A New Giving Hub for Nonbelievers

by Valerie Tarico

Are you an atheist, agnostic, humanist, freethinker or some such who cringes at the thought of people being given the Four Spiritual Laws along with disaster relief? Do you think that promoting “eternal salvation” to five year olds is exploitative? Do you hate it that poor parents send their kids to Muslim or Christian madrassas because that’s the only way they can get them pencils and paper? Does it irritate you when fancy creationist museums are better funded than real natural history museums?

A new website with a January 1 launch date, may be just your thing.

Religious people tend to put their money where their mouths are—more-so, it would appear, than the rest of us, and evangelical fundamentalists even more so than open inquiring people of faith. Yes, I understand the cult recruiting aspect of the whole thing, but the bottom line is that they get things done. In order to advance their tribal truth claims, Pentecostals, Evangelicals, and other fundamentalists ante up for food and doctors and schools and cool animatronic dinosaurs. They also sign up as docents and tutors and camp counselors—and they teach their kids to do the same. Having a community where you think and talk together about what matters--matters.

At least that is the hope of Dale McGowan, author of Parenting Beyond Belief, and as of the New Year, the Executive Director of a giving hub for freethinkers: Foundation Beyond Belief. In religious settings people take the time to focus on how they want to change the world. They may not use the words, “Be the Change,” but they encourage each other to do just that. Smart mega-churches offer up a whole menu of volunteer opportunities. Leaders tell followers what needs doing, but they let each member think about what role best fits his or her passion and abilities. They also make it known, front and center, that lots of good things can’t happen without money.

Do you think that promoting “eternal salvation” to five year olds is exploitative? McGowan hopes to do the same thing for people who don’t go to church every Sunday.

He has assembled a board of freethought leaders who are convinced that those of us who have moved beyond belief have something important to give to the world. The team includes ethicist Wayne Huey, Ethical Society leader Trish Cowen, Hemant Mehta of the Friendly Atheist, and Kate Miller, founder of Charlie’s Playhouse. They think that without the promise of “pie in the sky when we die” it’s all the more important to do good for goodness sake—and add compassion and beauty to our monthly budget. As McGowan puts it, “There’s no better fit for philanthropy than a secular worldview. If there’s no god to make the world a better place, it’s up to us. That’s what the Foundation is all about. And we can do it without evangelism and church maintenance taking a bite out of every dollar."

You join the Foundation Beyond Belief by signing up for a monthly automatic donation, and then creating a profile saying how you would like your money divided among their ten focus areas: environment, education, health, human rights, peace, poverty, children, animals, “big bang” (small charity, big impact)—and the operations of the foundation itself. For those of us who are living pool-ball lives, bouncing from thing to thing, one of the great things about the Foundation Beyond Belief model is that their team does research for you, evaluating the impact and efficiency of the organizations that are featured each quarter.

Equally important, Foundation Beyond Belief provides confidence that your dollars aren’t pushing religious indoctrination along with social services. Before solstice, my friend Darcy asked in a tone of desperation, “Do you know anything about Mercy Corps? I want to give a gift sponsorship, but it’s so hard for me to figure out which of these charities are really trying to convert people.” Another non-religious friend sponsored a child through evangelistic aid organization World Vision, not knowing that their mission and hers didn’t align. On the surface well-run religious charities provide excellent services to desperately poor people in disaster zones or here at home. But buried in the honey of generosity may be a capsule full of exclusive truth claims that can bind aid recipients to ignorance, tribalism, and further desperation.

We see this in Muslim charities that provide food and medical assistance in Pakistan and Palestine, stepping in to do what government does not, while simultaneously building loyalty to radical Islam. We see it also in Africa, where Pentecostal missionary activities have revived local fears of witchcraft causing thousands of children to be abandoned, tortured, or even killed. But even under better conditions, the mix of harm and good can be quite complicated. Mother Teresa is a great example: in hindsight it seems likely that her lifetime of loving labor among Calcutta’s poor caused more suffering than it alleviated, simply because she promoted antiquated dogmas about birth control and about pain itself.

I myself am convinced that much of the harm done in this world is done by decent people seeking to do good. When we go to the movies, almost all of us identify with the good guys. But if you want to actually do good in the world and avoid harm, it isn’t enough to be well intentioned; you also have to be right about the real world contingencies that govern people’s lives. And your best shot at that is to call upon reason and evidence, do your research and—here is where religion often trips up--ask the questions that could show you wrong.

For nontheists who want to make the world better, asking those questions is getting a little easier. In April I wrote: “Maybe, now that freethinkers are coming out of the closet it is time for us to begin thinking about how to create our own communities and structures that empower personal generosity. Since we don't have a sales mandate or a promise of treasure laid up in Heaven, we -- unlike many Christians -- are free to give without expecting something back except maybe a bit of good will.” Somebody must have heard me.

P.S. There is a third piece to the equation about good intentions and being right. It isn’t enough to be well intentioned and right if you don’t do anything about it. I plan to sign up tomorrow to be in that first wave of $20/month members –a wave that hopefully will be big enough to send a powerful message to those madrassas and missionaries: We don’t need religion to bring about a better world to come. We’ve got what we need in each other.

There's no such thing as a former Christian?

by  Charity of Shatter Nicely

ShatteredImage by Cayusa via Flickr
I came across an article, post, whatever, the other day titled, There’s No Such Thing as a Former Christian, by someone named Charles Smith.

Hmm, I thought, that sounds interesting.  And by interesting, I mean, wrongI am a former Christian, am I not?

Needless to say, upon reading the piece, I determined that it needed a good fisking.
If you scour the world-wild-web for any amount of time using atheism as your search term, you will undoubtedly find pages and pages of sites laced with the famous proclamation, “I used to be a Christian.” While this may be intriguing to the seeker, desiring a glimpse at the testimony of a formerly professing believer turned cynic in hopes of discovering reasons to remain religiously repulsed by Christendom, or possibly the opposite – looking to see if their retroversion experience is sensible – one thing is certain…there’s no such thing as a former Christian.

Except for me, and all of those other people who used to be Christians, but are not Christians anymore.
Nowadays, it is in fact chic to listen to Christian-pop music, adorned with cross jewelry, WWJD arm-bands, Messianic message clothing, and attend Gospel rock concerts or church and say, “I am a Christian.”

Yes, yes, especially here in Vermont – the least religious state in the country.  Unless by “chic” you mean “totally looked down upon and ridiculed,” you are beyond wrong on this point.  Dude, the whole world ain’t Texas.  In some places, namely this place, it is the complete opposite of chic to do any of those things.
You may even think that just because you come from a lengthy lineage of liturgy lovers or a millennia of mass members you are a Christian – simply because you, your parents and your progeny participate in these religious rites. Unfortunately, none of this legalistic religiosity makes you a disciple of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
So, is it your annoying affection for alliteration that makes you the sole arbiter of what makes one a “disciple of the Lord, Jesus Christ,” or is that just one of your spiritual gifts?

