9/28/2009                                                                                       View Comments

9/27/2009                                                                                       View Comments

The Arrogance of Faith

by agnosticator

Once again, I am reminded of the primary difference between a "true" Christian and the rest of us. Here is a quote from a Christian in the forums:
"Christians are capable of greater levels of love than unbelievers. Not because of who we are; but because of God's work in our hearts."

This is an example of a common belief shared exclusive to believers. They are better than anyone else because God touched them and made them special. But not only special, God makes them superior in every way. They magically become more empathetic, more honest, more loving, and morally superior. Simultaneously, they possess a mean streak; an attitude that is palpable to those unlike themselves. This is the arrogance of faith.

The New Testament inspires this attitude through the doctrine of salvation. But this is only the beginning. The scriptures are riddled with words of arrogance masquerading as love and concern. There is a mean-spirited bitterness permeating the New Testament, and it is directed at the world.

Humans and the earth itself are evil and destined for everlasting destruction. But God loves us. God created "sin" but it is our fault for being born into it. If we don't believe, we will be tortured eternally. Some may believe hell is temporary rather than eternal, but we are still punished to death by torture. Yet God loves us.

We are called fools for being wise (i.e., intellectual or educated), while anyone who believes the New Testament's "good news" is called wise-even if he is not too bright. God loves us and wants to save us, but if you use the brain he gave you....you might reject his offer. So, let us become fools for Christ!

The New Testament describes "wolves in sheep's clothing"(Mt 7:15) causing us "to believe a lie"(2Thess. 2:11), and to beware of "cunningly devised fables"(2Pet 1:16). But the authors are describing themselves. Furthermore, believers become "wolves in sheep's clothing" whenever they speak of their mean-spirited religion. They are killing us with kindness whenever they speak of salvation, hell and and the solution called god's love. They are not the solution. They are the problem. They are the liars, and the truth in not in them.

A(nother) Letter to Jesus Christ

by Jon Castro

"Christ as King of Kings".Image via Wikipedia

To His Majesty the King of Kings and Lord of Lords,

For years and years we asked, yet did not receive. Sought, yet did not find. Knocked, yet were never answered. Did we not ask enough? Seek enough? Knock enough? Truly you are a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you have not scattered seed. In vain we rose up early, and in vain we sat up late. Your ear did not attend to our cries and in you we found no mercy. You set us in slippery places and cast us down to destruction.

Truly you are no Saviour of souls. In you there is not a shred of compassion – only a heart of hate. Jacob you may have “loved”, but Esau you hated. Billions like him have dropped into hell, ignored by you all their lives. Yet who was it who left the devil roaming around in the garden to tempt Adam and Eve? Who was it who put that tree there? You! In your massive foolishness, questionable omnipotence and sheer lack of benevolence, you presided over the biggest mistake in history. And the ripples just never stop: wars, rape, genocide, torture, abuse, murder, theft, arson, and all manner of other evils that have plagued humanity ever since. What is your excuse for all this?

You came for the few. Most never believed your message, nor did they understand your works. You did not open their minds to the scriptures; neither did you open their hearts to know salvation. They were left blind, destitute and lost, their destiny an eternity of fire. You withheld your Spirit from them, so that they could not repent or believe. You hardened their hearts, making them vessels of wrath fit only for destruction. None of their prayers were heard.

Where are the Christians? Where are the fortunate few? Where are they who believe in your dreadful works? Are they hidden within the ranks of a dying church? Have they disappeared from the earth altogether? When did two of three of them ever gather together in your name? Truly you have plagued the world with confusion and made the churches a laughing stock. This was brilliant work – a master stroke. As you sent an evil spirit to torment Saul, so may you send a multitude of them to torment the church! Surely then they shall love you and serve you all their days!

Who are you, really? You ignore the whole world. People pray for peace, yet nothing happens. People pray for strength, yet they grow weak. People pray for healing, yet you stand idly by. People pray for salvation, yet you refuse to grant it. You claim you have the power. You say you have the love. Yet you do not act. Then how can you be who you claim you are?

Why were you flummoxed about the fig tree? Surely you knew it was not the time for figs? Why were you astonished at the unbelief of the people? Surely nothing should surprise you. Why didn’t you know the date of your return? Are you really omniscient? In time, your prophecy about returning to earth failed. Your followers died out, and only an empty promise remained.

The sordid history of humanity speaks against you. With despicable cruelty you treated people in Old Testament times, acting like a petty, vindictive despot; lashing out over the slightest thing that got you annoyed. In the New Testament you were no better, with proclamations about eternal fire awaiting all who did not believe in you. In truth, it would be more honest to call your words and works the activities of a demon rather than those of God. You have proved to be untrustworthy, unconcerned, unrighteous, unloving and totally indifferent about the concerns of your subjects.

In short, you have been judged unfit to rule. We will not have you as king to rule over us. Mock us, despise us, or cruelly torment us, but we will not serve you, not now, nor in eternity.

Oral Roberts and the "Seed Faith" Swindle

by Sharon

oral roberts universityImage by davidsilver via Flickr

Oral Roberts, the 91 year old founder of Oral Roberts University, now semi-retired, has taken to reminiscing on the Christian TBN network, about how he founded the University that bears his name. His fond remembrances of how "God" revealed to him the "seed faith" theology (a coin he termed), is enough to make any fiscally responsible persons' blood boil !

Oral Roberts founded the 263 acre University campus in 1963 in Tulsa Oklahoma. The current endowment rests at 33 million dollars, off of which Oral Roberts earns $83,505 per year for his retirement. In addition the University Board of Regents used millions of dollars of endowment money in 1988 to purchase property in exclusive Beverly Hills for Oral Roberts West Coast home and office, which also included a country club membership. In addition he also maintained an exclusive residence in the St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton Florida (until 1992), which he commuted to by private jet.

Now lets look at how he came by the capital for this privileged lifestyle that not only he has enjoyed but his wife and children, including the heir apparent son Richard Roberts and his family.

Where did the money come from to buy the original property and to build the original buildings of this dynasty? From the "seed faith" theology swindle. It works very simply. Convince people to give you their hard earned money from doing honest work that has earned them a profit. Promise them nothing in return from you. No stock certificates, no interest on their "investment", no dividends, nothing. Instead promise them that this magical thing called "seed faith" will bring them a "30,60 or 100 fold" increase on the amount they give you (and healing, and heaven, and you can add as many "blessings" as your imagination can conjure) because you are not responsible to produce anything for those who buy into this scheme! You do not have to give anything back to them for the use of their money. See they give the money to YOU, and you use it to buy something of actual value - property. Then you promise them, that "God" will pay them back. You get interest free money with no obligations for future payments, and they get "pie in the sky"! This is a swindle.

The Oral Roberts "seed faith swindle" pays no one, except Oral Roberts (and those affiliated with him). The Oral Roberts University endowment does not rely on "seed faith" theology to maintain the campus of ORU. Instead it uses old fashioned investments. You know investing in real businesses that produce actual products and countable profits in the here and now. They dont give away the endowment and trust God to give them "30,60 or 100 fold return" to meet the expenses of running the university (and paying Oral Roberts his retirement income).

When Donald Trump was beginning his rise to success, he did what honest business people do, he borrowed money from investors or banks who expected that he would return said money to them with interest. He then used their investment money to purchase property and materials to construct money producing buildings like hotels. He was then responsible to payback the original investment with interest. Oral Roberts had no such contract with his "investors".

This isnt even as good as a ponzi scheme. At least a ponzi scheme pays someone back! A ponzi scheme pays old investors with new investors money. The Oral Roberts "seed faith swindle" pays no one, except Oral Roberts (and those affiliated with him).

