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A curious believer has sent me an email with some questions in it. She is sincere in her questions and I have taken a stab below at answering her honestly. Her questions are broad though and I do not want to speak for all Atheists so in the interest of fairness I will post her questions and my answers here so others may comment as well.

We will call our writer Kelly. Kelly writes the following:

I am a Christian but I feel very uncomfortable “evangelizing” to people. I cringe when fellow Christians tell me they’ve brought people to Christ. I believe that the omnipotent and omnipresent Lord sort of has control over that situation. For them to take credit for someone else’s conversion kind of makes me chuckle. However, I am equally disturbed by atheists who feel the need, as you say, to evangelize their unbelief. Also, I’m of the belief that if you start a conversation with me about religion then I get to participate. Unfortunately, I’ve had the bad experience of being told that I shouldn’t push my religion on them. Huh??…….

My experience with atheists and agnostics has been negative.

Truth be told, I can accept that you don’t believe in God. I just wanted to be accepted for believing in God. Why must I be considered stupid, naive or at worst an extremist? Isn’t this a form of prejudice/discrimination? Not every Christian is a screaming, judgmental evangelist who beats unbelievers with a Bible. Conversely, not every atheist is a screaming, belligerent college student with a superiority complex.

No doubt, religious and political beliefs are often passionate and deeply held convictions based upon each individual experience.

These are some questions I have:

Do atheists feel a need to disprove the validity of Christianity?

What do you care what Christians believe about your afterlife? You don’t believe it. Isn’t that all that matters?

If a majority of Americans claim that they are Christian or of some other religion then why shouldn’t we have a National Day of Prayer?

Has anyone been arrested or persecuted for not praying recently?

Why are atheist offended by “The National Day of Prayer”, “In God We Trust” National Monuments with the “Ten Commandments?”

**These are sincere attempts on my part to understand. I’m not being sarcastic. I look forward to your response.

Here is my response:

First of all allow me to say that I do not speak on behalf of all Atheists, I can speak for myself only, I will allow other Atheists to speak to their approach.

Do atheists feel a need to disprove the validity of Christianity?

Only insomuch as the validity of Christianity is used as the basis for judgment against Atheists. Not just Atheists might I add but all other non-Christian religions. I do not care what you believe or do not believe. I don’t care if you serve a Chihuahua in a tuxedo, a Unicorn, or an omnipotent being. Your beliefs are yours and yours alone and you have every right to have them. I write about Christianity because it the single greatest controlling factor in the nation in which I live.

What do you care what Christians believe about your afterlife? You don’t believe it. Isn’t that all that matters?

I don’t care what Christians believe about my afterlife provided they keep their opinion to themselves. I do care when their opinion causes my every day life to be disrupted. It matters.

If a majority of Americans claim that they are Christian or of some other religion then why shoudn’t we have a National Day of Prayer?

If a majority of Americans want a day of prayer they should have at it. They should work amongst themselves and organize the event. Just like Gay pride day, or fathers rights rallies, or the truckers organizing events in DC. I am 100% in favor of your right to pray. What I am not in favor of is a government sponsored event advocating any religious belief. This is not rocket science, The United states government is a representative of ALL people. What if the government had a national White skin day? It is true to say that the majority of Americans are white skinned, would that be OK?

Has anyone been arrested or persecuted for not praying recently?

Arrested? Not that I am aware of at least not in America, persecuted? ABSOLUTELY! Atheism has been demonized (sorry but I can’t come up with a better word). Open Atheists have many challenges with believers including challenges at work and other social and economic challenges. This is the reason that so many Atheist blogs and writers do so under assumed names. We are forced to protect our identities. Many of these blogs receive violent, threatening emails on a regular basis. The big name Athiests – Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris and the like receive regular threats against their lives, why? Becuase they don’t believe in God and have the courage to say so in public.

I appreciate that you threw in “Recently” because this illustrates that you are at least somewhat familiar with your religious history and the massacre of so many in the name of so little.

Why are atheist offended by “The National Day of Prayer”, “In God We Trust” National Monuments with the “Ten Commandments?”

Again these slogans and activities are not the role of the federal government of the United States. If these slogans were concerning the superiority of Men, or the superiority of a particular race their meaning becomes different to you this is how I view the meaning of these slogans and activities.

I hope that helps you understand a little bit better. Further reading on my blog on this subject can be found in the links below.

You ask me why I care
Do Unbelievers Evangelize?

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Christians and Bible believers simply do not understand what it is they profess to believe.  This ridiculous “Moral” compass they profess to believe is a product of society and not the product of some twisted holy book.

 Case in point.  I was having a discussion with a co-worker the other day about the direction of our country and the world in general when she threw into the discussion that if America doesn’t change it’s ways it will end up like Sodom.  She then further expounded that only those who are holy will escape like Lot did.  Intrigued and honestly wanting to mess with her a bit I asked her what this story was about.

