ne thing religious people cannot stress enough is that they’re all about family. Their organizations even have names like Focus on the Family and the American Family Association (branded a hate group out of MS). For the most part I find this to be true so long as everyone’s keeping the faith and maintaining the status quo. I can say from my upbringing (aside from corporal punishment and having no say in church attendance) that our Christian family was very tight-knit and we spent a lot of quality time together. It wasn’t perfect, but it was far better than a lot of other families I’ve seen. Now, to clarify, some of these not-so-happy families I’ve seen are religious as well so it’s not as though they have a corner on the market. I’m just speaking to the Christian view that family is important.
As I said, religious families are close-knit and happy so long as everyone’s keeping the faith. They don’t say, “The family that prays together stays together” for no reason. It’s literally true. I found this out myself when I started to upset the status quo of my family and I was made to feel like an outcast. My family’s treatment of me was mild compared to what some people endure at the hands of their religious parents, grandparents, and siblings.
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.
hen 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.
JT Eberhard recently posted a story about an “Adopt-an-Atheist” program proposed by Bill Donohue of the Catholic League. I, like many others, think this is a great idea! I’d love to have the Catholic Church send a few unsuspecting saps my way to try to justify the behavior and beliefs of the Catholic Church, its clergy, and the whole of Christianity. If you’re an atheist and you want to be adopted by the Catholic Church, you can fill out this contact form and let them know.
Here’s my invitation:
I recently got wind of the “Adopt-an-Atheist” program proposed by Bill Donohue and want to congratulate you on such a wonderful idea! As an atheist activist myself, I’d like to let you know that I’m effectively orphaned from gods and as such up for adoption. Since no gods have contacted me as yet, I avail myself to humans to rescue me from my spiritual broken home and make me feel wanted again.
You see, I’ve personally been guilty of anti-Catholic bias. More accurately, I’m biased against all untestable, unfalsifiable claims to the supernatural and the people in leadership positions who exploit the gullibility of other human beings. It’s not just Catholicism, if you want to know the truth. It’s all forms of manipulation, greed, abuse, oppression, ignorance, violence, intolerance, and bigotry. It’s a bias against people who enable others to harm children by looking the other way. It’s a bias against those who avoid responsibility for their actions by claiming that a cosmic “good guy” forgives them unconditionally so long as they apologize telepathically. I’m most certainly biased and I think the only way for you to show me the light is to adopt me and put some real time and effort into helping me see exactly why all of this is OK. You certainly have your work cut out for you.
I suppose the worst that could happen is that I talk some sense into whomever you send my way and you lose a tither. In that case, you shouldn’t look at it so much as the Church losing money but as the world gaining one more rational, responsible, compassionate human being. I said before that your idea is wonderful and I mean it. Send us some Catholics! We love the challenge.
You can reach me any time at jon(at)willisweb(dot)com or via my contact form on The Wayward Willis, http://willisweb.com.
If they get back to me (their contact form says they have a high volume of requests so they may not answer all e-mails), I’ll most certainly be posting up the results here. I doubt anything will come of this because the religious community seems to be all talk and no action but you’ll hear it here first. Stay tuned!
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’ve been in a number of debates in person and online where emotions flared and the conversation eventually boiled down to a variant of the following:
Why can’t you just respect a person’s beliefs?
Here’s the problem with that: not all beliefs are created equal and not all are worthy of respect. The person saying the above is usually emotionally invested in the beliefs I’ve questioned and is usually unable to present any rational reason for a person holding those beliefs in the first place. What they’re really saying is, “Since I can’t defend my untenable beliefs I really wish you would leave them alone so I don’t feel like I have to!”
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!
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!”
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.