The only reason this swindle can be perpetrated to begin with, and can continue to this day without fear of criminal prosecution, is because those who espouse "seed faith" theology claim it is protected as a First Amendment right, under the auspices of the free exercise of religion. If this were a product being sold claiming to heal every disease AND bring the user a "30,60 or 100" fold increase in their salary, the FDA would halt all such advertisements today! The seller would have to show verifiable scientific proof of said claims to continue their advertising campaign. The "faith" community does not have to provide such proof, and hence can escape any fear of court orders to cease and desist their activities. What a great way to make a living! No wonder it attracts so many from the evangelical subculture who dont have the education or the skills to make a living doing something worthwhile, so instead prey on the unsuspecting with their "seed faith" theology.

The list of those who tout this horribly deceptive teaching is long and infamous. Kenneth Copeland, who used "seed faith" theology to buy his $20 Million dollars in property and assets in addition to a private jet also valued at $20 Million dollars. Joyce Meyers Ministries, $10 Million corporate jet, $2 Million dollar home for herself with additional $2 Million dollars in homes for her children, is expecting to make $95 Million this year from her "ministry", TBN founders Paul and Jan Crouch in 2004 earned a combined total of $764,000 plus 30 ministry owned homes at their disposal including a pair of Newport Beach mansions, a mountain retreat and a ranch in Texas, and of course the ubiquitous $7.2 million dollar turbo jet for their private use. With the cloak of religion tightly clutched around their activities, they are able to continue to collect as much money as they can get the unwary to send them. This money is then used to purchase real investments; properties, businesses, portfolios of stocks and bonds. Those who makes these contributions have to depend on "God" when they lose their job and need help paying the bills, or need medical care, whereas the recipients of "seed faith" money can afford to not only pay their bills, but when they get sick can afford the best medical care available.

This swindle preys on the weak minded and the gullible. It should be illegal. Like all other cons and swindles and ponzi schemes this one should be relentlessly opposed by responsible members of society and halted from hurting the vulnerable.

9/25/2009                                                                                       View Comments

Casting out that gay demon

The young man in the following video interview on the Tyra Show is no longer gay, he says, because an unclean spirit was cast out of him one day at church.

After listening to this young man talk, what do you think? Is he still gay?

And what do you think about his "pastor?"



Wind, love, and Ray Comfort’s wife: A showdown at Huntington Beach

by whydowebelieve



Whydowebelieve's plans for a lovely picnic at Huntington Beach are interrupted as Ray Comfort shows up to tell him that knowing Jesus is like knowing Comfort's wife.
We felt compelled to expose these falsehoods to his gathered audience in the same way our blog challenges religious beliefs in other arenas.

9/24/2009                                                                                       View Comments

Bart D. Erhman: Misquoting Jesus



Bart D. Ehrman discusses the history of the word of Jesus and Stephen Colbert offers him irrefutable logic. (5:30)

Books by Erhman available here: ExChristian.Net Bookstore

9/23/2009                                                                                       View Comments

The Cosmological Argument: How can everything be so perfect and planned out if there is no God?

by Louisa May

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field, is an image of a ...Image via Wikipedia

I have heard this argument so many times. But, to be honest, it did not take me much time to invent my own theory.

I am not very good at physics, but it is generally accepted that the universe is expanding, with solar systems bursting in and out of existence all the time. The Earth is the perfect distance from the sun to support life, and the Big Bang needed the right pressures and angles (and so on) to create the Earth as we know it. I accept this as fact. Yet, if solar systems are continually being made and destroyed, wasn't our solar system statistically bound to happen eventually, coincidentally, anyway? There doesn't need to be a God -- or a Creator -- just a continually expanding universe. And considering the fact there would be no universe if it were not expanding...

So, despite the fact I am a Christian, the moronic nature of the cosmological argument has forced me to score a point against myself and score a point point for a creation without God.

Philosophy tells us of the "unmoved mover." Well, something had to start it, true? But if there is a cause for everything, then how did everything start without the first thing being caused. So, I give you the carbon atom as an example. There are probably far more clever people here who can show me how wrong I am, but could it be we have spent thousands of years worshiping an atom?

I am relatively new to this site, so this idea may have been argued before, but I had to get it out there, away from the blank faces of my Church acquaintances who are repeatedly arguing the statements I just attempted to dispute. It's like an argument I once had with a five-year-old over the invincibility of a zombie. I just won't win no matter how reasonable I am trying to be.

9/22/2009                                                                                       View Comments

The Watchmaker – Another Perspective

by Neal Stone

Christians love to use the watch maker analogy to prove God exists because it takes an intelligent being to create something complex. I guess Christians don't watch much Red Green and if you've ever watched it you know what I am talking about.

Let's take a look at a watchmaker shall we?

A watchmaker can be proved to exist. We only need to go to the nearest mall to find one or evidence of his work. The evidence isn't questionable and left for us to interpret for ourselves either. His stamp is clearly marked on all his creations. We can also talk to the watchmaker and get a clear answer to our questions and problems we may have about our watch.

After all, only the watchmaker knows right because he works in strange and mysterious ways right? WRONG!

God is all guess work and theory. Even creation as proof can be questioned.

Take a watch, broken or working, to any watch repair shop and each one can correctly diagnose the problem or tell you CLEARLY how the watch works. Try that with the Bible and church!!!

First a watchmaker creates using pre-existing materials and parts. These parts are carefully selected and placed together to create a complex machine that works like, well... clockwork.

God created man then let's him run on his own resulting in him malfunctioning and failing on a regular basis to the point he is about to destroy his own world and home. Oh, and did I mention he did it all from nothing?

A watchmaker cares about his creation and makes sure that it is functioning perfectly. He repairs any damaged watches and makes any adjustments to keep them running smoothly and imperfect harmony.

Whereas God... um... well... err. Hmmmmm.

When a watch fails to operate correctly the watchmaker deals with that one (and only that one) watch! He does not punish the rest of the watches for the failure nor does he destroy his entire shop because he was disappointed in what he created.

Whereas God... um... Well, you know.

When the watchmaker is not around he makes sure and lock up (and has a guard or security system) the shop so all the watches and clocks are safe from harm and theft. He also tries to find the best neighborhood to build his shop. After all, the watchmaker cares about his creations.

God... well we know how this story went, don't we?

There is a big difference between a watchmaker and God. One is intelligent.

So as you can see, the watchmaker analogy is a poor example of proof of God.

An open letter to Christians

by WizenedSage

I finally figured it out. I’ve wondered for the longest time why you believe the silliest religious nonsense imaginable. And it’s so simple. It’s really not because it makes sense to you. No, you believe because you were told to believe; most of you as children, since we are all hardwired to believe authority figures when we are children.

After all, it’s not like you read the Bible and found it compelling. You know as well as I do that the stories of the Bible are not only NOT compelling, they’re not even plausible. But, from the beginning, you were told to believe these stories. Whether you heard them first from your parents or from Sunday school teachers, you were instructed to take them seriously, as gospel even.

It’s not like you reached a point in life where you thought you ought to check out this religion thing you kept hearing about. It’s not like you sat down with the Bible, the Quoran, the Bhagavad Gita, and a compendium of the Buddha’s greatest aphorisms in order to make a choice. No, you were told what to believe and you believed it. It’s really as simple as that. That’s what kids all over the world do, of course, and that’s why geography has such a strong correlation with religious belief.

No modern, sane human being with a sixth grade education believes in talking snakes, magical fruit trees, or 900 year-old men unless he is told to believe as a tot. Everything he has learned in elementary school and in life at large tells him these things are impossible and that any book with this type of stuff in it is just make-believe. These stories are not compelling. Can a man be dead for three days, really dead, and then just stand up and walk away? Compelling? That’s not even plausible, and you know it. Of all the other possible explanations for this ancient story, you were told that you must believe the absolute least likely hypothesis, and, amazingly, you do!

