Openly Atheist

This has been an eventful week.  This past Sunday I called my dad and finally told him outright that I don’t believe in the religion he raised me in.  I told him I don’t believe in God or any of it any more.  He basically told me that he was sorry to hear it, but that he still loves me.  Gotta love him!
A few days ago Ryan Bell over at Life After God asked people to post messages on their social media using #IWantBelieversToKnow.  So I did. I posted #‎IWantBelieversToKnow‬ that the more I studied and prayed about god, and the more I asked him to reveal himself to me, the more questions I had that religious folks couldn’t answer. I seriously tried… For years.”  Now I’m knee deep in a FB conversation between a whole lot of people on both sides of the fence.  It’s very interesting, and no one is being rude.

So yeah.  I’m completely out now.  I am an open atheist.  Hopefully my openness will make it easier for someone else to be open about their lack of belief.


An Open Letter to Christians, on Hearing from Jesus

Dear Christian,

Have you ever wondered why your spiritual walk doesn’t personally seem to be as effective as others’ spiritual walks?  Have you ever wondered why others seem to hear from god, but you just can’t seem to figure out what he’s trying to tell you?  Have you ever been in the situation where someone else seems to know more about the decisions you should make because they’ve heard from god, but he won’t tell you what to do?

I’ve been there too.  I know exactly what you’re feeling.  There have been many times- let’s face the facts… most of my spiritual walk, that I couldn’t figure out what god was telling me to do, but others seemed to be in direct communication with god and knew exactly what he was telling them, but I couldn’t figure it out.

It makes sense that god would give you advice.  I mean, consider the scripture, “ask and ye shall receive”, right.  It makes sense that he would “lead and guide you in his paths and righteousness”, or some such.  Isn’t that what your church leaders have been telling you?  That’s what I was told my entire life.  From my childhood I was told that if I “ask anything in his name” he would answer and tell me what to do.  “All good things come from him”, and something about “the littlest of these”… (I don’t exactly remember the verse, but I do remember that it was used to convince me to trust in jesus).

So what’s going on?  Does god communicate with christians or not?  Because if he is an omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (present everywhere), and omniscient (all knowing) being then he should know what’s going on and be able to tell those who believe in him what’s up and how to make decisions and which path to choose.  But from YOUR experience, he doesn’t always do that, does he?  Admit it; there are times when you really want god to tell you what to do, but he just won’t give you any direction, specifics, or… well, really, answers.  He’s not as reliable as he’s made out to be in the bible, is he?  Yeah.  I’ve been there.  I completely understand it.  There have been many times in my life when the preacher or someone in the church told me to “just trust in god” or “ask and ye shall receive” or “he will lead you to the truth”.  But what I didn’t realize at the time was that the person making those statements didn’t hear from god any more than I did.  Sure, I thought I heard from god.  But there were plenty of times that what I thought I heard didn’t work out like I thought the lord told me it would.  There were times that what I thought jesus told me to do was a complete failure.

Here’s the real deal, ladies and gentlemen… Everyone… YES, EVERYONE, who tells you that they have heard from jesus is imagining stuff just like you are.  I know, it’s hard to accept.  It’s hard to comprehend.  But it is true.  If you were to sit down and have an honest conversation (where there was no worry of being found out) most christians would tell you that they aren’t really sure whether or not jesus is talking to them.  But, alas, anyone who claims to have heard from jesus isn’t going to confess that they are not 100 percent sure that they didn’t hear his voice.  It’s a double edged sword… You have to claim it to believe it, and you have to confess it to make it real, and others have to hear it to believe that you experienced it… but if it was your own internal voice the whole time (which accounts for the lack of surety and definitiveness, and actual answers that you would expect from an omnipo…whatever being) then it only makes sense that god doesn’t give you any more guidance than he does.

Let’s consider this…

I love this person.  “Dear god, should I marry them?”  You love them, so yes.

I like this house.  “Dear god, should I buy this house?”  Can you afford it?  i think so.  Then yes, buy the house.

I need to have surgery.  “Dear god, will you heal me without surgery?”  No! (I had to throw that one in)

I want to serve god by xxx.  “Dear god, should I xxx?”  What do you think?  Sure.  OK, go for it.  or No, I don’t think it will work out, so god says “no, don’t do it.”

Ladies and gentlemen, it seems that the voice of god is nothing more than your conscience, or your internal voice, for lack of better terms.  You know all along what you should do or shouldn’t do, but sometimes you won’t listen to yourself.  Even if you don’t think you know what to do, your internal voice tells you what to do, or declines to make a decision.  Just like you.  When your internal voice isn’t sure, that’s when god doesn’t give you a clear answer.  When you know exactly what to do, god is there with a clear, precise answer.  Sure, sometimes you can convince yourself that you know what to do (or that god is telling you what to do) and it turns out to be the wrong decision.  That should tell you that it’s not an omniwhatever god directing your steps.  Seriously, if he is omniwhatever and he really loved you, why would he let you make bad decisions, or even make decisions that don’t work out for you?  I know… All things work together for those who are called according to… Yeah.  That’s an excuse for why an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present god wasn’t there when you needed him to be, didn’t tell you what you needed to know, and didn’t do what needed to be done for you to succeed in what he told you to do in the first place. THAT, my friend, sounds seriously suspicious.

