Saturday, August 6, 2011

The World Trade Center Cross -- Learn to Pick Your Fights

I feel the need to preface this entry with an apology for the long hiatus. I'm not going to make any excuses, but ... here are some excuses: I was playing in a lot of World Series of Poker events and I was trying to start up a few businesses/help another startup company grow. It has been pretty hectic. Now, onto the topic at hand.

There has been a lot of discussion lately about the cross Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Center terrorist attack. Basically, a huge steel cross (a cross-shaped piece of actual rubble from the Ground Zero site, comprised of I-beams), is to be placed in the National September 11th Memorial and Museum. The American Atheists group filed a lawsuit over the inclusion of the cross, saying that it -- obviously -- promotes Christianity.

I'm of two minds on this controversy. First, it's obviously inconsiderate and inappropriate to put the cross at the site, since many of those who died were of different religions or were entirely non-religious. To put a cross at the site is basically saying, "We honor the Christians who died here on that fateful day." It basically dismisses or minimizes the deaths of hundreds of those who died. If everyone who died had been Christian, I'd be all for this -- but that's obviously not the case. If the Memorial and Museum had allowed other belief systems/non-believers to include their own memorial symbol, I'd be fine with that, too -- but they did not, and they're ignoring requests.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Problem with Hell

The most-recent issue of Time Magazine featured the cover story "What if There's No Hell?"

Well, obviously there isn't a hell, so presenting the query as a "What if?" makes it an impossible question to answer.

But I tried to suspend my disbelief and pretend to be a Christian; how would I respond to the question in that case? Well, I was still a bit incapable of answering the question. From a Christian perspective, there 100% is a hell -- there is no debate. It is mentioned numerous times in the New Testament (although not in the Old Testament, as Jews don't believe in hell). So, the question becomes: "What if Christianity is False?," and that just brings me back full-circle to, "Well, duh."

The Time article is all about Evangelical Pastor Rob Bell's crazy idea that everyone goes to some form of heaven, and that there is no hell. The idea is entirely unfounded, biblically, and because it's coming from the pastor of a 7,000-member megachurch, it's causing a bunch of controversy.

The reason Bell randomly decided hell didn't exist is kinda funny, because it's one of the (many) reasons I eventually deconverted to atheism. His church was hosting an art exhibit, and there was a Gandhi quote involved in some piece. Someone pointed out that Gandhi is in hell because he didn't believe in Jesus, and Bell was like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Whoa. Gandhi can't be in hell. Gandhi is the epitome of peace and love! But you're right, if there's a hell, he's technically supposed to be in it. Well, that can mean only one thing: There is no hell."

Erm, or how about Christianity is bullshit, Sherlock?

Bell's revelation really is very funny to me, because I've used that exact argument as a "Gotcha!" when debating Christians for quite some time:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Do Christians Really Believe? Part 2

I've previously written that I don't think the majority of Christians truly believe in Christianity. If they did, they'd be deliriously happy when loved ones died, and tragedies around the world would elicit a collective "meh," because who cares? It was God's will, and they're all wherever they're supposed to be now, anyway. If Christianity were true then -- sadly -- psychopaths like Pat Robertson and those at the Westboro Baptist Church would be entirely right. People like that see a tragedy and interpret it as a good thing, regardless of the innocent lives lost -- even those of children. (By the way, a good friend recently pointed me to a BBC documentary about the Westboro Baptist Church. You'll find the YouTube videos that comprise the documentary at the end of this post.)

Don' t Waste Your LifeSo, why approach this topic again? Well, while I was shopping for some new reading for my Kindle, I came across a few particularly interesting books. First, I saw the cover of a book titled Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper. On its cover was a sort of distorted silhouette of Jesus hanging on the cross. Looking at that title and cover, I got excited. "Haha, awesome, how blatantly disrespectful. Don't waste your life praying to an imaginary friend and going to church to worship something that doesn't exist. I love the premise!"

Well, then I read the synopsis:

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Good Book -- A Bible for Atheists?

