The Brothers Karamazov

By fyodor dostoyevski is an interesting book. Yesterday I decided to reread some two chapters, rebellion and the grand inquisitor. In both chapters, it is Ivan doing most of the talking and Alyosha doing the listening.

In the rebellion, Ivan takes on the case of suffering but dwells mainly on the issue of children whom he says are innocent. The adults have eaten the fruit and know of good and evil but not the children. He argues, therefore, that suffering of children is acute and must be explained.

He tells Alyosha the promise of a pleasant heaven where there is happiness does not cut it for him. He will take his chances on this side of the grave. He tells Alyosha he cannoy the person who has metted suffering on the children even the children forgave and sang praises to the good lord.

In the grand inquisitor, Ivan goes for broke. He says the three questions or temptations put to Jesus at the of his forty fast and his response to them is the reason for the unending strife on earth. By refusing to do as per the tempter, he denied men the miraculous, the mystery and authority.

By refusing to turn stone into bread, he denied men the miraculous. Only the elect few can follow him. The rest of mankind must look for bread.

By refusing to jump from the spire of the temple, even if he wasn’t certain he would be rescued, he denied men mystery instead ingima requiring that they worship him without the burden of miracles.

Lastly, by refusing dominion over all mankind, all empire builders have been struggling to unify the world. The Gengis Khans and all. Their tower of babel all come to naught. He would have achieved much more had he obeyed the tempter.

I say going for broke because there are many miracles Jesus does as reported by his biographers. Whether any of the supposed miracles achieved their ends, the jury has returned their verdict.

Have you read the two chapters and what do you think of the positions adopted by Ivan?

on hell

I don’t know who it is who said that as long as one person languished in hell, heaven would be a sad place or something to that effect.

I like this post on heaven especially this

I searched the scriptures even more zealously for God, but that just made things worse. The God who is described in the Bible is a terrible Being, one that deserves our fear, but not one that any decent person could possibly worship. His behavior is despotic—the Flood isn’t the half of it—and I eventually concluded that he could command no moral authority by which to judge the human race. I stopped believing in Hell altogether and hoped that God was actually much better than he was portrayed in his biography.”

I think I should read the book A brief eternity. I will look for an epub copy later.

Have a heaven free day, won’t you.

Chronicles of YHWH 36: Happy Birthday, Yeshua

Happy Birthday

Heaven, 24th December, 2014:

Yeshua: Dad, do we have to do this? Do we have to have a birthday party tomorrow?

YHWH: Yes! Absolutely! I’ll prepare extra manna for the angels and the four-headed beasts tomorrow. Take care of the unleavened bread and the wine, will you?

Yeshua: But dad, we throw the exact some party each year on this day. The exact same foods and wines, and the exact same birthday songs for me. It’s getting a tad boring.

YHWH: I know, son. I know.

Yeshua: Yet you absolutely resist any attempt to add spice and variety to the celebrations. Last year, Angel Bamanifa suggested new dance moves in the celebrations, and you promptly sent him to hell.

YHWH: Yes. This I did, my son.

Yeshua: Also, the birthday cake keeps getting bigger and bigger. Do we have to place all the 2,014 candles on its surface?

YHWH: Of course, son. That’s your present age, right?

Yeshua: But we can just put one candle there to stand in for the rest, symbolically.

YHWH: Look, son, you’ve absolutely refused to go out there and get your own house. You insist on living under my roof, even after two thousand years. The more you continue living with me, the more your birthday cake will get bigger, as we add more candles to it. Comprendes?

Yeshua (Crestfallen): Could we at least sing some new songs tomorrow?

YHWH: No! Singing the exact same old, boring songs is my peaceful way of protesting against your continued presence in my house.

 Merry Christmas, Everyone!!

N/B: For access to all anecdotes in this series, check out List of all “Chronicles of YHWH” notes.

book reviews and other stories

I just finished reading two interesting books.

Micheal Martins, Atheism a Philosophical Justification which is a good book in many respects. In it he looks at the common arguments for the existence of god and how they fail. He looks also at the problem of evil and the responses that have been proposed by theists and find them inadequate. In his conclusion he says belief in god, given the evidence, is irrational and I agree with him.