For the same reason over a billion people believe in Allah; because they were told to believe. If this were a courtroom drama, the defense attorney might suggest that maybe the body was never in that particular cave. Maybe it was put in cave 3 instead of cave 4, so of course cave 4 was empty. He might suggest that someone sneaked the body out of the cave in the middle of the night; that would explain an empty cave. Or, maybe the man wasn’t really dead in the first place, just unconscious with a very slow pulse rate, and he revived in the cave. Or maybe, just maybe, this event was just made up and written down but never even happened. But you? Well, you actually believe a man was dead and then came back to life. Why? Because there is evidence for it? Because there were eyewitnesses, or DNA, or video? Because it’s plausible, or at least possible? No, it’s none of the above. You believe it because you were told to believe it and that is the only reason.

But why would your parents and teachers and pastors tell you to believe all this stuff if it wasn’t true? Well, because they believed it. This nonsense has been passed down from generation to generation for a couple thousand years now. But why would so many people believe it, if it’s not true? For the same reason over a billion people believe in Allah; because they were told to believe. But, doesn’t the fact that people have believed it for so long, since olden days, make it more likely to be true? Actually, it makes it less likely to be true. We have learned about the causes of disease, protecting the environment, electricity, and a thousand other things by examining and overturning older theories.

As a child, no one expected you to put this ancient information to the test of evidence, of reason. As I said, we are hardwired for evolutionary advantage to believe authority figures when we are children. But that doesn’t work as an excuse for you now - not if you’re over, say, fifteen. By now, you know that these people were not always right. You know full well that your parents made mistakes; you saw it with your own eyes. And, when someone these days tells you to just take their word for something, aren’t you suspicious? Shouldn’t you be?

Believing whatever you’re told is a very good idea if you’re four, but it’s pretty stupid to continue to believe when you’re all grown up and it all looks so obviously implausible, or downright impossible. Do you still believe whatever you’re told? Isn’t it time you took responsibility for your beliefs and took control of your own mind by clearing out some of the nonsense?

9/21/2009                                                                                       View Comments

An open letter to The King of Kings

by billybee

Christ the KingImage by giveawayboy via Flickr

Dear Jesus,

Hi. You probably won't remember me, but I use to be a member of your body on earth. I know you've seen millions of folks come and go and I was nobody special that you would have noticed me. Most of the time I just did the minimum stuff that all of the other guys were doing (i.e.; praying, believing, tithing, fearing,..etc,etc...). That's why I feel so awkward ask for a special favor from you. I only devoted around 30 years of my life to serving and believing in you, so it is pretty brazen of me to expect you to do anything for me...

But still, I'm thinking to myself; "Oh, what the hell. All He can say is- "NO!" So, here goes....

Will you please, please, PLEASE hurry and rapture your church to heaven? Come get them RIGHT NOW! Don't wait another minute, day or year. Do it...Clap your hands..blow the horn...twinkle your eye...WHATEVER it is that your gonna do, do it and do it NOW!

The rest of us down here will be happy to clean up all of the plane crashes and train wrecks and burning houses. We do that stuff everyday anyway and we don't mind the extra work if it means that your friends are our of our way.

You see, we are trying to build a durable society and your friends are making it impossible to get anything done. Every time we put together a few good ideas (i.e.; evolution, equal rights, rational thinking, etc...) your team throws everything they possess towards stopping us from implementing our solutions. WE CAN'T GET ANY WORK DONE because your friends only care about getting to heaven and can't wait to see THIS world go down the shitter.

I know you're a smart guy and you understand my point. So, c'mon...please just cut us some slack down here and 'git er dun'.

Thanks....oh, and say hi to your mom and dad.

Cordially,

Billybee



9/20/2009                                                                                       View Comments

9/17/2009                                                                                       View Comments

Playlist for Recovering Fundies

By Valerie Tarico

“Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothe...Image by [Filhi][bahthi] photography ( camera damaged ) via Flickr

A couple of years back, I dragged my agnostic husband, Brian, to a Calvinist megachurch. Calvinist means God preselected a few humans for salvation and the rest for eternal torture. We sat there for an hour, goats among the sheep. Brian’s reaction? “That was the best indie rock I’ve heard in a long time!”

Christians have a love-hate relationship with popular music. I came of age during a hate phase. Rock was diabolical. In my generation, Alice Cooper, missionary kid, played out his parents’ fears about rock music, chopping up baby dolls and screeching about necrophilia while dressed as a 17th Century witch. Having dabbled on the enemy side of a fantastical spiritual war that supposedly encompasses us all, he now attends an evangelical mega in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Music can be a path out of insularity. In his youth, Alice had to choose between edgy rock and Jesus. By contrast, my nephew (raised by the same woman who raised me on Swan Lake--my mom) spent his teen years consuming a steady diet of Christian heavy metal. Mom’s complaints were focused on aesthetics. Matthew’s beloved “screamers” were distasteful, but not dangerous. Heavy metal had been co-opted. Instead of sketching daggers and bones dripping with stylized blood like secular metal fans, Matt could draw hearts and crosses dripping with stylized blood—and that was ok.

In Christianity, music is cement for faith. It can put people in that otherworldly frame of mind needed for repentance and conversion. It can call people to action and bind them to each other. It can evoke submission or ecstasy. Even the traditional interweaving of music and liturgy transforms passive observers into active worshipers. But it's also thought of as dangerous.

The problem for fundies is that music also can call people into the playful, sexual or political dimensions of social life. Young Christians are enticed to be “unequally yoked” with nonChristian band members, compatriots, or even lovers. At least that’s what a lot of parents and ministers worry about. That’s why in the long run revival movements often co-opt pop music, whether it’s heavy metal or, in past times, the folk tunes or medieval love songs that provided melodies for now-traditional hymns. Some evangelists still try to guard young people from rock or hip hop music. But others work to “melt your face off” with a band that screams about Jesus.

Either way, I think they are right about the risk of secular music. Music can be a path out of insularity. Not by itself, of course. But music creates links to a whole wide world of human activities and ideas. For former fundies, it can also help with the healing process. When you’ve had your child-mind warped by scary songs liked “I Wish We’d all Been Ready” or when you’ve spent Sunday mornings swaying to “I’m a Pentecostal” or you’re dulcet tones were trained on “Saved by the Blood,” it can help to start feeding your brain some alternatives.

During the summer I sent out email to a few friends and online ex-Christians saying I was going to put together a playlist for recovering fundies. Seventy-three song titles came back at me—everything from Gershwin to Nine Inch Nails.

“Now what do I do?” I asked my daughter. “They won’t all fit in an article.”

“Just list mine,” she said, as if the solution was perfectly obvious.

So here are the top ten picks of a 14 year old (whose musical tastes, as will be apparent, were shaped by her dad more than her peers).

1. Heaven’s Here on EarthTracy Chapman
2. Blasphemous Rumours – Depeche Mode
3. Losing My Religion – REM
4. Jesus’ Brother Bob – Arrogant Worms
5. Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin
6. One Tin Soldier - Coven
7. Cathedral – Cosby, Stills & Nash
8. Freewill - Rush
9. Everbody KnowsLeonard Cohen
10. One of UsJoan Osborne

“Oh, and of course, Imagine.” It goes without saying.

__________________________________
The other sixty three that have arrived to date can be found at www.spaces.live.com/awaypoint.

You're a Christian, Charlie Brown

by Neal Stone

We all recall the old Peanuts comic strip and cartoons. There is one scene that plays out many times. That is the scene when Lucy holds the football and Charlie Brown and then as Charlie Brown runs to kick she pulls it away at the last minute. This scenario happens over and over and Charlie brown falls for it every time.

