Thursday, September 3, 2015

Why are Modern Christians attempting to Whitewash the Horrific Ancient Christian Teaching of a Literal Hell?

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This man will writhe in horrific agony forever just because his ancient ancestors ate some of God's forbidden fruit...if western orthodox Christianity is true.  Modern Christians can try to white wash the doctrine of Hell, but all one has to do is read the writings of the early church fathers and you will see that no one at that time believed that Hell was simply an eternity of feeling "ashamed" or a lonely sensation of being separated from God.

Either the earliest Christians got Jesus' message about the afterlife wrong or the majority of modern Christians are simply deceiving themselves in reading the Bible as they would LIKE it to read and not how the authors' intended it to be understood.

"[The martyrs] despised all the torments of this world, redeeming themselves from eternal punishment by the suffering of a single hour.... For they kept before their view escape from that fire which is eternal and will never be quenched." (Martyrdom of Polycarp, c. 135)

"We believe...that every man will suffer punishment in eternal fire according to the merits of his deed. ... Sensation remains to all who have ever lived, and eternal punishment is laid up." (Justin Martyr, c. 160)

"To the unbelieving and despisers...there will be anger and wrath, tribulation and anguish. At the end, everlasting fire will possess such men." (Theophilus, c. 180) "Eternal fire is prepared for sinners. The Lord has plainly declared this and the rest of the Scriptures demonstrate it." (Irenaeus, c. 180)

Would a Perfect, All-Knowing God have Created this Mess of a Universe?

Dear evangelical Christian:

You don't find it odd that a perfect, all-knowing God did not make sure that his message of salvation was so clear and so simple that the massive confusion that exists today on this issue could have been avoided? You seem very confident in your position on God's message of salvation, but the Baptist, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran are all confident of their positions too, and are also very confident that you are wrong. Five hundred years ago, some of these groups of "fellow" Christians would have burned you at the stake for believing your "heretical" position on this all important divine message.

Again, I ask: Which is more likely, that a perfect, all-knowing God sent this message, or, a bunch of fallible men invented this message, not due to lying, but due to being very sincerely, very devoutly...mistaken.

See, this was what eventually caused me to abandon my Christian faith: It isn't just the weak evidence for the Resurrection, which we have been discussing for the last several weeks. It is multiple, multiple problems with the Bible and the Christian message. If you condense down the Christian story to the basic facts, you see just how ridiculous it really is. Here is the condensed story of orthodox/traditional Christianity that believes in original sin:

A perfect, eternal God, who had existed without a beginning, one day decided to create a universe and little creatures that looked like him. We can only guess why a perfect God who lacked nothing felt a desire to create. However, if Christians are correct, he did. So a perfect God, who can do no wrong and is incapable of making mistakes, made a universe and human beings, who chose, by their own free will, to not be perfect and to eat from God's forbidden fruit tree. How does something that is perfect choose to be imperfect??? Anyway, God was furious with the free will decision of his originally perfect little mini-hims, so he punished them by cursing them with hard work, disease, war, rape, violence, murder, and death...and eternal punishment in the afterlife for those who do not repent.

Then this God felt sorry for the little creatures which he had made, which he had made KNOWING that they would choose to be imperfect, KNOWING that he would punish them with rape, child abuse, murder, and eternal damnation, so he sent himself, disguised as a man, to earth to undergo a human sacrifice, to appease the righteous anger...of himself.

So God goes to earth with the message of redemption/salvation from the horrific punishment that he has imposed on mankind for their ancestors' forbidden-fruit-eating, but instead of going to Rome, or Athens, or Alexandria where he could share this message with the most people, he chooses to go to the backwaters of the Roman Empire, to the backwaters of a backwater nation of that empire: Galilee in Palestine. He spends approximately 30 of those years working in a furniture store, NOT spreading the message of salvation, but only starts his ministry in his 30's, and then only spends approximately three years preaching his message of salvation, in one small geographic area...preaching in riddles so that even his own closest followers have no idea what he is talking about.

Finally, he enters the capital Jerusalem riding on two donkeys, upsets the Jewish authorities and the Romans, and gets himself crucified, again, to appease the righteous anger of...himself.

Three days later, he resurrects himself from a tomb, but instead of allowing a large crowd to witness the reanimation of his bloated, decomposing corpse, he performs this fantastic miracle in complete secret, and appears to 500 or so of his own followers...and one Pharisee. He never appears to a group of Romans or non-believing Jews. God does this because he doesn't want to be too obvious. He only wants those who really, really seek him to find him...kind of like the children's game, Hide and Seek. I guess it isn't any fun for God if he were to make his message of salvation so plain, simple, and obvious to all that everyone could believe.