The next book is by Sophocles, The Oedipus Rex where Oedipus is guilty of killing his father and siring children with his mother. Though such a story is abhorrent to most of us, I think Oedipus is guilty of a single offence, that of manslaughter. I don’t see how he could have know Laius was his father.

Creon who takes over after him is a mean man and suffers at the end for his unreasonableness. I have no sympathy for him.

The pope has put the Catholics in a difficult spot with his latest pronouncements about animals going to heaven. One must ask of the theologians, given that one of the defenses for the problem of evil is that this is a soul making place, in what way are the souls of animals made? They should also tell us how and when they get souls. Now is the time to ask the Katlicks to tell us how many angels can dance on top of a pin.

Chronicles of YHWH 29: Tupac


By 2014, YHWH was completely miffed by Tupac. Tupac was still somehow recording new songs with his former, earthly record firm. So YHWH held a conversation with him:

YHWH: Pac, stop producing more secular music with Death Row Records. You are dead, remember?

2Pac: I’m an Outlaw Immortal – a G-Star forever. Up here in heaven, and down there amongst mortals, All Eyes are On Me.

YHWH: You should join my choir and start singing heavenly hymnals and chorals. Like any other normal dead guy. I don’t like your gangster lyrics.

2Pac: It’s a thug life. My baby mama on the other side cries for my voice. It aint easy – me here, her down there. I search for a Nickel bag of sess weed, spiked with hash, but your angels aren’t packing any. Give me a twelve gauge, and I’ll rule over all of them winged fairies!

YHWH: If you don’t change your ways, I’ll send you down to hell, Pac.

2Pac: Hell is right up in my hood. You wanna send me down there, I aint mad witcha. My homies are all crushing down there, actually. Heard they are all tearing hell a new one, kicking up dust.

YHWH. Sigh. Look, I need you up here so that you can train these angels some new melodies. They’ve been singing the same old songs for a very long time. It’s getting a bit boring.

2Pac: I ask you – are them fairies down with the thug life?

YHWH: They are angels, not fairies.

2Pac: Fairies, angels, leprechauns or spirits, it’s all the same. Same difference. I don’t discriminate. I’m a thug on a mission. If they wanna keep up with a G-Star, they better start downing shots of alazhay.

YHWH: Can you train them, though? Help make their music more… contemporary?

2Pac: Yeah – if there is a vision, there is a way. Nothing can stop me but a slug. I’ll open my poetry armoury, and you’ll pick the first track for the angels. Straight gunning with the lyrics. I’m down with that.

YHWH: Excellent! It’s a deal, then. You train my angels, and I’ll let you have your leafy stash.

2Pac: And the Alazhay.

YHWH: And the Alazhay, of course.


(In Loving Memory of The Great Pac)


N/B: For access to all anecdotes in this series, check out List of all “Chronicles of YHWH” notes.

the blasphemers

The Paulines haven’t moved so far away from their fore fathers in wishing us damnation. They claim to worship a benevolent god who wants to be in a some kind of relationship with man but at the same time they tell us this gods has a plan to make BBQ of some people for a period of time so long I can’t conceive it properly and that my brothers is love. Below is the wishes of one Tertullian, writing in the early centuries of this religion

You are fond of spectacles, expect the greatest of all spectacles, the last and eternal judgement of the universe. How shall I admire, how laugh, how rejoice, how exult, when I behold so many proud monarchs, and fancied gods, groaning in the lowest abyss of darkness, so many magistrates, who  persecuted the name of the lord, liquefying in fiercer fires than they ever kindled against the Christians, so many sage philosophers blushing in red hot flames with their deluded scholars, so many celebrated poets trembling before the tribunal, not of Minos but of Christ, so many tragedians, more tuneful in the expression of their own sufferings , so many dancers

E. Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

The problem of Evil: Why doesn’t god do something

Caroline’s take.

We have missed Caroline, I know I have and it is with great pleasure that today while I was strolling on the internet, don’t ask me how, I found this very interesting post in which she weighs in on the problem of evil and attempts to offer a solution to this thorn in the flesh, forgive my use of cliché, of religion.

