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

I need no sympathy from you!

I recently commented on a post on a random blog on a post where the OP[I don’t feel like linking the post today] had written something to the effect that atheists need sympathy and had tried to set rules for the game. In short he/she said any discussions with christians has to be centred on Jesus, not god.  He says in part

So in looking at atheism, which is not merely a rejection of christianity, but of any ‘religion’ that may be described as theistic, I do have a great deal of sympathy. After all, if the existence of God had been proved there would be no need for much further discussion and we could all agree. But the fact remains that God’s existence has not been proved. There is still doubt and disbelief, and that is not entirely irrational.

I certainly have a problem with this especially that we require sympathy, but in general I think he was generally polite. There is one guy who commented and whom I think needs help. Am going to let his comment just stand as it is for you to see the problem with some of the religious, who tell us their’s is a religion of peace and love until you stop believing in their chosen god and then you are ripe for hell.

He makes the oft repeated mistake that people are born with a knowledge of a god and that the universe proves this point. I need not say more about his comment. Read on you atheists, you are going straight to hell and there god shall wait to punish you hundreds time over!

I think the problem with having “sympathy” for atheists, from this kind of perspective, is that it gives too much credence to their position. You did mention Romans 1 in your previous post. I don’t think Romans 1 is a weak argument for God, I think Romans 1 is more fundamental. Here’s v18-30:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:18-30 ESV)

I don’t think Paul is arguing here that mankind should just be able to look around at the world and say “ah, clearly, God exists” (although that is an aspect of it). I think he’s actually saying that every single person is born with a knowledge of God. God has set eternity in the hearts of mankind (Eccl 3:11). I think the point Paul is trying to make is that no-one who has ever lived has a valid excuse to not believe in God. All of us are born with that knowledge, those who deny it are actually suppressing the truth. In other words, I don’t think there *is* such a thing as an honest atheist.

And this leads me on to the second thing I’d want to say. I would also not want to concede ground to those who want to judge God’s existence on entirely rational grounds, given the above. The Fall had an effect on our minds, our reason (“the noetic effects of the fall”, which is I think how theologians might put it). We cannot simply reason our way to God.

So if we say “I think it’s understandable to believe that God doesn’t exist, after all there’s not very much evidence” – it is basically conceding ground to the atheist that “reason” or rationalism is the correct way of going about determining whether God exists or not.

I feel that it’s important to bear in mind that it is not us who puts God in the dock and demand that he prove himself to us. I’d see humanity as being on the run from God, trying to flee from the inescapable fact that his existence is plain to us, in rebellion against Him, and that ultimately God will hold everyone culpable for unbelief.

do people still hold such beliefs?

Everyday you read a post or comments by christ followers that leave you scratching your head wondering whether you are in a bad dream or you have gone back, using time travel to the second century. For, please tell, how can someone write

 

Being ‘schismatic’ is very serious- it means being cut off from the Vicar of Christ on earth, the pope and it was the first pope, st. Peter, who Jesus put in charge of ‘the keys’- ie deciding who gets into heaven, to put it simply. From the beginning the ‘experts’ in the church believed that ‘ outside the catholic church there is no salvation’ so it’s obviously very serious indeed to be in schism.

Anyone who is not a member of the visible church on earth might not end up in hell but if they don’t end up in hell its because of the graces coming to them through the catholic church, although not sure I’m explaining it very well. Speaking personally, I would not feel safe in a church of only 400 years or so, I’d want to be in the one founded by Christ.

Seriously! I don’t know what else to say except that we have lost this person permanently to the insane asylum, however, should they recover and return to the world of the rational, I shall have a beer ready for them.

Atheist, Dead On Morgue Slab, Wakes After Meeting Jesus In Heaven!

No, am not trying to get numbers, but I wouldn’t complain if they increased but this link which I had been sent by my good friend left me wondering how low will people go before they realize they are silly!

We have here, a fellow, Ian McCormack, tell us with a straight face that his soul left his body for a tour of hell and heaven.  Yours truly ain’t a scientist, but that will not stop me from recognising BS when I see one. And this tops the list of BS. He died, was in the morgue and rose again, I don’t know why Christians are still sticking to the old Jesus story when Ian is here as proof that fools can actually resurrect!

If you have 10 minutes which you feel philanthropic with, that is, time you can waste, then listen to this fellow convince his interviewer of his visit to hell, forget that no one has been able to defend why a loving god would create hell, and then he talks about heaven which as far as I can tell is informed by what he already has read, seen around him coupled with, for lack of a better term, childish imagination.

and here is part 2 of the interview

Quotes: Day 2

Religion is consoling only to those who have no embarrassment about it; the indefinite and vague recompense which it promises without giving ideas of it, is made to deceive those who make no reflections on the impatient, variable, false and cruel character which religion gives its god. [….]Nothing, doubtless, but the blindest enthusiasm could induce mortals to place confidence in such a god as the priests have feigned; it is folly alone we must attribute the love some well meaning people profess to the god of the parsons; it is matchless extravagance alone that could prevail on men to reckon on the unknown rewards which are promised them by this religion, at the same time that it assures us that god is the author of grace, but that we have no right to expect any thing from him.

d’Holdbach in Letters to Eugenia

Afterlife, count me out!

Friends, your good host is feeling lazy today but that does not mean he doesn’t have gems to share. I like this one on the afterlife and if you still want an afterlife, I wish you well and I hope that you get a good choirmaster in heaven and that the people who never attempt to sing in church but are headed to heaven will have heavenly and musical voices or you will wish you died once and it ended there.

The past week, the pope announced we[atheists] if we did ‘good’ were going to heaven. A statement which one spokesman for the Vatican clarified and said something to the effect you must be catholic to go to this heaven. Well, first I don’t think there is another life. I have no proof  for it, and since it didn’t bother me before I was born, I don’t see why it should bother me when am gone. The pope and his minions must know, if they are intelligent, that atheists, speaking for myself, have no belief in heaven and hell. That we wish that people live their lives here fully and as the great Marcus Aurelius said,

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

I wish there was an afterlife sometimes, I wish my mum who went before me would see what have become. I wish she would be happy that am trying to make the life of our lot better by killing gods and dealing with superstition. That she would be happy that I managed to get out of the shackles imposed on us by religion.

I share with you some thoughts of Jean Meslier on the afterlife.

But, it will be said, is not the dogma of the immortality of the soul consoling for beings who often find themselves very unhappy here below? If this should be an illusion, is it not a sweet and agreeable one? Is it not a benefit for man to believe that he can live again and enjoy, sometime, the happiness which is refused to him on earth? Thus, poor mortals! you make your wishes the measure of the truth! Because you desire to live forever, and to be happier, you conclude from thence that you will live forever, and that you will be more fortunate in an unknown world than in the known world, in which you so often suffer! Consent, then, to leave without regret this world, which causes more trouble than pleasure to the majority of you. Resign yourselves to the order of destiny, which decrees that you, like all other beings, should not endure forever. But what will become of me? you ask! What you were several millions of years ago. You were then, I do not know what; resign yourselves, then, to become again in an instant, I do not know what; what you were then; return peaceably to the universal home from which you came without your knowledge into your material form, and pass by without murmuring, like all the beings which surround you!

We are repeatedly told that religious ideas offer infinite consolation to the unfortunate; it is pretended that the idea of the immortality of the soul and of a happier life has a tendency to lift up the heart of man and to sustain him in the midst of the adversities with which he is assailed in this life. Materialism, on the contrary, is, we are told, an afflicting system, tending to degrade man, which ranks him among brutes; which destroys his courage, whose only hope is complete annihilation, tending to lead him to despair, and inducing him to commit suicide as soon as he suffers in this world. The grand policy of theologians is to blow hot and to blow cold, to afflict and to console, to frighten and to reassure.

According to the fictions of theology, the regions of the other life are happy and unhappy. Nothing more difficult than to render one worthy of the abode of felicity; nothing easier than to obtain a place in the abode of torments that Divinity prepares for the unfortunate victims of His eternal fury. Those who find the idea of another life so flattering and so sweet, have they then forgotten that this other life, according to them, is to be accompanied by torments for the majority of mortals? Is not the idea of total annihilation infinitely preferable to the idea of an eternal existence accompanied with suffering and gnashing of teeth? The fear of ceasing to exist, is it more afflicting than the thought of having not always been? The fear of ceasing to be is but an evil for the imagination, which alone brought forth the dogma of another life.

You say, O Christian philosophers, that the idea of a happier life is delightful; we agree; there is no one who would not desire a more agreeable and a more durable existence than the one we enjoy here below. But, if Paradise is tempting, you will admit, also, that hell is frightful. It is very difficult to merit heaven, and very easy to gain hell. Do you not say that one straight and narrow path leads to the happy regions, and that a broad road leads to the regions of the unhappy? Do you not constantly tell us that the number of the chosen ones is very small, and that of the damned is very large? Do we not need, in order to be saved, such grace as your God grants to but few? Well! I tell you that these ideas are by no means consoling; I prefer to be annihilated at once rather than to burn forever; I will tell you that the fate of beasts appears to me more desirable than the fate of the damned; I will tell you that the belief which delivers me from overwhelming fears in this world, appears to me more desirable than the uncertainty in which I am left through belief in a God who, master of His favors, gives them but to His favorites, and who permits all the others to render themselves worthy of eternal punishments. It can be but blind enthusiasm or folly that can prefer a system which evidently encourages improbable conjectures, accompanied by uncertainty and desolating fear.

A contradiction of sorts

Friends, it has occurred to me that in the theist’s mind, especially the christian, there exists a serious contradiction that I find hard to explain. In this post am going to try to detail some of this contradictions and look forward to hearing your thoughts about them as well.

I will start from what the christian believes will happen to the unbeliever in nether world. He believes when the Grim Reaper calls the unbeliever he will send him/her straight to hell to be administered to by the devil. The believer has in their mind that the unbeliever is an agent of the devil working hard to lead them astray, now tell me, if I have been working for the devil is he going to punish me or will he not prepare the choice wines for his followers? If god is preparing a heaven full of bliss for his children, the devil must do the same unless we change the administration of hell to be a good but malicious angel of god and not his antagonist. What say you?