Sound familiar? How many times I recalled God's promises that if I followed him and served him he would take care of my life only to yank the football away each time.

I remember going to the front of the church for prayer about not being employed and no direction in life and the church leader looked at me and said “You need to speak in tongues! (?)”

And then yanked the football away.

I remember a man praying for his wife who died of cancer. He was told God was working in mighty ways and would heal her. She died and then was told “It was God's will”

And the football gets pulled away!

I have had people look me in the eye and tell me God was gonna bless me in a mighty way if I just “did the right thing” and served the Lord and the church. I did serve the Lord and the church and nothing happened. I was still lonely and unhappy about my life.

And the football gets pulled away!

I remember how my brothers and sister were “living in sin” and the pastor and members pressured us to bring them to church so they could get right with God. When they finally came they were treated as outcasts and treated rudely by these same people.

And the football gets pulled away!

I remember the crusades and big events about the end of the world and that Jesus is coming soon being preached over and over. Each time there is a war, Jesus is coming soon, each time there is a financial crisis, Jesus is coming soon, each time a major disease comes around, Jesus is coming soon. Now the year 2012 is coming and we are hearing it again, Jesus is coming soon. I guess 1983, 1993, 2000 and 2001 didn't pan out so well.

And the football gets pulled away!

How many times must we hear God's promises, Jesus is coming soon, it's the “End Times”, give and god will bless you, If only you do the right....

And the football gets pulled away!

How do you spot a Christian? Look for the grass stains on their backs!

How do you spot a church leader/pastor? He's the one holding the football!



Jesus: The ULTIMATE Sacrifice

by randomatheist

Forgive ThemImage by costales via Flickr

This one man named Jesus, born of a virgin, is actually God in the flesh. He came on Earth to serve The Father's will by dying on the cross for the world's "sin." Jesus: The ULTIMATE Sacrifice.

The Gospel follows as written: The individual believes in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord. The individual's "sin" is paid in full by the blood of the Lamb since 2,000 years in the past. For the individual to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, the believer must repent from his "sin", accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and receive forgiveness for his wickedness.

Now this may be some pretty simple stuff, but time to delve deeper into the actual details utilizing logic and common sense. There is something actually wrong with this picture. What's this? You must accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior in order to escape from your trip to hell. Biblically, your "sin" is paid in full by the blood of the Lamb, right? Well this ULTIMATE sacrifice isn't enough as it actually depends on the individual's part on belief and faith. Failure to place faith in the Lord, the full price for this individual's "sin" will be paid twice, once by Jesus, and again by the individual. This makes no absolute sense... it lacks consistency at best!

Think of it this way, if someone, like a complete stranger, decided to feel sympathy for the criminal on trial, this stranger is actually going to pay for the fines of this criminal's crime so he can be let off the hook, provided the stranger is able to afford it. Once the stranger paid the fines of this poor criminal, then there is no requirement that this criminal has to then accept this complete stranger as a friend. The crime is paid for, case closed.

Biblically, Jesus died a horrible death on the cross, paying the price for the world's "sins," including the outsiders of His religion. If this is what we call Jesus: the ULTIMATE sacrifice for your "sins" then why are we required to play the blind faith game in order to escape the eternal hell? This logic is shattered in tiny bite-sized pieces. Not to mention double jeopardy.

The Biblical Gospel is the heart of the Christian faith, and with this article in mind, the Gospel is void of any logic, common sense, and understanding. I will no longer respect the Biblical Gospel (let alone the Bible as a whole) like I did when I was a gullible little child. I am now a grown-up with a mind of one. Atheism is the best decision I've ever made.



9/15/2009                                                                                       View Comments

Michael Shermer meets Mr. Deity



Skeptic Michael Shermer pleads his case before Jesus and Mr. Deity.

The Things You Learn In Sunday School (Part 2) - Joshua and the Genocide of Jericho

by MtlRedAtheist



The Sunday School Bible story Joshua and the Battle of Jericho describes the God ordained extermination of the people of Jericho, otherwise known as Genocide.

Teaching this for children to have faith in God is an excellent example of how we can allow ourselves to be blinded by ideology to the point where we can gloss over the fact that the story depicts genocide in a positive light and distract ourselves with the magic of the walls coming down.

I've noticed that it tends to be in the evangelical Christian culture to shelter children from violence in entertainment, but who will shelter them from the violence in Bible stories?

Automotive Apostasy

by GumbyTheCat

LeMons Freeze-Apalooza 08Image by richardhod via Flickr

Have you ever rid yourself of a car that turned out to be a total lemon? Have you ever experienced the odd mixture of feelings that roil within you as you watch the clunker being towed away for the final time? You know, the simultaneous feelings of relief and happiness that you are finally rid of that worthless wreck, coupled with feelings of sadness and anger because you know how miserable that car made you and how badly you were ripped off over the years?

Well, I know exactly how you feel. A few weeks ago, I went through that very experience.

Some years ago, I didn't even own a car. I went through life having a very difficult time getting through my journeys. When you don't have a car, you can be made to feel that reaching your destination is such a formidable task that at times you just give up all hope of reaching it. You end up looking down at the sidewalk, rather than gazing far down the road.

Most of my relatives and friends had cars. Whatever the make and model, they seemed pretty happy with whatever they drove. Somewhat childishly, I used to silently resent them. Because they had cars, they seemed so in control, so confident. Their journeys seemed so much easier than mine. Their worlds seemed larger, and their burdens seemed smaller. "One day", I thought to myself, "I'm going to be like them".

I finally decided to get my very own car, but really didn't even know where to start. At that point in my life, I knew very little about all the different makes and models of cars that are available, and had no idea what I even wanted or needed in a vehicle. I didn't even know how to start a car, much less drive one.

So, as often happens in life, solutions materialize to address problems you haven't even vocalized. People started telling me about their cars. They told me why they liked their particular brand of car, and all the good it did for them in their daily journey. I learned about several different makes of cars, but most of the people told me about the car they had chosen - the Christler Salvation.

The Salvation, they told me, was a special car. It was, I was informed, different than any other automobile out there. It was such a spectacular vehicle, in fact, that all other cars were deemed unworthy and false, and fit only for the scrapyard..

Skeptical but intrigued, I inquired further. What I found out was, quite frankly, amazing. The Christler Salvation, I learned, was the only absolutely perfect car in the whole world. It was the only model of car ever made that had never broken down, or run out of gas. As a matter of fact, it didn't even run on gasoline - it ran on something called "faithanol". Faithanol, I found out, is an invisible substance that one fills the fuel tank with simply by having confidence in the perfection of the vehicle. In other words, as long as you believe the car is perfect, it never runs out of fuel and you are guaranteed to get to your final destination safely.

So perfect was this car, that you were discouraged from looking under the hood. Why bother? After all, the car is perfect and never needs to be repaired. "You don't need to know exactly how the car runs", I was assured. "Just believe and your journey will be a joyous one". Therefore, the hood of the Salvation was tightly sealed with what I later found out were called "apologetics bolts".

Still a bit skeptical, but trusting in the words of my friends and relatives, I went to Paul Tarsus's Salvation Showroom on Damascus Road. I never did speak to this Paul fellow, because he had apparently died many years before. However, I did meet and speak with several of the showroom's salespeople. Though I knew next to nothing about cars, I had of course heard of the somewhat slimy reputation of car salesmen. To be honest, the salesmen there lived up to the stereotype, although they were all unfailingly polite, friendly and courteous. Of course, they were trying to sell me something, so I expected that. I did appreciate the fact that unlike the car-salesman stereotype of a sleazy-looking hustler wearing loud, mismatched clothes, complete with a plaid sports jacket and checkered tie, these salespeople were neatly attired in the showroom's standard black and white uniforms, complete with white collars. They looked a bit odd in that attire, but I liked that they were making an attempt to look professional.

