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).
o there I was: a kid spending every Sunday morning and evening, Wednesday night and every major (and some minor) holiday in church. At this point church was still fun because I was doing arts and crafts, seeing flannelgraph stories and singing those great children’s songs that virtually everybody knows. Oh, the songs! They’re catchy, they’re cute, and they’re memorable. Regardless of how I may feel now about religion I can still sing all of those songs on demand.
Song is arguably one of the most effective ways to drill ideas into a kid’s head. There’s a reason you teach a kid the alphabet in song before they can read. When you want to remember something it helps to put it to music. For instance (and I can still sing this one too), children are taught to memorize the books of the Bible with this little number:
he stories you hear in church as a child make the Bible seem so sensible and happy. You’ve got a man and a woman created perfectly just for each other, talking animals, big boats full of kangaroos and penguins, babies in baskets, guys rough-housing with god, trumpeters blowing down walls, Jesus the meek and gentle shepherd who loves you so very very much, and a wonderful gift that you can keep forever and ever. Isn’t it all so wonderful?
You know what they don’t tell you when you’re a kid? Incest, murder, unfair punishment, intentional ignorance, violations of free will, genocide, slaughtering of the innocents, more incest, more genocide, slavery, oppression of women, more slaughtering of the innocent, more slavery, more oppression of women! When does it end? It’s enough to make you vomit! And the people preaching this book are the same ones who get indignant when a television show portrays two men kissing.
s I said before, I don’t remember much about my childhood. My earliest memory was my acceptance of Jesus into my heart and then nothing until about 10 years old. It’s been suggested by more than one therapist that I’ve repressed those years because of abuse but I have no real reason to believe that’s the case. Although, corporal punishment in my family was applied (pardon the pun) religiously.
I and my siblings were spanked with hands, belts, rulers and wooden spoons. I had a wooden spoon broken over my tush — an occurrence over which my mom had voiced much lasting remorse. As long as I can remember, spanking was nearly the first line of correction and it wasn’t until later in life that punishments like grounding were implemented. My dad always told me, “You’re never too old for a spanking.”
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.
OK, so I’ve been accused of “committing hate” by another Xangan and I just want to take this opportunity to clear something up: I don’t hate anybody. I told this Xangan that I would create a post for them to showcase my hatred because it was, at the time, muddying up someone else’s perfectly good blog with a bunch of nonsense. Here it is, in all its glory!
Hatred is a very strong word that carries implications far exceeding displeasure or dislike. Honestly, if you just dislike something or someone you should just use the word “dislike.” Hatred should be reserved for those things you wish to destroy. Like, literally obliterate, never to be seen or heard of again. I can’t think of a single thing I want to completely destroy. I’m guilty of disliking a bunch of things. Actually, I’ve become quite curmudgeonly lately and there are probably more things I dislike than like.
So let’s examine some reasons why I might be accused of hatred:
- I’m an atheist.
- I’m not a liberal.
- I think Glenn Beck is a sensationalist idiot.
- I called someone a troll.
Now, let’s break these down and see just what kind of hatred I’m bandying about.
1. I’m an atheist.
Actually, this is almost too stupid an accusation to address. However, since it is the opinion of this other Xangan that atheists – by definition – are filled with hatred I suppose I have to explain. I don’t hate Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Pastafarians, Rastafarians, Buddhists, Jews, Baha’i, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, or Scientologists. I typically don’t even dislike them, though I make exceptions for the more abrasive members of all religions. I simply have a fundamental disagreement as to the truth of their claims regarding the supernatural and the unprovable/unfalsifiable. I speak out against what I view to be falsehood and/or dangerous ideas and sometimes I get riled up when I see that the effects of these ideas are causing people harm. Far from hatred, that shows a love for my fellow human beings who are being harmed. What I dislike about religion is its pervasive nature and the weaseling of religious ideas and “values” into every aspect of our lives whether or not they’re welcome. I don’t go knocking on people’s doors at dinner time to spread my hateful atheist message. I wouldn’t mind if people just stopped believing in gods and I try to tell people why, but I’ve never hatefully tried to force someone not to believe.
2. I’m not a liberal.
I was accused of being a liberal by the same person who says I resort to calling names. This, in itself, wouldn’t be a big deal even though it’s false. Some of my views are liberal; others are conservative. I consider myself a moderate and I am absolutely in no way affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties. However, since we have to consider the source of the accusation I think it’s fair to say that this was a definitive insult. The person accusing me of being a liberal holds the view that liberals are destroying this country, want a socialist state, like to bitch about their rights being taken away while lobbying for others’ rights to disappear, continually whine about things not being fair, would like nothing more than to see all Christians tarred and feathered, and don’t know their asses from their elbows. If I’ve missed anything, I’m sure this person will correct me. That being said, how would I see the accusation of being a liberal as anything other than a blatant insult? Maybe I’m just too liberal and being a whiner.