She starts very emotionally, in a way that all of us would easily get roped into the story and want to read more. Her opening paragraph starts thus

“I prayed every night to God, asking him to rescue me from my father’s abuse. Why didn’t he?

Here she has Identified a case of what the philosophers, well I mean the real ones, not armchair philosophers like yours truly, have called moral evil. We are in agreement with her, at this point, that is a logical point to start from. After that grand opening, she posits the real question

Can such suffering by innocent children be reconciled with a reality of a good, loving, and all-powerful God? Do we have an answer for her question?

Before we look at her solution, yours truly says the answer to her first question is a resounding no. The second question then can only be answered in the negative unless we posit a godless world, which yours truly believes is the case, then shit happens and some people are born such that they do lack the ability to see other people as manifestations of the same will as they are and as such trample on their wills so to speak. Back to this later.

Caroline, lists five truths as possible responses to the problem. Allow me to list them here

  1. suffering deserved and undeserved can result in some good
  2. god has a purpose for our lives far deeper and more meaningful than just to enjoy them
  3. we are not the centre of the universe. He is
  4. he has chosen to give humanity free will
  5. there is life after our bodies die, when all injustices will be made right

Reread those five points then take a break. We will shortly demonstrate why Caroline’s theodicy fails to take off.

She presented us with a problem, the question we will ask her is how or in what way does being abused result in some good. How does living with the knowledge that the person who should protect you is the one abusing you lead to some good? I need your help here ladies? Can you conceive of a world where such a thing results in some good? I can’t!

If I understood her question, she is attempting to reconcile if such a problem with the reality of an all loving god. To then say god has a purpose is to sidestep the question she started with, that is, in my view, if such a being is real. The question of whether there are plans then doesn’t even arise. We have not proved the reality of this being how do we claim it has plans for us or rather for this abused child? Ignoring what have said for a moment, what good is it for any of us, if the reasons we suffer are not known to us but are the private knowledge of this god? What sort of god would want that for creatures he created out of love? I don’t know about you, but for me, it would make the suffering worthwhile if I knew what is at the end of the rope.

In point 3, Caroline paints the picture of a dictator. No questions are  asked. He decides and we are supposed to suffer quietly or he will kill you! How lovely? Show me some love!

Oh, free will again. Please Caroline, I would want you to tell the little girl in her face that god has given her free will so she can be abused! I don’t want to make this post about free will as you already well know where yours truly stands on that debate. Indulge me for just a moment, how is having free will beneficial to this little girl? In the movie God on Trial, those who have put s/h/it on trial ask what free will did they have when they were being put in the gas chambers? Did god give others more free will to be able to abuse others? A lot has been written on the FWD and it is wanting and I advice Caroline to acquaint herself with the relevant literature on the topic.

What hogwash! How does telling a girl who has been violated that this punishment will be paid for in a future life? What does such a promise do to the current life? While at it, what really does Caroline understand by to die? Where I come from, it means cessation of life, finito, end! To talk about life after dying I think is itself a contradiction unless I miss something. Related to this question then would be, if the next life is so glorious, what stopped god from killing the little girl before she is abused so no one has to be punished later or is that too hard for god to accomplish or is s/h/it a sadist? In Brothers Karamazov, the chapter on the Grand Inquisitor, Ivan asks Aloysha what good does knowing her child will go to heaven does to the mother who sees her baby cut into pieces by the soldiers? And how does knowing that this person will be punished in future do to the wife whose husband has just been killed? I don’t think there is any and I can’t believe anyone would spread such stories.

Having said that, let us hear what she tells us and I will endeavour to point out what I think is wrong with her assessment. She tells us

if we have an inaccurate understanding of why we are here, our evaluation of how well things are going will also be inaccurate. Couple that error with a view that sees God as existing for our sake instead of the other way around, and you have the makings of a life marked by huge disappointment, discouragement, and even disbelief.

If we take god to be a slave driver, then, by all means, this makes sense. I am your lord and you live as I want you to. Tell me how lovely that is! Please someone tell me am missing something. If as she had said earlier on, that god has a plan, then please tell me, how if he doesn’t share this [un]holy plan with us how we are to insure ourselves from disappointment, discouragement and disbelief? Am patient!

