists with daddy issues. It’s a straightforward question: “do atheists have worse relationships with their fathers than believers?” Why hasn’t Vitz done this study to back up his paper?

This is getting long so I’m going to wrap this up. Spiegel (and Vitz) have failed to demonstrate that atheism is a result of rebellion or immorality. They have made many claims but don’t support these claims with evidence. Evidence is what atheists require, and the lack of evidence for the Christian God or any other God is the real reason why the majority of atheists are atheists.

Spiegel’s claims about atheists are shallow, patronizing, insulting, and just plain wrong.

The Manhattan Declaration

I don’t get on Twitter very often, but today I decided to check it out today, and thanks to Dave the Happy Singer‘s tweets, found out about this disgusting document called the Manhattan Declaration.

The subtitle of this document is “A Call of Christian Conscience”. If this document is any indication of the Christian conscience, well…I’m speechless.

Here are some exerpts from the declaration, but I suggest you read it yourself to get a glimpse into the mind of some of these people who are opposing gay marriage and womens’ rights to abortions, as well as trying to insert their religious beliefs into America’s secular government:

[...]the institution of marriage, already buffeted by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is in jeopardy of being redefined to accommodate fashionable ideologies; that freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions.

Allowing gay marriage does not compel any person of faith to do anything. It’s as if they think that providing this right to someone else is tantamount to forcing them to marry someone of the same sex. Nobody is asking you to be gay! You don’t even have to like gay people, just let them have their rights and keep your nose out of their business.

For example, human embryo-destructive research and its public funding are promoted in the name of science and in the cause of developing treatments and cures for diseases and injuries.

Hmm, are they taking about stem-cell research? Honestly…if you’re going to oppose something, at least makes sure you understand what it is. Stem-cells used for research aren’t, and will never be, babies. And using them to develop treatments and cures, they say that like it’s a bad thing! I thought they were pro-life, yet they don’t want to allow for potentially life-saving research?

Oh dear FSM…they go on to equate stem-cell research with assisted suicide:

Eugenic notions such as the doctrine of lebensunwertes Leben (“life unworthy of life”) were first advanced in the 1920s by intellectuals in the elite salons of America and Europe. Long buried in ignominy after the horrors of the mid-20th century, they have returned from the grave. The only difference is that now the doctrines of the eugenicists are dressed up in the language of “liberty,” “autonomy,” and “choice.”

Wow, there are some parts of this document that I won’t even copy over to my blog, it’s gross.

Vast human experience confirms that marriage is the original and most important institution for sustaining the health, education, and welfare of all persons in a society.

Does all persons include women? Because maybe they didn’t read about the possible lifting of the ban on spousal rape in the Bahamas, or maybe they missed the Islamic guide to beating your wife without leaving marks? The document talks about how we need to stop the spread of AIDS, do they think marriage does this? I guess they haven’t heard about unfaithful husbands in Africa bringing spreading AIDS to their wives. But I suppose they would say these people aren’t Christians…well the document quotes Ephesians 5:32-33. Did they happen to notice Ephesians 5:22-23? The part where it says that womens should submit to their husbands? I suppose that’s for their welfare. (barf).

At least they admit that they aren’t doing so well when it comes to marriages:

We confess with sadness that Christians and our institutions have too often scandalously failed to uphold the institution of marriage and to model for the world the true meaning of marriage. Insofar as we have too easily embraced the culture of divorce and remained silent about social practices that undermine the dignity of marriage we repent, and call upon all Christians to do the same.

Maybe they’ll be able to model the true meaning of marriage by focusing on their own damn families, and by not worrying about what gay people are doing.

No one has a civil right to have a non-marital relationship treated as a marriage. Marriage is an objective reality—a covenantal union of husband and wife—that it is the duty of the law to recognize and support for the sake of justice and the common good. If it fails to do so, genuine social harms follow.

 #$&*%^$@#%$@%%#$*!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have no more words. I want to believe that most of the purported 333,642 people who have signed so far just got bored after the first paragraph and signed not realizing what it actually said, but give the United States’ record on gay rights, I doubt it.