Would you continue to be friends with another human who made those promises but couldn’t keep them?

I didn’t think so.

Why It Was Better to Be a Christian at That Oregon College..?

In this post from Friday over at Come Let Us Reason Ministries, Lenny Esposito tries to argue that those who stood up when asked if they were christians and then shot at Umpqua Community College last week were better off than those who didn’t stand up.  First of all, that’s sick.  People died in a senseless murdering rampage.  They’re not better off; they’re dead.  Wouldn’t they have been better off attacking the guy that started shooting?  They might have been shot in the scuffle, but at least they wouldn’t have been sitting ducks.

And why should you have to glorify their deaths in this way.  It’s sad that they died.  Leave it at that.  Now let’s do something to help make sure this type of thing stops happening.  I’m not the only one who thinks this is happening with too much regularity lately.

In the post, Lenny Esposito says

Some may wonder where God was when all these people were being slaughtered. If God is real, why wouldn’t he protect his own? Does the fact that Christians died prove the Christian God is not real? No, it doesn’t. It only proves that evil exists and needs to be answered.

And there’s the rub… IF god is real.  I think he has answered his own question, yet refuses to see it.  You can’t say that you have a loving, caring god who knows the number of hairs on your head, and then say he doesn’t intervene.  It’s a contradiction.  But I’m sure there’s some apologetic line of thought out there that tries to make it seem like this does make sense.  i can’t wrap my brain around that.  I for one think the problem of evil is a major argument against the existence of a deity who intervenes in the world.  It makes no sense that a god would love someone, and then not do something when they were standing up for their belief in him.  But that’s been going on for centuries, and we still have no answer.  It seems that lack of evidence is piling up against god.

Lenny Esposito goes on to say

I feel more sorry for the non-believers at UCC as well as those on the campus with who I was conversing. There is no way for them to make any real sense out of this tragedy.

So basically he feels more sorry for the survivors.  Survivors do need empathy.  There are serious mental ramifications to being a survivor.  But there is plenty of sense to be made out of this tragedy: it was a tragedy.  Those happen.  This is real life.  And if we don’t do something about it they will keep happening.

Lenny Esposito then makes a big statement.

They may hold that mankind is evolving and getting better, but the empirical evidence doesn’t argue for that.

This article from Oxford Martin School poses some of the evidence that the world is getting better.  Relevant Magazine, a christian publication even confirmed this.  So why does Esposito say that the empirical evidence doesn’t show this?  Because his belief system requires it.  If mankind can make the world a better place, there’s no need for a god to come in and rescue us.  But the facts still hold up, as shown in last week’s shooting; he’s not rescuing us.

Isn’t it time to get over our iron age mythologies and accept the facts for what they are?

The Dangers of Fundamentalism

I was listening to Seth Andrews last night on the way home from the university and some of the comments from the ex-muslims he had on the show got me to thinking.  Some of the things they were saying about how muslims defend their religion sounded identical to the things christians say to defend theirs.  One of the main things that stuck with me is when one of the guests related the fear his parents had when, in his teens, he became more fundamentalist muslim than he was raised by his parents.

I started thinking about how the fundamentalist muslims are almost the same as fundamentalist christians.  Think about it: they both love their god to the exclusion of all else, they cannot make a proper defense for why they believe in their religion, and they are willing to defend their religion to the death.  ISIS is a prime example of this, as are the branch davidians who perished at Waco.  Fundamentalists get extremely protective and clan-like.  They are suspicious and fearful of outsiders.  They are are quick to believe almost anything their leadership tells them without evidence.  And when something happens that they see as intolerable, they go off like a firecracker.

I keep thinking about the Hatfields and the McCoys and their feud that happened in Virginia some years ago.  I know that they weren’t necessarily fundamentalist christians, but they were very clan-like and unquestioning of their leadership.  That’s the main reason that they ended up killing so many of each other.  That’s exactly the way the fundamentalist muslims are with their inter-group hatred and destruction of each other.  That’s exactly the way fundamentalist christians would be if we let them have free range to do whatever they wanted to do.

I read this article about the intelligence levels of conservatives and liberals a few days ago and it appears to bring a little understanding to this phenomenon.  I’m not sure if the smarter people are more likely to eschew fundamentalism and conservatism, or if fundamentalism and conservatism cause lower intelligence, but it seems to me that those who adopt a conservative or fundamentalist worldview seem to shut off their ability to question and think for themselves about empathy for others, the ramifications of their actions as a group, and the ability to weigh evidence of any kind in general.

I’m not sure what can be done about it.  As I was speaking to my class last night, I mentioned that as future teachers, they were the key to the future of our society.  They are the ones who will be teaching our next generations.  I tried to make them understand that it was in their hands to teach our kids to be able to think critically and creatively and weigh the evidence to be able to change the world.  After all, isn’t that what this is all about; making the world a better place than it is now?  If we don’t teach people, not just our kids, to be critical, creative thinkers who are able to go beyond what we can imagine, we are all doomed.  Thankfully there are those among us who are able to do this.  And to you who fit this description, I say Keep It Up.  Don’t give in to the lies and hate and backasswardness of the fundamentalist mindset.  Keep thinking for yourselves and questioning everything.

*steps off of soapbox

My Favorite Bible Verse

I was thinking the other day about stuff and the verse 1 John 4:12 came to my mind.  I actually had to look it up to see where it was in the bible.  It goes like this:

No one has seen God at any time…

I wonder why not!  I would venture that it is for the same reason that no one has ever seen a unicorn or a leprechaun, or a mermaid, or Zeus, or any number of other fictitious fantasies of the human mind.

Some Thoughts While Waiting on The End of The World

So the final “blood moon” of the tetrad is happening tonight.  Some folks are saying this is going to be the end of the world.  John Hagee, whose book made this whole mystical mess part of popular culture, actually spoke a while back at the church I was attending when I was still a christian.  He gave the whole spiel about what the tetrad is and what it means for us as humans and christians.  He never said it was going to be the end of the world.  But he did say it was an important sign of the end times.

He said that during every tetrad in recent history something significant has taken place.  I don’t recall what all those events were, but most of them had to do with Israel.  Most of these events’ significance were hyped up and overblown by Hagee.  Now that this one is nearly over with, I can’t wait to see what they pull out of their asses to make it look like something significant happened during this tetrad.  Almost assuredly, they will bring up the legalization of same-sex marriage here in the US as a significant event leading to the return of jesus.  John Boehner’s resignation might be brought up as a significant event. The pope’s visit to the US will probably be one of their signs, as well as the nuclear deal with Iran.

All of these coincidences have absolutely no relation to the orbits of the Earth and Moon around the Sun.  The only way that they can be tied together is through mystical mumbo-jumbo, a lot of twisting, and BS.  I, for one, am going to try to watch the eclipse tonight (if the clouds get out of the way) and enjoy it for what it is: a beautiful phenomenon caused by the predictable patterns of the universe.

And when I wake up in the morning I’ll be grateful that it is the end of the world as we know it, just not in the way that all these crazy religionists are predicting.  It will be the end as we know it because every morning is different than the last.  This lovely world we live in has that great quality of always changing, which means it is never the same as it’s always been.  It’s always the end of the world as we know it.  I’m glad it’s that way.  After all, if nothing ever changed what a boring world it would be.

And then we wait for the spin they’ll put on the whole event to make it look like something significant happened.

Information Processing in Fundamentalist Christianity

So this happened on Facebook last night.  FBStrBX2
It was a link my aunt shared to this article about the Starbuck’s CEO’s announcement in 2012 of the company’s official position in support of same-sex marriage.  Except the article misconstrues what he said.  The article was posted by Jesus Name News, a oneness pentecostal blog (the same oneness pentecostal that Kim Davis is).  The article says that the Starbucks CEO said that people who support traditional marriage are not welcomed at Starbucks.  One of the comments she made after the post refers to me: she said I “Snopes” everything.  That’s not exactly true, but I have called her out a couple of times on the obvious falsities she has posted.

After she checked Snopes, she commented that the article was true.  So I checked Snopes and posted the link to the article that says it is not.  I feel a bit sad that I had to explain the difference in what the article said and what the CEO actually said.  Thankfully, she finally understood… I think.

So why is it that fundamentalists like this have a hard time understanding information?  Does fundamentalism cause an inability to understand the printed word, or is it that being unable to understand the printed word causes people to be taken in by fundamentalist doctrine?

I don’t really think either is causal, but they are definitely related.  For instance, the oneness pentecostals claim the only right way to perform a baptism is when the words “in jesus name” are said while the person is being dunked under the water.  They take that doctrine from Acts 2:38 and misunderstand the usage of the word name.  It refers to the power or authority behind the name and not the actual name being said, as shown in Acts 4:7.  There are many other instances of misunderstanding the printed word in their doctrine, views of the bible, and apparently modern information sources as well.

I don’t want to appear to be saying that all fundamentalists have an inherent problem understanding what they read, but it’s obviously a problem with many of them.  From my personal experience it is an issue.  I think this speaks to the great need in our education system for a renewed focus on teaching people in our society, especially our children, to understand and interpret information accurately, as well as to understand the sciences and social sciences.  We would all (fundamentalists included) be a great deal better off if as a nation we were more adept at understanding information.