My second concern comes from the genesis story of creation and subsequent warnings at the fall of man. Anyone who has read the story is aware that Adam and Eve had no knowledge of good and evil, had no knowledge of what it means to die, what it means to give birth and labour, so what was god getting at when he issued edicts that they will die if they eat of the fruit of knowledge or that henceforth child-birth will be a painful experience and that man shall have to toil to eat, please help me with this.

My next problem is in the way the christian apologist twists the meaning of words to suit his purpose. Now why do I say this? Any rational person alive today, maybe except some extremist Muslim somewhere in Afghanistan, knows that to command genocide is evil. To kill first-born of families for no fault of their own is malicious or to drown an entire generation of people is beyond description; the theist says we can’t know what is good in god’s eye or mind I don’t know whether it has this things in the first place anyway. Should that be the case, then what meaning has the word good if god considers drowning an entire generation good? Do we really need to worship such a god? Please tell me!

The theist objects to suicide that it is against the edicts of their god. Now consider that the first christian, the one who died on the cross, if he lived, committed suicide except he abdicated the responsibility. Why I bring this up is to ask, is an all-powerful and all-knowing god deficient in ideas? Every time he has had need to purify the human race, he has chosen death as his modus operandi. Does he need our help in coming up with more humane methods of conflict resolution?

I don’t understand why the theist prays. You ask him, he says he doesn’t want to change the mind of god but to know god’s will. Now tell me, maybe am wrong, but the many times I hear a prayer, someone is asking for rain, for good health, for a job. Is this the will of god you are trying to find, are you trying to change his mind or are you asking him to act in your favour? But if he is an omniscient being, hasn’t it occurred to you that he knows you’d be making such a prayer and he knows how is going to act such that making the prayer in itself is an act in futility. Maybe I don’t understand it well, please someone help!

The theist makes a positive claim that their god is just and merciful. Forget that the two qualities are in themselves contradictory, this just god punishes everyone except the responsible person. Let me explain; in genesis when man fails he punishes man while in real the person with the greatest responsibility is this god. He created satan more intelligent than man, he placed the fruit in the garden and he was all-knowing. In the chain of events, he ought to bear the greatest responsibility, if anything he owes man an apology. When Pharaoh, who god hardened his heart, fails to release the sons of Israel who god had led to slavery, he kills every first-born even of slave girls. Please tell me what justice, what mercy this is? When Moses disappears to talk to god for forty days and returns finding the people with a golden god, who does he punish, all the men except the family of Levi. When David has Uriah killed who does he punish, the baby or David? Please tell me where the justice and mercy is?

Here am a little confused. Jesus we are told preached to multitudes of people and that one point he fed 5k men; this count doesn’t include women and children. He preached in synagogues, by the riverside and entered triumphantly, if riding donkeys is triumphant, into Galilee and nowhere are we told the soldiers lived in garrisons or barracks, why would someone be needed to betray a celebrity of this kind? Anyone would identify him in a crowd? Did they just want to transfer the guilt of his suicide to Judas? All generations have vilified Judas for the betrayal, did he have a choice? While at table Jesus says one of you here is going to betray me, if he already had foreknowledge, why didn’t he call Judas aside and tell him not to do it? Where was his power at this time? Please while answering this questions don’t bring that line that I need to be a bible scholar to understand zilch in the bible, god would have said so himself. If he wants to be worshiped by intelligent men, he has to do be as clear as is omnipotent-ly possible or else he throws the tag omnipotent out of the window.

I want to stop here in the anticipation that you’ll be kind enough to help shed light on these matters that are between me and your god. Maybe there could be a change of heart.

Untitled

I couldn’t come up with an appropriate title for this post since as you’ll realize it deals with several things. They are basically as random as they always have been when they come from me.

Friends, I have been meaning to continue with the journey through Exodus but have been quite busy the past few days. What with spending several hours at my barber for a shave, manicure/ pedicure, yes, don’t roll your eyes looking at me; site visits out-of-town; meeting deadlines at work [why do deadlines sometimes all arrive at the same time?]; visiting my brother;  and reading some very interesting novels but I promise we will get on it very soon.

Our friends in NYC have been hit by a bad storm, I hear some of the Christian Right see it as an act of a god, their god, to what end I don’t know unless they mean their god is so destructive and lacks any sense of mercy, justice and decency! This a god who behaves like our city council askaris[guards] and their bulldozers who show up at night to flatten kiosks without any mercy or consideration to the people who depend on them[kiosks] for their livelihood.

I finished reading God’s problem: How the bible fails to answer our most important questionwhy we sufferby Bart Ehrman where he discusses the issue of suffering and with the storm in NYC

Hurricane sandy in NYC

, I think we can have some perspective. What would god be doing causing so much destruction to property and leading to loss of lives? Does such a god deserve to be worshiped or rebelled against? Your take!

And while we wait, let us just sit back and listen to a priest who shares my view on hell and why the religious [the church in particular] insists that it exists.