Do atheists really need a go-to book? An Atheists Bible, so to speak? I believe Christopher Hitchens tends to think so, judging by his book The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever. There's also a book actually called The Atheist's Bible, although it's just a collection of anti-religious quotes and musings. There's also the Jefferson Bible, actually titled The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, in which Jefferson took the Bible and stripped it of all miracles, supernatural BS, and claims of divinity.

Of course, there are the prominent books by the so-called "New Atheists" that many people consider atheistic Bibles of sorts: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, The End of Faith by Sam Harris, and Breaking the Spell by Daniel C. Dennett, among other books that were essentially rallying cries for atheists.

The Good Book: A Humanist BibleAccording to A.C. Grayling, however, none of the above quite fits the bill of a Bible for atheists. While I enjoyed all of the above books, I tend to agree with him. I also think the idea of a compendium of secular, humanistic ideals for non-theists to live by is a great step toward de-demonizing atheists, and giving people non-religious inspiration to lead good lives is always a great idea.

So, Grayling came up with his book, a compendium ideals and philosophies from prominent secular authors and thinkers. He calls it The Good Book: A Humanist Bible. He even went so far as to format it like the Christian Bible, with chapters, verses, and books. He really does want it to be the sort of thing that people memorize and quote from, and I don't think that's a bad thing.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Atheists are Satanic, Islamic, and Evil

(Note: Sorry I've been away for awhile. I had some big changes in my life that resulted in "for fun" writing taking a back seat. Here's hoping I'm back and ready to go full speed ahead!)

Hopefully my readers immediately see the paradox of the first two adjectives in this blog entry's title. However, it seems that a not insignificant segment of America would read that headline and accept it outright as obvious. To a powerful, vocal percentage of U.S. citizens, atheists worship Satan, likely pal around with Islamic people (who they automatically label as sketchy malcontents), and are just evil in general (or, at the very least, amoral).

For those who may not be on board quite yet, understand that an atheist doesn't believe in God, and that extends to the books and religious tenets that this non-existent God didn't write. So, to say that an atheist is satanic is idiotic at best. Sorry, but no, we don't worship something we don't think exists.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Is the Bible a Tool for Atheism?

Isaac Asimov
A recent Pew research poll came to the "shocking" conclusion that atheists and agnostics know more about religion than religious people do. As you can tell from my quotes, I didn't find those results so much shocking as rather obvious. (If you want to test yourself, Pew published an unofficial Internet version of the poll questions online. When you're done, you can compare your results with the official results on a very in-depth basis.)

Given my passion for anti-theism, I may not be an accurate representation of the typical atheist, but the fact remains that I know more than a vast number of believers about their own religion. (Although I admit that I'm lacking in non-Christian religious knowledge, but I know more about other religions than most Christians do.)

But the point is not that I'm an atheist, so I know more about religion; that's the wrong cause and effect. I think the more accurate way to phrase it is that I know more about religion, so I'm an atheist.

As the late, great Isaac Asimov wrote: "Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived." -- Isaac Asimov

(More quotes like the above on my atheism quotes page.)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Are Outspoken Atheists Doing More Harm Than Good?

Does being confrontational do atheists any favors?
It's one thing to constantly preach to the choir (you're the choir here) about why Christianity is illogical, irrational, and harmful to society, but I truly believe that if you can't step back and evaluate your own side of things from as objective a standpoint as possible then you're doing a disservice both to yourself and anyone who is willing to listen to you on a regular basis. One concern I have about atheists like myself -- vocal, unrelenting, and proud -- is that we may be doing more harm than good for our cause.

Take a look at someone like me from the viewpoint of a fundamentalist Christian: I seem entirely sure of my point of view regarding religion, it seems like nothing they say can convince me otherwise (untrue, but they don't know that), and I write blogs entries that -- despite the logic, research, and reasoning I attempt to use as their foundation -- essentially amount to me making fun of religious people for being dumb. Basically, I'm an arrogant, angry, stubborn atheist hellbent on trying to make it hard for people to practice their respective religions in peace.

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