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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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I recently wrote a post entitled Your Kids are going to hell

Here is a perfect example of what I was referring to. This baptist is telling his flock about how to not only tell people thier kids are going to hell but also how to over come objections from the parents of the dead child! Amazing! Only God could make people this messed up.

Do Babies go to heaven?

I encourage you to go read this trash and then comment and tell him what you think about it. I am sure mine as well as your comments will all be promptly deleted but it still should be fun.

“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

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

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~

While I am not a religious person and I find religion to be the “beast” of our world there are three things about religion that I relish in.

First the art, from the chaotic drawings in Dante’s inferno to the stained glass windows of the Cathedrals to the wondrous paintings in the Sistine chapel. Religion has provided some of the most amazing art ever created. To Dawkins point, would we have the same works of wonder if the times they were created under were had different beliefs? Perhaps, perhaps not, either way they are amazing to look at, I am grateful that they exist.

Secondly the music, since I was a small boy I have learned and loved the old hymns, from “I’ll fly away” to “Amazing Grace” , Catholic monk chants and the prayers of Islam. Being raised in an evangelical church the songs were usually upbeat with bass sections that I would enjoy listening to my father sing. As I got older and distanced myself from my religion the words lost their meaning but oh how I still love to hear the old songs. You will often catch me singing an old hymn and if you know me you will initially be confused.

Lastly I find the rituals of the Jewish, Muslim and Catholic Churches intriguing. The pomp and circumstance can be trying but when you combine the mythology of the religion with the rituals it can be quite a beautiful thing. Of course some the rituals are horrible and some are down right brutal but some are quite beautiful.

Shame that an institution (religion) that has so much beauty is so ugly at its heart.

The wonderful thing about being an Atheist is the ability to find beauty in all things. The Christians have a saying that goes like this: Hate the sin, love the sinner. For me I hate the message of religion but there are many things about the underlying culture that I find pleasing.

This is a very beautiful Islamic song I found. It is in English and Arabic but I also enjoy many traditional Islamic songs as well. If you can distance yourself from the religious aspects and the goal of endoctrinating children and settle into the ebb and flow of the song you may find it quite pleasing. It is sung by Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), granted not your typical Muslim, or maybe he is. This is off a children’s album he dedicated to his daughter.

Do you find beauty in religious things?  If you are a religious person do you find beauty in other religions?

~AP~

Belivers often ask why I care. If I don’t believe then why not just shut up about it? they ask. If I don’t believe people have anything to gain through religion why bother spending time talking about religion?

I explored this concept in depth in my post Do Unbelievers Evangelize? but I want to add a couple of points to that topic.

I live in a country completely controlled by a religious majority. Even the “Left” is populated by religious people. 85% of this country believes in some kind of imaginary friend. Many believers in imaginary friends are not passive about those who do not share their friend or live by the rules their friend laid out. In fact they are often times right out violent about it.

There is a reason so many Atheist bloggers do their writing under a pseudonym. Lets say for a moment that my place of employment learned of my Atheism, my chances for advancement becomes much lower (especially in my particular state). I own a company, lets say my potential clients learned of my Atheism, how do you think that would impact my ability to sell goods and services?

The social pressures in this nation say that you must believe in a fairy tale creature or else you are subject to persecution. Though my friends and family know where I stand, I do not have the ability to speak about it as a believer would speak about his or her faith in other circles.

I care because this mind set must stop.  Atheism or the acceptance of those who do not believe in a higher power,  is gaining ground but we are still a significant minority, and unlike other minorities we are not a protected class. You cannot discriminate against some one due to religion but I do not have a religion, my skin is not an indicator of my beliefs nor is my sexuality or gender.

I care because the mind sets of the religious restrict freedoms in this country and around the world. Women’s rights are stifled by bible thumping men who still believe women should be subservient. Racial inequality (what remains of it) is propagated by religious inbreeding particularly in the South. The fact that sexuality is even an issue to be discussed at all. Elected officials cannot get elected without stating their belief in fairy tales and the greatest minds in the world are judged by the masses against their lack of belief more than their astounding discoveries.

There was a blog named The Primordial Blog. His work discovered his blog and did not approve of his subject matter and he was forced to stop blogging or get a different job. He chose his job. Lets pretend, for a moment, that he was a pastor. Do you think his place of employment would put the same restrictions on him in that circumstance? Absolutely not!

I think that unless unbelievers unite and preach “The new Good News” we will continue to struggle in these capacities. The more people know it is OK to doubt and not believe in sky gods, heaven, hell or believe in an archaic system of morality the better the world is going to be for everyone.

Do I hope that some will be persuaded by the writings of Atheists? Sure! It is my hope that all will see that there is more to life than what belief offers. Though I am not trying to convert anyone I do hope to expose people to a different view. Perhaps someone may see truth as more appealing than fiction. More than anything though I write because it is an outlet for my frustration.

Believers come here or go to other Atheist blogs and ask silly questions about “what does it matter what is right and wrong if there is no God?” or “why do you care enough to post against God?” and on and on the silly questions roll. As a believer they think they have the truth, if that truth meant loss of personal safety, to them and thier family as well as had negative social and economic repercussions they would care even more than they already do. By all means share your version of the truth with me, my readers and other Atheists, but don’t ask silly questions.  Just like you I believe that I have the truth.

Remember believer that your version of the truth is only one version out of a possible 22 major religions and over 34,000 variations of those religions. Each variation claims they are the truth and many, if not most of those variations believe that their version to the exclusion of all others is truth and the rest are damned to hell.

All that said the blind ignorance to truth that believers have is a whole bunch of fun to make fun of too 🙂

If you are an Atheist why do you care enough to blog, post comments or talk about it?

If you are a believer why do you care enough to blog, visit sites like this one or talk about it?

~AP~