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Judeo-Christian Principles December 29, 2011

Posted by jetson in Personal.
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I’ve talked about this idea before. The argument that the United States was founded on Judeo-Christian principles is brought up quite often. The more I think about the argument, I have to consider that it might be true. I mean, Christianity was popular when the U.S. got started, and it could be argued that the “principles”, which I take to mean morals, were based on Biblical beliefs. But so what?

So what if the U.S. was founded on those principles? It’s not like we are still living in that time period, where women were second class citizens in their own country, and black families were literally slaves, and reduced to almost animals within societies that held their Bibles high and proud during this period. We’ve changed, and we’ve changed for the better.

Do we get to claim that the principles we were founded upon were actually quite bad? Or will this turn into yet another excuse from those who believe those principles were something to be proud of, or perhaps even return to? No matter how you slice it, the U.S. was explicitly endorsing some morals that have since been abolished completely, because they were literally awful, in every way.

To tear families from foreign countries, rip them apart, and feed them into the slave trade to American businesses and families is so disgusting, it would simply never be tolerated today. It has been cited as one of the main reasons for the Civil War in the U.S. Two sides of the argument, holding their Bibles in the air, while proclaiming that slavery was OK, and slavery was not OK, and then going to war over it.

To treat women as second class citizens has very strong Biblical roots. There is plenty of scripture that supports misogyny, and placing women in subservient roles within the family. Today, women have equal rights, they can vote, and they can work alongside men in competition for the same jobs that were once restricted. It took time, but we evolved away from the founding principles that the United States was founded upon, and for good reason – they were horrible. And by the way, women have not yet gained equal status to men in certain measures, such as income for the same jobs as men.

If I were a Christian, I don’t think I would make the argument. It does not look good when considered for a few minutes. Of course, there are still some Christians who are not happy with the equal rights for women, and the abolishment of slavery (luckily, they have been marginalized). But we still have active hatred and bigotry against gays, and non-believers. So we are still battling some of the same principles that sprung from the pages of the Bible, according to some Christians.

In the end, it may be true that the U.S. was founded upon Judeo-Christian principles. But luckily, those principles have been replaced with better ones. Since human morals evolve over time, based on prevailing tolerances and standards set by those societies, we can be sure that they will continue changing, and continue to make things better for each of us. And hopefully we can stop arguing over how the country was founded, as though it is something we should aspire to. Yikes!


Is Religion a Pre-requisite for Morality? May 13, 2010

Posted by jetson in Personal.
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Here I go again, assuming there is a god, in order to have a discussion! Anyway, let’s take a look at this question and see where it leads. I have heard from many Christians who believe that God provides them with a moral base for their lives. Some even go as far as practically admitting that without God, they would be unable to act morally? I find that almost impossible to believe. Although, I have had two otherwise normal friends, who said that if God asked them to kill a baby, they would do it. To be fair, they had no choice but to assume that their “real” God was “really” asking them to do such a thing, and thus, they chose to submit. How they can distinguish a real God command from their own imaginations is beyond me.

I like to ask believers if there is anything good that a Christian can do, that cannot also be done by a non-believer. The intent of the question is to challenge them on human acts of kindness, as an example. So the challenge would be to name an act of kindness, or goodness, that physically cannot be done by one who has no god belief. I have yet to hear a single response outside of some things that are done as part of a church ritual or service, which the non-believer could easily do, but chooses not to be involved in church services. However, even those actions don’t hold anything morally superior over others outside of that belief system.

Non-believers are free to take any action they choose, without regard for specific church rules or restrictions on such actions, so you could almost argue that there may be some actions that a non-believer could do, which would be frowned upon by some churches. However, if the church deems it a bad thing, or inappropriate in some way, they would never acknowledge the act being good if done by a non-believer. What if an atheist was handing out condoms in a poverty-stricken area of Africa, resulting in fewer cases of aids through heterosexual contact between married couples? The Catholic church has deemed this a sin, and tells these people that the use of condoms is a sin. No matter what your church leaders say, they simply cannot continue to ignore the fact that using condoms saves lives in these areas.

I think I can argue that religion is not a pre-requisite for morality. Even if a person gains a set of morals through religious indoctrination early in their life, if they drop their god belief, or switch to a completely different religion, they do not automatically start behaving immorally. I have directly challenged some progressive Christian friends on this issue. They have no basis whatsoever to claim that I am less moral than they are, yet they argue their case as though they do have that superiority. They know me, and they know that they cannot directly challenge my morals simply because I claim no god belief. Yet, I sense that they silently claim victory.