Then, one day, eight days, or forty days later, God decides its time to go back to heaven, but he performs one last fantastic miracle. A miracle that if witnessed in Jerusalem, or Rome, or Alexandria, would be absolute proof of his divinity: he levitates into outer space. But once again, God doesn't want to be too obvious. He only does this magic act in front of his closest followers out on a mountain top.

And for the last 2,000 years, God has been sitting on his throne, on the edge of the universe, watching every day as young children, women, and men are brutally tortured and murdered; starved to death, or die of terrible, painful diseases, and he justifies this suffering because our ancestors ate his fruit.

This is nonsense folks. Open your eyes.
The loving God casting another
descendent of forbidden-fruit-eaters
into Hell

Why would a Loving, All-Knowing God send us such a Confusing Message of Salvation


Christians tell us that the God of Creation sent Jesus to earth with a message of salvation; salvation from his righteous wrath of judgment of eternal damnation in Hell for our sins and the sins of our first ancestors.  So if he is a loving, all-knowing God, wouldn't he want to give us a message of salvation that is crystal clear and understandable to even the most "simple" of human beings?

Yet, for 2,000 years, and still today, Christians are squabbling and have even fought brutal, bloody wars over the true meaning of this message.  Doesn't it seem more likely that this message was not written by a loving, all-knowing God but by superstitious, fallible men??

1. Baptists teach that salvation occurs when someone who is old enough to know right from wrong (has reached or is past the Age of Accountability) repents of his sins and asks Jesus to be his Lord and Savior. Once this act occurs, there is no possible way for this person to lose his salvation even if he commits murder. Baptists teach that all children who die before reaching the Age of Accountability will go to heaven. This is absolute, it is not an open question. No babies or small children will be in Hell. Many Baptists teach that anyone who believes that he was saved in his Baptism as an infant is not a Christian and will go to Hell just as quickly when he dies as will the atheist and Muslim.

2. Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, and Anglicans believe that God can save infants in Holy Baptism. What happens to infants and young children who die without being baptized: unknown. It is an open question.

3. Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox believe that God saves infants and adults in Holy Baptism and that good works are necessary to assist in one's salvation. Both believe that salvation can be lost through mortal sins/ongoing willful sin.

4. Lutherans believe that God saves infants and adults in Holy Baptism and that subsequent good works are simply expressions of a genuine faith, they do not assist in one's salvation in any way, shape, or form. Lutherans believe that one can lose his salvation by outright rejection of Jesus as savior or ongoing, willful sin.

So who is right?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Germany! Germany! Germany!

"Alle wollen nach Deutschland (fahren)."

"Everyone wants to go to Germany."

That is what tens of thousands of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, and other warn-torn areas of the world are crying out.  They love Germany and they love the Germans.  Why?  Because the German people have opened their arms and hearts to these traumatized, desperate people giving them hope for a safe, better future for themselves and their children.

How wonderful to see Germany and Germans as the nation and people of compassion and giving.  The people and nation who were once described as the "children-eating Huns" are now the protectors of children and their parents.  The nation who sent trainloads of families to their deaths 70 years ago is now the nation bringing tens of thousands of desperate, persecuted families and individuals on trains and buses to safety in the German homeland. 

What a wonderful act of kindness by the German people!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Christians have Zero Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus

Dear Reader:

Have you noticed something really odd when listening to any debate between Christians and skeptics regarding the alleged resurrection/reanimation of Jesus?  Here is a hint:  Do Christians ever present ANY evidence for the supernatural claim in question itself: the reanimation of the dead body of Jesus of Nazareth sometime in the third decade of the first century AD?

Answer: No. They never present any evidence for this claim. None. Nada. Zip. Nichts.

So for which claim or claims do they present evidence?

1. They present reasonably strong evidence that early Christians believed that Jesus had been bodily resurrected.

2. They present hearsay evidence that approximately 500 people, living 2,000 years ago, believed they had seen their dead loved one/friend alive again. But tens of thousands of grieving friends and relatives of the recently departed have made claims of seeing, talking with, and even touching their dead loved one. Just because Aunt Bessie sincerely believes that dead Uncle Bob appeared to her, touched her, and told her that he still loves her, should we believe that Aunt Bessie really and truly saw dead Uncle Bob??

3. They present good evidence that ONE outsider/non-relative of Jesus claimed to have seen this resurrected dead man. However, this "witness" has a known history of having multiple bizarre visions, such as being teleported into a "third heaven". And this witness even admits that his "appearance experience" was a vision, not reality.