[Note: Hopefully this hasn't been too incoherent...I've been listening to anti-atheist podcasts all day and now this, my brain is turning to mush]

My Bible

I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, and now that I have a few days off work I finally have the chance. I decided that it might be interesting to look at the Bible I used growing up. Looking at the Bible now is a completely different experience. I used to somehow be able to skim over the nasty parts and pick out the nice stuff, but that’s no longer the case. My personal Bible is full of highlighted portions and the occasional note, so I think it will be fun to have a look at what I used to find worthy of highlighting.

Here is my Bible (you can see it’s very worn and used…it’s been through a lot with me!):

I added the scare quotes to “Good News” after I realized that it was all a bunch of bull.

This Bible is quite a bit different than the more popular translations, and although I had those two around my house I always preferred this one because it was very easy to read. I often have to refer back to the King James though because the differences in the narrative are sometimes quite significant.

Here’s what the forward of this Bible says this about its translation:

The Good News Bible (Today’s English Version) is a translation which seeks to state clearly and accurately the meaning of the original texts in words and forms that are widely accepted by people who use English as a means of communication. This translation does not follow the traditional vocabulary and style found in the historic English Bible versions. Instead it attempts to present the biblical content and message in a standard, everyday, natural English.

My name and the date I got my Bible written in the front cover. I was 9 years old.

I got the Bible in Sunday school when I was 9. I remember being so excited. It smelled awesome and it was my first grown-up book. I hated Sunday school (I always had to rush from art class to get there), but I loved my Bible. I guess they chose such an easy to read translation because they were giving it to young children.

One of the best parts of this Bible is the pictures. I’ll probably be posting a lot of them here. Although I think if my parents would have seen some of the images they wouldn’t have been too happy with me having access to them as a 9-year-old. They were very careful to shelter us from violence. We never had video games in my house, and my parents pre-watched movies and TV shows to make sure they didn’t have violence or sexuality. But this Bible is certainly packed full of images depicting very violent scenes…here are a few of them:

I only had to get to page 11 to see images of animals and people, including frightened children, being drowned by God.

I only had to get to page 11 to see scenes of animals and people, including frightened children, being drowned by God.

Abraham, fully prepared to stab his child.

I'm not even sure why they felt in necessary to draw this image. It's not depicting a story, but rather what could potentially happen to those that reject the Lord.

All of these images are taken from the first 150 pages of my Bible.

Since the people who put this Bible together obviously had no problem depicting violence, I was curious how they would translate some of the more sexually explicit stories into plain English.  An obvious one to look at is the story of Lot and his daughters in Sodom & Gemorrah. In the King James Version, the words for “have sex with” are “to know”,  so it’s pretty vague and easy to gloss over. But I was shocked to see that in this kid-reading-comprehension version this is how the story is told:

Genesis 19:4-8

Before the guests went to bed, the men of Sodom surrounded the house. All the men of the city, both young and old, were there. They called out to Lot and asked, “Where are the men who came to stay with you tonight? Bring them to us!” The men of Sodom wanted to have sex with them.

Lot went outside and closed the door behind him. He said to them, “Friends, I beg you, don’t do such a wicked thing! Look, I have two daughters who are still virgins. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do whatever you want with them. But don’t do anything to these men; they are guests in my house, and I must protect them.”

Wow, what a wonderful story to put into the hands of young children.

Most of the highlighting that I did was from the New Testament, but I found this highlighted in the Old:

2 Chronicles 4:11-14

The writing in blue says “prayer of worship.” I did this after listening to a series of tapes by Pastor Leon Fontaine of Springs Church in Winnipeg. The tapes were basically a workshop on how to pray. He went over different types of prayers and what the Bible says about them. What a bunch of useless nonsense…but I sure prayed a lot more after listening to those tapes. I also started directing my prayers through Jesus…I guess that was supposed to make them work better, who knows.

Before I get on with other sections that I highlighted, I want to post a few of the more entertaining images from this Bible.