Unfortunately, as the day wore on, the "inner used-car salesman" in my assigned salesman manifested itself. Like any car huckster worth his salt, he tended to avoid answering specifics about the car, like its history. I could not get the CarFax history on any of the vehicles on the lot, no matter how I asked. "No matter", he said. "The Christler Salvation is the perfect automobile, so there is of course absolutely no maintenance history on any of the vehicles on the lot." I also could not pin him down on a refund guarantee if I was not satisfied with the car, nor a warranty, nor could they even explain how a car can run on the intangible substance of faithanol. When I asked them "If this car is so perfect, why isn't everyone driving it? Why wouldn't the Christler be the only car on the road?" I was told that the Salvation wasn't for everyone, and that only the elect few were wise enough to seek it out. I was flattered by that, although in the back of my mind I knew that flattery of the customer is part of any salesman's schtick.

Eventually, despite my ongoing doubts and skepticism, the salesman won me over. I told him I was ready to purchase one. Beaming, he congratulated me on "the best decision you have ever made or will ever make". I asked him how much the final cost would be, and to my utter astonishment he replied "Oh, this car is absolutely free. All you had to ask, which you did. And now that car is yours forever". I couldn't believe it. I said "How on earth do the automaker and dealerships make any money if this miraculous car is free?" He told me "Don't worry about it. Oh, and by the way, we hold weekly meetings for Christler owners, on Sunday mornings, and we pass the basket for small donations towards dealership expenses at that time." Blinded by the magic word "free", I said "Sure thing!", and drove off the lot a new man - full of joy and hope for the future for perhaps the first time in my life. Finally, I had what so many other people had - something that would take me to the most glorious of destinations.

For a short time, all was seemingly rosy. I received many congratulations and slaps on the back from friends and family for making such a wise purchase. I started hanging out with other Christler owners and attending the weekly dealership meetings, joined Christler internet discussion groups, and felt like one of the "elect" that the salesman had told me I was.

I say "seemingly" rosy, though, because in the back of my mind I still had some nagging doubts about the wild claims and stated superiority of this car. The salesman had told me that was normal - that when I felt these worries and doubts, I should just read the car's owner's manual for guidance. As a matter of fact, he told me to read at least some of the manual every day. He also advised me to call the CEO of Christler anytime I wanted to, and he would be available to talk to me any time of the day or night. So, I started doing just that.

While I did receive some reassurance from reading the words of the automaker's CEO (mostly from the latter half of the manual), many things struck me as odd. First of all, the manual was huge, and divided into two main sections. There seemed to be a lot of things that didn't even relate to automobiles or the specific car in question - i.e. the Salvation. The first section of the manual, especially, was full of arcane history of the automobile industry and innumerable antiquated traffic laws. I also found out that the Christler CEO could be a downright cruel and nasty person at times, seemingly motivated to ruthlessly eliminate competition from other automakers as well as mercilessly punish those who violate seemingly trivial traffic laws (for example, driving with a pig in the passenger seat). I discovered in its pages a lot of history that did not jibe with the history outside the world of Christler, and many of the statements in the manual flat-out contradicted one another.

The second section of the manual did relate much information on the car I now owned. However, like Section One, it contained a lot of erroneous and contradictory statements. I also noticed that the astounding claims of the Salvation's miraculous abilities were mostly made by that Paul guy, the man who had founded the dealership I got the car at. Interestingly, the CEO, who allegedly wrote or approved every word of the manual, wrote some of Section Two as if the car itself could "talk" (silly, I know - anthropomorphizing a car!). Reading the car's "words", which are in red ink for emphasis, I got the distinct impression that the car did not make such grandiose claims about itself, as dealership founder Paul Tarsus did. The car "spoke" much more humbly about itself than that. Indeed, it spoke much more about the importance of being a responsible car owner, respecting the safety and rights of others on the road, and revering the CEO of Christler, than about itself or its magical qualities. It all seemed so contradictory and confusing to me. I was left with many more questions than before I had cracked open the owner's manual.

So, per the salesman's advice, I decided to call Christler's CEO. No luck. To date, I have called him thousands of times, and I have yet to get anything but his voice mail. I have never received a call back, not even from his secretary.

Now deeply concerned, I drove back to the dealership and confronted the salesman with all I had gleaned from the owner's manual. "No problem, son", he said. "Let me give you these." He reached upon a bookshelf and handed me a stack of books written by various people. "Take these books and read them. They will tell you how to understand what the owner's manual is saying". I asked him "Why should I need books to tell me how to understand another book? If the Christler is such a great car, and so easy to drive and maintain, why is the owner's manual so damned complicated that other people have to tell me how to understand it? Shouldn't the owner's manual be as simple and straightforward as the car itself?" The salesman, now visibly flustered, just told me to keep the tank full with faithanol, read the automotive apologetics, and just believe.

So I started reading the books he had given me. Sure enough, they were basically step-by-step instructions on how to read and understand the owner's manual. However, I noticed that the authors' interpretations often differed not only from mine, but from each others'. This wasn't helping at all.

To make things worse, the more I found out about my fellow Christler owners, the less I liked most of them. Many of them showed up at meetings mainly to prattle on about things other than their cars. All too often they spoke badly of people who owned other, non-Christler cars. This un-Christler behavior was most obvious in online discussion rooms. Cloaked in the anonymity of the internet, Christler devotees could unleash their full hatred of anyone who dared to drive a different brand of car. People who drove cars fueled with petroleum by-products were routinely condemned to the "gasoline section" of automotive hell, and many Christler owners gleefully and openly salivated at that prospect. This behavior originated mainly from the most militant "true owner" Christler owners, who are often referred to as "minivangelicals" or "sedandamentalists". These people believe that the CEO of Christler speaks to them from within, and allows them to unerringly divine his owner's manual.

However, that is a blatantly false (and narcissistic and egomaniacal) notion, as I soon learned. When two minivangelicals find out that they each have even minuscule differences of interpretation of the owner's manual, they will more often than not get into vicious fights and tell the other that their beliefs are straight from the pits of The Yugo Factory Of The Damned. It became obvious rather quickly that either a different Christler CEO speaks to each owner, or, much more likely, that each person reads and interprets the owner's manual through the filters and perceptions of his or her upbringing and past experiences.

So, more confused than ever, I went on with my life, not holding my car in nearly as high esteem as I did before. And then the damned thing started breaking down. The more I learned about the car, its owners, the manual and the CEO, the more trouble it would have starting in the morning. Of course, it started running out of fuel as well - I guess I didn't have enough faithanol to move a mustard seed, much less a car.

During this time, I encountered online a diverse group of people who were former Christler owners. They welcomed me warmly, even though I still referred to myself as an owner. They had all gone through all the things I was currently going through. They taught me the difference between apologetics and actual scholarly research, and encouraged me to read up on the true (historically accurate) origins of Christler and its CEO. I did just that, and found out that the owner's manual was not written by the CEO, but instead was a hodgepodge of overly imaginative and historically inaccurate musings contributed by many different anonymous authors. I found out that what was included and what was left out of the manual was decided by committees who were more concerned about the bottom line of the various dealerships than they were the satisfaction of their customers. I even found out that the CEO, as described in the manual, doesn't even exist - he is a fictitious amalgamation of several CEO's of car companies that existed before Christler was formed.