For the record, mom: not Christian, dad: not Christian, step-dad: not Christian, siblings: not Christians, spouse: not Christian, until I was.  Not to undermine your stereotypes or anything.

For this reason, many youths that practice such pious performances growing up – become too intelligent to be fooled into following such archaic anthropopathy once the public school system serves up the contagious charismatic Kool-Aid of communistic clairvoyance – the evangelical evolutionist educational experience.

Again with the alliteration.  Just a tip, from one writer to another (and I use that term loosely), really that tool ought only be used with extreme moderation.
I must repeat: not raised Christian.  Never set foot in a church until I was in college.  Didn’t accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior until years after my evolutionist educational experience and Kool-Aid, etc.
After “leaving the faith,” these misguided, false-converts then find their voices in the blogosphere, social sites, chat rooms, discussion boards and every other form of digital media outlet known to man – exhaustively expatriating as many “cardboard Christians” as they can sink their flaw-full claws into.

If I didn’t “leave the faith” I’m not sure what I did leave, but whatever.  I actually had a voice on the blogosphere before I “left the faith,” where I actually argued against atheists and testified to my “god experiences” and how awesome my “relationship” with “Jesus” was.  (I can use scare quotes, too.)  At this point, I am not trying to expatriate anyone, but if I keep reading stuff like this, I just might have to start.
Ironically, if they would spend as much time truly investigating and begging with a contrite heart, “God, please show yourself to me!” they would discover that He is absolutely faithful to do so – and the door the Lord has once opened, can be closed by no man.

I did ask god to show himself to me.  For years, I experienced what I thought was god showing himself to me.  And yet, ironically, rational thought somehow got a hold of me again.  The door that was once opened did indeed close.
These poor misinformed “ex-Christians” were never truly reborn of the Holy Spirit of God. They followed the crowd in church, were dunked under water, consumed crackers and gulped grape juice, sang songs, talked the talk, looked the part, memorized verses and so many other religious acts, but never came to a saving faith found in a relationship with the only begotten Son of God.

Well, I am poor, after giving everything to “god” for five years, so I’ll grant you that descriptive term, and I was misinformed, too.  I was misinformed that the Bible is true.  I was misinformed that there was a “living god” who I could have a “personal relationship” with.

You’re right about one thing, though, I was never truly reborn of the Holy Spirit of God, even though I thought I was, because there is no Holy Spirit of God!
[Honestly, I cannot bring myself to deal with the rest of the paragraph.]
Let the reader understand, just as you can’t become unborn once you have evacuated the womb, you also cannot become un-born-again. It is impossible to un-ring a bell, un-cook an egg or un-kill the living. If you are a spiritual seeker, please know that there is no such thing as an ex-Christian and if you want the truth, please look in a good Bible teaching church for assistance. If after reading this you still claim to be a “former believer,” you just do not understand. And if you are a disciple and lover of the risen Christ, pray for them both. We live in an excruciatingly evil generation and the Lord will tarry for only so long.

If you are a spiritual seeker, I will not try to stop you from finding your own path.  I do not regret the time I spent as a Christian, as there are a lot of things I take away that are good, just as there are in any philosophy or religion.  But, there are also a lot of bad things that caused me a lot of psychological harm and unnecessary suffering.

Then, there are the “well-meaning” Christians, such as Mr. Smith here, who will tell you that you never were a Real Christian™ no matter what you experienced, no matter what you did, no matter what you gave, no matter how much you loved Jesus with all of your heart, mind, and soul, and no matter how real your experience was.

Of all the reactions people have had to my coming out as an atheist, the one that pisses me off to no end is this whole notion that I wasn’t a real Christian.

If I wasn’t a real Christian, then I am thoroughly convinced that there is no such thing.

But I get it.  If someone can have an authentic experience with God and still arrive at the conclusion that it was all in her head, that threatens your belief.  I do get that.  It’s too scary for you to entertain the possibility that your god isn’t real.  I get that, too.  So, it is natural for you to conclude that I must not have experienced god in the way you have and leave it at that, rather than accept that maybe there is such a thing as a former Christian after all.

That’s much easier to swallow, no?  It doesn’t threaten your world view.

Look at it from my point-of-view, though.  I did have what seemed at the time to be authentic experiences with god. Realizing that was all in my head was very hard on me.  I mourned the loss of that god I thought I knew.  I continue to mourn the loss of the friends I thought I knew, too.  I lost my community.  I lost my identity.  I lost everything I knew about life.  I have had to start all over and figure out who I am, if I am not the child of god I thought I was.

It’s been hard.  Very hard.  And here you come along and tell me that the problem is that I didn’t do it right.  I didn’t really experience god.  I wasn’t a real Christian.

It kind of makes me want to punch you.  And by kind of, I mean really.
I loved God.  I knew God.  I heard God.
He changed me from the inside.
He comforted me, gave me strength, forgave my sins, brought me peace.
He provided me with blessings.  He offered me solutions.
He told me to stop blogging.  I bet some of you remember that.
He told me and my husband to give away our fully-paid-for minivan with 45,000 miles on it, leaving me home with three kids and no car for a freaking year.

And by “he told me,” I do not mean “I felt like I had to because someone told me.”  I mean, during hours of prayer and alone time with my main man JC, He put it on my heart to do those things.  (I know, hits close to home, huh?  I sound a bit too much like a Real Christian™ with all this talk of alone time and prayer and God putting things on my heart.)

Ironically, since we all love irony here, it’s people like you, Mr. Smith, and all the other Real Christians™ that pushed me from waffling agnostic to full-blown atheist.  If I was not a real Christian, with all of my experiences with god, then it really was all in my head.  Ergo, I have no reason to believe your experiences are not in your head.  And all of that leaves little reason to believe that any of it is real.

Don't Use Your Head!

by WizenedSage

Headless SaintImage by Jason McKim's Old Account via Flickr

This is a gentle reminder for those Christians who may have happened upon this heathen web site by accident or out of curiosity. My message is simple, don’t use your head if you want to keep your faith. Whatever you do, don’t let these people make you think about it. As you and I know, salvation can only be yours through Christ, and the Bible is very clear on this.

Remember: “By grace are you saved, through faith" (Eph. 2:8).

When asked, "What must I do to be saved?" the apostles answered, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31).

"Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom. 10:13).

The Bible, in its wisdom, tells us exactly what to think, and then instructs us very clearly not to use our heads on such matters. As Proverbs 3:5 says, "Lean not on your own understanding.” True, the claim that Jesus was dead for two or three days and then just stood up and walked away can be hard to accept sometimes, but you can’t let that interfere with your faith. Clearly, faith is all about how much of the improbable you can swallow. You mustn’t ever let thinking lead you astray. As John says (20:29), “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Don’t use your head if you want to keep your faith. When your faith becomes a struggle, remember the inspiring and instructive words of the White Queen in “Through the Looking Glass.” When the Queen and Alice talk about belief, Alice says she can’t believe in impossible things. The wise Queen replies,

“I dare say you haven’t had much practice. When I was your age,I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Your faith brings you many gifts of the spirit and great powers. Remember that Jesus says that if you have faith and do not doubt, then you can command the mountain to throw itself into the sea and it will be done. You don’t want to lose that power, do you - by questioning your faith?

