Whatsoever Ye Ask

As a Christian I believed that my prayers were not only heard by god but that my prayers were important enough to initiate action.  As with any Christian, my basis for believing this was not grounded in reality but in scripture:

John 14:12,13
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

Clearly, the quotes attributed to Jesus define prayer as a sort of tangible, telepathic request which (in Jesus’ name) will be heard and granted if the person praying has even the slightest bit of real faith.  Jesus describes the amount of faith necessary in Matthew 17:20 as a mustard seed (long considered the smallest seed).  That’s not a whole lot of faith, by anyone’s standards.  However, if this amount of faith is attainable why aren’t more prayers answers and more miracles performed/observed?  The answers to these questions don’t come easy (to a rational mind) but I’ll detail the Christian thought process — or, at least, the thought process as I understood it while I was a Christian — and give my best answer.

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Good Enough For Me, Part II

Inn a previous post I discussed the “good enough” mentality that most Christians have regarding their faith and the infallibility of the scriptures.  That post aimed broadly at the Christian faith overall but there’s a sinister implementation of this mentality I’d like to address now.  This post pertains to the “good enough” mentality regarding the Theory of Evolution.

Christian Descent of Man
"If any monkey pick up his cross and follow me..."

Above is a Christian parody of the Descent of Man illustration from a fairly well-written Revelife article on the Christian misunderstandings of evolution.  You may want to take a minute and read it.  This post will still be here when you get back.

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Like Fish in a Barrel

Rick Perry’s “Strong” ad (you can click the link if you haven’t seen it; I refuse to embed it into my blog) has been getting a lot of negative press lately.  I’ve been fuming about just how incredibly stupid the guy is for the last couple of days but haven’t as yet done a whole lot of commentary on the thing.  I wanted to make a YouTube video in response but I didn’t get around to it and it doesn’t seem like it would be timely and relevant anymore.  Then again, it’s such a timeless tragedy that people like Perry even have a voice in politics I may still make that video.  For now, I’ll devote a few minutes to a blog post dedicated to all of the “duh” in this ad.  Luckily, it’s so easy I won’t even have to strain myself.

Rick perry
"I'm Rick Perry, and I'm an ignorant piece of shit."
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Lowering the Bar

Whenhen I was a Christian it seemed like everything I saw pointed to the truth of god’s existence.  I had the Bible, my parents’ word, my Sunday School teachers and preachers, any number of books and pamphlets, and nature itself bolstering my faith.  I felt like I had good reason to believe what I did and I didn’t even have to look for evidence: everything was evidence!

That is, until I actually started examining my beliefs and my reasons for holding them.  What I found was not that the evidence for god was strong, but that I was willing to accept pretty much anything as evidence so long as it adhered to my preconceptions.  Those things that didn’t conform to my beliefs were simply ignored without any thought at all.

Christian evidence
Christian? Evidence? Hmmm.
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Facebook Affirmations, Vol. III

This post has been a long time coming and I’ve waffled on whether or not I’d actually write and post it.  Now that I’ve put some more thought into it I can’t see a reason not to post it and what’s more, I think it’s very important in an enlightened age to open these types of ideas up to scrutiny and even ridicule in the hopes of educating people on why the things they believe may be harmful (or at the very least, not helpful) and why they should have good reasons for believing what they do.

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:

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In the Beginning…

S 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.

Genesis Chapter 1
In the beginning, GOD...

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!”

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Who Do You Believe?

Sitting 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.

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Good Enough For Me

Most 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!

 

God Said It. I Believe It.
God said it. Checkmate!

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.

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You Can’t See My Balls

There are two men standing in front of you. One is holding a basketball and the other with just open, outstretched arms. The man with the basketball shows you the ball, describes its color and its size and how its shape and hardness change if you add or remove air using a pump (which he also shows you). He dribbles the ball, takes a couple of shots, and then sits down.

The other guy stands up and tells you he also has a basketball but you can’t sense it in any way and no tests you perform will ever reveal the kind of ball that the other man is showing you. He insists, however, that he has one and that it is, in fact, a basketball. He “dribbles” the ball and makes a couple of “shots” which he insists swished – nothing but net! Then he sits down.

basketball

As a theist/creationist you are choosing to believe the guy with empty hands. Sure, he can’t prove he has a ball but he is really nice, seems really skilled with his basketball, and he said it will make you feel happy if you believe him. Further, he promises that if you continue to believe him you’ll have a basketball just like his someday – but he can’t tell you when.

Let’s think about this for a second. In what area of your life, outside of religion, would you willingly accept this kind of scenario? Under what other circumstances could a person convince you to go completely against your senses and your experience of reality like this? You’re probably finding it difficult to come up with something and I don’t blame you. It’s typical for a believer to compartmentalize and show an unusually high degree of skepticism toward everything except their beliefs. Maybe that’s something on which we should work, yes?

I don’t know about you, but I chose to play basketball with real basketballs and it’s been a more enjoyable game.

Credit for concept goes to “speedjunkie13” from Gixxer.com. Used with permission.

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