The Hand of the Almighty by John R. Butler is a stroke of genius and I’ve always enjoyed it. Having read In_Reason_I_Trust’s post about Christian death metal I decided to post this in case anyone hasn’t already heard it. The song centers around the F word (gasp!) so if you’re going to be puritanical you may want to read a different post.
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!
ow that I was saved (theological debate surrounding the sincerity of the act notwithstanding) from Hell, it was important to those charged with my education to ensure that I became the best possible Christian. In order for this to happen, I had to become familiar with the doctrine of Christianity — namely, that god created me and loves me and that Satan is trying with all of his might to destroy god’s creation and claim the souls of believers for himself. This means war!
etting saved through Jesus Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit sounds like it would be a really big deal. I mean, the sheer mechanics of opening up one’s heart and having the Holy Spirit move in like a college kid moving into the dorms is difficult to wrap your head around. Oddly enough, Christians seem to think it requires nothing more than the ability to repeat phrases told to you by another person. This applies mainly to children who are too young to formulate a sentence based on the premise that a person died for you thousands of years ago so you won’t go to Hell when you die. It goes something like this:
Heavenly Father, I know that I have sinned against you. I want to be a better person. I believe you sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sins, that you raised him from the dead, and that he hears my prayers. Please forgive me and let Jesus come into my heart and life. I give my life to you, Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
hen you grow up in Christianity, one thing is made very clear to you over and over: you are a horrible sinner and deserve to burn in Hell forever. This sentiment rears its head pretty early on, as soon as you’re able to understand and repeat the name “Jesus.” The adults begin to prime you for the doctrine of salvation through grace. In order to do this, you must first accept that you are undeserving of anything but the worst punishment imaginable. Just to clarify, this punishment can be presented in a number of ways. My family subscribed to the “lake of unquenchable fire, eternal torment and darkness with weeping and gnashing of teeth” doctrine. Other sects of Christianity view Hell as simply the complete lack of the presence of god. Still others view Hell as obliteration (which, Heaven aside, aligns quite nicely with the atheistic view that once you die you simply cease to exist).
hen I was born my parents followed Old Testament tradition and typical American culture and had me circumcised. I had no say in the matter and it irritates me a little bit now. Obviously there’s not much I can do except blog about it and try to explain why I’m upset. I’ll break it down for you so you can understand.
- The practice of circumcision is cosmetic and elective.
While there are many confusing studies out there (do a Google search) the one thing on which professionals agree is that there are no definitive, positive health benefits for removing the foreskin. A large portion of males are circumcised because the parents want the child “to look like daddy” or they think an uncircumcised penis is ugly, or their family has always held that circumcision was just the way it’s done. The American Medical Association has stated, “Virtually all current policy statements from specialty societies and medical organizations do not recommend routine neonatal circumcision, and support the provision of accurate and unbiased information to parents to inform their choice.” In addition to being elective, circumcision is a surgical procedure which means that complications can arise. The complications due to circumcision are most frequently seen in less developed countries where medical practices aren’t as regulated and hygienic as in the U.S. but are present nonetheless.
- The practice of circumcision is Biblically unnecessary.
Unless you’re Jewish, you’re not subject to Old Testament law. Jesus and Paul both preached that since his birth and death salvation is not exclusive to Jews adhering to the law — uncircumcised gentiles can be saved too. Since nearly all Christians these days are not ethnically Jewish there is no reason for Christians to remove the foreskin from their sons’ penises.
- Circumcision is mutilation.
There’s very little doubt that every Christian I know — including all of my family members — would agree that female circumcision (a.k.a. female genital cutting) is a detestable practice. I also have little doubt that these people don’t realize there are different degrees of female genital cutting ranging from a pin prick to the clitoris to severely invasive removal of the genitalia. Likewise, there are degrees of male circumcision where some or all of the foreskin is removed. In my case, circumcision left a very noticeable scar with which I’ve never been pleased.
How is it, I wonder, that people so opposed to the maltreatment of female infants can be so flippant about male infants — even going so far as to view the mutilation of the penis a badge of honor for their god? Cutting an infant’s genitals is cutting an infant’s genitals, regardless of their gender. Who doesn’t see this?
- Circumcision removes sensation.
The foreskin isn’t just a flap of skin or excess material. It contains bundles of nerves that add sensation to the penis. The nerves in the foreskin are fine touch nerves like those on the palm of your hand. If you compare the sensation in the palm of your hand to the sensation on the back of your hand you’ll see the difference.
- Circumcision violates human rights.
Performing a painful elective surgery on an infant without consent violates the infant’s rights and undermines their free will. Since Christians are so big on free will, you’d think this would be a point at which they’d stop and think a little harder before slicing up their babies. If circumcision is to be performed, it should be performed later in life when the patient can give informed consent.
was indoctrinated into Protestant Christianity from birth and accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior at the ripe old age of four. I don’t remember much about my childhood but I still remember that evening and the place of worship in Panama we called “The Home.” It wasn’t a formal church and I imagine it was more like what you would have seen in the Apostle Paul’s day where believers gathered in homes to praise god together through song and prayer.