Yes, of course the Resurrection is difficult to believe in if you really think about it. One might argue that the magicians’ trick of sawing the woman in half right before your eyes and Jesus’ trick of waking from the dead seem pretty similar. And, true, people sometimes see things that aren’t there, or don’t see things that are there. After all, in all the experience of our entire lives, truly dead people stay dead. But as the Bible says, “Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?” Actually, that was Groucho Marx, but the Bible clearly implies the same message… if we will but listen.

And besides, didn’t Paul write that 500 people saw the resurrected Jesus with their own eyes? Now you don’t really need to think about the fact that this was just this one man’s claim and therefore doesn’t really have the strength of 500 eye witnesses. And the fact that none of the 500 ever wrote about it can be simply explained by the fact that most people were illiterate in those days.

When these questions about the Resurrection and such become troubling, you can always tell yourself that the Lord works in mysterious ways. Think about it; if god created human intelligence but doesn’t want us to use it to confirm his existence, then that is mysterious isn’t it? Case closed!

When I was a child, my mother was forever telling me, “Use your head for something besides a hat rack!” While her simple homilies always struck me as uncommonly wise and practical, despite her lack of education, I eventually had to face up to the fact that mother was never ordained.

Your faith is the most precious thing you have, isn’t it? It certainly is more valuable than evidence, or knowledge, or truth, right? And if people hassle you about this, then you can just say to them, “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind’s made up.” Don’t let them shake your faith. You must always remember the clear message of the Bible that faith comes first, last, and always, and the way of faith is simple; DON’T USE YOUR HEAD!

Deceitful Doctrines and Hidden Truth

by exfundy

If you have read any of my past posts you know that one of my biggest grievances against my former religion is that it intentionally squashed my natural curiosity. A Christian needed only blind allegiance to their pastor, church, and denomination.

The day finally came that I had taken as much of Fundyland as I could possibly take. I could no longer suppress the questions. I had to start asking them. At that point the first question seemed to be obvious: "Why the hell have I never been allowed to ask the tough questions?" Even though no one was around to hear me the question made me nervous. For one thing I was going against everything I had ever been taught. For another I might have pissed god off by saying hell in a way that I had always been told was inappropriate. Nervous or not though I had just let the genie out of the bottle and there was no way I was going to turn around.

At this early stage I wasn't even close to questioning Christianity itself. I started with the core beliefs of my church and denomination. What was so important about our core dogma and doctrines? These doctrines were what we believed separated us from other Christians. To be a member of our church you had to believe them or at least claim to do so. It was these very beliefs that we felt made us more right than other Christians. It seemed like a good a place as any to begin.

I remembered seeing a booklet around the church at times that went into detail about all these doctrines. So I asked my pastor if we had any around. He was all too happy to run to his office and come back with just the booklet I was looking for. It had scriptures and explanations to support each of these fundamental truths as we called them. Had he known what would happen when I read that booklet, he probably would have gone to great lengths to hide every copy of it he could find.

I decided I would do my very best to study as impartially as I possibly could. I questioned everything as I read it. There was one particular doctrine which had really caused me problems all these years. Anyone that has spent much time in an Assembly of God church will be familiar with it. I'm not going for a word for word quotation here. The particular doctrine I am speaking of basically says that "speaking in tongues is the evidence of being filled with the spirit." According to AoG beliefs the two go hand in hand. If you do not speak in tongues then you are not filled with the spirit.

There were two reasons I wanted to start with this one. One reason was several really good people had left my church over the years because they were overlooked for positions in the church based on the simple fact that they did not speak in tongues. The second and perhaps more important reason was that I had never done it. Despite a strong desire to do so. Despite believing that god wanted me to speak in tongues it never happened. For those of you not familiar with AoG churches, not speaking in tongues puts you on a lower spiritual tier than those that do. They will deny this, but it's merely doublespeak. Because right after denying it they will turn around and talk about the added spiritual power and benefits it gives them.

Anyway, back to my analysis of this all important AoG doctrine. I found phrases like:

  • We can assume that . . .

  • It would hardly be surprising if . . .

Phrases very similar to this were found several times just in the explanation of this one belief. I couldn't understand how I had read all this before and these phrases didn't cause me to pause for even a fraction of a second. This time they were jumping off the page at me.

"We can assume that."

Imagine my surprise when I found that evolution is based on evidence far more solid than the religion I grew up in. Are you kidding me? They can assume all they want. I wonder if it is just coincidence that the assumption they made supports their pet doctrine. This assumption is simply a underhanded way of saying "We have no proof so we are going to twist it in such a way that it means what we want it to mean". The phrase "It would hardly be surprising if" is even worse. What would really be surprising is if they admitted that the verses they are talking about don't actually support their 'truth'.

I want to elaborate on that 'assume' phrase a little. Because the assumption made is a real doozy. It seems there are a few times "Speaking in tongues" is mentioned in the New Testament and a few times that being "Filled with the Spirit" is mentioned. However there are only a couple of instances in which they are mentioned happening at the same time. That does not deter the AoG though. The mere fact that they happened together twice means they can automatically assume that they happen together every time.

I wish it really did work that way. I have really been pushed for time trying to make it to work the last two days. I have driven too fast both days in an attempt to not be late. I never saw a single police car either day while speeding. So, based on AoG logic I will never see a cop while speeding. After all it happened twice. That's enough to make it a unquestionable fact.

These assumptions all stack one on another. They make one assumption and then make another based on the previous and so on. The amazing thing is that in fundyland it was for that very reason that evolution could not be believed. They claimed it was based on several layers of unproven theories. Imagine my surprise when I found that evolution is based on evidence far more solid than the religion I grew up in.

These are not the only examples of the intellectually dishonest mental gymnastics required to this single AoG fundamental truth. There were many more in this single 'truth' alone. Yet, you had to be willing to follow along this insane path to be a card carrying member of the denomination. No wonder it's called faith. It has to be. Because the slightest bit of reason or logic makes it fall apart. Needless to say I now realize why I was discouraged from questioning. I know why I was discouraged from truly having a mind of my own. Those who were 'in authority' over me knew that the dogma they expected me to live by would never stand up to an open mind and real questions. They knew logic would reveal it all to be a house of cards. They knew when I understood the truth they would lose their control over me.

I fought for months to try and maintain a belief in Christianity. It was all I ever knew. I didn't want to give it up. But the questions wouldn't stop. Every answer only brought more questions. Eventually I had to give in and admit that Christianity itself is built on just as tenuous a foundation as my former denomination. When the final piece of Christianity crumbled behind me there was a nervous anxiety and happiness. I was nervous to be walking into unknown territory. At the same time I was happy to see the path ahead of me contained the freedom I had been searching for all my life. It was the freedom that my religion had both promised to me and hidden from me for far too long.

