Every single year, without fail, controversy will brew and boil over regarding the Christian-hijacked Winter Solstice celebration known as Christmas. You might ask what kind of petty, childish, arrogant group of non-believers would subject our good, kind, religious society to such ridiculous outbursts of intolerance and hatred. Maybe you wouldn’t. Regardless, it may or may not surprise you to know that it’s the religious people themselves who continue to stir this pot and we irreligious people can either react or let them fight it out among themselves. I choose to react, but only in a limited capacity. I’ll comment on the religious mindset and attempt to dispel any myths being spread about how I feel toward Christmas.
This year, Ben Stein has written an essay detailing the problem with not saying, “Merry Christmas.” You might think that not saying something is harmless. I know I do. However, Mr. Stein makes it perfectly clear that not greeting people with a, “Merry Christmas” is directly tied to the downfall of society and the destruction of this country. Let’s begin.
was always taught as a child that god was in charge. He was the ultimate authority, the first and last word on any subject, and the law. He took orders from nobody and had nobody to whom he had to answer. God made the laws of nature and he could break them any time he wanted. There was absolutely nothing he couldn’t do. Then I read the Bible.
At many points in the Bible god is seemingly forced to take some kind of drastic action to intercede in his creation and at every one of these points he chooses (or must choose) the most elaborate, ineffective, and sometimes flat-out silly means. It seems that every time he has to step in and take action he’s constrained by the Hollywood villain code of monologuing and setting up a trap that’s just way too complex to work. Here are some examples:
I was emptying out a three-ring binder yesterday and found a paper I had written on August 3, 1999 for a Philosophy 1100 class at Webster University. I still considered myself a Christian in 1999 and it wasn’t until the following year that I even entertained the idea that I might be agnostic or an (gasp!) atheist. I’ll continue to document that journey through my regular posts, but I wanted to take a moment to transcribe this paper and show that even I, on the verge of a huge shift in worldview, could cling to the most outrageous and fallacious arguments in the hopes of retaining that failing grasp on a faith that had, for most of my life, defined me. In a strange and somewhat satisfying twist I’ll address my own faulty reasoning and debunk myself. Enjoy!
In my news feed on Facebook I will be served a daily dose of Christian affirmations from friends. In this series of posts, which I call “Facebook Affirmations™,” I will post and discuss some of these gems. Here’s the affirmation for today:
When u carry a Bible, the devil gets a headache. When u open it, he collapses. When he see’s u reading it, he faints. When he see’s u living it, he flees. And just when ur about 2 re-post this, he will try & discourage u. I just defeated him. Like, Copy & paste this if ur in God’s Army
There are a number of problems with this affirmation so I’ll list them out as I see them and give my reasoning for each:
everal times during my childhood I heard a pastor preach on the creation story in Genesis. While I was still a Christian I thought it was just about the coolest story I’d ever heard — every time I heard it. Here’s the run-down:
In the beginning there was god. God got the urge to create stuff so he fashioned a planet with land and water and light so he could put plants and animals on it. In order to make this his crowning achievement he then placed humans and a talking serpent on the planet. The habitable area on this planet was constrained to a garden, in the middle of which was a tree that god had created knowing that it would destroy the humans someday.
Pretty awesome, right? Well, kind of. When I was a Christian I followed along in my book while the pastor read and never asked questions. This is how the sermon almost always went:
“Genesis 1: 1 — In the beginning, GOD. Now, that’s all I need to know. This tells me that god was always there, is there now, and will always be there even after I die. Praise the lord!”
here’s a very strange movement in some Christian circles called “The Prosperity Gospel” that posits some kind of supernatural investment scheme where the more money you give to god (read: churches and/or pastors) the more material wealth god will give to you. While most Christian denominations denounce this theology as false or even blasphemous most of them also have their own, more subtle versions of the prosperity gospel whether they know it or not.
The churches in which I grew up always passed the offering plate/basket around during services expecting members to give at least 10% of whatever they had. This is standard practice for Protestant churches under a doctrine of tithing. Some churches go as far as asking (“asking” is a funny word since the whole thing is done with an air of, “if you don’t, god will know”) the congregation to make pledges as to how much they’ll give for the year. This helps the church make a budget but it also very clearly shows the churches are just businesses.
itting in Sunday School and church, you’re constantly confronted with the idea that man’s knowledge is not only flawed (a point with which I wouldn’t necessarily argue) but foolish. For example, 1 Corinthians 3:19 states:
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”
Whenever this comes up in a lesson or a sermon you always hear a resounding, “AMEN!” from the congregation. While I was a believer I never really thought about the implications and I doubt that many believers really do. In the light of debates over evolution, the Big Bang, and the ever-narrowing god-shaped gap in our knowledge it’s nice to be able to point to a verse and say, “See? The things you think you know are utter nonsense in the face of god’s wisdom!” The Bible is a never-ending source of derisive rebuttal to anything even remotely logical. That’s why I loved it so much as a kid. No matter with whom I was talking, I could always feel confident that my god considered them fools and I was right.
here’s a very popular Christian hymn titled, “Are You Washed in the Blood?” It’s catchy enough to be stuck in my head now that I’m writing about it. Here, have a listen:
I used to love this hymn and now I really can’t stand it. The thing I hate about this hymn is that it trivializes the brutal concept of vicarious redemption via the slaughter of an innocent. When I was a Christian I thought it was a great song (and even better when my uncle would sing it because instead of “washed” he would say “warshed”) but when I was a Christian I also didn’t think too much about the concepts being presented. To me, Jesus’ death was simply a gift from my creator because he loved me and wanted me to be with him forever, avoiding the punishment and suffering I deserved, just for having been born. This made perfect sense at the time. Here’s what I missed:
Honestly, what the hell? I can understand the “God created me” mentality. I can tolerate the “God loves me” attitude. But what in the bloody shit is this?
“God’s 24/7 Plumbing Service. Your wait time is approximately 3 days.”
There’s no way I could not comment on something like this! It makes me want to punch a kitten (although because I dislike cats, this isn’t a huge stretch). Have we really gotten this far removed from reality that we attribute unclogged toilets to GOD’S FAVOR? Please quit it, people. Please!
ost Christians I’ve ever known view the Bible as an authoritative compendium of knowledge handed down to humans directly from god himself. For this reason, anything contained in the book(s) is deemed “good enough” for them. One of my very first exposures to this mindset was the following:
In Genesis 1:1 the Bible says, “In the beginning God.” That’s good enough for me! God created the heavens and the Earth; god created man; god is, was, and forever will be. That’s good enough for me!
This illustrates — to me — the Christian’s willingness to swallow the words in the Bible whole without really doing any substantial chewing. Instead of pondering god’s motivation for creating everything, his methods of doing so, or his inability to create everything perfectly the average Christian just revels in the bliss of being created and leaves it at that. The Christian calls this “faith.” I was guilty of the same thing when I was a Christian. I never asked, “why?” I just accepted what I was told without even putting much thought into it. I did this because I was taught that questioning god was wrong. God does what god does and you’re not worthy of an explanation. After all, you’re just a flawed human with a flawed brain.