A quick aside: on my blog I’ll never capitalize the word “god.” It’s not a proper name. If I use a proper name like Jehovah or Jesus or Allah I’ll capitalize it as per English grammatical rules. However, since I commonly refer to “god” you can assume I’m speaking of the Biblical deity known as Jehovah or Yahweh.
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.
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.
A while back (quite a while) I had come across a blog post here regarding the book “Heaven is Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back.”
It’s the story of Colton Burpo, the four-year-old child of the pastor of Crossroads Wesleyan Church in Imperial, Nebraska (looks like they’ve only recently installed their WordPress site and not updated it), who during emergency surgery is said to have gone to Heaven to sit in Jesus’ lap and have angels sing to him until he was resuscitated. The book tells of the claims and observations made by the child while he was dead/unconscious that seem to defy logic and support the idea that the Biblical god is for real. So far I’m only 11 pages into it but here are my observations so far:
Colton, like me, was brought up in the church by a pastor and presumably indoctrinated from birth with ideas of Heaven and Hell, Jesus and Satan, angels and demons, and all of the cute little songs that kids learn in Sunday School. Whatever he did or didn’t see during the time when he was dead/unconscious would have been influenced heavily by this because it’s a cornerstone of his upbringing and the foundation of his family’s faith. He doesn’t have to think about Jesus or angels, it’s just part of his immature belief system.
The author (the father, Todd) states in his introduction, “Now, as a pastor, I’m not a believer in superstition.” I completely acknowledge that in this context he’s talking about superstition relating to “chills” or “bad feelings” about a road trip, etc. – the kind of superstition that drives baseball players not to change their socks or whatever. However, Todd most definitely believes in superstition. He believes that the ritual of praying will affect the outcome of an event. He believes that going to church on a regular basis will affect the strength of his faith. He believes that reading the Bible on a regular basis will affect his relationship with god. These are all ritualistic, superstitious practices. If Todd began wearing the same pair of socks whenever he preached because he thought it made his sermon better, it really wouldn’t be a stretch above and beyond what he already believes. The only difference would be that it’s not prescribed by the Bible.
Colton says that while he was in Heaven sitting in Jesus’ lap the angels were singing songs to him like “Jesus Loves Me” and “Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho.” That’s a nice thought, but doesn’t it seem a little silly and maybe too convenient that the angels would just happen to be singing the Sunday School songs Colton knows? I know this seems like a weak objection and I’ll readily admit that, but think about it: angels are ethereal creatures who live on a completely different plane of existence. They would presumably have the capability of singing songs to this child (not even the child, but the child’s soul) that would comfort him. Perhaps “Jesus Loves Me” qualifies as such, but “Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho?” Really? That just seems ridiculous to me…and by that, I mean it’s merely my personal opinion that nobody else has to adopt.
Obviously, I’m skeptical to the claims this book has made and will be making. It’s no secret I don’t believe in Heaven or god. However, I intend to continue reading this book with as open a mind as I can muster and give it due consideration. I’m really curious to see why there’s all the buzz over it, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it all stems from the fact that people who already believe in this find that it provides the sort of evidence that they not only accept but latch onto in order to bolster their beliefs. I doubt this story would do much to convince someone who didn’t already believe before they started reading the book but like I said, I’m only 11 pages into it.
I’ll keep you posted.
I was sitting behind a car at a stoplight today and it had a huge sticker in the rear window:
I had no clue what this was so I looked it up. Apparently it’s from an anime series called Neon Genesis Evangelion. I guess NERV is an organization that fights angels…? Someone feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. Regardless, that’s not the point. I got to thinking about the statement being made.
“God’s in his Heaven, all’s right with the world.”
First, I guess there isn’t a single place I’d rather that god be – if a god exists. The implication I see is that if god were somewhere other than Heaven, all would not be right with the world. I mean if you look at what happens when god starts messing around on Earth, it’s pretty safe to say that humans are better off when he stays home and calls in sick.
Second, you can interpret the word “right” in different ways. For instance, people have been asked to imagine what we would expect the world to look like if there were no god(s) personally involved. Natural disasters, murder, predation, diseases, not enough habitable land mass…that kind of thing. If that’s how you’d expect the world to be without gods then it’s reasonable to say that everything is, in fact, right. The world is working exactly how we’d expect it to work, so god must be in his Heaven and staying out of trouble.
Now, if you were to interpret the word “right” as how you’d expect the world to work if there were god(s) involved then I think you’ve got a strange concept of the purpose of a personal god. If your idea of a personal god is one who designs a world purposely so that more than 70% is uninhabitable by humans inside of a universe that is more than 99.99999999999999999999% uninhabitable by most anything then your god must be a prankster or a child. If you believe in a malicious god or an immature god then I guess everything’s fine for you. Carry on.
I, for one, feel that because I think most definitions of gods are detestable or ridiculous it is much better for everyone if those gods just stay their asses in Heaven and don’t interfere with what’s going on down here. We may be brutal, selfish, and ignorant animals but from what I’ve seen we’re capable of righting more wrongs in more effective ways than any god. If I were the praying type of person, I’d probably pray something like:
Thank you for staying out of our business down here. We’ve got it pretty much under control.
So aside from all of the god stuff in this post, I’d like to take this opportunity to say that my life is great and all really is right with my world. Have a great Monday, everyone!