Behemoth, from Job 40:15

I love this picture. This is how they decided to depict, in God’s own words, “the most amazing of all [His] creatures!” What a lame-looking monster. The translation notes say that some identify Behemoth with hippos, others with a legendary creature. Lame! C’mon, God, what about Gorillas or Lions or Cephalopods? There are plenty of way cooler creatures than some cow/hippo that eats grass.

I’m not sure why I found this picture so funny, but if God appeared to us like some giant guarding his flock, then I would find him a lot easier to believe in!

The Kiss of Christian Love

That doesn’t look like a Christian Side Hug to me!

Okay on to some of the highlighted sections…

Matthew 6:6 - But when you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.

The notes in black pen on this page are from after I lost my faith, but perhaps one of the most important passages that led to my loss of faith is highlighted on this page. Matthew 6:6, which tells you not to pray so that people will see how faithful you are, but rather to pray in private so it’s only between you and God. This passage was important to me because I couldn’t stand it when people bragged about their Christianity. I used to pray silently when I was in public, and also every night before bed I would pray as if I was having a conversation with God. I would talk about my day, about the things I was thankful for, about the things I hoped he would forgive me for, and about the people who I wanted him to bless. It was a nice way to gather my thoughts at the end of every day.

But one fateful day at Bible study, the leader of the study decided that he was going to start having different people say the prayer at the end of the discussion. That first time he decided I ought to do it, so he asked me if I would say it. I said no, that I wasn’t comfortable…he kept encouraging me, but since Matthew 6:6 was so important to me I argued with him and said I really didn’t want to. But in the end he talked me into it. The prayer I said made me feel so uncomfortable. I tried to mimic the ritualistic way that others prayed out loud, but it felt so wrong to me. It was completely opposite of the way that I pray, and it was meaningless to me. After that I started going to the study less and less, until I stopped going altogether. I became disillusioned with the faith as I felt that this prayer was blatantly ignoring that passage. I think that that experience at Bible study was what emboldened me to start questioning my faith and to allow myself to lighten up, and have doubts.

Moving along…

When  looking through my Bible to write this post I had a laugh when I saw this highlighted:

Psalm 53

I can just picture my smug, Christian, teenage self highlighting this and thinking “see? Only idiots don’t believe in God!”

Blech I’m glad that self is long gone.

Here’s another passage that troubled me a lot growing up, and that made having faith harder for me even when it was at its strongest:

Mark 11: 24 Prayer of Faith - For this reason I tell you: When you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it and you will be given whatever you ask for.

This idea that all you needed to do was to have enough faith and you would get whatever you prayed for is awful, in that it puts a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of people who believe that this is true. This caused me a lot of stress because I felt that if I prayed for something and the opposite happened, then it was my fault and that made me feel guilty for something that I had no control over. It even made me afraid to pray for some things, because I didn’t want to be made to feel that my faith wasn’t strong enough.

This post has gotten really long, so I’m going to finish up with the first passage that I ever highlighted in my Bible. It was also the passage that puzzled me most, and probably the one that’s the most familiar to people who don’t read the Bible:

John 3:16

What John 3:16 said to me was that all I needed to do was believe, and I would have my spot in heaven. This confused me because I wondered why there were so many other rules in the Bible if belief is all you really need to be a good enough person to get into heaven. This passage also made me afraid to doubt. What if my faith waffled for a second, and I got hit by a bus? Would I be punished eternally for that? I first highlighted it because I thought that it was a beautiful message that showed how Jesus saved us, but the more I thought about it the more issues it brought up:

-What about people who were never told about Jesus?
-If someone is told about Jesus but doesn’t believe it and is the most charitable person in the world, do they not get to go to heaven?
-Could evil people like Hitler be in heaven if they believe in Jesus?
-Why should I bother being a good person?
-Why shouldn’t I just live how I want to now, and then start believing in Jesus in my old age?

John 3:16 is one of the many examples in the Bible that shows how many holes there are in the whole doctrine. It just doesn’t make sense, and if this  is inspired by a just, loving, omnipotent god, it certainly doesn’t show.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my Bible. I’d love to see other former Christian atheists do similar posts about their Bibles, if you do, please post a link to your blog here, I’d  love to check it out!


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