I had taken the wrench of history, loosened the Christler's apologetics bolts mentioned at the beginning of this post, looked under the hood and saw a jumbled mass of apologetics tubing and wiring of Rube Goldberg proportions. But there was no motor, no drivetrain, no transmission. This car indeed had moved only on faithanol, because there was nothing factual or real to provide any substance to the vehicle. The anonymous authors and conjurers of the fictitious CEO lied, the late dealership owner Paul Tarsus lied, the salesman lied, and too many Christler owners are so enslaved by the car's mythology that they are both too terrified and too proud to look under the hood and see that for themselves the automotive fraud that has been perpetrated on them. The car itself may have cost nothing, but the contributions at the weekly dealership meetings over the course of a lifetime, combined with the mental enslavement to an empty lie, are a terrible price to pay to delude yourself into thinking you have something you actually don't. The people who think that, because they own a whacky magic car, they are on the one true path to their destination, are instead being driven down a dead-end street. And all the while, the car manufacturer, dealers and salesmen are laughing all the way to the bank.

I recently, within the last few weeks, ditched that worthless car. I called Sheol's Towing Service and had it hauled to Gehenna's Scrap Yard, where it belongs. And I felt that relief, happiness, sadness and anger that I mentioned at the very beginning of this post. Still do, as a matter of fact.

Does that mean I have given up my journey? Not at all. I just won't be traveling by car. Liberated from the artificial construct of a false and manmade "journey fullfillment machine", and no longer forced to hurtle headlong down a one-way interstate to nowhere, I am now free to meander on the highways, byways, winding country roads and avenues of my choice. I have a feeling that the right destination will be waiting for me, no matter which path I take.




9/14/2009                                                                                       View Comments

The family curse

by Mriana

(In loving memory of a WWII atheist in a foxhole; one of my heroes)
"I want you to be all love. This is the perfection I believe and teach. And this perfection is consistent with a thousand nervous disorders, which that high-strained perfection is not. Indeed, my judgment is, that (in this case particularly) to overdo is to undo and that to set perfection too high (so high as no man that we ever heard or read of attained) is the most effectual (because unsuspected) way of driving it out of the world." —Works, vol. vi. p.715. ~ John Wesley ( http://homepage.mac.com/craigadams1/WESPERF/SECTN02.html )[sic]

"'The pure in heart,' are those whose hearts God hath purified even as He is pure'; who are purified through faith in the blood of Jesus, from every unholy affection; who, being cleansed from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfect holiness in the (loving) fear of God.' They are, through the power of His grace, purified from pride, by the deepest poverty of spirit; from anger, from every unkind or turbulent passion, by meekness and gentleness; from every desire but to please and enjoy God, to know and love Him more and more, by that hunger and thirst after righteousness, which now engrosses their whole soul; so that now they love the Lord their God with all their heart, and with all their soul, and mind, and strength." — Sermons, vol. i. p. 199. (ibid)

It is Sunday morning and, as I do many Sunday mornings, I contemplate various things concerning religion and/or humanism. This could be anything from Gnostic texts to Tao texts or various Christian doctrines and of course humanism is always the final conclusion. Not to mention, my mother is constantly giving me food for my book that I am working on and this week was no exception. Thus, there is a reason for my madness in quoting John Wesley, because it relates to what I grew up with as a child and to what I believe contributes to mental illness and even contributed to the anorexia I suffered with for years.

One of many recurring themes, even here on Ex-Christian, has been the idea of “Freewill”. I think this doctrine is more in Calvinistic doctrine than in Wesleyan, but it does exist to some extent even within Wesleyan theology. However, even though I was raised among those who followed Wesley's ideology, I have no clue what freewill is, at least not in a religious sense that is, and I will explain as we take a trip through two very human lives and some church doctrines, specifically Wesleyan doctrine. It is a means of sorting things out to come to some sort of conclusion, no matter if it is right or wrong in the eyes of others.

Webster's dictionary states freewill is voluntary, spontaneous, a voluntary choice or decision, and freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention.

How many of us can actually say they had that freedom when it came to religion, especially as children? I cannot and I suspect many of us here can attest to not having the freedom to choose for themselves also.

Like many, I was dragged to church, especially by my grandparents and then by my mother after she rededicated her life to for the third and last time. I was fourteen and went up to the altar during her third time “of being saved” to comfort her because she was crying and hurting. I placed my hand on her back to soothe her, only for the adults to assume that I was at the altar for the same reason she was. Quite the opposite, because I knew my mother was in pain... emotional pain that is and that is just me when I see someone in pain. However, that was the first and only time I dared to venture up to my minister great uncle's altar and I regretted it greatly afterwards.

Shortly thereafter there was my baptism. My mother told my minister great uncle that she wanted me to be baptized and then she and my minister great uncle approached me to ask if I wanted to be baptized. What does a child say to her elders who she was trained to follow their orders or rather trained to be a people pleaser or rather in their eyes, trained to “please God”? If she says “no”, she will be plagued with many questions, guilt trips, and so much more. Something that is not very appealing. On the other hand, if the child complies and says “yes”, then the adults stay off her back and more or less leave her alone, except for the act of baptism itself. To comply pleases the adults and makes them happy, thus the child does not experience their wrath due to displeasing them.

Finally, there was my grandfather telling me that anger is a sin, when I expressed wanting to prosecute my father for sexually abusing me, even after my relatives gained full custody of me. Surely you see a pattern here with the above quotes, but regardless, of what my grandfather, who had no college degree, said and the quote above, the Bible states, “Be angry and sin not”. Wanting to prosecute my father in the here and now was not a sin nor was my anger towards him. It was a perfectly healthy and normal emotion concerning what he did to me, but my relatives' religious beliefs were to supersede anything that is natural and normal to the human.

Now according to the doctrine of freewill, one is suppose to choose it freely. In this case, “it” would be God/Jesus/Christianity, of course. However, in reality, this is not something that is made out of freedom or personal choice. It is imposed and to not comply could mean serious consequences- from other humans, not some divine supernatural being. A child, especially a teenager, is not stupid concerning this and if she does not want to get in trouble with the adults who have authority over her, she complies. It was no wonder I suffered with an eating disorder and even depression, not to mention my many relatives who suffered with depression and committed or attempted suicide. There is no control over one's choices, or even life for that matter, when such abusive, degrading, dehumanizing, self-defeating, and self-denying religious dogma is involved. It is a recipe for insanity.

Now, let us go forward about thirty years. A future that also reveals the past that is.

This week, my mother sent me a copy of a letter my atheist great uncle wrote in March 1983 a few years before he died (b. Feb. 25, 1911 and d. July 30, 1997, as well as “an atheist in a foxhole” during WW II, U.S. Army Corp, as well as had a Ph. D.). For now, we will ignore what she wrote in the margins of his letter and start with what he wrote and revealed concerning the Borgish behaviour of the religious. It would seem he saw a lot of what I have seen all my life and was trying to tell those who read the letter something.

He starts with a salutation that says, “Dear Children.” Now you know any letter that starts in that manner, especially one that was written in later years is going to reveal something about the author. He even stated he was encouraged to write the letter by his wife and daughter-in-law and then added “you maybe in for a rather boring account.”

However, he reveals some very interesting things in his letter and I share as follows:

My atheist great uncle mentions some kissing cousins marrying, which is not unusual in my family tree, and describes some of the genetic issues of those relationships. Thus I was not surprised by any of that and know of many of the genetic problems in my family tree. After he finishes with the physical genetic issues, he mentions one relative, who at 80 "escaped the family curse altogether by putting a bullet through his head," which left me to wonder what the “family curse” was. Needless to say, very recent memories of my step-cousin shooting himself in the head, in relationship to his physical pain, depression, and dogmatic religious ideology ran through my mind. Then he tells of an aunt, he called an unusual woman and a great church-goer, who believed she was right and everyone had to believe what she believed and even insisted they all go to church, less "the boys" (my grandfather, great uncle, and their brothers) become heathens. That was the first he ever heard of the Free Methodist Church, which is Wesleyan in its doctrine and oppressively dogmatic.

According to him, this aunt said to the brothers' mother, my great grandmother, "Now, Carrie I tell you, it's your bounden duty to git them kids in Sunday School! Do you want 'em to grow up to be heathens?" He goes on to say, "Now, we-uns had never been noted for church attendance; we kids thought growing up to be 'heathens' had its points. Dad was neutral, but finally said, "I suppose you'll have to go; there won't be no peace around here until you do." [sic]

What was meant by "escaping the family curse?" There was, as far as I have been told, no dementia in my family medical history, but there is, without a doubt, depression, and it seems quite obvious that he and his five brother did not get a say about church or religion in general for that matter. Was my atheist great uncle giving his children, which may or may not have included great nieces, a warning about religion? He was obviously giving us a glimpse into his own atheism, but was the family curse actually related to what he was saying? Was he making a point that emotional suffering and religion, whether imposed or accepted, went hand-in-hand in our family? How did this other ancestor “escape the family curse altogether” by committing suicide like so many others in my family have? Was he approving or was he, like myself, disapproving? I could not tell just by reading what he said, but I knew there was some relationship between the genetic disorders, religion, and his statement concerning that particular ancestor, who did not have a noticeable physical genetic disorder.

Then there was a more alarming revelation that my thought concerning 'the curse' maybe right as I read my mother's notes in the margins of his letter. Her statements included many dying in a mental institution- such as my great grandma Carrie, who was my atheist uncle and devotedly religious grandfather's mother, along with four other brothers. She makes another note that my grandfather "was saved, that is gave his heart and life and eternity to God in the mid-1930s," and ends with "Uncle Lawrence died in a rest home in Alton, Illinois. Aunt Mildred, his wife, said he was saved just days before he died." Like I said in another blog post, my atheist great uncle has a "death bed conversion" story, which I seriously doubt is true. Adding to that, she wrote her own short letter, full of religious dogma, stating that both my grandparents were afraid of doctors and my grandmother would not even cooperate with the doctor. Before she finished she said another one of my grandfather's brothers died of heart surgery, which of course made no sense to me. He might of died of the heart problem the doctors were attempting surgery on, but no necessarily the surgery alone. Now keep in mind, these are the same grandparents who believed that those in the psychology field are of the devil and will steal your soul. This is also the same grandfather who believed the doctors were keeping him alive long than God wanted and subsequently stopped taking his heart medications. My mother is the daughter of these two and never received a satisfactory education, because the Bible is all she needs to know concerning science. So, the statement about heart surgery in and of itself killing one of my grandfather's brothers is stated with very little knowledge about said procedure, much less the heart condition that uncle had.

If some emotional disorder with religious delusion is the “family curse” it would appear history repeated itself with my step-cousin, who shot himself, even though he is not a blood relative. This “curse” repeated itself with my grandfather and almost repeated itself with my mother twice. It is a horrid thought to me, but it would appear that such suicides, even my grandfather's death, plague my family tree. Somehow religion always seems to be mixed up in some fashion concerning the mental disorders and deaths of my relatives.

I cannot imagine why suicide would not be part of the insanity, given that Wesleyan doctrine includes the idea of striving for Christian perfection ( http://www.theopedia.com/Wesleyan_perfectionism ), because the flesh is filthy and vile. Human thoughts are also vile and should be silenced. Start doubting or questioning god and you become imperfect. Sin, which includes foul language, you backslide, and become imperfect, thus must rededicate your life to God/Jesus again. Thus repeated visits to the altar and “being saved”. Also the reason my minister great uncle had a weekly altar call for sinners to be saved. In my opinion, life would be, and was when I involved in such doctrine as a child, a miserable existence. If one believes there is a life better than this after death, then why not knock yourself off the face of the earth. This life and our bodies are such hideous things, why bother living?

I am being sarcastic of course, but striving for sinless perfection is virtually impossible, unless you are Mother Teresa and even she sometimes doubted, but such ideas can only contribute to depression and potentially suicide.

Disbelief is imperfection in the Wesleyan theology, so I am damned unless I dedicate myself to whatever vile human concept they have. If they were to know that I do not believe in their god, they would pester me, much like the Borg, with their beliefs, until I complied and conformed- just like they did my step-cousin and my atheist great uncle and his parents. After all, why would anyone want to be imperfect? Thus, we are back to freewill not actually being freewill because one is threaten with the idea of being imperfect and of course hell, because religion is being imposed, with a threat of course. The words imperfect is not something that sounds good to another human and thus you are incomplete without God, without salvation, and on the path to hell. One needs God to be complete, according to their philosophy- “the Path of Salvation”.

Of course, with such a doctrine, one gets a sense that they are not good enough and begin not to like themselves. Thus there is a plague of depression that ensues after being brainwashed into such a vicious circle of backsliding and dedication, especially if one has a predisposition for such an illness. It is as bad as the Borg and resistance is futile, especially if you are family, because you MUST be saved, following “the Path of Salvation”, and striving for that Christian perfection. So, did great grandma Carrie end up in “Bedlam” solely because of the genetic predisposition for mental illness or did such beliefs feed into her mental illness? Who knows, but such doctrines cannot be good and are easily corrupted too. I can see them as contributing to depression and making it even worse than a philosophy that gives one human dignity.

If it sounds like there is a lack of understanding in what Wesley called Christian perfection, it is because he was never clear and was constantly re-explaining and redefining what Christian perfection is. It would appear he could not nail down his own doctrine very well and Calvin often criticized the doctrine. Not to be outdone of course, Wesley criticized Calvin's doctrine too and it has been going one since Calvin and Wesley departed from the Anglican Church and started their own churches with their respective followers. To this day, both groups still criticize each other and people who are neither, see the insanity in both doctrines and criticize both of them.

When Wesley was alive criticism from the Anglican Church of his thought happened too and as shown in “The Nature of Christian Perfection” website (http://homepage.mac.com/craigadams1/WESPERF/SECTN02.html), Wesley made a statement to the Bishop:
Letter to the Bishop of London: —
"What, it may be asked, do you mean by 'one that is perfect,' or, 'one that is as his Master?' We mean one in whom is, 'the mind which was in Christ,' and who so 'walketh as He walked;' a man that 'hath clean hands and a pure heart;' or that is 'cleansed from all filthiness of flesh and spirit;' one 'In whom there is no occasion of stumbling,' and who, accordingly, 'doth not commit sin.' To declare this a little more particularly: We understand by that Scriptural expression, 'a perfect man,' one in whom God hath fulfilled His faithful word: 'From all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you. I will also save you from all your uncleanness.' We understand, hereby, one whom God hath sanctified throughout, even in 'body, soul and spirit;' one who 'walketh in the light, as He is in the light,' in whom 'is no darkness at all; the blood of Jesus Christ His Son' having 'cleansed him from all sin.'

"This man can now testify to all mankind, 'I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live yet I live not, but Christ liveth in me.' He 'is holy, as God who called him is holy,' both in life and 'in all manner of conversation. 'He 'loveth the Lord his God with all his heart, and serveth Him with all his strength. He 'loveth his neighbor' (every man) 'as himself;' yea, 'as Christ loved us;' them in particular that 'despitefully use him and persecute him because 'they know not the Son neither the Father.' Indeed, his soul is all love, filled with 'bowels of mercies, kindness, meekness, gentleness, long suffering. 'And his life agreeth thereto, full of 'the work of faith, the patience of hope, the labor of love.' And 'whatsoever he doeth, either in word or deed,' he doeth 'it all in the name, in the love and power, of the Lord Jesus.' In a word, he doeth the will of God 'on earth, as it is done in Heaven.'