Religion Has No Reality Check

by WizenedSage

On December 26, thousands gathered on Asian beaches and in mosques to pray, marking the fifth anniversary of the Asian tsunami which killed 230,000 people. Will it do any good? No one can say for certain and that is the frightening thing about religion that few believers care to think about.

I distrust religion because of one very important and inarguable fact; there is no reality check. This is in part because it is uniquely armored against criticism. If one suggests that a genuine, compassionate god wouldn’t allow the destruction of 230,000 innocent men, women, and children on Asian beaches, the believer answers that god works in mysterious ways, or that we shouldn’t expect to understand the mind of god, etc. To these believers, god doesn’t have to be logical and thus no evidence is accepted against their god hypothesis.

The unique danger of religion is that it ultimately depends “…on belief in invisible beings, inaudible voices, intangible entities, undetectable forces, and events and judgments that happen after we die.” The unique danger of religion is that it ultimately depends “…on belief in invisible beings, inaudible voices, intangible entities, undetectable forces, and events and judgments that happen after we die.”* Religion depends on a supernatural realm which none of man’s instruments can detect or measure. As a result, there is no reality check and the “god experts” are insulated from testing. As Proverbs 3:5 says, "Lean not on your own understanding.” And John 20:29 says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” Unlike any other area of life, religion teaches that believing without evidence is a virtue, ultimately walling itself off from all appeals to reason.

Communism collapsed in Europe because it failed to deliver on its promises. It failed the reality check. The efficacy of exorcism to cure mental illness failed the reality check. In America, we no longer consult with witch doctors because their “cures” failed the reality check. Over and over, the reality check has delivered us from evil. But there is no reality check for religion. It is an often overlooked fact that “…every single claim made by religion, every single claim, comes from people; not from sources out in the world that other people can verify, but from the insides of people's heads.”*

And religion is armored against criticism in another way; it demands and gets special treatment. If I question religion, I am told that I should respect people’s beliefs, that their religion brings them comfort and I shouldn’t interfere with their comfort. But religion is responsible for an enormous amount of harm in this world too, and this needs to be recognized, talked about, and remembered by all of us. It’s important. Why did the clergy child rape scandal take so long to be uncovered? Could it be because the clergy were assumed to be more moral than the rest of us, perhaps above reproach and beyond suspicion? There is little doubt that special treatment of religion and religious leaders enabled the abuse long after it would have been exposed in any other arena.

Because there is no reality check, Osama bin Laden could convince intelligent young men that Allah would grant them 42 virgins in the afterlife, if they would crash airplanes into tall buildings; the Pope can convince millions of Africans that god hates condoms, and the AIDS epidemic flourishes; religious leaders can convince people that god disapproves of homosexuality, so gay marriage must be condemned; and some believers can be convinced that prayer cures better than penicillin or insulin. Why do people continue to buy into such nonsense? It is because religion is uniquely armored against testing and self-correction. In short, there is no reality check.

One proposed exception from this rule is prayer, which has been tested. It should be instructive that whenever the efficacy of prayer has been examined under controlled conditions, via carefully designed double-blind experiments, it has failed (see http://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp?viewplink&idy12). But, believers generally respond that the results are simply explained by the fact that god refuses to be tested. So, again, there’s no reality check acceptable to believers.

This is why we should all be extremely wary of religion. Any nonsense, any abuse, any immorality becomes possible without any reality check. If the Imam says it is righteous that a young girl’s genitals should be cut (clitoridectomy), how do we test this assertion? If a televangelist says that the money you send him will be seen by god as a seed which will grow into prosperity for you, why does he never show you any data? You see, the way this works, if Bernie Madoff had been promising a reward in the next life instead of this one, his scam might have lasted for two thousand years, maybe more.

* Quoted material is from Greta Christina’s Alternet blog.

Mr. Deity and the Magic, Part Deux

Mr. Deity thinks he's finally proved the existence of other magical beings.

If You Want to Enjoy Christmas, Avoid the Toxic Christian “Message”

by Marlene Winell

The full-blown fundamentalist version of the “Christmas story” is truly pernicious. In the last couple years, I’ve thought about the imagery of Christmas (the child archetype) and the traditions we all enjoy which can be separate from Christianity (See previous articles). This year, I read a piece by Billy Graham called “You can know the Christ of Christmas,” and was reminded of all that is wrong with this religion, and how it can taint so much about life. I felt so sad reading this because as a humanist, it seems so wrong to denigrate who we are as human beings.

His article was all about how hopeless the world is and how helpless and sinful we are. According to him, the Christ child is great news because of the dark horrible world that needs saving. He says repeatedly that all our human efforts will fail miserably because we must have help from outside ourselves.

Graham writes, “Christmas emphasizes the glorious truth that salvation is provided apart from us, that into this sin-cursed world came One whose supreme mission is to save sinners...

“The evils that curse the world are the consequences of hearts deceived by the devil and separated from God. Thousands of human schemes for social and political improvement will ultimately fail because they do not deal with a person's basic disease.

“Many have preached about the Sermon on the Mount as though that in itself is a sufficient dynamic to bring in a new world order of peace and goodwill among men. All the religions of the world say, "Do good; do good," but they do not give us the power to do good. One of the failures of many church leaders is their refusal to believe that our deepest problem is sin.

“Without God we cannot put the world right, because we cannot put ourselves right. It is beyond us to put away the sin in our own hearts. We cannot save ourselves, let alone the whole world.”
I much prefer to be positive about who I am and have faith in all of us to work together to make the world a better place, here and now.
If that weren’t enough, Graham goes on to say how exclusive the good news of Christmas is: “This hope that was given to those shepherds on that first Christmas morning is available only to those who believe.”

Have you ever noticed all the Christmas hymns that are about a Savior born to all mankind, i.e., to save the world? “Unto us a son is given,” etc. We are all supposed to rejoice because the Savior has arrived. But it’s quite a hoax when you think about the rest of the Christian deal, according to the fundamentalist view. First of all, salvation depends not on God’s “free” gift, but on your individual acceptance of it. This involves admitting your depravity and being sorry; otherwise it won’t work.

In Graham’s words, “This Christmas, many people believe that Jesus is the Son of God, without any change happening in their lives. They have never repented [...] Many people ask, ‘Why doesn't this revolution happen to more people?’ It is because millions of professing Christians are strangers to the genuine, saving faith that means coming to the end of ourselves, to the end of our self-reliance and self-righteousness, and then trusting absolutely in Christ for forgiveness and for moral and spiritual renewal.” (A weird side note here: The ministers and U.S. Congress members who had the recent “praycast” in Washington against health reform went on in their prayers with the words, “we are at the end of ourselves.”)

Secondly, the world doesn’t seem to be saved either! By the looks of things, “mankind” is worse off than ever, since that momentous night in Bethlehem. According to Graham, this too is our fault: “The world's primary need today is the Savior, salvation from sin. Failure to recognize this fact and receive God's remedy for sin is the reason why mankind has failed to prevent recurring wars and revolutions in the world.”

Yet the fantasy lives, despite any evidence, personally or globally. Graham says, “The Christmas angels praised God and proclaimed peace on earth. It was by and through Jesus Christ that peace was to come to the earth.” Notice the language, “was to come.” Until we screwed it up, I guess.

