If God was a Tree; What Kind of Tree would It Be?

By DagoodS

I have recently been intrigued by the Baylor Religious Survey referenced in some discussion I was observing. I found the following statistical facts fascinating:

- Almost 30% had attended their current place of worship for more than 20 years.
- 23% attended weekly services, but of those, only 30% attended a Bible class or Sunday School weekly.
- Exactly half (49.4%) only read their Bible twice a year (or less) outside of church!

- 74% felt “Forgiving” described God very well, yet 67% felt “Just” described God very well. (73% felt “loving” described God very well.)
- 33.3% disagreed or strongly disagreed with an atheist teaching at high school. (Close to the 37.5% that said the same about homosexuals.)

The fact that approximately 2/3 of the people thought God was both Just and Forgiving (two concepts which are mutually exclusive) made me chuckle, thinking of exactly how much thought we put into our opinion of what a God is. As I Christian, I probably would have voted the same way, mind you.

What really grabbed my attention, though, were a number of questions along the line of:
Even if you might not believe in God, based on your personal understanding, what do you think God is like: A cosmic force in the universe…concerned with my personal well-being…angered by human sin…angered by my sin…directly involved in world affairs…directly involved in my affairs…

Is it just me, or are those questions odd?

“O.K. you don’t believe in a God…but seriously—what do you think God is like?”
“Uh…I don’t know…kinda purplish?”

Look, in my concept of the universe about me there is no god. To ask, “But what do you think God is like?” is like asking me if Leprechauns swim. Since I do not believe leprechauns exist, their ability to swim or not swim is of no matter to me.

Imagine if I went to a church, and said, “O.K., O.K., O.K. You don’t believe in Magic. Got it. What type of magic do you think could knock God unconscious?”

Would a churchgoer seriously consider my question? Or would they scratch their head and say, “He doesn’t get it. I don’t believe in Magic at all. Why then, would I consider different types, kinds and powers of something that doesn’t exist?”

At a certain point in my deconversion, I came to the conclusion that the Christian God did not exist. I was still very strongly a theist. There was no question that A god existed—just not the particular version of Christianity’s God I was most familiar with. So which one?

I was like a kid in a toy store who, for the first time, was handed $20 by his parents and told “Rather than have us pick out a toy for your birthday, and you making do with what we pick—you get to pick your own toy.” I was ecstatic.

However, after years and years of believing in (reluctantly) the wrong picture of God—I wanted to make sure that I believed in the most correct picture of God. I did not expect the problems I encountered in that endeavor.

See, even believing in a God, based upon my personal understanding, I was having difficulty determining what he/she/it was like. In fact, the last thing I wanted to rely upon was my “personal understanding”—that had gotten me into trouble before! I wanted to base it upon what was actually true; what was God actually like.

Was God angered at sin? Gee—there isn’t really any way to verify that, is there? Oh, I understand that some people are angered at what others do. And their level of anger can vary over different societies, times and beliefs. As humans, we are angered at genocide. Not so angered at violations of “Keep off the Grass.” And for many of us, we are angered when the other person does NOT violate the Speed limits!

Yet just because humans are—does that mean God is? It is hard to believe that I, a mere human among 7 Billion others, on a planet that took Billions of years to even come into being, in a universe that took even more Billions of years to develop to the stage in which the Earth became a planet, with a Creator that is master of it all—that I could anger such a creature by some particular word or deed. Is God that small?

Here I was, a kid with my $20, and I didn’t know what to buy. What was true. What was actual.

I truly desired to get it right. To have the right God. To have the right belief—there was simply no way to verify whether the belief was correct or not. It was all speculation, coming from very human perspectives. What one person claimed God was like; another would immediately declare as false. A third would claim it was close, but wrong, and a fourth would declare it was wrong, but not completely.

Of course, I eventually reached the conclusion that it is ALL Speculation. There is no god—just a bunch of humans capriciously declaring what they think God is.

As I was reading the survey, I recalled that search for what God was like, even as a theist (but not a Christian.) If even then I could not determine it—I would clearly be worse as a non-theist.

It appears that even after I lost my theism, they best they can offer, is “But what do YOU think?” Is that how we determine something—by each person’s individual opinion? The most persons that statistically believe (whether they are atheist, agnostic or theistic) that God is involved in world affairs—well, then god either is or is not?

They don’t want me to teach high school—but they are interested in my opinion as to whether a non-existent God is concerned with my personal well-being. Odd.

Michael Shermer on the Colbert Report

Buy Books by Michael Shermer

Subscribe to Skeptic magazine.

Michael Shermer (born September 8, 1954 in Glendale, California) is a science writer, historian of science, founder of The Skeptics Society, and editor of its magazine Skeptic, which is largely devoted to investigating and debunking pseudoscientific and supernatural claims.

Shermer is also the producer and co-host of the 13-hour Fox Family television series Exploring the Unknown and since April 2004 has been a monthly columnist for Scientific American magazine with his Skeptic column. Shermer was once a fundamentalist Christian, but according to his book The Science of Good and Evil, is now an agnostic and an advocate for humanist philosophy. -- Wikipedia

The Colbert Report (IPA: [kol'bɛɹ rɪˈpɔr]) is an American satirical television program that airs from 11:30 p.m. to 12:00 a.m (10:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. central time) each Monday through Thursday on Comedy Central. It stars comedian Stephen Colbert, a former correspondent for The Daily Show.

The Colbert Report is a spin-off and counterpart of The Daily Show which, like The Daily Show, critiques politics and the media. It satirizes personality-driven political pundit programs, particularly Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor.[1][2] The show focuses on Stephen Colbert, a semi-fictional anchorman character, played by Colbert. The character, a "well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot", is a caricature of televised political pundits.[3][4] -- Wikipedia

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Humanity and its relationship to religion

Sent in by Steven Cody

I want credit for my actions. Good or bad I'd like to be acknowledged for what I do and accomplish. I'd thank all those in my life who helped me with any given situation of course. I want to be acknowledged as a human being who deserves better than what we have. We ALL deserve better. I am a human and so are you. We make choices and decisions every second of every waking hour of every single day of our lives. WE are responsible for the lives and deaths of our fellow human beings with every choice we make. We, as human beings, have total control over everything that happens on this planet. WE are responsible.

I wish everyone could see and hear and understand what I'm telling you. Sadly, even though many will agree with me, still more will not hear me. We have ultimate control, but I think we got scared of all the responsibility -- so we out sourced it to an invisible bully in the sky. This will be the part where I think I'll lose a large majority of readers. Bye.

How can we ever accept the responsibility we have for this world if we've given it up to the stars. On our journey to top dog of the hood we, as a species, sought explanation. We are a curious creature that seeks understanding. At first our understanding was placed in the things we couldn't understand. We made the ruler of our days the very thing that gave us day, the sun. This was our first great accomplishment and our worst mistake. We were young as a species and underdeveloped, but we understood that the sun gave us day and when it went away we had darkness. There is a reason why many are afraid of the dark. When we first deified the sun we gave it an opposite and an antagonist in the moon. Light and dark were soon equivalent to good and bad. We gave them names and histories and put them in control of our existence. We gave them the authority to flood our villages and suck up our homes in a mighty whirling wind sphere. We gave them the power to shake the earth and light the sky with fire. We made God's to rule over us and give us meaning.

Now that we explained in our infantile minds how and why things happened we elevated ourselves to a new level. We began our search inward and sought to explain why we are here. If they are gods in the heavens to rule existence then why are we here? What is our purpose? Why do we love and lose? Why do we feel? We decided to apply our celestial rulers to our minds. They are the reason we think and dream and love and kill. We now have discovered our influence, our benefactor. This is where we lost control. We gave up our responsibility for our choices. We evolved.