 Her response:

 In the early part of the Bible there were two cities that were very sinful and a man named Lot who was holy.  God told the holy man to get his family out of the cities because he was going to punish the sinners by destroying the cities.  So the man took his family and left the city but his wife turned around and looked and she was turned into a pillar of salt because she was sinful too.

 The real story:

 Now her response is pretty typical, I think, of what Bible believers think of this story, but she left out a couple of things that  I think are important. So let me recap the story in a bit more detail than my esteemed co-worker seemed to know – by the way I shared this with her as well.

 This tale of the Bible begins with Abraham talking with God about Gods plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because “their sin is very great”.  God says he is going to go and look and see if it true.  But Abraham rebukes God and says that God should not destroy the righteous with the sinners. So  God makes a deal with Abraham that,  if when he goes to look, he finds 50 righteous people in the cities he will spare everyone there.  Abraham says well……how about 45? God says fine, so Abraham says well….how about 40? God says fine and so the bargaining continues all the way down to 10. 

 Abraham and God then part company and God goes to Sodom and Gomorrah to see if he can find any righteous souls.  (NOTE: Why would an omnipotent God have to go look?)

 Now God, of course, is not going to do this work himself so he sends a couple of angels to Sodom to check out the city and see if they can find any righteousness.  To their luck they find Lot at the gates to the city.  Lot welcomes them and gives them room and board at his place.  After some debate they agree and Lot makes them a big meal. After eating the people of the city surround Lots house, the bible says all the men of the city, the young and the old surrounded Lots house and asked for the two angels to be give to them so they can have sex with them.  At this point you would think that Lot would “say go to hell” but instead with no debate whatsoever Lot says (paraphrasing): Well, I have two daughters and they are both virgins….how about you take them instead. (Note: Truly Lot must have been a holy man)

 Luckily for Lot’s virgin daughters the Angels were a bit nobler than their dad and they made all the people looking for man love blind and thus allowed Lot, his wife and his daughters to escape to the nearby city of Zoar before God engulfed the cities in fire and brimstone.  But Lots wife turned around to witness the destruction and as a consequence for this she was turned into a pillar of salt.

 Now the typical story ends here but there is more.  Lot left Zoar and went up into the mountains with his daughters and lived in a cave because he was afraid to live in Zoar.  In the mountain Lot’s virgin daughters longed for the company of men so one night they got their father drunk and the oldest daughter had sex with him.  Then the next day they got him drunk again and the youngest daughter also had sex with him. Both daughters ended up pregnant as a result of this incestuous love.

 Conclusion:

 This story could have easily been written by Nora Roberts with the amount of sex and sexual suspense it contains, but it wasn’t, it was apparently penned by the hand of God.  Somehow this story is an example of Gods love for the righteous and judgment on the wicked.  As I reflect on this story I see no difference between the men in the street wanting to rape the Angels and Lot himself having sex with his daughters.  Somehow to God, Lot offering his two daughters to the mob was a righteous act, I doubt very much anyone else could see it that way. 

 The fact is, the Bible is filled with this kind of tripe, and each time it is offered up by the believer as an example of Godliness and love.  Each time it is offered up as a model by which to live our lives and proof that morality is a product of God.

 Get serious…….

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It is traditional to attend services on Sunday and learn from the word of God. There is a great website called God Is Imaginary that contains large amounts of good information but it takes some time to read and listen to it all. For the next few weeks I will post up some of the videos that pertain to this site as a Sunday Sermon. I think you will find these to be a bit better prepared and thought out than the one you may have heard earlier today.

~AP~

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It is traditional to attend services on Sunday and learn from the word of God. There is a great website called God Is Imaginary that contains large amounts of good information but it takes some time to read and listen to it all. For the next few weeks I will post up some of the videos that pertain to this site as a Sunday Sermon. I think you will find these to be a bit better prepared and thought out than the one you may have heard earlier today.

~AP~

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“No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means” – George Bernard Shaw

Kaleidoscope
As a child one of my favorite toys was a kaleidoscope. A simple but imaginative device it is a tube of mirrors containing loose colored beads, pebbles or other small colored objects. The viewer looks in one end and light enters the other end, reflecting off the mirrors. Typically there are two rectangular lengthwise mirrors. Setting of the mirrors at 45° creates eight duplicate images of the objects, six at 60°, and four at 90°. As the tube is rotated, the tumbling of the colored objects presents the viewer with varying colors and patterns. Any arbitrary pattern of objects shows up as a beautiful symmetric pattern because of the reflections in the mirrors(1).

The wonder of this childhood toy for me was if I got bored with or didn’t like the current configuration of pattern presented, I need only twist the lens to see something more to my liking. Peering through a kaleidoscope offers a variety of different views but it is only possible to see a variation of views provided by the limited components of the scope. So there I would sit with one eye closed to the world around me and the other eye firmly planted to the end of a tube that represented the world in a pleasing and satisfyingly changing way.

The lens of religion works in much the same way. The religious close their eye to the world around them and peer through their religion to find a pleasing and satisfying world view. If they are unhappy with what they find they need only tweak the lens until they find a desirable configuration. Like the kaleidoscope no two views are the same.