"This is to be 'a perfect man,' to be 'sanctified throughout, created anew in Jesus Christ;' even 'to have a heart so all-flaming with the love of God' (to use Archbishop Usher's words), 'as continually to offer up every thought, word, and work, as a spiritual sacrifice, acceptable unto God through Christ' In every thought of our hearts, in every word of our tongues, in every work of our hands, 'to show forth His praise who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.' Oh, that both we, and all who seek the Lord Jesus in sincerity, may thus 'be made perfect in one!'" — Works, vol. v. p.342.” [sic]


OK so we are all Christ crucified, obviously, or as Wesley said, “crucified with Christ”, without thoughts from our brains, but from our hearts. In other words, no brains of their own, doing nothing that is sinful, not even cursing the crap out of perverted fathers, even though the the Bible states that fathers should not provoke their children. What a miserable existence to be nailed to a tree by other human beings and forced to suffer in silence. It is also no surprise that when one of my atheist great uncle's brothers apparently stubbed his foot and “said a bad word the preacher was horrified”. That is showing imperfection and things that are of the nasty and vile flesh. How long can one take “suffering” before they snap? In some respects, Wesley borders on Gnosticism with what he says, but be that as it may, it is cruel and harsh doctrine to follow. Even so, it is far better to express anger and/or pain rather than hold it in, ignoring it, and suffering from depression or some other mental disorder.

However, children born or forced into this doctrine do not get a choice, thus there is no actual freewill. They are told what to say, how to think, what to do, when to do it, what to read, what to study, follow the Bible for it is the inerrant word of God... A foul word, rebellion, disrespect, and even anger, from a child especially, is shut down and even scolded as fast as it starts. The children are dragged to church less the the parents be harassed constantly and sometimes unceasingly by others. Even the adults are not free from harassment if they do not comply and conform. Thus many find ways to “go home” sooner, rather than later, because this lack of freedom contributes to so much depression, as well as a delusional belief that there is an afterlife.

Clinging and sticking to human freedom and dignity is the most logical answer to escaping “the family curse.”Even as an atheist, I cannot say my great uncle was always happy, because my grandfather, his brother, would always be venomous with him concerning his lack of belief in God/Jesus. However, it is obvious my great uncle and I shared a common bond and it appears it was not my imagination. It is also obvious that he saw what I have seen in my lifetime. Thus, the “family curse” could very well be a combination of depression or other mental disorders and religious dogmatism, even religious delusion. Oddly enough, if you read my first quote from Wesley, he stated that this perfection is consistent with a lot of nervous disorders, which back then could have been anything from hysterics to depression to bipolar disorder. Such beliefs are consistent with a lot of mental illness and apparently a small handful of us saw this, but fought “the curse” to our deaths, be it a natural one or suicide, while others succumbed to it without a fight and died via suicide or if they were lucky, a natural death.

Resistance is not futile though. I do not believe it is futile and I do not think for a minute that I need escape with “a bullet to the head”. My great uncle did not and while he might have thought himself weak or something, I do not think of him as a weak man. I never thought of him as a weak man, but I do think my grandfather was horrid with how he treated his atheist brother and weak for relying on the supernatural and committing suicide. As for my mother... she is not only weak for relying on the supernatural and with her attempts of suicide, but probably sees her one and only child that she prayed for as flawed, imperfect, because I am without her deity and lost to a world of fleshly sin. That is, if she knew for a fact that I do not believe. Must be awfully painful to her, when there is no need for her to put herself through such suffering, especially when I am quite comfortable in my own flesh. With a little soap and water I clean up very nicely.

However, this does not answer the question concerning freewill though. Maybe, especially when it comes to Borg-like theology, freewill is rejecting irrational, imposing, and dictating theology that you never did choose for yourself to begin with. Maybe freewill is researching other philosophies and choosing for yourself which one you will ascribe to, instead of blindly following in the dictates of your living and dead ancestors. The reality is that one cannot have freedom OF religion, without freedom FROM religion and that is truly what this is really all about. Such imposition of religious dogma on anyone is not freedom of or from anything, so it is not freewill, but rather the exact opposite, which I believe would be oppression and oppression can lead to depression.

To have “freewill” is to have freedom to chose and decide for yourself what philosophy to follow and it is inhumane to force anyone, especially children, to ascribe to a doctrine that is not of their choosing. Such doctrines deny an individual of their humanity, whether it is god-given or not. To not allow them freedom OF and FROM religion is to take from them their right to be human and to think for themselves as a human being should. IF freewill is to be a voluntary decision and choice, then they should be able to choose to be free OF and FROM religion as well. To do otherwise is not freedom or freewill, as well as inhumane. Calvinist or Wesleyan theology does not allow for freewill, at least not according to the behaviours of the subscribers of such doctrines.

This takes us to Dawkins' idea that imposing religion on children is child abuse and in a sense, it is, because so many children are not free to chose. They are most often forced to ascribe to what is handed to them via a platter and chalice, along with a piece of wood used to symbolize torture and suffering. On the platter is a book written by primitive people, with primitive thinking, meant to be used as a guide to living life. This book is now archaic, because it is full of so much superstition, ignorance, bigotry, violence, hatred, and tribal thinking. In the chalice is death, because if it filled with symbolic blood of thousands who suffered in the name of tribal superstitions.

The adoration of the suffering and killing of even one human being is not human perfection, but rather behaviour that is worse than many animals in the wild. If humans are to strive for anything, it should be to strive to be fully human, not subservient to a concept created by humans. Humans are social creatures, but they are also a curious lot who, if not suppressed and oppressed, strive to find answers to their questions and acquire knowledge. They are fallible, but they are not fallen creatures and should derive their morals from human experience. They are children of the earth, not children of some mythical being, and as such should tend to the issues of this life, the only one we know for sure we have. “Traditional religions often offer solace to humans, but, as often, they inhibit humans from helping themselves or experiencing their full potentialities. Such institutions, creeds, and rituals often impede the will to serve others. Too often traditional faiths encourage dependence rather than independence, obedience rather than affirmation, fear rather than courage. More recently they have generated concerned social action, with many signs of relevance appearing in the wake of the "God Is Dead" theologies. But we can discover no divine purpose or providence for the human species. While there is much that we do not know, humans are responsible for what we are or will become. No deity will save us; we must save ourselves. SECOND: Promises of immortal salvation or fear of eternal damnation are both illusory and harmful. They distract humans from present concerns, from self-actualization, and from rectifying social injustices” (Humanist Manifesto II, 1973). People should not rely on superstition, because that does not bring about progress, but rather impedes it. Parents should encourage their offspring to think for themselves and make their own choices in life, free of and from dogma, and therein, I believe, lies the real definition of “freewill,”

Of course, I am obviously “preaching” humanism, with such thoughts in the last paragraph, but to me it seems the most logical choice and gives an individual the most freedom with the least amount of contribution to depression. Anything else seems “most illogical” to quote Spock. So now the question is who has “escaped the family curse?” Have I, even though I still get profound headaches from the imposition of religious dogma and suffer from occasional bouts of great sadness? Did my atheist great uncle? I hope he did and I can only hope that I have or am at least working in that direction and never succumb to such ideologies ever in my life, but I still have my living relatives, specifically my mother, to deal with and that is not an easy task.

However, clinging and sticking to human freedom and dignity is the most logical answer to escaping “the family curse”. To do otherwise would be to deny my own humanity and fall prey to that “curse” and I do not believe my atheist great uncle fell prey to that “curse” either. The retired WW II Army doctor fought many religious battles with his believing and god-fearing brother, my grandfather, with no truce before my grandfather committed suicide, but I believe my great uncle remained true to himself to the day he died a natural death. He was too well-educated and battled scarred to give into superstitious dogma, instead of thinking for himself. I also think my atheist great uncle was, in some respects, mentally stronger than my god-fearing grandfather who fell into a depressive psychosis and committed suicide, regardless of any genetic predisposition for depression.