Mankind has evolved. That fact is undeniable. Our minds have discovered reason and overtime we discovered science. We can split the atom and we know why there are rainbows. Rainbows are light refracting off the moisture in the air. That's pretty simple, right? Why would I even feel the need to explain, or do you know where I'm going with this? We once believe the rainbow to be from our gods. A beautiful promise of brilliant colors that we would never be drowned in a horrible flood. OOPS. We are still young comparatively and we could have a wonderful future if we can shed our naive and false beliefs and continue on our journey of self discovery and evolution.

We once believed that bleeding someone who was sick was an efficient cure-all.

We once believed the world was flat.

We once believed that black men were meant to serve as slaves. Some still do.

We once believed people of different color needed different toilets and schools less than 100 years ago. Some still do.

We once believed Rosa Parks had to give up her seat to a white man less than 100 years ago. Some still do.

We once believed women weren't equal to men less than 100 years ago. Some still do.

We once believed people actively choose who they are sexually and emotionally attracted too like 10 years ago,MANY still do.

I think you can see what I mean by evolution. Oh, I applaud all who are still reading. Thanks.

We have shed our naive past beliefs on many things. We still have a way to go, but we are heading towards being human once again. There is a problem though. Some of our hang-ups with outdated beliefs are actually leading us toward our doom. If we are unable to overcome the affliction we imposed on ourselves when we were young and ignorant then we will die out as a species.

My main question to you is: How can we care enough to save this world if we still believe that what comes after is better?

More people than you know are aware of this. Sadly, some have taken advantage of your ignorance and become the physical manifestation of the invisible god you think has taken the wheel. If you have faith in god then there is no reason to worry. That is so convenient for them, that is what you must overcome.

Your "faith" is destroying your kind. I wouldn't even care so much if it only effected you, but there is a bunch of other people here and you have the fate of our existence in your hands. Your everyday choices are responsible for the lives of every single individual human on this planet.

It won't be easy. You have been programmed to ignore me and your own lingering doubts.

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The Null Hypothesis

A defense of atheism using the null hypothesis. When used, the null hypothesis is presumed true until statistical evidence in the form of a hypothesis test indicates otherwise. In classical science, the null hypothesis is used to test differences in treatment and control groups, and the assumption at the outset of the experiment is that no difference exists between the two groups for the variable being compared.

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Is the supreme being confused?

By Wittu

I reexamined some notes I made last year on Bible oddities and contradictions. Here are a few thoughts -- nothing scholarly, but perhaps a few members will still dig it (although so many of you are very savvy and have likely seen these).

(1) Is God, the supreme being, who spoke matter into being, concerned with hair?
“Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him?”

- I Corinthians 11:14

Which contradicts:
[Those who take the vow of a Nazarite] All the days of the vow of his separation no razor shall come upon his head; until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. Then he shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.”

- Numbers 6:5

“Then she [Hannah] made a vow and said, "O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of your maidservant and remember me, and not forge your maidservant, but will give your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head."

- I Samuel 1:1

“For behold, you [Zorah] shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head…”

– Judges 13:5

(2) God will punish children for fathers' sins

“You shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.”

- Exodus 20:5

Which contradicts:

“The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”

- Ezekiel 18:20

(3) Saved by works or faith?

"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight"

- Romans 3:20,28

"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ"

- Galatians 2:16

“For by grace are ye saved, through faith and that not of yourselves: the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast”

- Ephesians 2: 8-9

Which contradicts:
"Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only"

- James 2:24

“Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have DONE GOOD, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation”

- John 5: 28-29

(Wait a damn minute: "No flesh justified" [...] "For all have fallen short of the glory of God" (sinned) and the "The wages of sin is death?" This means all will be damned. But, it also says those that have "done good" are delivered. But what is considered good and how much good? What about faith alone? Faith plus works? What about "the gift of God, not by works?" Isn't having faith, in itself, an act... a "work?"


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Of “God-Blindness” and Absurdity

By Anne Corwin

Existence is Wonderful

So, someone has finally come out and asked the question: Joe Carter of “The Evangelical Outpost” inquires, Are Atheists Autistic?

Great, I thought, when I first read about this. Next thing you know, we’re going to have organizations with names like “Cure Atheism Now”. And their supporters will make all kinds of claims about how this terrible developmental disorder, atheism, prevents people from making friends easily, makes “fitting in” difficult, makes people less likely to be trusted, makes it impossible to get certain kinds of jobs or be elected to public office, cuts people off from the “religious community” (a strong source of social support), and denies them the comfort of belief in an afterlife.

Atheist children will be subjected to intense behavioral therapies involving being forced to sit at a small table until they ask for a [Holy Book] or a picture of [Deity or Guru], at which point they will be hugged and praised or rewarded with M&Ms. Older atheists who decide that they are perfectly fine with how they are “wired” will be told by well-meaning others that it’s very nice that they’ve learned to live with their limitations, but that they still have no idea what they are missing.

Okay. Now, for the (relatively) serious stuff.

I’ve actually been expecting this, or at least something like it. I haven’t written about it until now because it is extremely difficult to write about anything pertaining to religion or spirituality (or lack thereof) without risking re-igniting the same old flamewars that tend to dominate the Internet’s philosophical landscape. I hope I can offer some commentary on the article linked above without anyone trying to subsequently steer the discussion in the direction of arguing for or against the existence of various deities. For the purposes of this discussion, it doesn’t matter whether any religious claims are true or not.

Most of the issues I write about are irrelevant to religion. Neither atheism nor theism is a prerequisite to supporting life extension, or neurodiversity, or morphological liberty, and these are the topics I tend to focus on, so I’ve mainly left religion out of the picture. I plan to continue this for the most part, since there are plenty of blogs you can go and read if you feel like wading through pages and pages of repetitions of Pascal’s Wager, deconstructions of the Ontological Argument, and anecdotes about watches and eyeballs. But I did want to make an exception to comment on “Are Atheists Autistic?”

There are a lot of stereotypes about atheists. And as “Are Atheists Autistic?” demonstrates, the stereotypes about atheists are actually quite similar to the stereotypes about autistics. Atheists and autistics are, according to some:

- Insensitive
- Lacking in emotional depth
- Self-centered
- Abrasive
- Disconnected from the community

Bear in mind that I am not in any way equating autism with atheism or suggesting that any of these things are actually true. Nor am I suggesting that the author of “Are Atheists Autistic?” was doing so either.

In some respects I think I can actually grok what theists who encounter “real live atheists”, or neurotypicals who encounter “real live autistics who are not Rain Man” for the first time experience. When a person is raised in a culture (and most likely, a family) wherein a particular religious worldview or neurotype predominates, finding out that there are some people who do not share that worldview or neurotype (but who are still people, with minds and thoughts and feelings) can be as weird as finding out that there are unicorns living on the moon.

I am, of course, referring to the very real, very human phenomenon of culture shock. Finding out that some people think differently than you do, or believe differently than you do, or communicate differently than you do, can be psychologically jarring. It can take a while to re-adjust to this new information. But as ethical individuals, I would suggest that we actually have something of an obligation to consider new information as it arrives—especially if this new information could affect how you interface with an entire demographic of people.