Yet, according to Graham, “Christ is God's great Christmas Gift to the world: ‘Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!’ (2 Corinthians 9:15, NIV).”

Now the Billy Graham Evangelical Organization is making its focus the Second Coming of Christ. Jesus coming as a baby didn’t really work so this time God must be serious. Graham issues dire threats in another article as well as telling believers not to be terrified.

He writes: “Today the only bright spot on the horizon of this world is the promise of the coming again of Christ, the Messiah. We can’t go on much longer morally. We can’t go on much longer scientifically. The technology that was supposed to save us is ready to destroy us. New weapons are being made all the time, including chemical and biological weapons.

“In Isaiah 66 we read that ‘the Lord will come with fire and with His chariots, like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury’ (Isaiah 66:15).

“It has been 2,000 years since then. Why hasn’t He come? . . .The disciples asked the same thing, and Jesus said, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority (Acts 1:7). Don’t guess or speculate. We don’t know. It may be a thousand years from now, or it may be tomorrow. Regardless, the end of the world is coming for you the moment you die, and that could be at any time for any of us. We never know. What have you done to prepare for that moment when your heart stops beating?”

In my opinion, this is an amazing combination of beliefs – severe hopelessness about self and humanity paired with enormous hope for miraculous salvation, and complete responsibility for choosing correctly while having no ability or choice about accomplishing anything else.

I much prefer to be positive about who I am and have faith in all of us to work together to make the world a better place, here and now. Otherwise, we could be waiting a long time. Instead of being born again, let’s grow up and let go of hoping to be rescued. In helping people recover from toxic religion, I've found that the core aspect of healing is to recover self-trust.

When my son was little, I was explaining some Christian beliefs to him, including the notion of miracles. He said, “Well, I don’t know about that, but I would consider a miracle to be if a bunch of neighbors would get together and make a playground for the poor children.” I was pretty stunned but so pleased for this example of “out of the mouths of babes.” I still think we have a lot to learn from babies and children, and I’ll hold onto that part of Christmas.

What Would Jesus NOT Do?

by NonStampCollector

We always hear about the many amazing things that Jesus of Nazareth apparently did, but nobody ever asks about the things that Jesus supposedly COULD have done, being omnipotent, but either didn't bother to do or didn't think were all that important. You know, things like... reducing human misery and suffering... that kind of thing.

It occurs to me that if indeed the miracles recorded in the bible were in fact true, and really did happen... then that only shows Yahweh/Jesus to be an even MORE malevolent and cruel being than we see in the old testament, and that's saying something. If the miracles somehow prove that Jesus WAS in fact a god in human form, but all he could be bothered to do was turn water into wine and heal only a few hundred, or even a few thousand people with his magic saliva, then really - what is the use or good of such a god? Think of what a visiting, omnipotent deity COULD have done - but in this case, apparently, chose not to!!!!!

And this is meant to be that god's main advertisement of its existence! Walking on water in front of a few of his mates, for the benefit of billions and billions of people who, if they don't believe in his divinity and surrender control of their souls to him, will be sent to burn in agony for eternity.



by Carl S

Gideon is a judge appearing in the Book of Jud...Image via Wikipedia

What are the universal criteria for judging the judges? We could probably all agree the criteria should include fairness, impartiality, knowledge, experience, and an insistence on weighing all of the evidence on both sides in all disputes and claims. In short, we should demand a dedication to, respect for, and a rigid pursuit of the truth. In addition, the judge should, under mitigating circumstances, administer justice with mercy.

With these simple criteria, we can ourselves judge whether the judge is honest or corrupt. Let us apply these criteria to the clergy, who claim to be seekers not only for truth, but actually possessors of it, to determine whether they fit into the column of honest or corrupt.

It is no wonder then that there is so much trouble in this world since the clergy are so accustomed to being the kangaroo courts of societies and continue to insist on and get privileged status.The clergy not only ignore, but withhold and even suppress, those passages of their scriptures (evidence) which contradict each other. They do not tell “all the truth, and nothing but the truth.” They only allow certain, often dubious, “truths” to be known, and instead of saying for instance, “attributed to Jesus, or Mohamed, or Moses”, they state these sayings as actual quotes. Nor will they tell their congregants that no one knows who wrote those passages that they base their judgments on. No voices are permitted to be heard save those which agree with their own. There is no debate in the church.

Clergy will not generally criticize the unlawful or immoral behavior of other clergy members, or their over-zealotry. To the contrary, they protect them. And crony-ism is rampant among them. Religion covers a multitude of sins, and the ”credentials” they lay claim to are conferred by those who are just like them! In a comparison of judges and clergy, one could say that clergy are akin to corrupt judges, with indifference to truth, evidence, or honest witnesses.

What impact does it have on personal moral decisions and society when judgments of these clergy are honored unchallenged? For one thing, it means that the clergy’s indifference to the use of evidence to verify truth becomes widely accepted practice. And because this dishonesty and indifference is so insidious and accepted, it spreads like a virus into the body of civil and social judgments and thinking, corrupting moral behavior and impeding that dialog which leads to human rights and justice for all. The tacit respect for the clergy, with their cover—ups, contempt for evidence, and their essential indifference to real truth, is fed by the indifference of their faithful.

It is no wonder then that there is so much trouble in this world since the clergy are so accustomed to being the kangaroo courts of societies and continue to insist on and get privileged status. TAKE A REAL GOOD LOOK at them.

Thank you Bart Ehrman, Judge “If it doesn’t make sense…” Judy, Dan Barker, Richard Dawkins, and all who pursue and respect truth and justice through actual evidence. Why should the world shrink to accommodate religion?

A Challenge To A Ghost

The God of Summer Skies -- Rorschach Test VersionImage by onkel_wart via Flickr
by Michael

I opened the mind I have today
And I stopped Praying when I saw it was just the same
It got me thinking what is up above
Its your God and its not the God of mine
The Problem of Suffering, yeah
The Problem of Competence
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind
Yet the brain is of the devil,
and its requests denied
Its need for nourishment is not from communion
But from the words of Jefferson, Spinoza, and not men of faith
This is a cry to all
Think about the harm
The young ones trapped in chains
Walking on eggshells
Poisoning the Brain
All you need is faith but is not true that what you can't know can harm you
Faith the chain of the mind
The shunt to progress
The poor give hardily
The Rich Prosper
Churches grow grander
The Poor grow hungrier
All to waste to the eyes of God
You should be ashamed
Your Flock is crooked
I believe I heard a promise
To prevent that
Do you care to cash in on it
Or do you exist at all
People please decide
Unless you are as corrupt as you seem

Mary did you know...

by Summerbreeze

Mary Did You KnowImage by Kurt Magoon via Flickr
This morning, I, a non-believer for some time now, had an unusual reaction to a very religious Christmas song.

I was driving alone in a light snowfall, on my way to a neighboring town. The Pine trees were so pretty and sparkly with the fresh snow on their boughs.

