Could atheists be guilty 

Of caricaturing the worst of religion’s malpractices or its worst practioneers, such as the Phelps of this world or the self appointed Pat who has a direct channel to god, in their attempts to argue, as Hitchens did, that religion poisons everything? 

When atheists reference data showing the areas with most religiosity are also most dysfunctional, could it be that we don’t look at the entire data? Data that, according to D Myers, show that those most devoted live longer, smoke less, divorce less, donate more- to both religious and secular charities-, are much happier and much more?

Or when we concentrate on the god of the OT, we overlook the sermon on the Mount and all other peace messages that on the surface demonstrate a benevolent and loving god?

And finally, are experiments on intercessory prayer begun with the foreknowledge they will fail? Is the Christian justified in the case of negative or no confirmatory results to say god is not to be tested? Is it a valid response? 

For Sunday reflection.

Church and heresy

In his book The Kingdom of God is within you, Count Leo Tolstoi, writes about heresy thus

A heresy is the opinion of men who do not acknowledge the truth of the Church to be indisputable.

This is interpreted to mean that anyone who the church wants to rid themselves of any one, or ruin his reputation, to excite suspicion in regard to the doctrine he held, condemning such a person as guilty of heresy was the easiest and convenient way.

How do you make a Christian of a child? Tolstoi writes

[..] When a child is born, we are taught that a prayer must be read over the mother and child, in order to purify them, for without that prayer the mother remains unclean. For that purpose, and facing the ikons of the saints, whom the common people simply call gods, the priest takes the infant in his arms, reads the exhortation, and by that means he is supposed to cleanse the mother. Then the parents are instructed, nay, even ordered, under penalty of punishment in the event of non-compliance, to christen the child—that is, to let the priest immerse it three times in the water, while words unintelligible to all present are read, and still less intelligible ceremonies are performed, such as the application of oil to different parts of the body, the cutting of the hair, the blowing and spitting of the sponsors at the imaginary devil. All this is necessary to cleanse the child, and make a Christian of him.

And remember once you make a Christian of him/ her, you must teach them to pray

which means that s/he is to stand in front of boards upon which the faces of Christ, the Virgin, and the saints are painted, bow his head and body, while with his right hand, his fingers being folded in a peculiar manner, he touches his forehead, his shoulders, and his stomach, and utters certain Slavonic words, the commonest of which, those which all children learn, are the following: “Mother of God, … Virgin, rejoice,” etc

When they are ready for sex sanctified sex

men are told that if a man and woman desire to have their sexual relation sanctified they must come to church, put crowns of metal upon their heads, swallow some wine, walk three times round a table, accompanied by the sound of singing, and this will make their sexual relation holy and entirely different from any others.

And finally

Before death a man must without fail receive a spoonful of bread and wine; and if there be time to be anointed with oil, that is still better, for it insures his welfare in the future life. After his death his relatives are told that, in order to save his soul, it is well to place in his hand a printed prayer; it is also a good thing to read a certain book over the dead, and for his name to be mentioned in church at stated times.

And that my friends, is all your Christian duty requires of you, from cradle to the grave, so help you god.

Rational agnostic

I think my friends Bob and Liberty will agree that

All rational agnostics are atheist by default.

I guess they live their lives as if there are no gods and their position in relation to things supernatural is that we can’t know.

And I don’t think they are in the same boat with this rational agnostic who claims to have known god at some point.

Pascal’s Wager is not a great argument.

While in Russia 

Don’t be a Jehova Witness or Putting may have you sent to the coolers.

While I believe religious belief should be an artefact of our past, I am convinced each person should believe as they do as long as they are not disturbing the peace or harming anyone. If a fellow believes the bible is true, the whole truth and only truth, we’ll and good as long as it remains in the private sphere.

In the public square, it would be ridiculous to believe in talking asses. Not that we don’t have several assholes in our midst 🙂

Directives such as this by the Russian government or the blasphemy laws in Pakistan have no place in a secularizing world. Freedom of conscience and belief should be guaranteed to all by states and I think there is a UN declaration somewhere in the books saying such a thing. 

on god and David’s son

This post by Ufuomaee is a followup to a post by KIA where he dealt with the death of the child of Bathsheba and David.

She tells us, with bold font added by us for emphasis, that

This was like some sort of a revelation, at the time I shared it.  I was thinking, at the time, how the value we place on our lives here and now is often what hinders us from believing in God and eternity.  And I think this is the fundamental flaw of Mike’s analysis.

which, dear friends, is not why we are atheists. It is the failure by the god believers to provide evidence for their god that we are atheists. The same goes for eternity. We have no evidence to believe in eternity. And besides, if she didn’t value this life why would she want eternity, especially if, to her, eternity is a continuation of this life in the presence of her loved deity?

I think it was Nietzsche who said Christianity is a death cult. Our friend writes,

But in Christianity, we called to DIE before we can live…

And I think most of them remain dead. They never live.