My own informal observations seem to have revealed a fairly even split between autistic atheists and autistic theists—in short, whether a person is autistic or not doesn’t seem to have much influence over their religious convictions (or lack thereof). To his credit, Mr. Carter includes a disclaimer in his piece that expresses a similar observation. He writes:

1. No, I’m not saying that all atheists are autistic. (The evidence seems to show that is not true.)
2. No, I’m not saying that autistic people tend to be atheists. (I have no idea whether they are or not.)
3. No, I don’t think that autism causes atheism or vice versa. (I think there is a correlation, not a causal relationship between the two.)
4. No, I’m not trying to offer an argument. I’m merely raising what I think is an intriguing question.
5. Yes, the title of this post is intentionally provocative and ultimately answered by an empathic [sic] “no.”

But despite the disclaimer, the “intriguing question” he asks is still a bit on the squirm-inducing side. Carter posits that perhaps, if autistics suffer from a “theory of mind” deficit, this might explain why some autistics may have difficulties with the God-concept:

If the belief in other minds is analogous to belief in God, then individuals who have a propensity to “mind-blindness” would likely be “God-blind” as well. With effort, high functioning autistics may be able to overcome their inability to attribute mental states to other physical beings. But while they may be able to learn to accept the rationality of other minds, they may find it more difficult to develop a belief in a Being who is both non-physical.

If this is true and there is a correlation between autism and atheism, what would be the implications? Would it change the apologetic approach that Christians take in dealing with such unbelievers? Should it affect how we respond, knowing that the anti-social behavior is connected with their atheism?

Okay. Aside from the problematic suggestion of “anti-social behavior” (no, you don’t get to call someone “autistic” just because you find them obnoxious—sometimes it seems like “autistic” is the new “gay” in terms of it having been co-opted as a means to express a negative opinion of someone), there’s the implicit assumption that autistics do, in fact, lack the ability to attribute mental states to others. I realize that this assumption may have been offered for the sake of argument alone, but it is still worth exploring here because it is an assumption that many people do actually make.

I’ve written before on the fact that “Theory of Mind” appears to be more of a learned skill than an innate one for all people, and that much of what looks like “Theory of Mind” in typical people is simply a reflection of the fact that typical people are more likely to be neurologically similar to those around them.

The best informal critique I have ever encountered of the “Theory of Mind” studies can be found in the article, Deconstructing Sally-Anne. Essentially, the idea that autistics lack Theory of Mind was based primarily on the outcome of studies involving a poorly-designed experiment that did not take into account the language-processing differences autistics tend to exhibit.

But the “Theory of Mind Theory” of autism still seems logical to many—probably because autistics respond atypically to social overtures and perhaps do not trigger the expected “acknowledgement circuits” that typically-developing people are wired to look for. This may very well have something to do with how autistics tend to perceive the world, however, not necessarily in the way one might think. In my personal experience, for instance, I remember feeling as a child that everything was potentially alive—it wasn’t that I didn’t think other people had minds, but more that I didn’t feel much of a distinction between people and objects in the first place. Everything, from toys to rocks to water, could have been animate as far as I was concerned. I was very attached to certain objects and even to certain places, and I used to have a very hard time watching the latter half of Short Circuit 2 because of the scene in which the robot character gets beaten up by hooligans.

I haven’t ever seen a poll on whether this sort of early perception is common in those on the autistic spectrum, but I strongly suspect that it is. Even though I now understand that my coffee cup is not consciously reflecting upon the heat of its contents, I still maintain a general sense of my environment as being a gigantic, complex, singing, breathing, undulating tapestry of wonders. People are an important part of this tapestry, for sure, but not the only important part, and not even the part that I will always notice at the expense of everything else. This might be a bit difficult for some people to understand, but it certainly doesn’t count as “mind-blindness”.

But regardless, I’m still confused by the very notion of “God-blindness”, and not just because I’m personally an unbeliever. It seems strange that a believer would posit such an idea in the first place. After all, trying to attribute someone’s non-perception of God to something physical seems to go against the very idea of spiritual matters as being somehow transcendent. If something is truly transcendent, as God(s) and spiritual phenomena are said to be, why should the physical even matter at all? Wouldn’t an all-powerful superbeing be plenty capable of manifesting itself to everyone, regardless of how their brains are wired? And why would such a being, if benevolent, deliberately create entities incapable of ever perceiving it?

Absurdity aside, I should probably also mention here that in general, when I talk about diversity, neurodiversity, and morphological/cognitive liberty, I am not just talking about autism. I am talking about the simple fact (and value) of pluralism, of having different kinds of minds operating at once within the population of sentients. When people suggest that we need to “wipe out” every possible manifestation of autism because it supposedly makes people suffer, I can’t help but imagine people saying the exact same thing about other modalities and variations (e.g., homsexuality, atheism, shortness).

And regardless of my critique here, I don’t see why it might not be possible that atheism could have a genetic component. What if there really are certain brains less likely to accept religious claims and tenets? What would the social consequences of this be? Here’s a potential clue: some members of the Far Religious Right (which is by no means representative of all people of faith) are already backpedaling somewhat on their usual anti-biotech stance; Albert Mohler suggests:

If a biological basis is found, and if a prenatal test is then developed, and if a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation to heterosexual is ever developed, we would support its use as we should unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual temptation and the inevitable effects of sin.

As members of a society that ostensibly values democratization and diversity and liberty, it is crucial that we not fall prey to simplistic ideas of what it means to suffer, or what it means to “sin”. Sometimes, it seems as if “suffering” has been co-opted by secular would-be eugenicists in order to justify the elimination of a morphology or modality that makes them personally uneasy. And “sin”, apparently, has been co-opted by the fundamentalists to mean “things that prompt mental images that I find either icky or strangely compelling”. Both demographics ought to keep in mind that regardless of what great biotech advances are developed, no single one of us (or group of us) gets to re-make the world in our own tidy, whitewashed image of what we think it ought to look like.

Certainly, we can offer people options, and enable the consensual adoption of various modifying technologies—a process which, if done right, will be a fantastic celebration of creativity, diversity, and respect for the myriad forms that a person’s life might take. But it is one thing to acknowledge the very real problems experienced by various minority groups (regardless of whether those problems are due to intrinsic or extrinsic factors); it is quite another to suggest that homogenization is the solution to these problems. And while we’re at it, I honestly hope never to see an entry for “God-Blindness” in the DSM-2012 or whatever the next celebrated psychology tome happens to be.
Anne Corwin is an IEET intern, and an engineer and technoprogressive activist in California. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the World Transhumanist Association, and is active in the longevity movement as a volunteer with the Methuselah Foundation and in the neurodiversity movement addressing issues along the autism spectrum. Ms. Corwin writes the blog Existence is Wonderful and produces a related podcast.

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Religion is Bullshit

An oldie but a goody from George Carlin

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Christianity is a horrible thing to believe

by Thomas

I sincerely and wholeheartedly hope Christianity is false. I wish this one for one simple reason. If Christianity is true billions of people are being mercilessly tortured in a place called Hell.

Hell is an unimaginable place. To be burned for a second, for example when cooking, produces a sharp and excruciating pain. The thought of having every part of your body burned by fire and sulfur, without death and without relief is hideous. It is way beyond world history’s most repulsive torture chamber. Beyond the physical torture there is spiritual and emotional agony, relentless desolation and anguished regret.

Hell is for ever. Not for a second, not for a day, not for a year, not for a billion years, not for a billion, billion years. The penalty for not believing the Gospel is as endless as it is brutal.

If Christianity is true every single American who died before 1492 is burning, as is everyone from my home country of England before about AD 300, along with virtually everyone from the great and ancient civilisations of China, India and the Middle East. According to my upbringing nearly every departed Catholic, most liberal Christians, all Jews (after 33 AD), all Muslims, all Hindus, all Buddhists, and all Agnostics/Atheists are today receiving exquisite torture at the hands of the Almighty. And not just them. It is personal. If Hell is true my much loved Nanna is there, burning away this evening, screaming in agony because she thought the evidence for Christianity was a little too thin.