I was listening to a radio station with non-stop Christmas music, which alternated between religious carols and non-religious Christmas songs.
Listening to Gene Autry's "Rudolf the Red nosed Reindeer" and Burl Ives' "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas" got me thinking about Christmas's past when my kids were small and believed in Santa...it was a happy/ sad reflection.

Then "Mary did you know" sung by Kenny Rogers came on. It's a lovely song, the music is haunting and moving. ( but improbable lyrics ). As I was listening to it, towards the end of the song, I suddenly felt an actual shudder go throughout my body, and the hairs on my neck and on my arms stood up. I wasn't cold. I felt an actual rush of emotion, a sort of "thrill" that truthfully I can't describe.

As I drove along, I began to feel guilty for having such strong feelings during a religious song!

The more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that I was mourning the loss of the emotions that I'd felt long long ago, when I felt that Jesus knew me personally and truly cared about me.

The Jesus story is so seductive, especially at Christmastime, because each and every one of us wants to be loved, to be appreciated, and to have a "Father/Brother/Friend" to lean on and to count on in our times of trouble. It's hard to let that go.

My mourning was thankfully short-lived, then the very rational side of my brain overtook the wishful-thinking side of my brain. Reason wins out.

It would be so wonderful if the lyrics in that song were true, where Mary's baby would heal the lame, give hearing to the deaf and sight to the blind. But I have not seen any of these things happen through the goodness of "Jesus", only through the determination, knowledge and kindness of Man.

Wouldn't it be nice if Kenny Rogers could come up with a beautiful Christmas song about real people who give of themselves unselfishly, in so many different ways, not because of a heavenly reward, but because of the reward one feels in their hearts.

"Merry Christmas" WebmDave, his crew, all of the members here and the frequent posters, all of the ExChristian.Net fans, and even the drop-in fundys too (may you soon be enlightened!)

In Seattle, Solstice is the Reason for the Season!

by Valerie Tarico

December twenty-first is winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, which makes the twenty-second the first day of more sun! Let me spell that out. Beginning this week we’re on a path toward “sun breaks” and dry sidewalks, a time when people will take their fleeces off for long enough to wash them, a time that pet poop will dry out enough that your kids can scoop it off the lawn. Anyone who thinks that winter solstice couldn’t possibly have spawned the rich array of celebrations that we now call Yule and Christmas and Divali and Hannukkah and Kwanzaa never lived in Seattle.

Solstice means that within a few weeks the days will be perceptibly longer. It means that by mid- January, it will be easier to see the ice I’m scraping off the windshield with my battered health insurance card. It means that crocuses will come up through the grass if I hurry and get some bulbs planted, and the chickens will start laying again. It means that my crazy friends Sarah and Lee who bicycle to work in the dark and rain soon will be able to bicycle in just rain! Now that’s something to celebrate.

The darkness of this season forces us to look into ourselves and our relationships for beauty and delight. But even as I look forward to spring, I can’t help but think that mid-winter, in some ways, shows the human spirit at its best. Remarkably, we’ve managed to take our darkest days and turn them into some of our brightest. Without the lights and parties, December in Seattle would be a time for hibernation. (We Seattleites complain now about getting fat and sluggish from things like too many shrimp cocktails, or glasses of wine, or chocolate truffles. But think about how much more bear-like we’d get if all we did was huddle in bed with Netflix and Costco-sized bags of Pirate’s Booty.) Corpu-locity aside, hibernation would mean missing out on one of the best times of the year.

That is because the darkness of this season forces us to look into ourselves and our relationships for beauty and delight. Summer’s pleasures can make us lazy. But now, the garden is soggy with fallen leaves and plants that look like wilted lettuce. The grassy soccer fields are mud-wallows. The street trees are sticks, and hanging flower baskets are gone. The mountain trails are slick and nasty cold making high meadows inaccessible. With the outside world a grey shadow of itself, life becomes what we make it.

And so, make it we do. We seek out those we love. We bask in who loves us. We indulge our most superficial material impulses. We have more sex. And we ask ourselves what matters. It is no accident that many of the celebrations around solstice are imbedded in spiritual traditions that invite us to examine not only our relationships with each other but our relationship to the universe and the Great Unknown. Many of us enter the new year, with its promise of new life, by making promises of our own: renewed commitments to be better parents or friends, re-engage in a spiritual quest, launch a new project, or simply take better care of ourselves.

Since the time our ancestors moved from being hunter-gatherers to being farmers, humans have been bound to an agricultural calendar and a cycle of hard work. During the spring, summer and fall, most of the time was consumed with creating food and shelter. In the bleak wastelands of winter, though, in the lull between planting seasons, came a time to laugh and sing and ask big questions. These days, few of us work the fields, but the rhythm of the year still shapes our lives, and the sun on our faces is still one of life’s joys.

I wish the media hype-meisters would realize that most of us aren’t interested in squabbling about labels or who owns which dates or rituals, or who copied who when it comes to our celebrations. Most of us just aren’t inspired to spend this season staking out territory.

For one thing, all of our mid-winter celebrations emerged from earlier traditions that honored the cycle of the seasons: Christmas incorporates ancient rituals from Yule and Saturnalia. December 25 was chosen to celebrate the birthday of Jesus because it was already honored as the birthday of dying and rising gods and of the sun. And if Kwanzaa and Hanukkah don’t owe part of their form and focus to the Christian celebration, then I’ll eat my pagan Santa hat. That we borrow from each other and build new on top of old foundations doesn’t make any of these traditions less powerful or delightful or sacred.

More importantly, we’re not interested in squabbling over turf because this season is about celebrating what we all have in common. In Seattle, one thing we share is a craving for the sun. But there’s far more than that: The value we place on love. Our delight in giving to each other. Our yearning for wonder. Our longing for fresh beginnings. I personally don’t care which tradition people call on at solstice time, as long as they keep those lights burning.

Mythology is Mythology. Pass the Eggnog.

by the Avangelism Project

SaturnaliaImage by tab2space via Flickr

I hope you don’t define yourself by atheism. Not only is it not fair to define your person by something you don’t have (theism), is lets Christians define you. Especially this time of year.

When we evaluate if and how we celebrate the holiday season with any regard to Jesus or to Christians, we're sanctioning the Christians’ idea that they own December. If we define our lives by their mythology, Bill O’Reilly has every right and quite possibly some reason to assume we’re jealous of their Baby Jesus.

Christians think they own December because in 350 the pope declared December 25 was Jesus’ birthday and co-opted the existing pagan feasts and celebrations. But adding Christian mythology to pagan mythology doesn’t change the fact that it’s all mythology. Virtually every aspect of the American holiday celebration—the trees, the word Yule and its log, feasting and gluttony, gift giving, caroling, candle lighting, and even Christmas hams—is a pagan branch into which Jesus myths have been engrafted.

If Saturnalia or Isis wouldn’t stop you from enjoying December’s festivities, neither should Jesus.In fact, the only difference between pagan and Christian mythology is that otherwise respectable people continue to believe it.