She then tells us

I think the reason I have never cried, and will never cry for this child (which Mike believes is fictional), is because I believe that he is already in a better place ().  This life, here on Earth, is over-rated!

And I am wondering why Christians like her aren’t praying to god to call them to his dwelling place. All of the Christians I know love this life and don’t want to die. They take medication when they are sick, eat well and so much more. To say you wont weep for the child because he is in a better place, a place you have no way of knowing it exists, is to me heartless.

Atheists, she says

 But here it is, the thing Atheists can’t seem to get their heads around – God is the only one JUST to take away what He is the only one able to give.

Divine Command Theory anyone?

If she were arguing as David Benatar does in his book Better not to have been, then this

Whether or not he would have lived a life worth living, or if he would have been a tyrant of a king, we really don’t know.

would have had some weight. Or if she were like Spencer, who when his newly born babe died, argued the bible was very wise to not have wanted to live long. Reminds me of what Nietzsche writes, it is better not to be born but once born to die sooner. For a person who believes in an omnipotent god, what a person becomes should not be a problem. Unless she is willing to limit the extent of omnipotence, she can’t have her cake and eat it.

Her next consideration also paints a picture of a god without options and incapable of seeing his works to fruition. If, as the book says, they were god’s chosen people, one shouldn’t even consider the possibility of a powerful god failing to provide them with a leader. Most of the time believers point to Joseph as an example of god working with anyone he so chooses. There should have been no vacuum of leadership were god to do the right thing. Besides it would have been a good lesson to the people of Israel that it is not proper to get a person killed to have either his wife or husband as the case may be.

Why did god command several wars of annihilation for entire tribes?

I know why God did it (the same reason you don’t cut off weeds, but pull them out, roots and all), but I really wish there had been another way prepared then.

Who was their god? Couldn’t Adonai forgive them without having to shed blood? Was it possible that even the day old babes in Sodom were guilty of some transgression?

While she says

One innocent child dying at the judgement of God, I can understand…

I, on the other hand, with Ivan in the Inquisitor cannot accept the death of a single child at the judgement of god. What god does that to a child?

It has not always been the case that

I think that even today, a king’s life is considered as valuable as that of all his subjects combined!  The reasoning goes that without his leadership to unite and guide them, they would all certainly fall into chaos, mischief and peril.

and this is supported by the many instances of ritual killing of the kings.

And while it is the case that

The truth is we all make judgement calls on the value of human life every day by the way we treat the living; whether near or far, friend or foe, sinner or saint, rich or poor, black or white etc.  Evidence shows that the value of human life is both immeasurable and inconsistently applied.

we have the excuse of being ignorant, driven by passions we hardly can control and greed. What excuse would a god have for treating humanity with favouritism, especially, being as it were, that he is claimed to be the creator?

Finally, she asks

It has also always baffled me how Atheists or Humanists would make an issue with God about His right to take life at will, and yet condone abortion for those who are inconvenienced by the life of another human being.  But that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

and I think this is to trivialize the issue.

To answer her final questions.

  • Has this post given you a new perspective on Christianity and the God of the Bible?

No, but it has done much more to convince me that some Christians are no different from their god.

  • What about the value we place on humanity?

Nothing new here. It is evident that we treat people differently, and for good reason.

  • Do you think that such accounts are proof that Jehovah is fictional or is there a different perspective on this you would like to share?

No, the accounts themselves do not tell us much about whether god[s] exist. Similarly, reading about wizards in any of Harry Potter books doesn’t bring us any close to solving the problem of wizards. All we can tell is that an author at a certain point in history imagined a god who abates assassinations and chooses as his representative the perpetrators of crimes. Nothing else. It is just a so so story and nothing more.

Of Christian sects and cults

Here I was strolling on the internet when I meet with this post and I got really interested.

While I laud her proposals, they don’t go far enough. It is not enough to just question ones faith but all god claims. Parents must as a matter of course not indoctrinate their children in their beliefs but to create an environment where children can know of different beliefs observed by others around them and to question the validity of any of them or all of them.

The type of group she discusses matches millennium cults that were prevalent in Europe between the 7th and 16th centuries of the current era. And while education was at play, the biggest drive was economic and they were based on loose interpretations of apocalyptic literature such as book of Revelations and Daniel. Instead of dismissing the followers as blind and uneducated, it is far more productive to us who don’t believe to investigate the motivations behind such groupings. Who says they are not political?

And while at it, she should be fair to her readers and start with a definition of a cult.

For me, the difference between a cult and a mainstream church is in real estate. Others I know have added a farther qualifier that in a cult the founder is still in many cases alive while in a religion the founder is long dead.

Finally I agree with her concluding remarks. She writes

However, it is imperative that we all use our brains for what they are meant for – to think! [Emphasis by me]