Christians delight in the truth of their faith, even when it means torture for billions. I have woken up. This now horrifies me. If I could make a choice between heaven for me and hell for the billions, or the peaceful sea of oblivion for us all, then I chose nothingness. To the Christian my choice is shocking and Blasphemous, but I think it is the moral choice.

Here is an illustration. You get to choose the outcome for a group of one hundred people. With option 1 the whole group get put in an oblivious drug induced coma for the rest of their natural lives. With Option 2, two of the people are flown to Grand Cayman where they get to live in the Sun, with their every social, medical, recreational and emotional need met by a group of loving friends and a wonderful attentive spouse. The remaining 98 are moved to a dark underground torture chamber where they are burned with acid and fire to the point of pure agony but not death, and are kept in solitary confinement and are emotionally and physically abused in every way for the rest of there natural lives. It’s your choice. Option 1 or Option 2. If you have any doubt, put your family in the group of 98. You are a caring person, and so, accepting that neither choice is great, you chose option 1 and save the suffering. If I could choose, I’d choose that Christianity is fiction.

Christianity tells us to be selfless, so surely it is not very Christian to wish Christianity is true. Shouldn’t Christians wish they could swap their heaven for oblivion and save billions from Hell?

No! I hear the Christian say. It is indeed sad that Hell exists, but it is just, and without Hell we are without God, and without God our life is without meaning and purpose. That would be terrible. Overall it is much better that Christianity is true. Please think! Imagine your beautiful daughter burning in the abyss for ever. Why shouldn’t she? Lots of daughters are. Tell me this horror is a price you are willing to pay for having God give you meaning, rather than having to find your own.

I have described why I don’t want Christianity to be the truth. It is because I care about people suffering. However of course my desire for it to be false has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not it is false.

However, thankfully and objectively, Christianity is almost certainly not true. There is compelling evidence from many witnesses.

Why Christianity is almost certainly not true

Witness 1: Science

I agree with the Young Earth Creationists. If Genesis can not be taken literally and does not describe events that happened 6-15,000 years ago then the Christian faith falls apart. If the earth is ancient and the fossil record truly shows life, death and suffering long before the fall, then sin is not the cause of death and the Bible is disproved! Further more Jesus believed in a literal Adam. If we don’t believe Jesus got it right when he said death entered the world through the one man Adam – we have no right to believe Jesus at all. Belief in the young earth 6 day creation is essential to belief in Christianity.

I also agree with Old Earth Creationists. They say the scientific evidence that the earth is old, and that evolution has occurred is overwhelming. According to these Christians we cannot ignore these facts and need to work them into whatever religious views we are going to have.

Here are some of the facts:
  • Annual melt rings in the Antarctic go back continuously as far as they have been dug out, 700,000 years so far. The air trapped in the ice shows climatic changes over the last 700k years. This is like finding a living tree with 700,000 annual growth rings.

  • Other species of Human such as Homo Erectus were real, and had human and ape-like characteristics. I met a skeletal one at Oxford’s natural history museum together with his more ape like and more human like cousins. My ten year old asked me “was Homo Erectus on the ark Dad?” Good question! Homo Erectus are incompatible with the story of Adam and the ark, but they are real.

  • We can see how geographic dispersion and the isolation of populations have driven evolution. Why did all the Kangaroos all hop off the Ark and go to Australia? Molecular evidence shows how these populations have actually evolved in their local geographies.

  • The fossil record has simple life forms in its most ancient strata, moving through increasingly complex life forms such as fish right up to mammals in the more recent past. Fossils of different evolutionary ages are not mixed up and found together as you would expect with a simultaneous creation of species and a global flood. A mammal fossil in the Cambrian would disprove evolution, but there is not a single one. The fossil record is totally at odds with the 6 day creation model.

  • We can see billions of light years into space and we therefore see events in space that occurred billions of years ago. The various "explanations" for this lack credibility or any evidence other than the Bible.

  • Radio metric dating suggests an ancient earth. There is no evidence for the reducing half-lives required to make these methods inaccurate enough for a young earth. If half lives were reducing incredible heat would have been discharged which has not happened.

  • There is no global flood in the geological column. Even creationists can’t agree where it is meant to be. If it was true it would stick out like a sore thumb.

There is only one conclusion if both the Young Earth and Old Earth Creationists are right, and both their arguments above are compelling. Even taking views only from Christians we see that Christianity cannot be true. The only conclusion is that Earth is ancient, life did evolve, and Genesis is wrong. There was no first Adam and hence no second.

Science is not the only witness, the Bible itself provides us with a whole family of Witnesses against the truth of Christianity.

Witness 2: Factual Errors in the Bible

If the Bible is the true Word of God is must be without a single error. However it does contain errors. Turn to Leviticus 11. Verse 6 tells us Rabbits chew the cud. They don’t. It was a popular misconception at the time but an omniscient God should have known the correct biology. Verse 20 also tells us insects have 4 legs. Verse 19 tells us bats are birds. If the Bible has errors it is not the inerrant Word of God. These are errors.

Of course apologists do take a stab at explaining the errors. I’ve seen a two inch thick book explaining Bible "problems". For example the author of Leviticus was trying to say that Rabbits "appear" to chew the cud not that they actually did. This does not work -- you can't say Jesus "appeared" to die on the cross, so why rabbits “appear” to chew the cud? Even the need for several hundred pages of often implausible excuses for "apparent" errors surely itself tells us something about whether God or men inspired the Bible.

Witness 3: Bible Contradictions

There is huge literature on this subject. I suggest my reader types “Bible Contradictions” into Google and researches both sides of the argument. The Christian who has never done this should be prepared to be shocked.

I will take just one of many, many examples. Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7 contain a census of the Exiles who returned from Babylon according to their family groups. The details are exactly the same in many respects. For example there were 2172 descendants of Parosh in both accounts. However there are also contradictions. For example Ezra has 775 descendants of Arah while Nehemiah has 652. The apologist points to the time difference of the two books and suggests it was actually a census of the returnees’ families at the time of writing rather than actually of those returning to explain the differences. This would be at least plausible if all the family groups had minor variations in numbers representing a few decades of births and deaths. But 22 of the 39 groups have exactly the same number and the overall total is the same at 42,360 (although neither version correctly adds up to 42,360). It is clearly the same census but with contradictions. The statistical chances of 23 of 40 family sizes staying exactly unchanged through a few decades of births and deaths while 17 vary as expected is effectively nil. There was one census and the Bible record of it contains mistakes. Either that or God miraculously controlled the populations in such a way as to create the overwhelming impression to the open minded reader that the Bible is not trustworthy.

Another category of contradictions occur where a doctrine is inconsistent throughout the Bible. Take the doctrine of Hell itself. You would never derive it from the Old Testament. Most of the Old Testament teaching about life after death suggests all both good, and evil, go to a shadowy place under the earth called Sheol. Job (see chapter 3) seems to believe death is a peaceful oblivion. There are some references in the more modern book of Daniel which could be claimed to point to New Testament style of eternal torture. However it can’t honestly be argued that Hell is the same concept in Old and New Testaments. Evolution of doctrine from older to more modern Bible books occurs across a range of subjects such as the nature of God, the method of salvation, the chosen people and moral rules.

The Christian cannot really deny this but explains that God in his grace has progressively revealed more of his ideas to subsequent generations of his people, and we now know more of his thoughts than they did before. This seems very strange. For example it means a God who never changes and does not want anyone to perish, condemned almost everybody who lived before the New Testament to a Hell they could not have possibly known existed. A much more satisfying explanation is we are simply witnessing an evolution in man’s thinking about theology during the 1500 years the Bible was penned. For example history suggests Hell was invented outside of the Judeo-Christian tradition in the years after much of the Old Testament had been already written. This perfectly explains why it was not available as a concept to Old Testament authors.

Another simple contradiction of Bible doctrines arises from the problem of evil. God is author of everything that is. God is perfectly good. But everything is not perfectly good. Therefore God must be the ultimate cause of evil. Therefore God cannot be perfectly good. I once believed this was a deep mystery. Logically however the problem of evil is only a deep mystery in exactly the same way as 2 + 2 5. Most people are quite happy to use logic to call 2 + 2 5 a contradiction, and the problem of evil deserves exactly the same designation.

Witness 4: The Moral Law

One argument from religious apologists is the argument of the "moral law" which is written in the hearts and consciences of man-kind. We have knowledge of right and wrong, which while imperfect, did not arrive through evolution and is an echo of God's image written in our hearts.

If we accept this proposition it can give us another test for Christianity. Does the moral law written in the Bible match the one written in our hearts? If it does the God of the Bible could be the God who made us. Let’s look at some examples:
  • Deut 21:18-21 – I have a stubborn and disobedient son. I love him deeply but find his behaviour difficult to manage. So what does the Bible recommend? It recommends taking him to the community leaders so they can organise having stones thrown at him until he is dead.

  • Deut 13:6-11 – My departure from the faith has been influenced by my brother who pointed out to me for the first time some of the issues I am writing about. What does the Bible recommend for him? This verse suggests a stoning to death would appear to be in order. The New Testament is much gentler suggesting just that it would be better if a Millstone was tied round his neck and he was drowned. Deut 17:2-7 recommends a stoning for all who bow down to other Gods. Hardly freedom of thought and religion.

  • Exodus 20:21 – I am a CEO. So what does the Old Testament say about employee relations? We find slavery set out as a great source of workers and this verse makes quite clear that since a slave is your property it is quite acceptable to beat him as long as he can get up within 2 days of receiving the beating.

  • Deut 25:11-12 – So what should you do if in defending you in a fight with another man your wife grabs your attacker’s balls? Well that would hardly be fair play. This verse recommends amputating the wife's offending hand without pity.

  • Deut 22:23 – This verse says that if a woman is raped in a town, she clearly did not scream loud enough, and hence should be stoned to death.

  • Numbers 15:32 – This verse suggest we should kill people caught gathering sticks on a Saturday.

  • Psalm 137 – Tells us that act of dashing infants to death on the rocks should be a source of happiness.

  • Numbers 5:11-31 – Tells us the procedure if we suspect suspected our wives may have been unfaithful. (A procedure not available to jealous wives incidentally). The wife is to be made to drink water mixed with dirt from the floor. If eating the dirt happens to make her ill then even in the absence of any other evidence she has to bear the guilt of her alleged actions. And the Old Testament punishment for adultery was, of course, death. If eating dirt makes you ill you should die.

  • Lev 11:10 –We are to find sea food detestable, even my favourites crab and shrimp.

Does this guidance really reflect your conscience? Is the author of this morality really the person that made your conscience? Does your conscience allow you to ever see the dashing to death of infants as a source of happiness?

Christians talk a lot about understanding these laws in the context of the times. However here is what Jesus said about them.

I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. (Matt 5:18)

The Moral law may be a witness for the existence of a creative moral power in the universe. However it is a powerful witness against the author of the Old Testament being the creator of the human conscience.

Witness 5: Prayer and Broken Promises

From Luke 7: "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

But I asked for a live baby (surely a good gift), and I was given a dead one. If Christianity is false, then praying is talking to someone who does not exist, and getting a stone or a snake, or losing a child, is to be expected.

However if Christianity is true praying is a conversation with an all-powerful God who makes great promises about the effectiveness of prayer.

James 5:14 guarantees healing for faithfully offered prayers for the sick. This procedure (prayer and anointing with oil) is carried out regularly by the church. There seems to be no qualification on its effectiveness apart from faithfulness. However one hundred percent of faithful but terminally ill people I know who have sincerely followed this instruction are, sadly, dead.

John 14:12 says anyone who has faith in Jesus will be able to do greater things than him. Jesus raised the dead, healed the blind, fed the multitudes, and turned water in to wine. Jesus has a billion followers today, and not a single one of them has ever verifiably done a single thing as great as any of these. Is this not deeply suspicious?

If Christianity is true we should expect that praying to the Christian God to should have a radically different impact than praying to other Gods such as Allah or Zeus. However I can honestly say that 20 years of my own sincere prayers achieved nothing different than if had they been offered to Luke Skywalker.

This does not mean coincidences don't happen. In Britain we do not go to the beach in January. It is 40F and raining generally. I live in central Britain and the total coast line is 8000 miles long. On the spur of the moment I traveled to a random beach one January, 150 miles from home. I walked down the beach in the rain, no one was there, but then round the corner came my VP of Sales together with his 22 year old intern. They were having a secret relationship and had decided to go somewhere far away where no one from the office would see them together, but they randomly got rumbled by me on their first weekend away! My point is that deeply improbable things happen all the time, and are often seen as answered prayer. I’d challenge anyone to produce evidence of a single verifiable answer to prayer, which could not be a simple coincidence like the incident above. I would be more than willing to change my mind.

The ineffectiveness of prayer is, in fact, a strong witness against the truth of Christianity. Perhaps there is an obvious reason why God does such a good impression of not existing.

Witness 6: Prophecy

Ultimate Questions, the well known evangelical tract by John Blanchard says of the Bible: "In no other literature can we find scores of clear and detailed prophecies made by men claiming to speak from God, and later fulfilled to the letter. The odds against this happening by chance are too vast to be taken seriously." Those odds have been calculated mathematically by various apologists. The chances of Old Testament prophecy about Christ coming true without divine intervention have been said by some apologists to be in the region of 1 in 10 to the power 38. Such odds would be compelling (even with 30 zeros removed) so it seems at last we have a miracle that we can actually test today.

To provide proof for Christianity it is necessary that the prophecies were verifiably written before the fulfillment, that the fulfillment happened, rather than somebody just claimed it happened, and that there is something specific and improbable about the prophecy made. To provide the overwhelming case claimed there must be many examples of this with tiny combined probability, and additionally there must be no failed prophecies. By a failed prophecy I mean a prediction that has not come true, and cannot in the future. A single definite failed prophecy in the Bible amounts to disproof that it can be trusted as God’s word.

Let's look at an example of fulfilled prophecy, one I have seen taught to my children in Sunday school as a reason to believe. Matt 2:14 tells us that flight to Egypt by Jesus and his parents was a fulfillment of a prophecy made by Hosea. We find the reference in Hosea 11:1. Have a look at Hosea 11:1. It is simply a reference to the story of the Israelite exodus from Egypt and nothing to do with the Messiah whatsoever. My children's Sunday school teacher was being utterly (if perhaps unknowingly) dishonest in teaching it as an evidence based reason to believe.

My failed prophecy is from Ezekiel 29:19-20. This time we have a very specific prophecy: “Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to give Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will carry off its wealth. He will loot and plunder the land as pay for his army. I have given him Egypt as a reward for his efforts because he and his army did it for me, declares the Sovereign LORD.” We have a very specific prophecy that Nebuchadnezzar, from the context a person who had just fought Tyre and was to be personally rewarded for his efforts in this respect on God’s behalf, would conquer and plunder Egypt. He would clearly need to do this in his lifetime. Only history tells us he didn’t.

It is outside the scope of this article to discuss every Bible prophecy but other than in the book of Daniel, where there is good evidence they were written after the event, they really do not meet the criteria for providing proof. Again it’s worth searching “Unfulfilled Prophecy” and similar on the web to see this “evidence” crumbling.

The apologist tells us that although it is not apparent verses such as Hosea 11:1 are prophecies, since the New Testament authors were inspired by God then they can be trusted when they explain what the Old Testament was actually prophetically saying even when this is not obvious from the Old Testament alone. Maybe so, but don’t pretend a miracle or evidence to believe. They also say we should read Ezekiel in its proper historical setting. The prophecies that did not work out can be understood poetically, and did not necessarily have to come true in history. Of course the ones that did come true are not poetic but powerful evidences.

A much more honest conclusion given the contrived fulfilled prophecies, together with the definite presence of failed prophecy, is that the Bible is not a miraculous future telling book, but the work of men, who were keen to give their message credibility by designing links with the older Scriptures.

Other Witnesses

There are many other witnesses.

Many of the doctrines and stories of Christianity such as God-men resulting from virgin births, sacramental meals, baptism, healing blindness with spittle, turning water in to wine and many others appeared first in pagan religions which pre-dated Christianity. (Try “POCM” in Google). This is not something taught in Sunday school and is a bit of shocker for most Christians when the extent of the non-originality of Christianity is revealed. When confronted with this the apologist claims that what in fact happened was that the Devil used his limited but real (and presumably God-given) powers of foreknowledge to create myths similar to Jesus, before Jesus, so when the Jesus came it would look like he had been constructed from previous religions and so people would not believe he was genuine and hence the Devil would achieve his goal of deceiving people. This explanation stretches credibility to an almost embarrassing point. It seems much more likely that the New Testament authors did actually borrow from pre-existing material.

Or what about the fact that the canon of scripture was agreed, by a committee, hundreds of years after the event? Before this competing Gospels were in wide circulation. The Gospel of John can be attributed to an Apostle, was in wide circulation in the early church and was written several decades after Christ’s death. If you disbelieve it you go to Hell. The Gospel of Thomas can be attributed to an Apostle, was in wide circulation in the early church and was written around the same time. Some scholars think it is earlier than John, some later. It is heresy and if you believe it you go to Hell. Partly at least it seems because Irenaeus, the 2nd century bishop of Lyons, believed there should be four Gospels like there are four winds, North, South, East and West and hence no room for Thomas.

Textual criticism clearly shows how the text of immutable word of God changed, not massively but in significant details, during its first centuries in circulation. Surely something that should not happen.

To conclude

Christianity is a horrible thing to believe, and fortunately we really do not need to, because it is demonstrably false.

I cannot claim to know with what to replace it, or have any explanation of why we are here. I equally don’t understand how my Lexus works, but that does not mean I cannot be sure it does not run on fairy dust. In the same way I am equally happy to stare at the stars, the sea, the mountains, and my children’s faces, in humble awe and be glad that I am, at least, here for the ride.

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Michael J. Behe on the Colbert Report

From Wikipedia:
Michael J. Behe (born January 18, 1952, in Altoona, Pennsylvania) is an American biochemist and intelligent design advocate. Behe is professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. He advocates the idea that some structures are too complex at the biochemical level to be adequately explained as a result of evolutionary mechanisms. He has termed this concept "irreducible complexity".

Behe's claims about the irreducible complexity of key cellular structures are strongly contested by the scientific community. The Department of Biological Sciences, at Lehigh University, published an official position statement which says "It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific." [1] His comments about intelligent design have been characterized as pseudoscience.[2][3][4]

The Colbert Report (IPA: [kol'bɛɹ rɪˈpɔr]) is an American satirical television program on Comedy Central that stars comedian Stephen Colbert, previously a correspondent for The Daily Show. The Colbert Report is a spin-off and counterpart of The Daily Show which, like The Daily Show, critiques politics and the media. It parodies personality-driven political pundit programs, particularly Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor.[1][2] The show focuses on Stephen Colbert, a semi-fictional anchorman character, played by the actor and comedian Stephen Colbert. The character, a "well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot", is a caricature of televised political pundits.[3][4]

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The iBible

From the makers of the iPod, the iMac, the iBible and all sorts of other iStuff, comes the iBible! It's the completely automated, Charlton Heston-narrated, self-cleaning, disco-dancing, multi-lingual religious tome of the 21st Century. The good book just got even gooder!

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Let the bodies hit the floor!

Christianity provides a perfectly rational way to view the world. Right?

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Does God Heal His Own Human Leaders?

By AtheistToothFairy

We hear much from Christians about how god takes cares of his own flock, especially when it comes to something like god healing the sick via prayer. These Christians insist that praying for someone can at least help abate their disease (despite many non-biased studies to the contrary). They also tell us that praying even for ourselves when we are sick, will also inspire god to intervene on our own behalf.

I haven't met a Christian yet that would deny this 'quality' of god, as his handbook clearly states this as a given Christian benefit. So, let us now assume that the bible god really does exists and that he really is suppose to answer our request for a healing (even if only conditionally).

Would it then not make perfect sense that he would also take care of his human religious leaders?

Surely if any run-of-the-mill believer can have god help them through this praying ritual, for either themselves or others, then it wouldn't make very much sense that god would turn his back on the very religious leaders who are teaching the world of his divine word. I think we can agree on this assumption?

I have noticed that on this site, there have been a few discussions about the mental illnesses of believers and some folks who believe god helped them in this area. Of course, proclaiming someone cured of some mental illness is much more subjective than some more obvious physical illness would be. Thus, I don't feel we can use cures of mental illness as a measuring stick to say whether god has intervened or not. So for the sake of argument, let's put aside the mental illness factors and use something that is easier to have 'metrics' for... human physical illness.

In searching for any discussions on this site about how well god is taking care of his own leaders in their physical health, I was unable to find any material in the archives about this important aspect of god's benefits. I have also searched the web for any studies that would show a health/cure comparison between religious leaders of the earth, versus god's average believers, versus non-believers (not to mention hard core atheist). Alas, it seems no information is available to the public on the web on this
topic and unless someone out there can point me to some legit studies, then we'll have to base our conclusions on hearsay evidence from those commenting on this.

Throughout my life I have known, either directly or indirectly, many religious leaders from local priest and ministers, right up to some very famous religious leaders we read about in the news. How many of these leaders do you suppose have been cured by god for some ailment they had. One would initially assume that of course god heals such faithful important leaders, but does he really. Does the evidence meet this assumption. Let's try and discover this now.

We have all watched various Catholic Pope's lose their health and eventually die and be replaced by the next Pope. If one is catholic, then one must believe that the Pope is god's right hand man down here on earth, yet, god let each Pope's health fail him until each died. I'm not even talking about instances where a sudden illness quickly took their lives, for in that case one could assume that god was just preparing the Pope to meet-his-maker, etc. No, I'm talking about where a Pope's health continued to degrade month after month, year after year, reaching the point where they couldn't really even do god's important work anymore. Did god step in and give his right-hand-man at least part of his health back, at least enough vitality so he could function as god's spokesman? No? WHY NOT?

If one is not catholic, then it's easy to write this mystery off by saying the Pope isn't of the correct biblical faith. Some even assume a Pope will be the Anti-Christ and such a Pope would surely not merit god's healing actions. If a former Pope is deceased, I think we can safely assume he wasn't this Anti-Christ, but yet the question remains, did god heal any of these dead Pope's, at any time? Because we can't use only Pope's in our quest to find an answer, we must now look beyond just the Pope's of our history and take a look at other religious leaders, including our own local leaders.

So, let's pick two fairly famous leaders and see how well god heals them when their bodies start to fail them.

Billy Graham:

Surely this well known religious leader had 'enough' right about god's word to warrant god's attention in fixing his health problems, yet we easily find this about Mister Graham on the web:
"Graham said that his planned retirement was due to his failing health. He has suffered from Parkinson's disease for about 15 years, has had fluid on the brain, pneumonia, broken hips, and recently revealed that he is suffering from prostate cancer."

So for 15 years this man suffered with Parkinson's, yet god turned his back on this famous leader of his... WHY? I won't even go into the other health issues mentioned here, but you get the dismal picture, I'm sure.

God Squad:

For those not familiar with the God Squad, it is a religious question/answer column, run in newspapers, and is made up of a Rabbi and a devout Christian man named Thomas Hartman. These two men act as spokesmen for their god (Jewish and Christian), answering tough religious questions from their readers. Obviously, in the
world of religion, they are very important key figures and must have god's direct attention. Surely god would keep these important word-spreaders in tip-top health, no? Yet we read the following about the Christian half of this God Squad:

"Monsignor Thomas Hartman publicly announced he had Parkinson's disease in November of 2003"

I have followed the story of Thomas for long time now and I have seen nothing in the news media about his Parkinson's disease suddenly being cured, even though it's been almost 4 years since he was diagnosed with it.

When I ask various Christians why god hasn't felt the need to cure this important figure of religion, I'm told that god works in mysterious ways and that his battle with Parkinson's is actually part of the process of making him a 'better follower of the lord,' etc. Excuse me, but how exactly does such a method work. Can someone explain to me how leaving an important religious leader with some dreadful disease, will better enable him to spread that important doctrine of god? Surely this popular man had at least hundreds of Christians praying for him, yet his disease remains steadfast in him... WHY?

I've known many local priest and ministers throughout my lifetime. From my own perspective, they suffer health problems on par with the rest of the general population. More so, I've never seen any such local leader cured of some serious long-term illness by god. They suffer along just like any other person does when they contract such illnesses. Prayers from their congregations seem to fall on god's deaf ears. So, just like the more famous leaders, these local leaders also seem to receive no healing benefit from their almighty god.

Isn't it odd that all these Christians continue to believe in the power of faith healing when none of their great leaders ever shows evidence of being healed by this god person. If our religious leaders can't expect to be healed by this god, then I ask you, what chance do the rest of the believers in god have with their own illness. In the end, all the studies done conclude there is zero evidence that faith healing works for anyone. Obviously that conclusion seems to apply to even our great religious leaders as well.

So tell me, Christians: Why can't we expect to be healed of our diseases if god assures us he will answer such prayers? Why does he seem to ignore even the most devout and well known religious leaders of earth?

Where is your god hiding? Why does he turn his back on healing even his own flock?

We can't see the heaven 'we' hope to enter one day from this planet earth, yet we are told to believe in it. We can't detect hell's fire from where we live, yet we are told to greatly fear it. God never makes himself visible to us mere mortals, so wouldn't it make much sense for god to provide a tad bit of evidence of himself, by at least showing us he can heal his own great leaders of this planet? Wouldn't it make "god-sense" to heal such leaders and at the same time give the rest of us a reason other than blind faith, to believe in such a caring powerful god.

What's wrong with this picture, I ask everyone?

Personally, I think the artist of this sad picture being painted here, just never has existed, other than in the minds of those wanting to believe such comforting myths.

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Loving Without God

By Bill J

I've come to realize that loving someone without God is incredibly freeing. I mean, as a Christian I was compelled to love people, even my enemies, but to truly love someone you have to be free to do it. Christianity is not about freedom because the ever present threat of hell looms near. It’s also a commandment. It’s not an option. How would you like to be commanded to love everyone? I command you to love every vile dictator and every person that has ever done you wrong. I command you to love the homeless mentally ill drug addict in your city. I command you to love the man that raped your love one. I command you to love the neighbor who lets his dog shit on your lawn. I command you to love your spouse who keeps cheating on you. I command you to love the guy/gal at work who bugs you. Is this really what Christians do?

I work in corrections, so I see a lot of people who have done bad things. I've learned that being professional and reasonable goes a lot farther when dealing with people then being rude and thoughtless. I've also learned that pretending to care does nothing for people. But life is messy and commandments like love your enemy and do good to those that persecute you seem misplaced when dealing with dictators, sex offenders or serial killers. I should think that the Bible should say, "Be fair-minded and just with those who are your enemies. Respond with reason and integrity toward those who persecute you." That makes far more sense than loving your enemies.

There is no room for killing your enemy in the New Testament. Many Christians go to war just as easily as the next person. I hardly find killing Iraqi soldiers forced to do Saddam's bidding as loving. I hardly see collateral damage as loving. I hardly see using force to stop terrorism as loving. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes force is the right thing to do, but Christianity does not really allow for this kind of thing. Christians are told to turn the other cheek. They are under a new commandment to love. They are no longer allowed to take an eye for an eye. The Quakers seem to understand this part of the Bible.

Some Christians do their best to love people, but how do we know if it's because they really love you? Are they doing it to please God? Do they feel pressured by the Bible to love you? The last thing I'd want in a relationship is someone loving me because they have to, not because they want to. Now consider the person who loves people because they truly love people? They love their spouse because; guess what, they really love them. It's not because they are commanded to love them as Christ loves the church. In my opinion, any person who truly loves someone without the need of religion, the fear of hell fire or having to be commanded by Jesus is truly special, and I have far more respect for that person then the greatest Christian who ever lived.

Here's another thing to think about. If you are not redeemed by Jesus, no matter how loving you are, you will rot in hell for all eternity with the worst of them. It's sad to think that Christianity is pretty clear on this matter. As for me, I continue to work at loving people because it makes sense, it's rational; it makes people feel special and reminds me how important life is. I don't do it because a book tells me I have to. If I don't love people, then I honestly don't love them. I treat them fair, but I don't pretend. I don't put on a smile and act like they are special. It seems to me that loving means being real and honest with people. I'd rather spend my energy really loving those in my family I care about and those who treat me with equality then falsely love everyone around me because some error laden book tells me that some guy, from two thousand years ago, who claimed to be God, commands me to love everyone.


Bill J.

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You make your own Christianity

A short clip by comedian Doug Stanhope. Some of the language may not be work friendly.

Thanks, xrayman!

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Carl Sagan's "Cosmos"

View Carl Sagan's incredible series Cosmos online. You'll need a DivX player and a high speed Internet connection. LINK

Wikipedia article about Cosmos: LINK

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What was I thinking?

By Dave, the WM

The longer I'm out of Christianity, the more difficult it becomes to comprehend how I could have ever accepted such a twisted view of reality -- one that promotes flying chariots; floating ax heads; talking bushes, snakes and donkeys; magic refilling urns; water walking; zombies; a worldwide flood; giants; raving, naked prophets; fire falling from heaven from time to time; cruel plagues; and life changing visions that resemble the descriptions of bad LSD trips.

This is the reality one must accept as a Christian: There is an invisible war going on between the sovereign ruler of the universe and one of His former minions. These "guys" are waging a battle over the eternal souls of the upright-walking, hairless monkeys living on tiny planet circling a particularly unimportant star on the outskirts of a small and ordinary galaxy. The prize? If the monkeys have the correct thoughts in their heads (Believe in Jesus, whatever that really means) at the time they expire, the Big Guy gets to populate his domain with them. If the bald simians don't have the correct thoughts in their heads (Don't believe in Jesus) at the moment they croak, it's everlasting barbecue time with minion boy. And if the game is all about who gets the most schmucks to move in, El Shaddai is in trouble.

What lunatic tendency in my head made this scenario appear sensible to me? There is nothing my five senses have experienced that indicates or that in any way suggests that such nonsense has even the slightest basis in reality. Yet, for some incomprehensible reason, I frittered away years and years studying this baloney in the company of drooling dimwits who, like me, were swallowing every incoherent ranting of some pulpited moron.

But that's not the worst of it. I also invested a fortune in time and resources convincing others that this veil of tears is only an illusion -- that reality is filled with magical ponderous beings brandishing swords, wings, and horns.

Of course I know part of the reason I was so sure of myself. Bible stories had been read to me since infancy. Although my parents weren't particularly religious, they didn't teach me the stories were just stories. Those tales were real history!

When I was a Christian, no matter how many times I re-read the bizarre stories, I never let it enter my mind that it was all myth -- all fabrications -– all retarded. I simply believed it was all true because "God said it, He can do anything, I believe it, and that settles it."

Yeah, making flying chariots and turning water to blood and stoking an eternal fire to torture billions of near-apes are such inspirational and inventive activities for the Sovereign Lord of All.

It's so completely obvious to me, now, that everything in the Bible -– everything -– is primitive philosophizing about life, all wrapped up in supernatural yarns and myth. Some stories were written to provide an explanation for what seemed incomprehensible mysteries. Some were written to teach children various practical moral lessons. Some were crafted by raving madmen. Some are pure political propaganda. Some of the stuff was just made up, the result of passionate, misdirected zeal.

I still own a few dozen English Bibles, from Tyndale's and the old Geneva, through a few editions of the KJV, to nearly every modern translation out there. Stacked up, one on another, the reach my nose. My basement walls are lined with commentary and the theological perusing of wordy authors from numerous backgrounds and perspectives. It gives me a headache to think how many convoluted ideas I crammed into my head -- how many synapses were lit up for nothing.

Am I the only one who looks in the mirror from time to time to say, "What were you thinking?" Am I the only one who wonders if the human capacity to tenaciously and devotedly embrace, believe, and even die for fantastic imaginary beings might indicate that all of us are potentially just a step or two away from straight jackets?

Am I the only one?

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Evolution doesn't have a chance

By Dave, the WM

The Christian arguments against evolutionary science habitually revolve around impressive sounding statistics that seem to indicate the extreme unlikeliness for life to have evolved. These stats are used as an apologetic against natural processes in favor of a hands-on, designing creator.

You know what? They are right! No, not about the creator, about the astronomical chances against me existing.

I've thought about this. My father and mother have been married just short of 50 years. They have slept in the same bed their entire married life. And they had a normal sex life. From what I understand, each time they slept together, millions of potential humans died. Only four out of all the hundreds of billions of potential human beings that left my father to find happiness in the womb of my mother survived the process. Only four out of billions. Remarkable. My embryonic genesis was marked by the tragic deaths of millions of competitors. Had the tail twitched just a tiny bit slower, some other crying infant would have been born to my parents, and I wouldn't be here today.

I was just a shot in the dark, but I beat the odds.

But wait, the deck was just as stacked against my parents, wasn't it? Yet, somehow they were born, whereas hundreds of billions of their competitors never made it either. Had either of my parents lost the game of "He who swims fastest gets more chromosomes," I wouldn't be here. So, the impossibly large odds against me existing just went up.

But wait again! What about my grandparents? And their parents? And theirs? And on and on...

Understanding how reproduction works -- that millions of potential individuals draw the straw during each act of copulation, but only one (usually) gets lucky -- makes the possibility of any of us being here seem extremely unlikely. Compounding the odds by adding in all the known preceding generations, well, the statistical chances of any of us existing is decreased to virtually nothing. In fact, it's impossible.

Yet, here we are.

Most people acknowledge that when it comes to making babies, it's a fairly random process. You don't know what kind of person a coupling will bring. Boy, girl, athlete, musician, smart, loving, kind, bully, sickly... no one can tell you a thing.

"Will he be pretty, will he be rich, please momma please tell me. Que Sera Sera..."

Life? It's random. It's chance. It's accident.

And the person that the two lovers make together will be only one (usually) out of millions who will never breathe air. Millions against one.

You might say that another person, against impossible odds, has won the lottery of life.

The only alternative for the Christian, in his or her railing against the evil wickedness of chance, is to say that God is directing every single spermatozoa into the exact right egg. And in that case, Monty Python's “Every Sperm is Sacred” is true and the Catholic Church is right to forbid men from putting those little rubber thingies on their willies.

So what is it? Is life random and accidental? Or does God surf our prostatic fluid? Are the odds against nature so high that there is no reasonable explanation for the existence and proliferation of life but belief in a magical, ultra-dimensional deity who "poofs" everything into existence?

I say that life is the chance result of an incomprehensibly large number of randomly combined accidents.

What do you think?

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Marcus Brigstocke on Religion

English comedian Marcus Brigstocke rants about religion.

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I Challenge Christians to Put Up or Shut Up...Literally!

By John W. Loftus

It's always man's fault, isn't it? It's never God's fault according to Christians, no matter what the problem is. They are letting God off the hook too easily here...way to easily. What would it take for Christians to say, "hey, this is probably God's fault in some way"? The fact is, God did not reveal himself clearly which has led to so much confusion among Christians even to the point of burning other Christian people alive (at least some, and probably many of the people burned at the stake during the Inquisition would be admitted into today's fundamentalist churches). There have been wars between Christians too. Christians killing other Christians due to a disagreement over little things by today's standards by far, leaving many widows without a husband and many children without a father.

What would it take Christian, for you to consider what I consider obvious? Name it, or drop this defense of your God.

Furthermore, why God did not say this: "Thou shalt not buy, own, sell, or trade slaves," and say it so often that Christians would've gotten the point and be appalled if any other professing Christian decided to own a slave in the American South, much less make it allowable under law. Some of these slaves became Christians and their Christian masters still beat them and whipped them and raped their wives and daughters.

God is at least partially to fault! I have argued this many times before. Christians are simply not being reasonable about this because of blind faith...that's right...blind faith.

But here's the rub. If God is even partially to fault, then this destroys the orthodox Christian faith in a perfectly good God who is believed to be completely pure and faultless. So Christians continue spouting off proof texts mindlessly in support of their blind faith.

Sorry to be so harsh, but Christians are clearly and plainly denying what is obvious...obvious. Which can only mean they are blinded by their faith just as much as sincere Muslims who become suicide bombers in hopes for 70 virgins when they die (THEY REALLY BELIEVE THIS, AND YOU COULD NOT CONVINCE THEM OTHERWISE!). The one differene in today's world (for the time being) is that the Christian blindness (for the most part) doesn't cause this much mayhem. But both are blind.

What provoked this outrage from me is when a Christian described, as I've heard so many times before, "a wide range of so-called Christian church fellowships..."

What do Christians mean by describing other evangelical Christian fellowships as "so-called" ones (I presume that's the only fellowship he would be a part of, and if I'm wrong, this takes nothing away from my upcoming challenge)? My challenge is this: Tell me what they believed or how they acted and I will show you how easliy God could have straightened them out. Barring God doing that, I can probably show you how you either believe or act the same way, or that what you believe or how you behave is at least as different as them.

I think I can show you how easily God could've done differently by clearly communicating to them. Easily. Try me. It's PARTIALLY God's fault Christians don't know what the truth is or how they should act.

Give us here a try. Put up or shut up. I claim it's partially God's fault, and if that's the case your orthodox faith crumbles to the ground.

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