Have the believers of this tall tale ever presented any evidence for the reanimation of the dead body itself? Have they given any evidence or testimony that a bloated, decomposing, stinking corpse suddenly returned to its normal size and shape, the stench dissipating, the internal organs functioning again, a pulse being restored, the chest moving up and down with rhythmic breathing, the eyes of the dead body opening, the dead but reanimated body sitting up, then standing up, then exiting, in some fashion, whether by pushing open the stone door or teleporting, out of the tomb? Did anyone give testimony of seeing with their own two eyes the dead-but-reanimated body leaving the tomb on its own two legs and not whisked out by a group of grave robbers, disciples, family members, Roman soldiers at Pilate's command, by dissenting members of the Sanhedrin...or by Joseph of Armethea himself???



Because they have zero evidence for the actual claim!

All they have is hearsay, and, generalizations about what "most" people in first century Palestine would do and believe about the "shameful" claim of a crucified-then-resurrected man/god.

And that's all, folks. And they ask you to believe that this is "very strong" evidence???


Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Christian God is not who Conservative Christians claim him to be

Dear conservative/orthodox Christian:

Every time you step inside a church; every time you open your Bible; every time you begin to pray, ask yourself these questions:

1.  Why would a "perfect" God need or want to create a universe with little creatures and beings?  Was he bored, lonely?

2.  Why would an "all-knowing" God create human beings if he knew that by the time of Noah he would "regret" having made them?

3.  Why would a "just" God condemn billions of human beings, for thousands of years, to lives of massive suffering, disease, violence, and death solely due to the disobedience of two of them?

4.  Why would a "loving" and "merciful God condemn all of mankind to horrific suffering in this life and for most, horrific eternal torment in the next, just for the crime of eating some of his fruit?

If this God exists, he is neither perfect, all-knowing, just, loving, or merciful.  If this God exists he is malevolent, indecisive, unjust, vindictive, and merciless.  If this God exists, he is a Monster.

Let's stop describing this alleged being with virtues he does not possess.

Is this the real Yahweh?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Definition of Religious Fundamentalism

1. They (fundamentalists) are counter-modernist. 

 It (fundamentalism) manifests itself as an attempt by “besieged believers” to find their refuge in arming themselves with an identity that is rooted in a past golden age. And this identity is acted out in an attempt to restore that “golden past”.

2. They (fundamentalists) are “generally assertive, clamorous, and often violent”.

3. They are “the Chosen”, “the Elect”, “the Saved”.

4. Public marks of distinction are needed to maintain their sense of superiority and distinctive identity.

Not only for the purpose of maintaining that distinctive identity, but also as “part of the narcissistic struggle to be considered unique and special.” (p.30)  Skullcaps, turbans, hijab, crosses, skin markings, circumcision, initiations, baptisms, rituals, food taboos, holy times, etc etc.  The point is to “be separate” so where there are similar groups the slight differences are exaggerated — the heretic being more of a threat than the infidel!

5. There is only one true religion and one correct way of life; and these must be defended against inroads from other religions and secularism.

Religious pluralism is a problem for the fundamentalist. The fundamentalist, whether Christian, Judaistic or Islamic, will accept all but only into one exclusive “truth”. Narcissism feeds on differences, and these differences are accentuated, intensified. Since there is only one true way, it is under constant threat. The world is thus a place of persecution. A place where there is a black and white, a Manichaean struggle between absolutes, good and evil, truth and error, God and Satan. There is no middle ground. “You are with us or against us.”

6. There is an inerrant holy book, prophet or charismatic leader to whom literal obedience is mandatory.

7. Law and authority come from God.

Even civic law must derive from the holy books. “God’s law always trumps human law.”

8. Female sexuality must be controlled and clear impassable boundaries must be established between men and women.

Sexuality is controlled within the structure of the patriarchal family. Women are subordinated in marriage, reproduction, abortion, ordination, access to or emphasis on education. Female sexuality is associated strongly with “animalism” and pollution — giving rise to taboos on certain sexual practices. (p.32)  “The control of female sexuality is sometimes linked with the fear of emasculation and homosexuality.” The fear of men being led to become like women is expressed in Islamic and Christian writings.

9. Sexual behaviour is a major concern of all fundamentalists — Christian, Jewish, Islamic — without exception. Especially the fear of and opposition to homosexuality.

10. Fundamentalism and nationalism converge.

The moral life according to the will of God can only be fully lived in a society of fellow-practitioners of the belief. This can only be achieved through God’s rule — through the national executive and legislature itself. Hence the importance of bringing about a government that will prioritize the right morals and right culture for the nation — relegating other (economic) functions to a secondary place.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What do the Boogeyman and Conservative Christianity have in Common?

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Fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat. It serves as a vital survival mechanism triggering the fight-or-flight reaction in most living creatures, ourselves included, when faced with imminent danger. We feel fear physically as our bodies release chemicals like adrenaline.
We can sense it in others in a way that is often compared to the sense of smell. We have adapted it for use it as a weapon, not only to intimidate, but to motivate. Fear is one of the most powerful copy drivers used in marketing. And we’ve all seen the political campaign ads where the opponent is cast in grainy black and white while his or her positions are grimly outlined by a deep sinister voice intended to make us afraid.

