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Is God Perfect? October 30, 2009

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Is the god of The Bible a perfect entity/being/creature? And if so, what is the definition of perfect? Can humans relate to the perfection of God? In other words, are we talking about some humanly unknowable state of perfection, or is it more like nothing God does is less than perfect in any way? It is important to understand what perfect means in reference to a statement that God is perfect.

Assuming we agree that a perfect god exists, does this god need anything? If I were perfect, I can’t imagine having any needs. I don’t know how I could be perfect, and lacking at the same time. If I needed something, wouldn’t it imply that I was lacking something? And if I was lacking something, then I cannot be perfect. Or is it OK to be perfect, and still need something? What does God need, if anything?

Perhaps I have taken too much liberty in assigning inappropriate attributes to God. If so, I can accept that and move on. I have most definitely heard from some believers that God is perfect, and does not need anything at all. But by choosing to create the universe, and us, we are left wondering why. If one needs nothing, why create something? Was God just bored? Or is it more likely that humans needed God more than He needed us, so we created Him?

I don’t understand why a perfect being would need to create such an imperfect universe. If He needed company in heaven, wouldn’t it be much easier to create some company – perhaps some perfect company so He would have someone just as perfect to talk to?

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Religion is a Choice October 27, 2009

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Religion should always be a choice. Given the current variety of religions in the world today, as well as the many religions that have come and gone throughout history, we know beyond a doubt, that even if one of those religions is the true belief system, it cannot force everyone to believe. People must decide for themselves at some point. Of course, there’s always an exception.

There are also cultures that teach their religious beliefs to their children from birth. Those cultures don’t tolerate non-believers, so in some sense, there really seems to be no choice at all. But history shows that even in the most strict religious cultures, there are infidels. Many of them are punished severely, even killed for their infidelity. So where does choice come in?

From the stories I have heard in my limited exposure and lifetime, religious decisions come at almost any age, and in every culture. Many modern humans are exposed to the myriad cultures, religions, ideologies, and beliefs due to so much immigration between countries around the world. This mixing is a veritable melting pot of views and beliefs that each person is exposed to in some way on almost a daily basis. In the United States, we are taught at an early age to be considerate of the beliefs and customs of different cultures. This has also resulted in what I call a cross-pollination of religions between people of different cultures. In other words, a Muslim can decide to become a Christian.

For many believers, the thought of no religion at all is not really an option. They seem to believe that any religion is better than none, even when that religion competes directly with their own. But one of the choices for many people is to become non-religious, and even atheist. Atheism is on a fast rise in the western world at the moment, and some people believe it is caused by the growing body of scientific knowledge and discovery that appears to replace what religion used to teach without question. Science, to be clear, is not a choice, it is knowledge. One can choose to understand, and even refute the knowledge gained by science, but it is not a belief system.

Many major religions today are competing for followers. They are engaging in nothing short of marketing campaigns, just like major companies who look for new customers! Is this a sign that religion, like businesses, are struggling a little to survive? Maybe it is. Either way, it seems apparent that people do choose their churches, and even the major religion that appeals to them. For some, there seems to be only one choice from the day they are born, for others, the choices of religions are indeed many. And for others still, the choice to follow no religion at all is just as valid, and deserving of the same tolerance afforded to believers of all gods and religions available.

After all, if one chooses not to decide, they still have made a choice! (borrowed from Neil Peart of Rush.)

Am I Fair? October 27, 2009

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After conversing with some friends of mine, who I consider to be “progressive” Christians, for lack of a better term, I was told that my blogs are not exactly fair and balanced. Those weren’t the exact terms used, but it’s the message I took away from the conversation. After some careful thought, I decided that they may be right. The problem is, I don’t know exactly what to do about it – if anything at all.

On the one hand, it’s my blog. If someone wants to write a fair and balanced blog about religion, they are always free to do so. But on the other hand, am I doing an injustice to having a good conversation by being too militant with my writing? I have felt a sense of movement in my attitude towards religion, so I certainly don’t doubt that I could have gone too far in some respects. I have undoubtedly become less tolerant of unsupported assertions and unfounded claims of knowledge and truth. An opposing view might think that I am not considering their evidence, or that I am simply dismissing it with little to no consideration. I can definitely understand that concern.

I have been immersed in this topic for over one year now, and I do mean immersed! I have read, argued, debated, discussed, and flat out battled against what I consider irrational beliefs on various forums, blogs, and in person. I have heard so many arguments that they are now in full rotation. In other words, I’ve heard them all (though not literally I would guess.) I need to add that I have not had much luck on religious forums because not many of them tolerate non-believers (too much blasphemy involved in the discussions.) However, I am nowhere near fully educated on any of this. I am just scratching the surface of the most basic arguments, and sadly, many of them are simply not well though out. So now what?

If I am to continue engaging in these topics, I know I can learn more. But what can I learn if I don’t believe in any gods? I can learn more about the religions and their gods, and their believers who are convinced beyond a doubt in their beliefs. I have studied western religions at an academic level, but never at a theological level. I don’t intend to go back to school, but I can certainly read more books and opinions from respected theologians. I honestly don’t know what I will find, but I’m hoping that there is a more mature position and understanding than some of the poorly thought out arguments from self-professed god experts on the internet (mostly teen children from the immature writing styles and argument structures.)

So, how will this affect my blog? At this point, I have no readers, so it’s almost pointless to even be concerned. However, the feedback came from a reader, so the point is worth considering. I know there is an audience for the blogs I have already written, but I am likely “preaching to the choir” to those who might agree with me. As for the opposition, I can try harder to engage them in conversation, I can continue to respect them as people, but if I disagree, I cannot be dishonest just to save feelings. The discussion has to occur, but no one has to agree just to be polite. We’ll see how this goes!

Where is God? October 25, 2009

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If God is outside of the space time continuum, then how does anyone know that God is there? How can anyone claim that God is “outside of the space time continuum”, if we cannot get outside of it? Seriously, what kind of person is capable of making such a claim with any authority whatsoever? Did God tell someone, “hey, I’m outside of space and time, don’t bother looking, just trust me.” Who did He tell? Wait, is it in The Bible somewhere? It is, isn’t it? Somewhere in The Bible, it clearly say’s that God is now outside of space and time. I guess that means outside of our universe, or if there are multiple universes, then God is outside of all of them, simultaneously?

I suppose that back in the days when God was talking to people, he transcended space and time so that some of those He chose to speak to could actually hear Him. Either that, or He just spoke directly to their brains. I’m thinking that God gets farther away as our understanding of the world and the universe increases. That makes far more sense. And it is very convenient to say that God can’t be seen – even though He was clearly seen by certain people “back in biblical times.” This is a contradiction though, since The Bible supports two opposing ideas on seeing God. But hey, I’m sure there are reasons for all of this, according to at least a few of the 38,000 sects of Christianity.

Anyway, I’m fairly certain that there will be no way that anyone can ever see God, because that would ruin everything. Think about it, if I could see God, I might become a believer, and then He would have to accept me into heaven, where I clearly don’t belong. That’s OK, I’ll have plenty of fun burning forever in Hell, with about 67% of humans, assuming Christianity is true 🙂

So, where is God? I will tell you where God is, if you really want the truth. God, from The Bible, is hanging out with Zeus and Thor, two of civilizations more popular gods from long ago. One day, I am sure that the god of The Bible will join Zeus and Thor in the history books. Now, if I am wrong about this, then the only other logical place God can be found is in the minds of millions of believers. God is stuck there, in those minds, and cannot escape until the person gives up and moves away from their belief. Many do drop their beliefs, and that group is growing fast!

If you have doubted the existence of God, and would like to drop Him forever, I can tell you that no harm will come to you whatsoever! You will feel a sense of freedom like never before, where you no longer have to be concerned about God, or religion, or church, or anything religious. You can just live your life, enjoy your time on earth, and know that when you die, your life will feel exactly the same as it did before you were conceived in the womb. Fairly painless if I can be so bold as to guess!

Some Humans Literally Cannot Believe in God October 25, 2009

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I have heard from, and read the stories of many non-believers, and there is a small theme among some of them. They literally could find no way to believe in God. There was just no way, according to their stories. I find this to be very close to how I feel. I do remember some attempts during my life, at times when I was confused, lost, or depressed too much to stand up and dust myself off. But truthfully, I felt silly.

It literally felt like I was an adult, desperately trying to justify the reality of Santa Claus! Imagine how you would feel if you were alone in a room, trying to put the story of Santa Claus together so that it became real. That feeling is as close as I can get to what it was like. Sounds silly, doesn’t it?

Well, I can imagine that with all the believers in the world, and all of the churches dotting our cities and towns, and all of the adults rambling on and on about God, it is easy to just say, “I believe”, even when the evidence isn’t there. I just can’t do that, and neither can many humans. It’s actually impossible to pretend to believe in something that literally does not exist.

Just a reminder, these people aren’t stupid, they don’t lack anything physical compared to believers, and they certainly don’t hate God so much that they resist belief (you can’t possibly hate something you don’t think exists.) So there you have it. No matter what, the sheer lack of evidence, and the added supernatural, magic laced stories, and mythological references just don’t add up in a way that allows belief beyond pure fiction! But hey, fiction is entertaining!

Death for Burning a Book October 25, 2009

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Read this story from the BBC news about Muslim students burning an effigy of President Obama, and chanting “death to America” over the alleged burning of a Koran by foreign forces in the country. According to the report, there may not even be any truth to the allegations about who did the burning. It was the Koran, the Bible of Islam.

I say, so what? If your religious belief is so sensitive that you cannot tolerate a book burning, then I would question your belief and your faith. Instead, they demand the death of America over this? Burning books is a very popular activity among religious groups throughout history. Many Christian groups hold book burnings over fictional books like Harry Potter. What exactly does anyone hope to accomplish by burning a book anyway?

Does burning books make your beliefs stronger? Does it make you closer to God? Do you think it takes books off the market so others cannot read the book? Unless you get your books for free, you are actually driving the need to print more books! I suppose the publisher doesn’t really care if you read it, as long as you pay for it. On the other hand, it is extremely childish and disrespectful.

Books are just bits of paper with writing on them. Books can’t do anything, they just sit there, waiting to be read. So, if the book itself poses no threat, then it must be that the words in the book are doing all of the damage – wrong! It’s the people who read the books that do all the damage! Now we’re down to some form of root cause. It’s unfortunate though how readers of burned books have no precedent for doing anything harmful towards others. Apparently, the only damage being done is to the pride of the group doing the burning, they are “offended.” Of course, in this case, some readers of the Koran are bent on killing people who burn it.

The idea that some Muslims think that burning the Koran is punishable by death is beyond sick. But then again, there are some Muslims who believe all non-believers should be killed, so it’s not all that surprising to me. If you are the type of person who thinks that book burning accomplishes anything constructive or positive, then you are both ignorant and intolerant, as well as far too easily offended. If you believe someone should be killed for burning a book, then you are both sick and ignorant, and you don’t deserve to live in a free society, where all humans are equal, no matter what they might believe.

Stretch to Fit – The Bibles October 25, 2009

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Why are there over 38,000 sects of Christianity? Are there then 38,000 interpretations of The Bible? If so, how could that happen if The Bible is the word of the most powerful God known to humans? How could this god possibly have made the book so open to interpretation, and for the last couple of thousand years has done nothing to bring Christians back to the origin of Christianity? If anything, it is the opposite, Christianity gets further and further splintered by all of these diverse Christian groups.

Christianity is now bastardized so far in every conceivable direction, that it is barely discernible in some sects to even be considered Christianity at all. What a mess. It’s like The Bible has gone through “evolution” following the Darwinian model, with each branch creating a life of its own, and becoming less similar as it branches out. How ironic.

My experience so far, and I admit it is limited, says that what is really happening, is that groups of religious people, believers in Christ, are each stretching The Bible to fit their views. Very convenient, and in almost every case, easy to support, given the strange passages found sprinkled throughout the books. The contradictions, for example, easily allow one group to promote and support slavery, while other groups can condemn it and point to passages that seem to support their view as well.

Genesis is another book that can be stretched in almost any direction, in order to support a particular view of how the world and the universe, and all of earths life was created. We have young earth creationists, who believe that Genesis is a literal account of all of creation by God. Then we have The Catholic Church, which supports the theory of evolution as it stands through scientific measure. Then we have this group, Reasons To Believe, who have found a way to make Genesis match almost perfectly with the scientific understanding of the age of the universe, and of the planet earth! Amazing, all Christian views, all based on Genesis, and all convinced that they are correct.

From creation, to prophecy, to morals, to current social issues, every sect gets to weigh in, and gather supporters that agree with their interpretations. They get to claim they know they are right, because they are reading a book. The SAME BOOK that all other sects are reading, yet coming to DIFFERENT conclusions!

I would like for at least one honest Christian to admit that this is definitely a problem. I grow tired of the apologetics, the “we’re rights”, the “they’re not True Christians”, and every other excuse in the book. I want someone to actually admit that they are embarrassed, at least a little, that Christianity is now so diverse in its views, that it is literally impossible for a person to look at Christianity, and decide what the truth actually is about its tenets, its God, and its rules for life. This is a disaster for such a pervasive organization as far as I can see.

Don’t Approach God! October 24, 2009

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The text below comes from one of the many versions of The Bible. I’ve been reading the King James version, and I have actually been laughed at by some Christians for reading the KJV version! Just shows again how one must not only figure out the meaning of passages, chapters, books, words, and intended meanings, but one also has to first pick the correct translation of The Bible. And make no mistake, every English written version of The Bible is a translation, think about that for a minute.

Leviticus 21:16-24 From the New International Version (NIV)

16 The LORD said to Moses,
17 “Say to Aaron: ‘For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God.
18 No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed;
19 no man with a crippled foot or hand,
20 or who is hunchbacked or dwarfed, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles.
21 No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the offerings made to the LORD by fire. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God.
22 He may eat the most holy food of his God, as well as the holy food;
23 yet because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the LORD, who makes them holy.
24 So Moses told this to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites.

I’m not wearing a magic decoder ring, so when I read the words of the LORD, they clearly say that people with certain malformations or deformities may not approach God. This is tied to a ritual that doesn’t seem to exist today, namely, presenting burnt offerings (although it wouldn’t surprise me to discover that burnt offerings are still done today.) But it also mentions the simple act of merely approaching the altar of God. Is it just me, or does it not seem cruel that the god who created humans, including the “defective” ones, is actually shunning them?

Even worse, it specifically mentions the blind, the dwarfed, and even those with damaged testicles? So what is the opposite of these descriptions of people with deformities and abnormalities? Physically perfect humans, perhaps? What is a physically perfect human anyway?

So, let me guess; I either read the wrong version of The bible, or I am misunderstanding the passage, or even better, I can’t understand because I have not accepted Jesus. This is a great opportunity for a Christian to set me straight, help me figure it out, guide me through the good book, if you will.

I submit that there is actually no current Bible in existence that represents the most accurate writings of the original authored works. There is a very real possibility that some of the writings are fabricated, and a very strong possibility that translations have been altered enough to have lost their original meaning and intent (based on the time they were written, of course.) There are even writings that were not included in The Bible! There is no real Bible today, all that remains are the published translations, each with their own subtle take on the word of God.

And once again, a god that is so powerful to have created the entire universe, the billions of galaxies, each with billions of stars, and planets, and at least one planet with life forms that realize they exist, is somehow incapable of creating a single, clear, unambiguous book that all humans can easily read and understand. Call me blasphemous, call me ignorant, call me anything you can dream up, but I am completely unimpressed. That humans have been fighting, killing, murdering, battling, and hating each other for thousands of years, over this ridiculous entity that can never be proven, is perfect proof that this god, the god of The Bible, is no god at all.

It is an imagined god, designed by ignorant men, many thousands of years ago. It is a god that survives today from no other method but indoctrination, dogma, mythology, fear, guilt, shame, sin, bigotry, and every other form of human indignity that can be thought of, for all of these have been used by humans. It is a replacement for the gods that are far too easy to dismiss, like Zeus and Thor. It is an imagined god that can fit anywhere, in any conversation, or any form of discourse among humans, for the sole purpose of promoting silly ideas like “all humans are sinners”. Ideas like, “there can be no morals without God”. And ideas like “accept and believe equals eternal life, otherwise, lakes of eternal fire and brimstone”.

What a shame that humans today have to use this god to prop up ignorance and fear, in order to maintain a delusion that brings no joy to humanity, but rather, fills it with contempt towards ANYONE who disagrees, or who may not even understand what a god is. Consider this some of my most blasphemous accusations towards the imaginary character of The Bible. And God, if you are real and you are listening, appear before me now and explain why you are so bad at communicating your message. Maybe then I can at least know you are real, even though I would not follow your ridiculous rantings.

If I Could Speak to Jesus the Man October 22, 2009

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I think it would be awesome to have a face-to-face conversation with the man named Jesus. I’ve always imagined him to be a down-to-earth, easy going, liberal type of person, totally tolerant of everyone, never passing judgment, and easy to talk to. At least that’s what I think he would be like, but I have to admit that my impression comes purely from Biblical stories. I would definitely enjoy conversing with someone like this, especially if he is intelligent.

I can’t see Jesus being intolerant of differing opinions, beliefs, lifestyles, or even ideologies. He just doesn’t seem to me to be the type who really is overly concerned with what other people think or do. Obviously, I’m ignoring the “god” part of Jesus, but it’s fine to ignore for this thought experiment. Besides, adding divinity just complicates things unnecessarily. Imagine that.

Anyway, I really think if Jesus were around today, he would easily be baffled, and even disgusted at what has happened in his name.

“Christianity?” he might say.
“Who came up with that?” he would inquire.
“And why in the world is everyone celebrating my horrific torture and death?” he would ask.

Of course, I would agree with him and tell him how sorry I am for all of the crosses, churches, and everything else that people have done in order to prop up their beliefs about him. I would let him know that people were just too afraid to think for themselves, so they decided to erect religions and instill fear and guilt into everyone they possibly can, for the past 2,000 years! I’m sure he would be confused, and maybe even irritated.

It’s too bad we don’t have more details about his life and activities. My guess is that he was a cool character. I just wish people would stop pretending they know him. I had best friends about 40 years ago and I can’t remember what they looked like!

Religion: Sometimes Fails in Sickening Ways October 22, 2009

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This story is a great reason to stay away from certain religious organizations. I am here to tell you that just because a group is religious, does not mean it is a good thing. Just read the story in the link above, and think about what this group of Christians are doing to innocent people. This is an outrage and disgusts me on every level.

These murders were basically ordered by evangelical Christian pastors who believed that these children were witches! Witches? Seriously? In this day and age? All I can say is that when we discover organizations like this, hiding behind Their god and The Bible, we need to treat them as criminal organizations. What if this were a secular child care organization?

Sadly, this is a part of the “spread of Christianity”, like it or not. In remote villages and jungles, according to the article, the competition for evangelism is fierce, and religious groups are competing to gain a foothold. This competition is causing other groups to follow suit, and join in the witch hunts.

I am sure that some people will claim that these organizations are not actually Christian. While I can understand why they might think this, it is impossible to deny that this is being done in the name of Christianity. There’s just no getting around it. If you are a Christian, perhaps you should be praying for these children and their families. For it is in the name of the very religion you follow that this is occurring. For your part, do whatever it takes to denounce this behavior, and this abhorrent form of abuse and murder in the name of your God. Please.