She the continues to advice us to see life as

life as a gift, a proving ground, a rehabilitation center, a temporary home, and/or a journey to our true and eternal dwelling place, we will view our circumstances in an entirely different light

and I feel my whole system revolted by such myopic thinking! Why for the life of me, shouldn’t this god have transported everyone to this land of bliss? Is it in his plans to first have countless number of people suffer to assuage his ego before he can finally say welcome home my children, here is where I wanted you but I needed you to take the torturous route to here so you can know am a loving father! What the fuck! Who reasons in this manner? For all I know, before I was born I wasn’t given life lessons, we learn as we go along and if this other life exists for Caroline, am sure she doesn’t need to train for it. This can’t be a response to one who is suffering. It is revolting. It is appalling! It is stupid to say the least!

In declaring

Pain and hardship are what bring many to seek God. If our lives were trouble-free, would any of us recognize our need for him?

She portrays her god as a slave master, as a being that believes in the adage, no pain no gain! It is like the employer who makes his employees work like beasts of burden just so that they can know he is boss! Please count me out. I don’t want any relationship with such a being at all. And seriously, was this god touted as all-powerful? There must be other ways, ways that do not involve abuse that he could employ. I don’t use that with my friends and they haven’t claimed ever that am all-powerful!

And she does not tell the whole story when she writes

You always hurt the one you love

since for most of us this is far from intentional. You would not let the people you love suffer if there was a way to prevent it especially you would not let your daughter or any child for that matter be abused because some good may come of it if you could prevent it. I don’t know if there is anyone who could allow such a thing to happen and still have a sound conscience. Well maybe lets forget Mohammed, he liked them young!

It is not as she says

Our refusal to allow suffering to sanctify or save us will likely result in loss and more suffering, both in our lives and in the lives of those close to us

but that sometimes the suffering we go through, to the best of our knowledge, is meaningless. There is no good we get from having a toothache. It is pointless suffering and can’t be called sanctifying.

In conclusion, I contend that Caroline has offered no solution to the child to her question. She has behaved like god does when Job inquires as to why he is suffering and he comes out asking job irrelevant questions. We need answers that would make suffering here bearable for the short duration that we are here and it is better to say we don’t know why we suffer than to give any of the above responses.

I was recently at a funeral and the thoughts that I had written a few days ago about grieving and the subsequent discussions we had resurfaced in my mind. As I was there listening to each person who spoke to the bereaved family and to all those present, it occurred to me that for most people, or rather for those who spoke, that this life is just a preparation for another life, a future life of bliss for those who follow the right god and damnation for everyone else. While this thought alone irks me, for why would a person who thinks his particular god is loving, also hold in the same brain that this god will punish others for eternity for not bending to his whims, forget that the said god is also said to be all-powerful.

There is a particular speaker who did say they believe, or rather their religion teaches, that if a child dies, they go straight to heaven and  encouraged the parents to stay on the path of the lord and they will be sure to go to heaven. He added, even though it is sad to lose a child, the parents should have cause to be happy for their child would at the required time refuse to go to heaven?unless all those she loved are in heaven. I have a problem with this line of thought for a few reasons

  1. If god cares that we go to heaven, and children head there straight away, why not ensure we all die as children?
  2. If to go to heaven, all one requires is the innocence of a child, why not just populate heaven?
  3. Why do people want to live after they have died? 

The other thing I no longer can reconcile myself to belief is that there is more after this life. There was a time, long ago I could have wanted it to be true but not anymore. The life we have here is temporal but it is the ONLY one we know and as far as we can tell the only one we will live. It is time imams, priests, church ministers and other fraudsters in the names of deities started to tell their followers the truth, and that truth is that life here is much more important that any other imaginary life. People must be told that death marks the end of their existence and they will go back to where they were before they were born. To accept this will go along way in making people look to this life in a different light, as a life worth living and that we need not make preparations for a future existence, especially since we did have to make preparations for this one.

If I should remember what others said, I will update this post… I promise 😛

Reflections on bereavement

These are my thoughts based on a post written by a christian as a response to a post by an atheist on grief, entitled Grieving as an atheist- a surprising dilemma. I urge to read the two links to get the correct picture of the matter at hand.

A while back a dear friend of mine lost a baby boy, a small baby. When I went to see him, all those who had come to see him told him how his boy was in a good place- how they know is for another day- that god had his reasons for calling him. I don’t know and still can’t see how those words, no matter how reassuring they sound is of any help. I didn’t tell him much that evening, but I think just being there with him was sufficient. I recall back when my mum died, just knowing my friends were close by was enough for me and we would, to just distract ourselves from all the grief, tell jokes with one another. The passing of a loved one is indeed depressing to say the least and it is not any less for the atheist. To, however, presume there is something magical about telling those bereaved that their relative, friend, child or parent is another place I don’t think is a solution and does not make death any richer!

I  have a big problem when the OP writes

Ms. White is correct on a surface level. Being a friend is important and being a friend in the time of crisis is necessary, but if there is no answer to the grave, if there is no word of assurance which can be offered, friendship does not become a substitute

because the author here feels that since he believes in a heaven or whatever place people go after they die, to be a friend is on correct on the surface! I contend that all you really need is to know there are friends who will listen, offer a helping hand and most of all allow you to cry on their shoulders. It is only when you experience loss do you realize the hollowness of such words as be strong and so and so is in heaven. The only reason sometimes I don’t mourn when I think of ma is knowing that she is at rest, free from all willing and desiring. Do I miss her? Yes every moment!

As I have said in a number of articles, atheism answers to one question and the rest are for grabs. To claim that atheism is bleak because there are no talk of gods is to pretend to be unaware of atheistic religions and is to express an ignorance that shows how one holds their chosen religion in a place of privilege inspite of any evidence to the contrary. It is to act like a child, who having seen no other toys, thinks his wire toy is the best that can ever be!

If to believe that a god loves you and waits to meet you in heaven gives your life meaning, be my guest! I don’t ask you to live my life for me. If after looking at life and seeing it having no meaning or purpose beyond that which we give it is sufficient for me, why should it bother you? I ask though, if the religious person believes their lives have some special meaning, why do they get bored? And what, tell me, is this meaning? Is it same for the Jew as for the Muslim or the different gods have different demands or offer different meanings?

In the face of death, the words of the writer of Ecclesiastes ring true when he says in Ecclesiastes 3

19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.

The OP’s conclusion contradicts everything he has said about atheism and death. He writes,

As Christians, we must be clear that we do not believe in the hope an afterlife simply because it offers us a therapeutic response to death. Rather, we believe in the hope of heaven because of the truths found in Scripture namely, that Christ has come, Christ has defeated sin, and Christ has conquered the grave. There is a peace which comes to us and a satisfaction we can have by our faith in these great truths.

If this is not therapeutic and is told for that reason among others, then someone please educate me on what is meant by therapeutic.

I urge the author of the post to spend time to read Ingersoll’s address at his brother’s funeral, to read letter SERVIUS SULPICIUS TO CICERO on the loss of his daughter Tulia, where there is no mention of heaven or hell but still moving or to read the letter by Epicurus to Menoeceus where he tells him, in part,

Accustom yourself to believe that death is nothing to us, for good and evil imply awareness, and death is the privation of all awareness; therefore a right understanding that death is nothing to us makes the mortality of life enjoyable, not by adding to life an unlimited time, but by taking away the yearning after immortality. For life has no terror; for those who thoroughly apprehend that there are no terrors for them in ceasing to live. Foolish, therefore, is the person who says that he fears death, not because it will pain when it comes, but because it pains in the prospect. Whatever causes no annoyance when it is present, causes only a groundless pain in the expectation. Death, therefore, the most awful of evils, is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and, when death is come, we are not.

And if at the end you still find this as bleak, then you need help.

Painful as it is to lose a loved one, a close friend, telling them they are going to heaven or that you are praying for them is a hollow reassurance. There is much more value in being by their side, listening to their sorrows and offering a helping hand when necessary. This my friends are my thoughts on the matter and I contend here there is nothing bleak about knowing that when I die, I will be no more. It makes this life worth living and fighting for.

Grieving as an atheist