Fear is also defined as a sense of awe and reverence, a profound respect, such as the common term, “Fear of God”. But these two uses of the term “fear” are not mutually exclusive. In fact they are directly related. For example, one can feel awe, reverence and respect for a brilliant scientist or a brutal dictator simply because of what they have managed to accomplish; the nature of those accomplishments an altogether different matter. While I cannot imagine a reason for anyone to fear Albert Einstein (apart from his students, perhaps) I certainly understand the complex feelings people had who lived under Saddam Hussein.

The dark nature of fear raises the question: can someone genuinely love what they fear? Sure. It’s true that many people (I, for one) love Great White sharks, but are reluctant to jump in the water with one because of the obvious risk. Sharks are not evil, but the really big ones are indeed fearsome. But what I’m talking about is love as a relationship. Again, though, the answer is yes. Many people go through life terrified by a violent and abusive spouse, twisted into grotesque emotional contortions because of their love for that person, a feeling often impossible to justify, but real nonetheless. Psychologists spend a great deal of energy trying to understand how this works. A well-studied paradoxical phenomenon called “Stockholm Syndrome” is a psychological state in which a hostage develops positive feelings toward their captor, despite the danger and potential violence of their situation.

A striking example of another sort is the fictional, yet infamous, Ministry of Love, imagined by George Orwell. The Ministry of Love was a place where loyalty to the dictator was enforced through terror and torture. It was a windowless building where bright lights were never turned off. “The place where there is no darkness.” As the story goes, the victim was exposed to such intense fear that they learned to genuinely love their abuser because, ultimately, the two physical emotions were made indistinguishable from one another and, given the choice, love was the more desirable feeling. Orwell was not inventing something new. He was merely fictionalizing, to an extreme, the application of a real human capacity for psychological manipulation. One needn’t look further than the cult-of-personality found in North Korea to see a real example of Orwellian love.

Religion has always relied on fear as its own strong nuclear force. Fear, more than any other characteristic, is what perpetuates religion and keeps it from falling apart. The bible uses the word “fear” more times than the word “love” although, to be fair, there are two different uses. One use is as in “fear God” and the other as in, “fear not”. However, it is merely two uses of the same word and, in both cases, it has the same meaning. Why fear God? He is all powerful, capable of great wrath and terrible vengeance if you don’t show him the proper respect. But if you give him what he wants, namely unconditional devotion, you won’t need to fear other perceived threats. By the way, this is how a Mafia protection racket works. But ask virtually any Christian and they’ll tell you they love the Lord. Fear is masked by love.

In my own pursuit of answers, decades spent “Searching for Certainty”; I became very aware of the absurd logical fallacy of my adolescent Christian beliefs. And as I read the bible in more detail, I began to question why anyone would love this deity, let alone feel any real admiration beyond the natural feelings of awe toward something that had such power; a power expressed so often through terrifying malevolence. But I also had that familiar taste in my mouth; the fear of coming to my own conclusion, using the best of my ability to think and reason; the fear that the conclusion I reached would not be pleasing to this deity. I was already beyond belief and certainly absent any love for it, but the fear lingered like a now-exposed raw nerve that had always been there.

Religion has always relied on fear as its own strong nuclear force. Fear, more than any other characteristic, is what perpetuates religion and keeps it from falling apart. I would often wonder: As we who once bleated worn and rote platitudes among the incurious flock of compliant Christian sheep become awakened to the truly comforting reality of our temporal lives in a natural universe, free from the bondage of unknown terrors that lie in wait for the slightest miscalculation of dogma or the insufficiently penitent, can we ever indeed be free from the physical harm done to our young developing minds, instilled forever with abject irrational fears, yet seemingly hard-wired to carry them for life, despite our better knowing?

Fear is the last tactic of the prognosticating evangelist. When all else fails to make an adequate case, an appeal to the most primitive and highly-tuned aspect of our animal firmware is either what keeps someone in the fold or causes one to consider hedging their bets to be on the safe side. No matter who we are, fear is one of our lives’ earliest emotional experiences and certainly one of the last we will have. We are all too often easy prey for those who would use fear as a weapon of coercion. Fear shouts over reason’s murmurs. When we do, at last, walk away from the fictions of belief, we cannot expect those instilled fears to remain behind. They stay with us longer than our feelings of love, our desire for social acceptance and our false hopes for that strangely nebulous eternity. Our best therapy is to continually reinforce our reason with knowledge and thoughtful observation. Over time, fears of angry gods will go the way of monsters under the bed. 

The real Boogeyman