The truth is, there is simply no credible evidence that non-believers are less moral. Unless non-belief itself is categorized as immoral, then we have to also consider that moral sets from one religion to the next are not the same, so each religious group gets to claim moral superiority over everyone else! This is an issue that comes up a lot in internet discussions, and it saddens me to think that modern humans still believe that people can’t possibly behave without religion.

God’s Moral Standards January 10, 2010

Posted by jetson in Personal.
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The idea that God (from The Bible) instilled the moral standards into the human design, seems absurd to me. Of course, as an atheist, I don’t believe God is real, so I would first need proof of God before I started accepting any other assertions about Him. But let’s imagine that God did instill human morals as part of the design of humans. What exactly are those moral standards?

That is what I really would like to know. Is there a list of them? Is it the ten commandments from the Old Testament? Is it based on a full reading and understanding of the entire Bible? Where are these morals, and do all Christians agree with them? To claim that there is a god that designed and created humans, and instilled those humans with a set of morals is one thing, but to look across the spectrum of societies, tribes, cultures, races, and geographies, is it not clear that there is no standard that we all seem to be following? Would a person who died in the burning and crumbling World Trade Center tower on September 11th agree that those who took control of the airplanes and flew them into the buildings like missiles were operating on a god instilled, or god inspired set of morals? Somehow, I doubt it. And I doubt even more that the more than six billion humans currently alive will ever agree on a set of morals. They can’t even agree on a god!

I have my own opinion on how people come to think that human morals must have come from God. It is mostly because we are told this by religious leaders. But it also comes from a real lack of knowledge about what The Bible says. It comes from listening to your church leader, instead of reading for yourself. It comes from interpreting The Bible in a way that pleases you, as opposed to reading it at face value. There may be some good morals sprinkled throughout The Bible. But as sure as there is still no proof that any god is real, there are also some extremely violent and highly immoral passages in The Bible. And if you read closely, some of the worst genocides, rapes, slavery, and child killings are ordered by yours truly, God.

So let’s hear it Christians, what are the absolute morals instilled by God? I think in this case, the list should most definitely be exhaustive and clear. I’ll wait…

Why is Change So Scary? November 27, 2009

Posted by jetson in Personal.
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I am an American citizen currently living in the United States of America. I am a working class, middle-income person with an average sized family. I have three boys from a previous marriage (all over 19 years old now), and a young boy from my current marriage of fourteen years with a woman who is simply amazing to be around. I’m lucky to have ever crossed paths with her, and now she gave me another wonderful young boy who I am so very proud of!

I tell you about my “place” in this country because it is important to know that we all have a current “place.” And as averages go, most of us change places over time. Perhaps the change is not always seen as positive, but it is change nonetheless. I embrace change, usually. I certainly recognize change when it happens, and I usually make the best of it. If I ever have trouble embracing the change that seems to be inevitable, I make change happen on purpose (I think that’s what we usually do anyway, even if we don’t recognize it happening.) So we have change at a personal level, but what about change at a much higher level?

This country has experienced tons of change over its short history. We have seen all sorts of social change that most people agree is for the best. We have abolished slavery, we have given women equal rights as humans, and we are getting much better at accepting that some humans are homosexual, and deserve the same human rights as everyone else. We have come a long way as well towards granting the handicapped a much easier way in life once we recognized that they are still human! What drove all of this change?

It is who we are. The people that wrote the constitution were trying their very best to understand and accept that we all don’t agree, we don’t think alike, we don’t believe the same things, but we are all humans. Isn’t that a basic summary of what they were trying to do when they wrote it? I’m not a scholar on the constitution, but I can read, and I can understand the spirit of the message. But when they wrote it, we had slaves. Even they didn’t completely understand that what they were doing was hypocritical if slaves were allowed to continue being sold, traded, and owned. We continued, as a nation, to proclaim our self-righteousness around our amazing constitution, while we owned and traded human beings – human beings!

So, we weren’t perfect, but we continue to change. We do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do. What choice do we have? Yet we still have a ways to go, don’t we? We still have citizens who want to impart their morals on others, as though they are right, and others are wrong. There are still millions of Americans who believe that being homosexual is wrong, and should be stopped. Imagine that – the cruelty and disgust aimed at a segment of humans who are homosexual is beyond comprehension by any truly caring individual.

There are still people who believe that this country is actually getting worse! Somehow, even though we are affording more humans the basic rights they deserve, we are going backwards. The reason for this type of belief can be summed up in one single word. Religion. Yes, religious beliefs are, in my opinion, the single strongest factor in supporting a belief that the changes we are making in this country are actually bad. What, exactly, are these people afraid of?

I will tell you what I have actually heard. I have heard that if same-sex couples were allowed to marry legally, they would then be able to adopt (something they can do in every state except Florida already), and then they will raise the children in an “unhealthy” way. I have heard that if we allow same-sex marriage, then we should allow a man to marry his dog – or allow a man to marry a twelve year old girl. I have heard that if we legalize marijuana, then we will have to legalize every other drug, no matter how toxic or dangerous, or benign it may actually be. Even though people don’t die from smoking marijuana, nor are they killed like the thousands by alcohol related accidents, it is illegal. We can’t make progress with this type of thinking.

We all need to embrace change when it is for the greater good. We cannot use religious beliefs as a guideline for morals, because it would be impossible to consider all of the religions and their moral tenets. We MUST embrace the morals that societies accept in general, as a group of humans who live and work cooperatively among each other. We all know that killing another human is usually wrong, but can we agree on when it is right? Is it ever right to kill, or murder? Would you kill another human to save your own life? Would you kill another human to save a loved one, or a friend, what about a stranger?

Religions don’t have the answers because they are exclusive, and they don’t consider that others who don’t believe in their god are not obligated to go along with a particular set of morals. It has never worked, and it will NEVER work to use a specific religion to drive societal morals. In fact, the more someone tries to impart the morals of their religion or their god upon others, the more those morals are rejected and dismissed – because they are not warranted in most cases.

Don’t waste your time trying to impress others with your self-righteous, personal beliefs on how everyone else “should” behave. Get over yourself. There are no perfect set of morals in our world, there are only sets that we all can live with as a group, which means compromise. Aren’t Christians compromising today when they allow the legal system to deal with adultery as opposed to stoning the adulterers to death, as The Bible declares? Yes, they are compromising, and they have been doing so for thousands of years, as we learn more and more about how to live together, and how to treat each other with respect.

Don’t be afraid of the changes that we are embracing, and the changes that are yet to come. We don’t change in order to make things worse. We change in order to make things better, and more fair to all humans and their basic rights. There is not a single argument on this planet that would ever convince me that same-sex couples don’t deserve the exact same legal rights as heterosexuals. Especially if the argument comes from some god based belief – those are the worst arguments. Embrace what makes this country better. Enjoy your religions in your homes and churches. No one is trying to remove that basic right.

God Commands Cruelty and Violence October 13, 2009

Posted by jetson in Personal.
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The Christian God is immoral, according to The Bible.  I am probably the millionth-plus person to think this, but I feel I must join those who do not see the goodness of God in the pages of The Bible.  Is there goodness in The Bible?  I suppose it could be argued so, but what difference does it make if the cruelty and violence is at least equal to the love and compassion?  Before I go on, I have to admit that I am still reading The Bible.  So far, I’m not impressed.

I told some Christian friends today that I am above their god when it comes to morality, because I would never commit the crimes I read about in the chapters.  How could I anyway, I’m not an all powerful entity.  For example, in Genesis 6:7, God is clearly unhappy with His creation, and declares that He will destroy man.  This is cruelty at it’s worst, if you ask me.  I have heard that this act is defensible because we are Gods creation, and God retains the right to destroy His own creation if He so chooses.  Where is the love and goodness in destroying all humans, even if they are guilty? Where is the compassion?

Revelations 6:10-11 is yet to come, and it seems to be an indication that more killing by God himself is on its way – I can’t wait to feel the love!  In 2 Peter 3:7, we get more love and goodness as God sets fire to the entire earth so that all non-believers will burn.   You’re killing me, God!  Apparently though, He has given me plenty of warning, so if I choose to deny Gods grace, then I deserve to burn to death, or even more exciting, burn in an everlasting lake of fire for the rest of eternity.  Obviously, I deserve it – look at all the damage I’ve done to Gods pride.

I am now thoroughly convinced that the god of The Bible actually requires killing humans, much like His old habit of requiring animal sacrifice.  He does so with reckless abandon in the Old Testament, and does a nice hand-off to Jesus in the New Testament.  Luckily though, there really is only one evil God in this case!  Or is it three?  Who knows.