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Judeo-Christian Principles December 29, 2011

Posted by jetson in Personal.
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3 comments

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!

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Been Gone May 1, 2011

Posted by jetson in Personal.
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16 comments

I’ve been away from the blog lately. I’m still a heathen, but I’ve been busy on different forums doing the good work of the outspoken non-believers. One of my activities is somewhat of a private forum, where I was debating and discussing with people I see every day! That is weird, to say the least. But, we’re all good friends, and we really try hard not to get too abrasive. I will say, it is very difficult, and I can feel some pressure from both sides, which tells me we are edging closer to a fatal point where no useful dialog can actually occur.

After thinking about that last sentence a bit, I am inclined to ask myself why I debate with theists. It seems that there really is no point, when both sides are sure they are right, and seem unwilling to consider the other side. But that’s how it goes in our human world, I suppose. As an atheist, I would not accept the reality of a god without something tangible. And if that showed up, I like to think that I would simply accept that there is a real god. I can’t say what that would do for my specific approach to gods and religions, but I won’t deny that which is demonstrably true, through observation, evidence, and facts.

I am not certain at all what would cause a theist to abandon their beliefs. My instinct tells me that it would require a specific and thoughtful journey of research, rational thinking, and stepping outside of the faith. I have heard that some people are looking for a true support group to switch to, which is very difficult to find if you live amongst a highly religious group of neighbors, and work mates. The power of family, friends, and neighbors is strong, and difficult to escape from when matters of religion, and sometimes other world-views are prevalent. When enough guilt or shame is “in the air”, many people will elect to just go along, and stay quiet.

One thing that has surfaced for me recently, is the idea of writing a book. It seems daunting, and I am certainly not a professional writer, but it could be an interesting project. The focus, without giving away the full idea, would be on the differences between believers and non-believers. I’m still tossing the idea around in my head, so I won’t say any more right now.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the respect of ideas in the debate between belief and non-belief. I was thinking just today, that I have been called out, almost directly, but not quite, on what my goal is in “attacking” a belief system that I don’t even believe in myself. After some thought, I decided that it is certainly a fair question. And I have an answer. But what I would like to know, is why it is seemingly OK and/or socially acceptable to assume that believers are correct, and to give their ideas respect, just because. After all, this debate only has one answer; there is a god, or there is no god (yes, there could be multiple gods, but I’m going for simplicity).

In the end, atheists think they are right, and believers think they are right. So, technically, neither side deserves more respect than the other. But it seems apparent to me that the non-believer side is far less socially accepted. As I watched a clip from Christopher Hitchens recently, he was talking about believers who sent him messages asking if he was now ready to accept Jesus (he has been in the hospital in cancer therapy). And Hitchens basically said that it would be unbelievably rude for atheists to go running into hospital rooms to convince the dying patients that the whole religion thing was a scam. And that’s only one example where belief in a god is given special status as more socially acceptable than non-belief.

Anyway, I’m going to start writing some more – even though no one is listening! (Except for you three…)

Should Christians Agree With Each Other? October 8, 2009

Posted by jetson in Personal.
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4 comments

It is my personal opinion that there should be one, and only one version of Christianity.  Yet, over and over again, all across the world, we can clearly see very strong disagreement among Christians regarding their beliefs, Biblical texts, and methods of religious practice.  There are certainly differences in Biblical texts, as is evidenced by the very stark disagreement over Genesis.  There are those Christians who read Genesis and take the story very literally, while others take it allegorically, and still others who believe it perfectly matches with current scientific knowledge.  Why is there such disagreement?  And most importantly, why does each unique version claim to be the truth?

As someone who chooses to leave religion to those who believe they need it, I have often wondered why I don’t hear too much infighting among Christians.  As a matter of fact, it seems that a devout Christian is more likely to be concerned about an atheist than someone who practices the Islamic faith.  Perhaps it is considered less problematic for someone to claim a better god, than for someone to claim no god at all – go figure?  I have no proof of this thought, but it has been my experience that this is often the case.  As it turns out, it is most likely due to the fact that a non-believer is viewed as one who has no moral authority.  Apparently those who claimed their love for Allah when they flew the planes into the World Trade Center have higher morals than someone who doesn’t have a god belief.

If a Christian has a certain set of beliefs, and knows their beliefs are correct, they have no choice but to consider other sects as incorrect.  I’m not really sure how they can possibly know they made the right choice, but I can imagine that in the minds of most Christians, as long as they get to heaven, it doesn’t really matter.  With the exception of the most fundamental sects, the details are unimportant, as long as the end result is eternal life with Jesus, or God, depending on ones particular Christian beliefs.  But would there be a benefit to Christianity if they magically started agreeing with each other?  I often wonder how many more believers there would be if this one little detail were ironed out.  If there was one crystal clear version of Christianity, how many more people would be inclined to sign up?  We will never know…