3. I think Glenn Beck is a sensationalist idiot.
Yeah, I really do. That doesn’t, however, mean that I hate him. If I were to meet him I’m quite sure I could have a civil conversation with him…until he calls me a socialist Nazi or whatever. He and I obviously disagree on nearly every issue (except he also thinks Birthers are distracting people from real issues) but that doesn’t indicate hate. I’m pretty sure he’s wrong about most things and that he probably doesn’t even believe a lot of what he says. That doesn’t indicate anything except that we’re two different people with different backgrounds and different philosophies. Big deal.
4. I called someone a troll.
This is damning. Well, it might be damning…or not. Calling someone a troll is not akin to telling them you hate them. In fact, sometimes trolls are very entertaining! On the Internet, a set of irritating behaviors displayed with consistency will normally get you labeled a troll. For instance, when someone comments on your blog posts in opposition (not a crime) and continually redirects the comments to slightly different topics (annoying) while refusing to answer direct questions in rebuttal (dishonest) and eventually claiming persecution (trollish), I’d call that person a troll. It has no bearing on my feelings for that person. It also doesn’t indicate that I think the person is ugly or stinky because I’m not calling them a literal troll, I’m calling them an Internet troll. There’s a difference, just so you know. Yeah, I realize that this post is sort of feeding the troll, but I’m bored.
This is a real troll.
This is an Internet troll.
In fact, let’s get something straight: people on the Internet are not important enough to me to have any real strong feelings toward or against.
Quit flattering yourself and thinking you’re important enough for me to hate. You’re not. At the very most (and this might even be a stretch) you annoy me. At the very least you amuse me and help my day go by more quickly. So there you go, I don’t hate you or anyone else. I’ve not “committed hatred” (whatever that means) and life goes on.
A lot of people have probably already seen the Focus on the Family’s new Web site, truetolerance.org. This site appears to be a response to public schools’ anti-bullying programs where children are presented with the idea that different lifestyles are not evil. The way they present the information, it’s positioned as though implementing anti-bullying laws against sexual orientation is exactly identical in every way to not-so-subtly suggesting that everybody should choose that sexual orientation. They’re trying to turn kids gay!
Concerned about homosexual advocacy in your child’s school? You’ve come to the right place. TrueTolerance.org helps you respond in a loving and fact-based way. Click the links below for tips on communicating with your school officials.
Teh gayz iz infexus!
In the video on the front page the woman explains that in some classes they even present sexually graphic material to the children. Now, I’m not personally involved in the school systems but I have to seriously doubt the veracity of this statement – unless the “sexually graphic” material being presented is akin to the “sexually graphic” content of sex ed classes. In that case, I’d suspect that it’s presented in a clinical manner to educate, not to indoctrinate. I have a hard time believing that our schools are trying their damnedest to convert the entire school to homosexuality. What would be the point??
Welcome to sex ed, m’kay?
I ran into a similar argument when I was talking to my father some time ago about homosexuality. He told me that homosexuals are recruiting and that they try to get kids as young as possible so they can mold them and turn them gay. I was appalled and felt nauseated. All I could do is tell him that I knew nothing of any homosexual recruiting campaign. I added that since his religion pretty much perfected and perpetuates this sort of tactic, he’s really just projecting. I mean, apart from the church(es), what group of people can you name who starts indoctrinating children straight out of the womb?
Get ’em while they’re young!
Anyway, Focus on the Family sickens me to no end. My parents idolize James Dobson and his hate-filled views on the world, transparently disguised as “family values.” They want to retain their rights to persecute and marginalize groups of people and are attempting to organize their lackeys to petition school districts and governmental representatives with their boilerplate e-mails and “educational materials” so that these anti-bullying laws will be repealed. Just what, do you suppose, Jesus would freaking do?!
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.
…back in March of last year on Goodreads. While my underlying point holds true – that basing your world view and morality off of the Bible is dangerous – I think I would write it differently now. I’m not entirely happy with the wording I used.
On a whim, I read through the comments on the review again and there was some good information presented as well as some ignorant crap. For instance:
message 21: by Redneck – rated it 5 stars “What in the world is going through that little mind of yours? I recomend that you read it again with the perspective that God created you and that what you write on as your “reveiw” (more like a smack on the face to God and anyone who considers themselfs christain) can offend someone.”
This kind of sums up my general experience with religious people. Yes, I called it fiction. Yes, I said it was full of nonsense. But then, so is this person’s comment. And the grammatically-incorrect typo generator says I have a little mind? That’s a laugh.
Anyone who knows me knows that when I originally read the Bible from beginning to end I did have the perspective that god created me. I considered myself a Christian and thought I had a relationship with Jesus. It was only after reading through the Bible with my family that doubts started seeping into my mind and I began to question my beliefs. It was precisely the nonsense in the Bible that got me to the point of thinking critically about what I had been taught.
Second, even if I were to go back and read the Bible again right now I’d never be able to force myself into the perspective that god created me and that the book I’m reading is his authoritative, factual word. Try forcing yourself to believe that there’s a ninja creeping up behind you right now. Do it! You can’t, can you? That’s OK, neither can I. There are some things you just can’t make yourself believe no matter how much you’d like to. For me, god is one of those things.
So yes, I think the Bible is fiction. Yes, I think it’s full of nonsense. No, you don’t have to be offended by my opinion because nothing I say has to have an effect on what you believe. It’s a book review, get over it.