When atheists respond to the mythology beyond dismissal, we fuel the idea that those people believe in someone that we've rejected, rather than reflecting reality: They believe in mythology that we’ve dismissed.

If Saturnalia or Isis wouldn’t stop you from enjoying December’s festivities, neither should Jesus.

I know that the United States is a cultic culture, and Jesus has more sway than Saturnalia, but that’s not the point. The point is that when you give that culture influence over your behavior, you’re empowering it. Enjoying the holiday fun and explaining you’ve no more regard for Jesus myths than the pagan myths his followers have adopted dis-empowers it.

Related articles:
Christmas Unwrapped -- the history of Christmas | Ho Ho Ho -- Merry Christmas Happy Yuletide Cheer | Is it Ok to Celebrate Christmas, Even If You’re Not a Christian?

False Humility

by exfundy

If you had asked me when I was a practicing fundy I would have told you I was humble. Though isn't being self assured of your own humility somehow rather ironic? Anyway, I really thought I was humble. I couldn't have been more wrong. The Americanized version of Christianity is actually a very selfish thing interlaced with lots of intellectually dishonest humility.

Perhaps the most glaring example of my previous selfish beliefs and theology is what I call the "It's All Good Theory (IAGT)." That's just a name I made up for it that I wouldn't expect anyone else to make sense of yet. I guess that means I should explain. So let me throw out a hypothetical though very possible situation to illustrate IAGT. For this illustration try to get back into that Christian mindset. See if you can figure out where I'm going before you read it.

Imagine you just bought a brand new home. It's big. Everything inside and outside is top of the line. It has more rooms than you could possibly use. There are enough bathrooms that every person in the house has their very own, and they even all have jacuzzi tubs. There is a 3 car garage. You got the home at a bargain price. How do you explain your good fortune? As ex-Christians here I'm confident you know the answer to this one.

Christians are in a no lose situation. When good things happen to them it's because they are good Christians. When bad things happen to them it's because they are good Christians. God blessed you with it. It had everything to do with God. It wasn't you. That's the Christian answer right. You would never say it was because you worked hard and saved enough money to buy the house. God did it for you. At first glance that appears humble. After all you said it had nothing to do with you, right? It's a straw man argument though. In reality it had everything to do with you. Scratching your head? When you were a Christian what type of recognition did you want? You wanted to be recognized as a 'Good Christian'.

In other words claiming it was a blessing of God and you had nothing to do with it isn't showing humility. It's an expected and required part of Christian culture to say that. Christians aren't looking for recognition as a good person. They are looking for recognition as a good Christian. So to take a christians self deprecating words as an example of humility is to focus completely on the wrong thing. However let's look at the underlying implication of saying God blessed you with this big house. It says we were good enough. We were deserving enough. We attended the right amount of Sunday morning services. We gave enough money and time. We were worthy of this blessing from God. We made him happy. Even other Christians tell us our new house is a wonderful blessing from God. We received exactly the recognition we wanted to receive. It was still about us.

Aha! Now we see it. There's the not so humble reality behind the whole situation. This is where we massage our Christian ego. We were good enough. We deserved it. God was happy with us. Looking back it kinda makes me wonder though. What about all those Christians in third world countries that live in dirty disease infested villages often without the most basic of essentials? They must be some horribly bad christians because they continue to live in squalor day after day. God never blesses them with nice new homes.

Let's look at the flip side of this scenario. You lose your job just a few weeks after getting your new home. A few months after that the bank forecloses on your big new home. Your family is forced to go find a small apartment.

So if we use the same logic we have been using would it not be safe to assume at this point that we have really pissed god off in some way? If we got the house because he was happy with us doesn't it stand to reason that we lost it because he no longer was? Of course I think all of us ex-Christians know that logic and reason have very little to do with the way we thought and believed when we were practicing our former faith. In Christian ideology we are not going through this hard time because we angered God. Oh no, it's quite the contrary. We pissed off Satan. We were being such a great Christian that we scared the hell out of Satan (pun intended). So, losing our house was an attack from Satan because he was fearful we were about to do something mighty for god.

We refuse to look at the fact that we were late to work several times. We missed several deadlines at work which cost our company lots of money. It was probably Satan that caused those late days and missed deadlines.

Talk about having the best of both worlds. Christians are in a no lose situation. When good things happen to them it's because they are good Christians. When bad things happen to them it's because they are good Christians.

It's embarrassing to realize I was once that selfish and arrogant. Anyway, there it is. The idea that no matter what happens to Christians, they always claims it is because they aren't just Christians, but because they are really good Christians. They can always feel good about themselves. They can always stroke their egos telling themselves what great Christians they are. That's the 'It's All Good Theory.' A theory full of selfish pride that is a hidden by a very thin layer of false humility.

Dear Christians: This is revolting -- utterly revolting

by JM, Annoyed Medicinian Lord

This particular work (of art?) makes me want to vomit. It is not the depictions of Jesus that I find sickening, or any of the other symbolic items in this painting. No, what makes me sick about this is that it offers an unpleasantly pornographic view into the mindset of the modern-day right-wing anti-liberal "patriotic" American Christian. It screams "GIVE US OUR THEOCRACY!!!"

I was once a Christian. I believed. I prayed. There was a time when garbage such as this painting wouldn't have bothered me in the least.

I am fortunate that I had the intellect necessary to figure out what a depraved falsehood Christianity is, and that I stumbled across a wealth of evidence that could lead to no other logical conclusion. If only everyone could be so lucky. Whether or not the world would be a better place I cannot say, but it certainly wouldn't hurt.

Well, it is that time of year again. The winter solstice is rapidly approaching, and it is being heralded by the wails of the masses who bleat about "the TRUE meaning of the season" and the "War on Christmas". They shout in unison "VALIDATE OUR MYTH!". I refuse.

If you want to believe in your absurd human-sacrifice doctrine, have at it. I only ask that you take that repulsive doctrine, your sweet little baby Jesus, your mournful looking Jesus-on-a-stick, and your fear-mongering "End Times" crap, and get it out of the public square and behind the closed doors of your church where it belongs.



Dispelling the Original Sin

By Wise_Fool

Illuminated parchment, Spain, circa AD 950-955...Image via Wikipedia

Isn’t it hard when everything is going along OK, and then out of left field, something comes along to completely STUFF IT UP! The following information is so important it’s scary.

Over the last 5 years the National Geographic has conducted “The Genographic Project” to establish human origins. They have tested the DNA of approximately 35,000 people and what they have found will have a profound impact, especially on inerrant bible believing Xtians.

Why? The study has shown that ALL males share the same Y chromosome (Male Y chromosome is passed on unchanged from generation to generation), which traces back to a single male – Adam, Garden of Eden, 4000BC, right? – No, the East Coast of Africa, 50-60,000BC (let’s call him Alpha Y). From this extensive, highly documented, and practically indisputable research we can’t help but come to the following conclusions;

No Adam. No Sin. No Saviour required. Adam cannot possibly have been the first male on earth – as he has a fixed genealogy dating him at an exact time in history (approx 6,000 years ago). This means God had to do this miraculous intervention against the laws of nature to make a new man out of the dust of the ground – for what reason? To set him up as the fall guy for all of humanity?