The Assertion
Christianity today is a shadow of it’s previous self. What believers tout today as “moral living” and “upright behavior” would, in previous eras, be considered heresy. Those who preach anything resembling historically accurate religious theology are considered fundamental and obnoxious. Among their ranks are religious zealots such as Pat Robertson, Fred Phelps and young earth creationists including Patrick Young (PH.D). Many, if not most, main stream Christians have included into their doctrines certain basic scientific proofs including older earth theories, evolution (within the same species), basic astrology facts and have acknowledged the power of medicine. They have taken special care however, to credit God for allowing all of these truths to exist and using them as examples of his greatness.

If any of today’s Christians were to time travel to mid 1300’s they would be tortured and killed for heresy, yet their claims of belief are unchanged. They still serve the same God; they govern good and evil from the same text and preach the same basic message. The moral code upon which their faith is based is unchanged and yet what is considered moral and true has changed dramatically.

If we were to ask Christians today about such things as slavery, genocide, child abuse or rape and inquire as to whether or not such actions were a sin they would certainly (at least in my experience) and universally say that they are. Furthermore, defense of the position of these actions being immoral would be produced from scripture. Upon contest of their stance utilizing alternate scripture, the defense is given in regards to the time the scripture was written. One must take care to remember that in many circumstance these same scriptures, in generations past, were used to support what today would be immoral actions.

Christianity, in all various forms, has been and remains the religion that takes the least amount of ownership for its actions and has also been the least consistent religion on the planet. Christianity shares with its chief rival, Islam, a conviction of being the only true path to God and also has a commonality of a particularly bloody past. The primary difference being that Islam, has, for all intents and purposes, embraced these attributes while Christian apologists have attempted to justify or disown the immoral actions of previous generations.

There are more than 34,000 variations of the Christian religion(2) including Catholicism. Each of these variations have turned thier kaleidoscope with which to see the present world and the history of mankind and each of these believe they have found the true key to salvation.

Many Christians have chosen to leave the label of “religion” behind them. These believers have decided that no religion is representative of what they see through the kaleidoscope and state that they have found the “real” Jesus. These types feel that the previous 2000 years of Christendom are all incorrect and they have received a personal revelation as to the truth about God. The narrow lens of religion is very accommodating and will allow a person see whatever they want to see as they look through it.

The Narrow Lens
The narrow lens of religion is a term I use to describe the view the religious person has of the world around them. It extends from how they read and interpret the Bible to their views on the after life. The lens filters world history and indeed, in many cases, eliminates all historical contexts for belief between the time the New Testament ends and the present, because the events do not fit the viewers current interpretation of God or his will.

The lens’ range inhibits the viewers thought processes. It conditions the mind to stop asking questions and accept that the unknown is God’s doing and no further investigation is needed. Indeed, historically speaking, the lens has made its viewers quite violent towards those who have stepped beyond its scope.

The lens narrows the viewer’s reality to the contents of a book and those concepts and realities forced upon them by society. The intriguing thing about the lens however is its ability to, once included, make what it sees seem like the way it has always been. Again, the lens negates history and insists that the current view is the one, true, and correct view and that said view has always been thus.

The lens’ historical filter enables the viewer to embrace concepts such as Pascal’s wager, the proofs of Thomas Aquinas and the “miracles” of the patron saints but filter out the unpleasantness of the inquisitions, slavery, women’s rights, witch trials and the murder and torture of freethinking men and women of philosophy and science. The lens is a versatile tool, employed largely unconsciously, throughout human history.

My Lens
As a former believer I remember well the inner struggle to quench the questions that almost universally began with “What if?”. When the questions were to strong my lens was there to remind me that “What if?” was irrelevant – close one eye and peer through the scope at the symmetrical patterns of faith I had learned so well. The lens of religion calmed my mind and allowed the world to make sense once more.

As I began my voyage away from belief, I tucked my lens away in its velvet case, placed it in a drawer somewhere in the recesses of my mind and I remember feeling quite naked and exposed. I also reeled, as I still do, at the exploration of the pebbles and beads of religion, science and philosophy that were not reflected in the mirrors of my own kaleidoscope. Everything that I found, discovered and learned since that day has solidified my decision to leave behind me the world of fairy tales.

~AP~

(1) Kaleidoscope (2)World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions – AD 30 to 2200

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This is Richard Dawkins reading from his book “The God Delusion” at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in November of 2006.  The best bits are at the end when he does his Q&A session with the audience.

http://vodpod.com/watch/1312558-the-god-delusion-richard-dawkins-on-fora-tv

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It is traditional to attend services on Sunday and learn from the word of God. There is a great website called God Is Imaginary that contains large amounts of good information but it takes some time to read and listen to it all. For the next few weeks I will post up some of the videos that pertain to this site as a Sunday Sermon. I think you will find these to be a bit better prepared and thought out than the one you may have heard earlier today.

~AP~

Read Full Post »

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