Hold that thought. Let’s suppose that is true, that would imply there are two strains of Y chromosome in existence, the one Alpha Male, and one for Adam (so far 35,000 people have been tested (Jew and Gentile) and only Alpha Y has been discovered),we must deduct the following:
  1. Adams “Original Sin” would only apply to his offspring - as God was into cursing the lineage (in some cases to a 1000 generations).
  2. The Alpha Y lineage therefore was sinless; otherwise God would not have had to manufacture Adam.
  3. Even if there was a lot of intermarrying between the two strains, there could still be “sinless” people on the earth today. That being said, if Adam was a divine creation made by the hand of God himself, surely it would have been the Adam Y chromosome that would have dominated to this day.
  4. As most all of us have the Alpha Y chromosome, we cannot be Adams descendants and therefore “Original Sin” does not apply to us.
  5. No Original Sin, No Saviour required

The other scenarios are even more devastating for Xtianity – if there was NO Adam at all, or that he was just a nobody who could not have had any significant impact on mankind, no matter what he did.

No Adam. No Sin. No Saviour required.

This is the absolute cornerstone of the Xtian faith. The bible says that just as one man, Adam, caused the problem, one man, Jesus, came to fix it up. The whole argument has now gone down the toilet. No intelligent person can deny the facts - How long will the church be able to hold out against this one, as every rationalisation creates a new set of problems to answer.

Here are a couple of links:

National Geographic: “The Genographic Project

ABC TV Australia – Documentary on “The Genographic Project

As a side issue, this discovery rules out the Noah and the Ark story - Noah's family would all have had the Adam Y and therefore everyone in the world today would also have to have the Adam Y. If however, we confine Noah's adventure to a “localised” incident, that didn’t affect the whole world, all Jews, or at least the majority, should have the Adam Y – which is yet to be discovered.

The Garden of Eden myth is becoming like the Spruce Goose, it looks big and real, but it just doesn’t fly.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

All Christianity is Self Projection as God

by the Avangelism Project

It sort of hit my wife and me suddenly late in our process of deconverting. Every Christian rejects something (or a lot of things) in the Bible. Particular things. Things about which the Bible is very clear. It turns out, there’s no other choice.

The Bible contains a lot of paradoxical statements, conflicting accounts that cannot be unraveled and even a formal contradiction or two. It also has commands that the Christian does not wish to obey and descriptions of God that the Christian does not want to worship.

What each Christian is telling you, though, in her or his own way, is that he or she is god. Still, Christians can’t reject the Bible entirely. That would be throwing out the baby Jesus with the holy water. The Bible is the only reason to believe certain things they do hold dear. So, in one way or another, they reject what they don’t like.

Some Christians will dismiss more of the Bible, others less. Some in pious sounding ways, and others more flagrantly. The better educated, more articulate Christians might perform mental genuflections to explain biblical contradictions and write grand systematic theologies to describe their gods, while the uneducated ones might tell you only what they feel in their hearts and the religious yuppies will tell you what meaning they take from the Bible. What each Christian is telling you, though, in her or his own way, is that he or she is god.

The result is a rank and unique pride that claims a divine stamp of approval upon the Christian’s own life, while rejecting both all of the Bible that doesn’t appeal to her or his liking and the gods constructed by other Christians, reflecting other parts of the bible.

It’s an arrogant syncretism of life and religion that we call Self-Projection as God (SPAG).

For a practical demonstration, just pick a pair of contrary or contradictory Bible verses that are on either side of a sensitive issue and ask a Christian what she or he thinks about them. The better you know the Bible and the Christian, the easier it will be to pick the appropriately contrary verses, but the result will always be the same: The Christian will start rationalizing and explaining the contradiction in a way that accommodates them to his or her own life.

Understand that we’re not merely intending to demonstrate simply that the Bible is an inconsistent hodgepodge of ancient mythology and antiquated ethics rife with error. That’s obvious and it’s not the issue at hand. The issue at hand is that because the Bible is such mishmash, SPAG is the necessary and universal form of Christianity in practice, an absolute identity: All Christianity is Self-Projection as God.

Holy Baloney

by BillyBee

The Holiday Parade was last week. I couldn't attend, I had to work that day. The next morning I spied a curious object lying on the kitchen counter. It was a 1X2" piece of paper with a bible verse printed on it.

The piece of paper had been stapled to a candy lollipop. The scripture, Mathew 6:33, stated that we should "...seek first His kingdom", and then all our other earthly needs would be provided. That's what it actually said. I'm not making this up. It sounded pretty clear to me!

I then wondered about the people who are honestly and diligently seeking after the kingdom, yet their needs are NOT being met. I smiled when I realized the irony in the fact that this promise was attached to a sucker.

Maybe at next years parade they can toss out bible verses that have been seared into slices of baloney...?

Jesus' Plan for Tim Tebow

by the Avangelism Project

For twenty two straight games, we’ve had to listen to Tim Tebow say that Jesus liked him better than his opponents. Of course, Tim didn’t use those words, but that’s what he said, isn’t it? Thanking Jesus for winning means that he’s the reason you won, but I have a simple question:

Why no Jesus talk when Tebow lost?

I watched the game and it was never really close. I also saw Tebow throw a bad interception that could have been an easy touchdown. That play could have given Florida a gasp of hope; instead, it effectively ended the Gators’ hope.

Why didn’t Tebow thank Jesus for that? “First I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for delivering this loss and preventing me from playing at my normal level of greatness.”

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” CLICK HERE FOR MORE PHOTOS
Maybe even for a Jesus poster boy like Tebow, it’s just the fact that superstition doesn’t help when life hurts—and for a great player with a competitive fire like Tebow, losing hurts and hurts badly.

Maybe though that hurt is just part of Jesus’ divine plan to use Tebow and Tim hadn’t had chance to hear from the Lord; after all with Christmas season and the SEC championship game going on they were both pretty busy yesterday.

So I’ll offer an explanation.

I noticed that Tebow’s eye black (now part of his carefully crafted Christian image) witnessed John 16:33:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Can you see the Divine Hand there? Do you see the providence in Tebow choosing that verse?

If he’d picked, say, Philippians 4:13 (I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.), it’d make no sense. Aside from the fact I think he already used it, he lost 32-13.

See what Jesus did there?

He led Tim to pick a verse about trouble in this world then sent him some.

Tim is having trouble trouble. He’s lost a game, the SEC championship game at that. Now, instead of playing his Christian brother Colt McCoy to see who is Jesus’ real favorite, Tim is probably going to have to face the disgrace of playing a Big East team in a BCS bowl.

Perhaps, it was all part of God’s divine plan. Now instead of talking about winning, Tim could have given a real witness about true comfort and true Christian meaning.

Of course, Tim didn’t do that. He was too busy crying and lamenting playing in something other than the national championship game.

For that game, maybe he should go with Matthew 27:46, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Pageviews this week: