Anything but a friendly letter


Was winning at football what Jesus had in mind?
I was sipping Yellow Tail Shiraz and doing yardwork yesterday, and the wine put me in mind of my Australian friends, Kylie and Elephant’s Child. When I later found four dead gnats floating in my glass, I thought of my vegan friend, All Consuming. Specifically, I wondered if a vegan would, for reasons of veganism alone, avoid swallowing dead bugs. After all, lots of foods contain bugs—flour and peanut butter, for example—making pure veganism a practical impossibility. It then occurred to me that my dead gnats were like roadkill in that their deaths were an accident, and I knew that, as one who avoids meat, I wouldn’t eat road-kill, because vegetarianism isn’t just about health, compassion, and environmental concern; it’s also about aesthetics, and dead critters are gross.

A little later, I was running a square-pointed shovel along the curb to rescue earthworms that had been stranded by a week of hard rain. When a neighbor walked by, I told her what I was doing, and, completely free of charge, gave her a little speech about how a human life is worth no more—if as much—as an earthworm’s life, because we humans have to destroy other lives in order to live, whereas earthworms are a friend to everyone. 

People look at me funny when I say things like that. If they respond at all, they mention our bigger brains, opposable thumbs, and the notion that God likes us better than he likes worms, which is why he made us “in his own image.” Yet, of all the species on earth, we take the cake when it comes to causing misery and death. How, then, do we know that God didn’t make earthworms in his image, and that by rescuing earthworms, I’m insuring myself a place in a wormy heaven alongside the very few other humans who loved worms? Really, given the harm that we do, and the good that worms do, why should we imagine ourselves superior?

“Because God said it; I believe it; and that settles it.” “But how do you know God said it?” “Because in Numbers 23:19, the Bible says: “God is not a man, so he does not lie.’” “But how do you know the man who wrote Numbers 23:19 didn’t just make that up?” Because in II Timothy 3:16, we read: ‘All Scripture is inspired by God.’” “Well, gee whiz, thanks for your compellingly rational answer.” “You smart-ass! You bastard! You atheist! Just wait ‘til you get to the judgment throne! Do you really imagine that it will be occupied by a worm? Do you dare blaspheme God?” “Oh, yes! It’s what we atheists do for fun.” “Ahhhhh! The fires of hell await you, for in Psalms 14:4, we read: ‘The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God,’ and again in Matthew 25:41: ‘Depart from me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.’” 

You might doubt that believers really quote the Bible to prove the Bible, but they do, frequently. But are they  so deluded as to think that sharing the Bible’s low opinion of atheists will win atheists to God, or do they simply mean to insult nonbelievers without taking responsibility for it, as in: “I’m not saying these horrible things to you; God is, but I’m only too glad to share them”?

Why am I all worked up about religion again? It’s because of a recent discussion with my Christian blog-buddy, Joseph. As much as I would like to be understood by Joseph, it’s pointless because I can’t argue against a constant barrage of personal insults, there being nothing in them to argue against. My attempt at dialogue with Joseph inspired the following list of things that atheists commonly hear from believers, most or which are completely devoid of truth. Again, I’m generalizing, it being impossible to portray every believer and every atheist as thinking exactly like I’m about to portray them. 

Atheists think they know everything. Otherwise, they would have admit that they might be wrong about God. (Atheists do admit they might be wrong; they just consider it highly unlikely. There is a big difference between saying: I don’t believe God exists, and, I can prove that God does not exist, and most atheists do the former, because, strictly speaking, no once can disprove the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, much less God.) 

It takes more faith to be an atheist than a believer, because atheists have to believe that the universe came from nothing. (1) In accordance with the First Law of Thermodynamics, atheists believe that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed, and (2) they would ask why it’s easier to believe in the eternal existence of an infinitely complex and conscious being known as God than to believe in the far simpler eternal existence of unconscious matter and energy.) 

Atheists know that God exists, but they’re too “swollen with pride” to admit it. (Trust me, I don’t know that God exists, but with all my heart, I would like to be proven wrong. I had much rather believe that I’m under the eternal protection of a benevolent deity than to go around congratulating myself for being an atheist.) 

Theists believe in God; atheists believe in science, so what’s the difference? (Science is not an entity in which one believes, but rather a method for understanding the universe based upon rationality and evidence rather than authority and intuition.) 

Atheists have no reason to be moral because they don’t fear hell. (Atheists believe that morality is the product of evolution, but that it should be guided by respect, compassion, and reason, rather than by the authority of a book or religious leader. As atheists see it, a belief system that rests upon authority is prone to rigidity, contempt, oppression, and cruelty. According to the Bible itself, God ordered “the faithful” to commit murder, rape, abandonment, and pillaging. At his command, God’s people treated women as property, owned slaves, murdered homosexuals, discriminated against the disabled, and on and on and on, so for his followers today to claim moral superiority based upon the Bible is absurd.) 

Atheists just want to make believers look stupid. (Some do, some don’t, but I try to avoid sarcasm, argue rationally, show respect for the person I’m talking to, and keep an open heart rather than resort to insults. I know that I sometimes fail, but I have also observed that believers typically go out of their way to be hurtful, because (1) they hold atheists in utter contempt; (2) they know less about religion than atheists do, so their rebuttal options are limited; (3) their beliefs are based upon emotional need rather than rationality, so they feel severely threatened by serious questions, and their fear gets turned into anger.) 

Atheists are responsible for society’s problems because God is punishing everyone because of them. (Dogmatic belief—whether in God or the State—is a major reason for societal failure, which is why countries—and parts of countries—without such a mindset are happier, healthier, safer, less stressed, and better educated, than are places where the edicts of religion or the state are beyond criticism. 

Atheists think they’re smarter than everyone else. (Statistically, atheists are better educated than believers, but conceit is a human problem not an atheist problem and, in my experience, it’s more likely to be based upon wealth and class than non-belief.) 

Atheists just like to argue. (Most atheists keep their atheism a secret because they fear discrimination that can result in name-calling, vandalism, job loss, rejection by their families, imprisonment, and even being hacked to death with machetes. Personally, I enjoy discussing religion, but, except on my blog, I don’t around looking to do it.) 

The life of an atheist is without meaning. (The life of an atheist is without a God-given meaning, but it is not without the self-given meaning of work, family, and other interests.) 

Atheists want to outlaw religion. (Atheists want to outlaw discrimination based upon religion, and they’re far more likely than theists to oppose other forms of discrimination as well. It’s NOT atheists who want to silence believers, but believers who want to silence atheists.) 

Atheists go around trying to force their beliefs upon others. (Atheists resist having the values, music, ceremonies, and visual representations of religion forced upon them, but many believers decry any such limits as oppression. Their advice to those who don’t share their particular brand of Christianity is: If you don’t approve of them, don’t listen to our prayers, sermons, and hymns, in schools and at city council meetings. If you don’t like to look at Jesus; turn your head when you pass his statue or poster in a park, courtroom, post office, sheriff’s office, mayor’s office, etc., If you don’t want to read Bible verses, look at your feet when our public school cheerleaders and football players run onto the field carrying banners with Bible verses on them. In those parts of America where they can get away with doing whatever the hell they please and excluding everyone who disagrees with them, believers use public property as if it were church property, and for anyone to argue that not all believers are that way is just not much of consolation given that millions of them appear to be exactly that way.) 

Atheists hate God. (You can’t hate an imaginary being, but you can hate what that being represents and the harm done by those who think he is real.) 

Nearly everyone on earth believes in God, so atheism is a defect. (The thinking of the minority has often been proven superior to the thinking of the majority, so instead of atheism being a defect, it could be a positive trend away from a system of thought that has caused so very much pain and grief.) 

Atheism didn’t exist until the modern era with its emphasis upon science and materialism. (Atheism originated way before Christ, but the word itself is only 500 or more years old.) 

Atheists are insensitive, humorless, and unable to appreciate beauty. (It’s rather believers who denounce the natural world as fallen and attempt to put limits on art, dance, literature, and music. As for sensitivity and humor, these are individual characteristics, and if they’re limited at all by belief, I should think the limits would be more common among among theists. I don’t know the extent to which laughter is frowned upon by theism—right off hand, I can’t recall a single instance of laughter in the Bible—but it’s not limited by atheism.) 

America’s increasing secularism is why God is punishing it with storms, crime, political turmoil, cyber attacks, military failures, and in many other ways. (Similar things were said about Europe during the Black Plague, so the people burned witches and heretics, expelled Jews from their countries, and threw their cats on bonfires, all in an effort to win God’s forgiveness. Today’s growing tendency to blame Jews, homosexuals, atheists and other not nice people for America’s problems is the first step toward a repetition of the crimes that Christians have committed so many times before.

My discouragement around dialoguing with believers is primarily based upon such insults as I have listed, insults that are repeated endlessly in lieu of rationality no matter how many times I try to say, “No, that’s not true. I’m not like that. I don’t feel that way.” Now, I’m going to generalize about believers in a way that I know is insulting, but I truly do believe it based upon a lifetime of experience. Again, I’m generalizing, by which I mean I’m portraying believers as a group, but with complete awareness that some believers are smart, educated, humane, and thoughtful. To begin:

Few believers have a clue as to what constitutes a rational argument. My discouragement with Joseph in particular arose from the fact that—brilliant as he is—all he had to offer was one insult after another combined with one very personal reason for his faith and two arguments that he considered rational. His personal reason was that life would be pointless without God, and his two arguments were: (1) Christianity must be true, or else all those people wouldn’t have died for Jesus; (2) the fact that nearly everyone who ever lived believed in God proves that God exists. His claims represented an argument based upon authority, in this case, an authority that I have no confidence in, so, combined with the constant insults, I finally concluded that my attempts at dialogue were a waste of time, considerable time as it turned out, because I really tried for all I was worth.

The believers whom I respect don’t try to defend their faith, not because they’re afraid their reasons might be shown to be lacking, but because they know their reasons are lacking. They might consider the so-called evidence and logical arguments for believing in God to be suggestive of God existence, but they recognize that, at best, nothing they can say would prove God’s existence. Why, then, do they believe? This is where it gets hard for me, and not just because of the lack of evidence in favor of God but for the abundance of evidence against God. Most notably, why, if an all good and all-powerful God exists, are trillions of the world’s creatures suffering undeserved pain and fear at this very moment; pain and fear that my species, even if it tried its best, could not even begin to eliminate?

Nothing that anyone has ever offered has come even close to defending against this most important argument in opposition to belief, and so it is that atheism isn’t just based upon the paucity of evidence but upon the massive contradictions between the supposed characteristics of God and the situation that we find ourselves in. Some believers recognize that there is no explanation, so they take the position that God is indeed all-good, but that he/she/it is not all-powerful, and so it is that God needs our help. I consider this a fantastic claim because it means that God had the power to create the whole damn universe only to be defeated by the situation on planet earth. In other words, I should think that even a limited God could at the very least do better than he is now doing. For example, he could get rid of floods, droughts, famines, forest fires, and earthquakes. Surely, the God who created black holes so immense that they could swallow our entire solar system like the tiniest part of the tiniest gnat could do better than he’s now doing, so why doesn’t he, and why do people believe in him?

I have thought and thought about this and, aside from them wanting the various comforts that belief brings, I have no idea. They can’t tell me—at least not in a way that makes sense to me—so the best that the more thoughtful of them seem able to do is to redefine God in terms that, frankly, makes his existence irrelevant. Pantheism, for example. I call the universe the universe, and pantheists call the universe God. Well, so what? I guess it makes them feel good, but I don’t see that it would make me feel good. Other people define God as “the force for good that permeates the universe.” Surely, good (however defined) exists within almost every human being and other creatures too, but why call it God?

It’s as if liberal believers are able to give up each and every significant claim about God, but somehow find comfort in retaining the word. They take the position that I, as an atheist, am somehow missing the point, perhaps because I lack depth, sensitivity, and openness. But no, I abhor being an atheist, and I would seriously doubt that anyone who reads this blog would consider me shallow, insensitive, or unwilling to go where my best thinking takes me. But just as liberal theists fail to give me credit, so it is that I am at a loss to give them credit. They could, for example, define love, gravity, and hundreds of other things, and tell me why they believe in them, so why not God? It always comes back to claiming that, if I don’t believe, there must be something wrong with me, but this ignores the contradictory diversity of belief, and besides, such a claim could just easily be turned back on them.

I think that there surely must be a physiological basis for belief, and that it is to their credit that atheists lack it because it results in them being the ones who are open whereas it is believers who are closed. Believers might or might not be—I think they probably are—more content with life because of their beliefs, but when I look at the amount of harm they do, is personal contentment worth the harm done by religion?

56 comments:

mohaverat said...

I promised I would comment so here I am! What a wonderful post. I agree with all the major points you made. I think religion is the greatest obstacle standing in the way of mankind's progress.Religious people's insistence that they remain in the dark ages, use prayer instead of antibiotics, continue to be divisive,judgmental,bigoted,smug self righteous fanatics suffering from paranoid delusions is what keeps them from being invited to more parties!

If it turns out we are wrong, I'll wave when I see you in hell! Perhaps since our main crime is not believing in Satan's dad, we will get breaks for an occasional chess game. One can hope! ha ha ha

Stephen Hayes said...

There's so much information here tat I need to come back for a second read. There's a religious sect in India called The Janes and they believe all life is sacred. They wear masks to keep bugs from flying into their mouths and being accidentally eaten.

BBC said...

god this, god that, blah blah blah, I'm not into talking to idiots in outer space, or wherever they are supposed to be.

gnats is protein.

Elephant's Child said...

Sigh
'Atheists have no reason to be moral because they don’t fear hell.'
and 'Atheists go around trying to force their beliefs upon others.' are the ones I have most commonly had thrown at me. I find both of them irritating in the extreme. I am not sure that I count good behaviour out of self interest to stay out of hell as being moral, and I have never, ever had an atheist knock on my door to tell me why I shouldn't believe. Various flavours of Christian (and representatives of no other religion) have tried to make me see their light though. They are often asking for money as well.

Strayer said...

Religion permeates every aspect of our society/culture and we're (nonbelievers) supposed to swallow it or tolerate it or ignore it. I used to argue with Christian cat haters by saying "you believe a higher being, God, loves you and will save you, but you, considering yourself higher than a cat, will not behave like God, and love that cat, care for it, protect and save it." Never worked because few comprehended the comparison.

Tom Sightings said...

Ah, but it seems you DO think atheists are better than believers as you go on and on about how believers are deluded and they insult you and ... "Statistically, atheists are better educated than believers ..." and "Few believers have a clue as to what constitutes a rational argument," and "It’s rather believers who denounce the natural world and attempt to put limits on art, dance, literature, and music" ... and meanwhile atheists are rational, open-minded, etc.

I'm kind of agnostic, myself, since like you I don't see much evidence of god; and I can't really believe in the theories of Christians or Jews or Muslims or anyone else. And yet, I also know there are many things in this universe that are way beyond my understanding. And unlike you, I know many religious people who are kind, accepting, understanding and eager to help other people. (Of course, I know a few of the other kind as well.) But I do appreciate your essay, since it got me thinking about something I usually don't think about much. All that being said, I ain't eatin' no bugs!

ellen abbott said...

I'm with you on the earthworm. If a god did make the universe, then every part of it is an equal expression of that god, it is all made in that god's image. I don't believe the universe came from nothing but I don't believe that a supernatural being outside of and separate from the universe created it the way a cook creates a cake or cookies or brownies or bread or muffins or bagels all basically from the same ingredients. I don't think I know everything but just from the evidence (which is no evidence besides a book written by men who claim it was the word of 'god' which was more likely the ravings of schizophrenics), the god they believe in is not likely to exist. as for morality, I don't need some supernatural being forcing me to behave out of fear. it's plain good sense for people to have basic social rules so that we can live together in peace and compassion existed long before the nothin of an outside creator god. I had someone who I had considered a friend for a long time freak out when I told him I didn't believe in his christian god since he couldn't imagine where else I would get my morals. I don't want to make believers look stupid, I don't want to make anyone look stupid. that's what love and compassion is about. I thought hell was the punishment for sinners so why does god create societal problems or forces of nature for punishment and as for that, who wants to worship a god that punishes everyone for the so called sins of the few. and what kind of all powerful supernatural deity needs the worship of puny humans? he sounds a little insecure if you ask me. my life is full of meaning and I don't need belief in a god to give it meaning. life is all the meaning it needs, existence is it's own purpose. I would outlaw religion if I could, if it didn't make me the same as those who would outlaw disbelief because I think religion is responsible for most of the horrid things humans do. here I separate religion from some sort of personal spiritual belief. and so on and so on. I don't hate god (hard to hate something you don't believe in). I do take issue with the things that people do in the name of their god. and here's another thing. people who believe that they were made in god's image, co-creators, and yet they give credit to their god for anything they accomplish as if all their hard work, training, education, desire had nothing to do with it. if it's all god's doing, why bother training or practicing to get good at anything? if god wants you to win, you will. if god doesn't want you to win, you won't. and why does god pick one believer over another to win?

Charles Gramlich said...

"belief" in science is a pretty ridiculous concept.

Snowbrush said...

“Ah, but it seems you DO think atheists are better than believers as you go on and on about how believers are deluded and they insult you and ... "Statistically, atheists are better educated than believers ..." and "Few believers have a clue as to what constitutes a rational argument," and "It’s rather believers who denounce the natural world and attempt to put limits on art, dance, literature, and music" ... and meanwhile atheists are rational, open-minded, etc.”

It's not what a person claims but whether he or she can back it up, and my problem here isn't a lack of evidence but an overabundance. I attempted to make it clear that my claims fall under two categories. One consists of things that numerous polls and studies have proven (I could reference sources all day long, but then you can too, although here’s the first one I came found to get you started, in case you’re interested: http://www.medicaldaily.com/proved-atheists-more-intelligent-religious-people-250727), and the other consists of things that I’ve encountered during nearly seven decades of life, over half of it in the Bible Belt, and nearly two decades of that in a fundamentalist church, an Independent Methodist college, and a Southern Baptist college. Then there are my blog interactions, conversations with friends, keeping up with the news, and reading the Bible, the central NT personage of which made it clear that wisdom and knowledge were hindrances to religion, and that one had to be as a “little child” to believe, the salient characteristic of children being the ability to believe any damn thing in the absence of a smidgen of evidence. I’ve also read numerous books about both belief and atheism. My boyhood church and many others made it clear that you could have God or you have education, but the odds of having both at once were slim (unless the education came from one of its own schools), and this is not an unusual position. I’ve known and interacted with hundreds if not thousands of believers, but how many atheists have those believers interacted with? The truth is that we atheists tend to know a lot more about belief and believers than they themselves do, at least when it comes to quantifiable knowledge. (According to PEW Research, the only Christians who come close to us in religious knowledge are the Mormons.) I also tried to make it clear that I was generalizing, and I’ll readily admit that some churches DO encourage advanced degrees at respected universities, and some believers ARE both brilliant and educated. Still, exceptions do not prove the rule, and the rule is that religious people in this country hold education—especially in science—in suspicion, and are very likely to believe in the scientific infallibility of the Bible, a seven-day creation as described in Genesis, that natural disasters are sent as punishments for sin, and so on.

rhymeswithplague said...

Genesis does not describe a seven-day creation. It describes a six-day creation, and it says that on the seventh day God rested,

For someone who knows so much you have a little egg on your face. This is in no way meant as an insult.

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

Yes I've heard of the Jainists in India who fear walking on grass because they can't see what they may be killing or avoid swatting mosquitos feeding on them.

Faith means accepting without questioning. And if you question, you are of little faith..a Catch-22.

I question everything, thus no faith yet I believe I am a good person.I do not engage in arguments with believers as I find it impossible as logic is not what the Believer is going by.

I did go to church when I was a child. My unbelieving father would note that church did me no good as I was just as snotty when I returned.

An interesting post. I wish I could comment more intelligently. I do not however value earthworms equally with humans or even cats. I find it hard to believe that you do.

rhymeswithplague said...

"Of all species on earth, we take the cake when it comes to causing misery and death'l

Have you considered the praying mantis? The female kills the male immediately after they mate, biting off the male's head.

PhilipH said...

Hope you are not suffering severe pains Snowy. I cannot make any useful comment on this post as I am simply an atheist who has given up on discussing religion. I don't see any point in trying to explain or justify my take on ALL religion as to me it is so OBVIOUS to anybody with a modicum of common sense that it is all a bag of shite. Anybody who disagrees ... well, that's their problem.

Renae said...

You have given a lucid, intelligent, well thought-out argument against the existence of God. I am an open-minded skeptic in that I am not entrenched in a belief system simply because the majority thinks a certain way. I need sufficient proof and for me, what is written in the bible is not definitive. It comes across as highly embellished stories used by church hierarchy to control the masses through intimidation and fear. In order to believe in any organized religion I have to set aside critical thinking and simply have faith. That I can not do.

kylie said...

Thanks for thinking of me!

rhymeswithplague said...

I keep coming back to this post, which - you are right - is anything but a friendly letter, I know you feel you have been a victim - we all have been at some point or other - but I fail to understand the need to continue to reach out regularly to savage those with whom you disagree. Now you will probably remind me of a whole list of atrocities that religious people have visited upon unbelievers through recorded history, and you would be right, of course, and I cannot change any of that except to try to live my own life entirely differently. I do ask for your forgiveness if I have upset you in any way. You did say you were generalizing, but why do I feel pierced through with many arrows? I suppose it is the old guilt by association ploy, at which you excel. I am truly sorry for your physical pain and your mental and psychic pain and pray (there's that terrible word) that you get relief from it all. I do know that hanging on to bitterness and hate cannot be good for anyone's emotional state. Let it go. Let it go. Mrs. O'Hair isn't here any more and doesn't need a lead article for her magazine.

This isn't well thought out and you can probably pick it to shreds. I don't mind. I'm just sharing some heartfelt thoughts on a chilly morning.

Mir stella said...

I love the image of God as an earthworm - I'll get a lot of comic's drawn with that image!!!

Sparkling Red said...

I also try to save worms by moving them off public walkways when I am able to. Also snails, which are easier to deal with because you can pick them up by the shell (but make sure to wash your hands after because snails are carriers of salmonella because they eat bird poo.)

BTW the fastidious religious group Stephen Hayes referred to is actually spelled "Jains", in case you want to look them up.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Arguing about religion or the lack thereof is right up there with arguing about politics these days. When it deteriorates into name calling....no one is really listening anymore anyway. The whole thing is pointless. And exhausting.

I see people posting on Facebook and such how they can't be friend with someone who would vote for ___________ (fill in the blank, I've seen them ALL used). They are often saying this to someone they've been real life friends with for decades... it just confounds me.

I don't need people to believe as I believe to be their friend and I think if we all tried to be friends with people who believed differently, there might be just a little more compassion in the world.

That being said, I often think something is wrong with me because I consider myself a Christian but, I get so put off by people who are constantly talking about God! I'm often wondering just what are they trying to prove!

You are always fascinating Snowy! And you always make me think...something I think a lot of people are afraid of doing.

lotta joy said...

It is SO refreshing to see a post where the old snow is back. I love you no matter what, but I adore you the most when you're in territory I'm familiar with. There is no way to argue with people who believe a book is proof. "My bible says...." is usually in there with "My church believes...." For they cannot think for themselves. They do put "the fear of the lord" in me when they ask where I get my morals, then say "Well you can just go around killing everyone then." The last words out of their mouths is always "When you die......" (a) you're going to hell (b) you'll fall down on your knees in the face of god

arghhhhhhh. They say "how / why" do you bother getting up in the morning? I ask "Do you ONLY get up because you think there's a god? And is that THE FIRST thing you think of every morning? Or do you think "The kid needs breakfast", "It's time to get up", or "I need to pee"? Isn't THAT why you get up in the morning? Same as I? And NOT because of your invisible friend?

After they tell me I'm going to hell, after they tell me I just want to sin, after they tell me I'M just being rude - they walk away with a "I'll pray for you". Which is (a) a lie, since they probably don't pray anyway, and (b) the ultimate insult.

Snowbrush said...

I'm not answering responses because I've been sick all week, but I'll give Rhyme's response a brief go here.

"You did say you were generalizing, but why do I feel pierced through with many arrows? I suppose it is the old guilt by association ploy, at which you excel..."

Once you know that a person is an evangelical or a Catholic, you can make various statistically-valid (as opposed to universally valid) assumptions regarding that person's values. For example, he will support school prayer, "intelligent design," and the Republican Party. He will be pro-gun, oppose birth control, support "enhanced interrogation," and so forth. Not every person in these churches will feel the same, but the more they don't go along with the prevailing values, the more likely they will be to either drop out or go to a more liberal church.

In every country where it holds power, Islam piles barbarity atop barbarity and atrocity atop atrocity in the name of its God of love, and now Ted Cruze and Donald Trump propose that our country outdo them a thousand times over in the name of our own God of love, a proposal for which these men OF YOUR PARTY have the overwhelming approval of America's Catholics and evangelicals. Why is it that, as a group, the most petty, mean-spirited, treacherous, and bloodthirsty, of our citizens claim Christianity? And why is it that believing countries--and parts of believing countries--tend toward ignorance, poverty, crime, obesity, oppression, and premature death, while democratic socialist countries are the happiest in the world despite living so far north that they rarely see the sun for months on end? I see little difference between what Islam already is and what Christian Catholics and evangelicals would have America become. I even fancy that they welcome the terrorist threat because they imagine it will enable them to increase their own power over this country, although I think it more likely that things will go the other direction. (cont.)

Snowbrush said...

In the news of the week, some Catholic nuns are suing to avoid providing their employees with contraception, no matter that the government would provide the coverage. Three Catholic Supreme Court justices agree with the nuns, claiming that workers who prefer birth-control to having babies are seeking to "hijack" their own insurance, although the coverage belongs to them rather than to their employers. Everywhere religion goes, reason and compromise become irrelevant at best and sinful at worst because "God's word" leaves no room for anything but total compliance.

In reference to Joseph in particular....Joseph supports criminal penalties for those who criticize religion, and since I criticize religion, that would include me. As a result of such laws in Joseph's country, a secularist who pointed out that the "tears" being shed by a church statue came from a leaky sewer, was imprisoned and eventually forced to flee the country.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/nov/23/india-blasphemy-jesus-tears

And not content to let the law take its course, some Indians simply hack to death anyone who they regard as critical of religion: http://indianexpress.com/article/world/neighbours/bangladesh-three-bloggers-attacked-one-critical/

Yet, Joseph writes of his unhappiness over the criticisms of nonbelievers. What nonbelievers?!! Me! Is Satan so powerful that the combined forces of Joseph's massive and believing country are helpless to bolster his courage against one little third-tier demon like myself? Is that all it takes for a Christian to feel so threatened that he must, in his words, "stand like a rock" before the imagined onslaught. I've met thousands upon thousands of believers in my time, but how many nonbelievers has Joseph met, and how many have believing Americans met despite the fact that America doesn't, at this time anyway, murder secularists? Yet, if you listen to talk radio, you would think that we atheists were out burning cities, when the truth is that it's the believers who light up the switchboards every time some store clerk says "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." It takes so very little to get the mass of believers up in arms. Really, almost nothing will do it, yet you wonder what my issue is. I would instead wonder what yours is that, as a group, your religion is hellbent on forcing its observances and values on everyone else, and making them pay dearly if they demur?

It's hard for me to retain warmth and respect for someone who wants me to be harmed for disagreeing with him. If he loves Jesus, opposes birth control, thinks God wants him to attend church five times a week, and so forth, I don't care. I just ask that he keep his foot off my throat, and in return, I'll do my best to understand him, respect him, and be his friend.

Renae said...


I have tried to imagine a world without an organized belief in a "maker" and the subsequent teachings one must adhere to in order to follow that belief system. Would the human race be more tolerant and would there have been less bloodshed if we didn't have religion to justify our actions? I doubt it. I don't see any signs that we are of a higher order than the other species that inhabit this planet. The power of reason only serves to justify the subjecting of others for control over their resources. We are no different than animals in that it is instinctual to seek self-preservation and the annihilation of those who stand in our way. If we have the ability to reason instead of acting-out solely on instinct then that should set us apart and above the animals. Sadly I don't see that as the case and I have concluded that animals are generally superior to us in many ways. With or without religion humans have their own agenda as well as the power to destroy the planet, which we seem to be quite good at.

Snowbrush said...

“Would the human race be more tolerant and would there have been less bloodshed if we didn't have religion to justify our actions? I doubt it.”

Still, if we could wave a wand and erase all religious-like thinking (by which I mean the kind of unquestioning dogmatism that makes one person, in the absence of any objective harm, oppress everyone who disagrees with him), would we not be better off in that we would at least have one less reason for violence and oppression? I would do it in a heartbeat. Right here, right now. No more theistic religion and no more secular equivalents of religion such as Communism, Hitler-worship, and Donald Trump-worship. I know that individuals find comfort in religion, and I know that it does a limited amount of good in other ways, but the cost is so very, very high. I had the misfortune of getting really quite sick on the day of the Belgium bombings, and those images combined with my illness and my growing despair from years of daily murders committed in the name of Allah went right to my heart because it isn’t healing that is the ultimate expression of religion but rather the inflicting of wounds with little concern for whom is harmed. I see Islam as like an epidemic of rabies in that no one anywhere will be safe as long as their damnable bloodthirsty deity is worshipped. Then when our own very Christian presidential candidate Ted Kruze, proposed as a solution to ISIS, the carpet-bombing of Iraq, I thought, fine, now we have a Christian who wants to show ISIS that their God is but a piker when it comes to bringing the greatest misery to the greatest number. Why IS IT always religious people who propose these things?! Where is the connect between “My God is a God of love,” and, “I’m going to bomb the everliving shit out of you, your homes, your babies, your crops, your pets, and the shade trees in the front of your houses. and then we’ll see whose God is best.” How can the talk of love be so glibly combined with a serious proposal to bring utter ruin to millions of innocent lives—a level of violence that ISIS can only dream about—without the least awareness of hypocrisy or even irony? Yet, to me, this more than anything represents the face of religion. When religious people say that it isn’t religion that’s the problem but rather the misuse of religion, I would ask, “After all these millions of murders over all these thousands of years, how do you know?” because it looks to me like a case of carrying a bomb in one hand and a cross in the other, and, if Joseph has his way, jailing anyone who dares to speak out. From the Holy Book…

Psalms 137:9 “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”

Luke 12:51 “Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other!” (How do you mesh Jesus’ words with the hymn: “They’ll know we are Christians by our love”? What love? Love that so quickly turns to killing as the ultimate answer to a problem, and not just the killing of man by man but the killing of millions by millions in the name of their own private God of love.)

Snowbrush said...

“I do not however value earthworms equally with humans or even cats. I find it hard to believe that you do.”

We hold one form of life as inferior to another form of life by putting greater value on those attributes that we find within ourselves and little to no value on attributes that we don’t find within ourselves, and we do this with other humans as well with worms. For instance, the attacks in Belgium dominated the news for days while far worse attacks in Africa and the Middle East are are routinely ignored. This is because we see Belgiums as more like we and therefore more worthy of our compassion. Even if you knew that the sidewalk in front of you was filled with worms desperately trying to escape the soggy soil, you might very well step on them as if they weren’t even there because they’re not like you, and the less something is like you, the less value you ascribe to it. The trouble with this is that it’s a purely subjective judgment based upon unashamed partiality. In other words, the ONLY way you can defend your superiority over a worm would be to extol your abilities while deprecating its abilities. Our social species evolved to feel such a fondness for our own kind, but we also evolved to the extent that we can at least see it for what it is, that is a subjective preference rather than an unquestioned reality.

Renae said...

"...would we not be better off in that we would at least have one less reason for violence and oppression"?
I agree. And yes, the hypocrisy and irony of religion boggles my mind.

All Consuming said...

Once again I am blown away by your capacity for rational thought and the skill with which you write when rocked with pain and feeling like absolute shite. A powerful post Snow and, as a vegan and an atheist, or perhaps a pantheist I'm not entirely sure of my catagory, I'd say that eating things that are already dead is just fine because you are neither hurting them, denying them life, wishing them I'll or adding to any kind of supply chain. Unless you start a business in selling found dead bugs. That might set off some other folks killing them for money. Once they're dead, it's down to personal taste, quite literally. Intent is key with people who respect all life, as I do. I cannot help being a giant compared to wee bugs but if I kill it is by accident, and accidentally ending life is very different to purposely choosing to for ones own selfish desires. Or enjoying it,

There's an over lap for me with the veganism and the way you describe atheists being received and treated. I saw a post somewhere and it said "I say I don't eat animals. They hear "I'm better than you, please be insulting and belittle me" - and I think there are some people who believe in God who take great pleasure tearing into atheists. I've never come across an atheist who appears to do the same, much as I've never come across a vegan who goes looking for meat eaters to harangue, There are extremists in every section of society mind you. Over in the UK the religious fervour is very quiet, and I don't meet many people who believe in God at all. It's on the web I've read discussions between the two parties and by heck some religious people are downright nasty to atheists. That's just my experience. I know a couple of online religious people who are absolutely lovely, rhymes being one of them, and I don't tar everyone with one giant brush, it's more one's experiences stacking up as one ages really. Yours is as you stated and I think you have a right to post whatever thoughts are going through your head and chewing over. It's never a dull read dearie. *nods* it seems to come down to this - whether the subject is religion or veganism, or whether people of different skin colour should marry or a variety of other subjects...some people will always take you disagreeing with them as an insult and some kind of invitation to be rude nasty sods. I'm not so keen on those folks and there are far too many of them out there. x

Emma Springfield said...

Please allow me to join this discussion. I regularly read the blog of the person who began this discussion and I find he is adept at provoking thought as well as transmitting his own.
I have not made up my mind one way or another about a god. But I am going to try to give my personal thoughts with as little prejudice as I can muster. Here we go...
I too enjoy a good philosophical discussion about the merits of religion. The problem is that once a person has decided for or against no difference of opinion is allowed. It makes it difficult to discuss without arguing.
Atheists and Christians can both be guilty of thinking they know everything and not willing to admit they might be wrong.
I have spoken to scientists who believe in creationism and evolution. They believe the two can co-exist. Perhaps they do not need to be exclusive.
I cannot understand why a "prideful" person would not admit to the concept of God. What does one have to do with the other? That is like telling me that the sky is red and I am too full of pride to admit it.
As I said before many scientists are religious believers. Religious people believe in science. The two do not have to be exclusive.
Religious people who have the temerity to think that a person who does not believe in their god is amoral may not be practicing the tenets of the religion they espouse. There are as many religious felons as non-religious felons. Fear of getting caught and paying a price is the basis of a judicial system. In the United States that is supposed to be separate from religion.

Emma Springfield said...

Why would anyone trying to have a practical discourse about any subject look stupid? What is stupid is to doggedly repeat a phrase over and over thinking that if you say it often enough and firmly enough you can force the other person into submission.
If there is a God he is supposed to be our loving Father. I had a father who loved me. If I disappointed him I knew it. But he would never have so severely punished me as to kill or hurt me. He would certainly never have killed or hurt someone else for my behavior.
Pious people's noses reach just as high in the air as non-believers' noses. Smugness is not intelligence on either side of the argument.
I hate arguing. I can do it but I do not enjoy it. I do like a well-though out discussion with someone who is open to my opinion. I can be open to that person's opinion. Usually each person will learn something that way.
All lives have meaning. Too many religious people give all the meaning of their lives to God. Atheists give meaning to trying to prove there is no God. It looks like a draw there.
Atheists may not want to participate in religion. Religions wish to outlaw all religions... except their own. The first thing a religion teaches is that this religion is the only path to heaven.
Two of the most devout women I ever knew were my mother-in-law and a neighbor of my parents. Each was secure in her own knowledge of her religion and it's rituals. They were serene women.
I love a good hymn as much as I love a good rock n roll song. If an atheist chooses not to listen to hymns fine. If a theist chooses not to listen to rock n roll fine. Just do not force me to choose because I won't.
Hate is a negative. Lets all just appreciate the differences. Love the warmth of the sun, the renewal caused by rain, and the food that grows from that wonderful soil that is enriched by the sun and the rain.
Maybe nearly everyone on Earth believes in God but they do not believe in the same God. Some have many gods some have only one. Why should it be bad for someone to have no God?
That atheism did not exist before a belief in a god is a fallacy. Some of the things we accept as superstitions today were parts of religious rites. I think perhaps they came into existence at the same time.
"Atheists are insensitive, humorless, and unable to appreciate beauty." WHAT?!?!? There are several religions that do not allow listening to popular music, going to movies, dancing, and so on. This idea simply befuddles me.
Secularism is not the problem any more than any certain religion causing bad weather. Some of the attacks on people are caused by those proudly proclaiming that they are following their religious beliefs. Religion or lack of religion is not the problem. People who enjoy harming other people is the problem.
I would love to be able to sit down and talk to you, Snowbrush. I think we would enjoy trading ideas.

Snowbrush said...

“I'd say that eating things that are already dead is just fine because you are neither hurting them, denying them life, wishing them I'll or adding to any kind of supply chain.”

This means that my grasshopper experiment was wrong, which is pretty much what I suspected. When I lived in Mississippi, my garden was overrun with grasshoppers. One Sunday morning, I was reading “The Mother Earth News” when I came across an article about the many benefits of eating insects. Thus inspired, I went out and starting swatting grasshoppers. When I got enough for breakfast for four (we had guests), I took them in, put them in oil, and starting frying me up some grasshoppers. As it turned out, swatting them had only knocked them out, so when they woke up, they started coming out of that skillet with all the speed they could muster. I quickly put a lid on the skillet, and them hitting the lid sounded exactly like popcorn. It turned out that I had harvested way more than I needed because Peggy and one of our guests would only taste them, and the other guest was so grossed out that she didn’t even eat breakfast. I can’t say that I liked them, and, then too, the toothed legs didn’t soften up enough, but I was determined to eat them, and so I did.

“I have spoken to scientists who believe in creationism and evolution. They believe the two can co-exist. Perhaps they do not need to be exclusive.”

I’ve never met a creationist-evolutionist because the views commonly held are indeed mutually exclusive. There are, of course, millions of people who believe that God was the guiding force behind evolution, but this is different from creationism, whose adherents believe that evolution is demeaning to humanity in that it makes us of one substance with the other mammals and allows no place for the insertion of an immortal soul, it being hard to imagine a soul evolving in the same way as, for example, eyes.

Snowbrush said...

“I cannot understand why a "prideful" person would not admit to the concept of God. What does one have to do with the other? “

It’s because of the false belief of most theists that atheists claim to know that God doesn’t exist. What atheists instead claim is that a strong argument against the existence of God is the lack of evidence to support the existence of God. They view God as like Bigfoot in that they don’t claim to be able to prove he doesn’t exist, but they strongly doubt that he does because they see no reason to think he might. This isn’t just a fine point but a logical necessity because the burden of proof must be upon the person who asserts that something is true. Let’s say that I claim that there’s a Martian living in my garage. It’s not your responsibility to disprove this but mine to prove it because any argument you might offer could be easily challenged by me based upon no evidence whatever. For example, you might say that the cameras you installed didn’t show anything, to which I could respond that he only comes out when there are no cameras around, or he’s so constituted that one can see him visually but not on film. You could then move into my garage, and say that, well, I’ve been in your garage for a year now, and no Martian. I could then argue that he only presents himself to those who already believe in him, which is what people often do regarding God. They then imagine that since atheists can’t positively prove that there’s no such thing as God anywhere in the universe, that this strengthens their belief that there is. For example, someone said to me that there are all manner of things that were once unimaginable but that have since been proven to be true, things like radio waves. Her point was that the same thing might be true of God, and she was right, but from my point of view, it wasn’t much of an argument.

“Atheists give meaning to trying to prove there is no God. It looks like a draw there.”

For reasons just given regarding the burden of proof, I don’t see that it’s a draw, and will point out that, by this standard, not only would God’s existence be a draw, but, along with Bigfoot and the Martians in my garage, the existence of ghosts, fairies, unicorns, and leprechauns would also be a draw since none of these things can be disproven. I could literally made up the existence of marvelous beings all day long, challenge you to disprove them, and tell you that the argument was a draw when you failed. You might say that fairies are frivolous and God isn’t, but many people truly do believe in fairies (Conan Doyle for one), ghosts, Martians, and advanced beings living inside of Mt. Shasta, and none of these beings can be disproven. Two other considerations are that those who believe in a supernatural deity can’t define what it means to be supernatural, which makes the concept into what I would consider a nonsense word; and that most Christians, at least, hold that the existence of positive proof would make “faith” (blind belief) unnecessary, yet it’s by faith that we are saved. Carry this argument to it’s logical conclusion, and proof of God would seriously damage or even destroy one’s chance of salvation because it would make faith impossible. You might have heard of Tertullian’s claim, “Credo absurdum est,” and it does make a certain amount of sense that, if faith is what we need, the harder something is to believe, the greater the merit in believing it.

“I would love to be able to sit down and talk to you, Snowbrush.”

Same here, thank you.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello Snowbrush, I must thank you for writing a post in my honor and making my name well known among your friends as a believer of God.

Your following statement is absolutely wrong and misleading.

According to the Bible itself, God ordered “the faithful” to commit murder, rape, abandonment, and pillaging. At his command, God’s people treated women as property, owned slaves, murdered homosexuals, discriminated against the disabled, and on and on and on, so for his followers today to claim moral superiority based upon the Bible is absurd.

Tell me where in the new testament Jesus said such horrible things.





Joseph Pulikotil said...

It's hard for me to retain warmth and respect for someone who wants me to be harmed for disagreeing with him. If he loves Jesus, opposes birth control, thinks God wants him to attend church five times a week, and so forth, I don't care. I just ask that he keep his foot off my throat.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Again you are making a wrong statement based on misunderstanding because I don't agree with your views on God. You want everyone to agree with what you think is right.
Otherwise you will throw tantrums.

Snowbrush said...

"I must thank you for writing a post in my honor and making my name well known among your friends as a believer of God."

And just think, I did it for free!


“Tell me where in the new testament Jesus said such horrible things.”

Joseph, my friend, surely, you realize that my knowledge of the Bible is such that I never for a moment believed that these things are in the New Testament, and I certainly didn’t say that they were, so why would you ask such a question—are you just being pissy? What IS in the New Testament is the claim that Jesus is God (“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men”), and that he came not to bring peace but “a sword,”, which he has most certainly done. Jesus is also reported to have said: “Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.”

In view of all this, it’s simply not possible to view the divinely-ordained atrocities in the Old Testament as having nothing to do with Jesus. Indeed, he went even further in the New Testament than he did in the Old in that he regularly threatened people with ETERNAL torment, and not just unkind or immoral people either, but anyone who doubted him. Yet he also said that these people couldn’t believe if they wanted to because: “The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts--so that their eyes cannot see, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me…” What a God!

I’ve often heard that there are people who don’t believe that Jesus is God, but they do believe that he was the finest human being who ever existed, but why? He was worse than any earthly tyrant because of his propensity for threatening people not only with worldly torture but with eternal torture. Although you seem tolerant enough of people from other faiths, yours is not a Biblical position because Jesus made it exceedingly clear that in his name alone is salvation, which can only mean that all those Jains, Hindus, and Moslems by whom you’re surrounded are going to hell through the offices of your loving God, and not only them, but many Christians as well because they lack sufficient faith or, perhaps, works depending upon which church is interpreting “God’s plan of salvation” correctly. According to the denomination in which I grew up, even you and every other Christian reader of this blog are going to hell because you don’t belong to that denomination, which, according to itself isn’t a denomination at all but God’s one and only True Church. One might think that the deity could have at least made it clear what the heck he saying so there wouldn’t be confusion the whole world over about what he expects from his creation.

Emma Springfield said...

I sort of hate to interrupt you and Joseph because I hold you both in high regard. You gave thoughtful arguments to some of the statements I made and I appreciate them.
If I may point out to the many religious believers who believe in one God... if you re-read the Old Testament of the Bible you will find that God named other Gods. They are written in the Bible.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello Snowbrush, You are still to answer my second point.

You should understand that the Old Testament was meant for savages and tribes and by quoting extracts from the Old Testament you are living in the OLD STONE AGE, my friend. You are misleading people who have not read the Bible and those who think you are an authority on the Bible. You should agree you are not.Don't live in the past. Open your eyes and see the present.

You don't understand the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. You are taking some quotes here and there to support your faulty argument and you want everyone to believe that you are a great authority on the BIBLe. You must have heard the saying about the DEVIL QUOTING THE SCRIPTURE.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello Emma, it is not important if people believe in one God or may gods and long as they believe in some God. Hindus believe in many gods. In India Hindu's are the majority. We Christians are only three percent of the total population. I am living in a Hindu dominated state.

As I sit in the tea shop in the mornings sipping tea, I watch Hindu men,women and children going to the temple to worship. Before they go to the temple they bathe in the morning, comb their hair nicely, ladies put flowers on their hair, wear clean clothes,carry flowers and other offerings to the deity. They even remove their shoes before entering the temple. I often thought they have more faith than the Christians.

Snowbrush said...

“You must have heard the saying about the DEVIL QUOTING THE SCRIPTURE.”

Yes, and I was wondering if you would mention it since it strongly implies that I’m in league with the devil, which I’m sure you think I am.

I’m glad that you still call me your friend. I suspect that if we were to meet, I would find you a gracious person, and I believe you would feel the same about me. However, I had just as soon debate religion with the wall than with you, and I say this for three reasons. (1) is that you just never let up on the insults (for instance, saying that I think I’m a “great authority” on the Bible when I most certainly do not. What I do think is that I know more about the Bible than most Christians because I grew up in a church that actually studied it, and I went to this church three times a week for all but two of my first 20-years. I also studied the Bible in college, and in various places after college, but for me think I’m an expert? Hell, no. I’m nowhere close to being an expert, but for you to say that I think I am fits your belief that atheists are people who “think they know everything.”)

(2) is that you accuse me of failing to address your points when you rarely address mine, and this makes debating with you feel like walking into quicksand because, no matter what I say, you’re going to largely ignore it, or simply use it to prove—to your satisfaction, at least—how evil and inadequate I am (3) I’m going to be blunt here—although I like you as a person and hope we will always be friends, you’re just not that interesting to me in regard to THIS subject. If you were coming out with profound points, it would be different, but you’re not. So, Joseph, let it go, at least in regard to debating with me because it’s not going to continue.

I enjoyed what you wrote to Emma about the Hindus. When you talk like that, you appear interesting and sensitive, whereas, to me, when you try to debate, you just, to put it bluntly (something I’m increasingly doing with you as my frustration increases) you sound fanatical. Like the people whom I grew up with in the Church of Christ, it doesn’t make the least difference what the person they’re talking to says, they’re just going to keep coming back with challenge after challenge. I don’t know why I can’t get through to you about this. If you actually win converts this way, they must be very weak-minded people. You need to take me more seriously, Joseph.

Anonymous said...

In my experience, most Christians I know have not studied the Bible. The people who have, attended a church similar to your church. (Church of Christ). I grew up Catholic and knew very little about the Bible. The Vatican did not encourage reading the Bible since we (according to the Vatican) could not possibly interpret any of it the way religious scholars would.
I did take a Bible study course for a year and found Genesis fascinating. (cant recall why)
Right now, I am upset with God.
Kris

rhymeswithplague said...

Snow, I hope Joseph is still reading this post. If he is, I want to speak directly to him:

Joseph, I am most definitely a Christian (just ask Snowbrush) and I know you mean well, but I have never in my entire life heard any Christian ever say what you said to Emma, that it is not important if people believe in one God or many gods as long as they believe in some God. I urge you, brother, to read chapter 17 of the Book of Acts, where Paul spoke to the Greeks on Mars Hill (Areopagus) in Athens. When he saw their altar inscribed TO THE UNKNOWN GOD, he did not say, "It is not important if you believe in one God or many gods as long as you believe in some God." No, no, what he said was "I perceive that in all things you are too superstitious" and "This God whom you ignorantly worship, I now declare Him unto you" and from things he had said to others earlier in the chapter it is obvious that he then preached to them Jesus, crucified and resurrected.

Whether the hearers choose to believe it or reject it, that is the message Christians are called to tell.

Rob-bear said...

Way too much here to read and understand. Now that I'm on opioids regularly for pain management, my brain seems to be working differently. Or perhaps I'm blaming the hydromorphone unfairly for strange stuff in my head. Whatever.


Glad to know you are still alive.

Blessings and Bear hugs!

PhilipH said...

Now see what's happening Snowy. A 'ménage a trois' kinda thing: three believers having an argument about what the book says.

The Bible, like any other book, is man made. Who knows much about its truth or, perhaps, its fiction.

Same goes for the Koran and all books on religion. Amen.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

rhymeswithplague, You have misunderstood me.

I BELIEVE IN ONE GOD,THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH AND IN JESUS CHRIST,HIS ONLY SON OUR LORD WHO WAS BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY. I BELIEVE IN THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY AND LIFE EVERLASTING.

However, I don't mind if some one who is not a Christian wants to believe in One God for multiple gods. This is because we are discussing about theism and atheism. But if some one criticizes my belief, then I have to defend myself.

I am thrilled to interact with you my Christian brother.

Best wishes

Snowbrush said...

“In my experience, most Christians I know have not studied the Bible.”

No, they haven’t. Check out this link, Kris: http://www.pewforum.org/2010/09/28/u-s-religious-knowledge-survey/ . It demonstrates that atheists know the most followed by Jews and Mormons.

“Right now, I am upset with God.”

I can think (a) that God is an asshole; (b) that his ways are not my ways and that his ways are better despite the fact he seems like an asshole; (c) believe that everyone deserves what they get even if they’re infants or raccoons; (c) throw up my hands, and say that it’s all too complicated to even think about; or (d) be an atheist. I cannot even imagine how anyone can love the God of the Bible, at least, because it my eyes, it very much paints God as an asshole.

“I have never in my entire life heard any Christian ever say what you said to Emma, that it is not important if people believe in one God or many gods as long as they believe in some God.”

I know from experience that many liberal Christians would, but it’s funny to me that Joseph is so accepting of people whose version of God is contradictory to his own, yet so condemnatory of nonbelievers in any God. It’s as if the word alone is what matters.

You consider Joseph your brother because he worships Jesus? How do you know that he doesn’t worship a false image of Jesus which would make him no better than a worshipper of Mithra? Surely, being a Christian implies more than the common usage of words devoid of their content, but that’s what the two of you appear to believe, only with him, the key word is God, and with you, it’s Jesus. I would also have you consider that nearly all of the religion-inspired violence in the world is on the part of people who believe that their God is the only God. You and a member of ISIS could argue for a solid week over whose God is the only true God, but since neither of you could offer proof, it would come down to either tolerating the other as being in error or killing the other. YOU would tolerate, but all too often people kill. Millions upon millions have been killed over the years, and why is it, do you think, that if being a person who uses certain words and holds certain beliefs is so important to God, that he didn’t do a better job of communicating this importance than through an anonymously written ancient book that so confusing and contradictory that it alone has led to the formation of thousands of churches with incompatible values?

Snowbrush said...

“The Bible, like any other book, is man made.”

That’s what you and, brother atheist, believe and we do mean “man”-made.

“I am thrilled to interact with you my Christian brother.”

What is it with this brother stuff? I’m frankly jealous, because I’ve known and loved Rhymes for years and you for the better part of one year, at least, but Rhymes has never called me his brother, yet he only met you a week or two ago, but since you can recite the same words without even knowing what those words mean to one another, you’re brothers? What if one of you practices the wrong form of baptism, or gets all the practices and beliefs right but ignores the most important injunctions of all? Are you still brothers, and what does it even mean to be brothers? Would you give your kidneys to one another? If the other’s child dies, will you cross oceans and continents to attend the funeral like a loving brother automatically would? It’s such an easy word to use, and to reflect that of the first two brothers who ever lived, one murdered the other! I don’t know. I feel so discounted here, because no matter how much I care, and how much I lovingly think of one of you or would do for one of you, I’ll never really matter. I’ll always be that lost soul who through arrogance and hard-heartedness refuses to throw himself at the feet of his Lord and Savior in humble acceptance of the Holy Blood that was shed for “such a worm as I.”

rhymeswithplague said...

Snow, I apologize. It was not my intention to hurt your feelings or insult you in any way. I do hope I don't make things worse by trying to explain. It is my belief that human beings are a single race and therefore all of us are brothers and sisters in the sense of being part of a single species. Physical brothers. We have minds and emotions and muscles and external genitalia in common. Brothers after the flesh. Christian believers, in addition, are brothers and sisters in the spirit, spiritually, and we attempt to walk after the spirit and not after the flesh. We share what the Apostles Creed, a very ancient confession of Christian beliefs that Joseph cited in part, means by the phrase "the communion of saints." This is not meant as a put down, please put that out of your mind. I feel a close kinship with both you and Joseph but for different reasons. You are both my brothers. In all likelihood, though, I shall attend neither of your funerals.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

snow, why are you comparing yourself to a worm? Have you gone down so low in your own estimation? I am shocked

Snowbrush said...

“Now that I'm on opioids regularly for pain management, my brain seems to be working differently. Or perhaps I'm blaming the hydromorphone”

I wonder why they put you on Dilaudid instead of Fentanyl. In any case, I’m sorry to hear that you’ve gone downhill since our last contact, but I’m very, very glad that you dropped by because I’ve missed you.

“Snow, I apologize. It was not my intention to hurt your feelings or insult you in any way. I do hope I don't make things worse by trying to explain.”

No, you didn’t make things worse, you said what I knew you would say, the only thing you could say. Still, you get my point too in that this brotherhood of believers thing is a matter of feeling all warm and fuzzy rather than a matter of deep commitment, whereas what you and I share does involve commitment. You’ve been here many times and been offended, and yet you keep coming back because you know a bit of what’s in my heart, but what do you know about Joseph, that he can recite the same creed you do, a creed in which the terms are never defined? This is why I took it personally when you called him your brother. Sure, the Bible teaches the spirit brotherhood versus the flesh brotherhood, but I can’t see that it means much. It’s instead like when I was an Odd Fellow and a Mason, and we all called one another brothers, and, in the Masons, even took vows of responsibility for one another, but this didn’t mean we cared about, or even liked, one another. So it was in the Church of Christ where we also called one another Brother Smith and Sister Case without it necessarily meaning anything. So, what I took from your remark wasn’t so much as expression of deep caring of Joseph but a lack of caring for me, and I was surely wrong in doing that. It just rankled me at the time, but it’s hardly a schism in what I share with you.

“snow, why are you comparing yourself to a worm? Have you gone down so low in your own estimation? I am shocked”

My goodness! Isn’t that what you Christians do every time you sing “Amazing Grace”? I thought you guys were really into putting yourselves down as worms, unworthy sinners, etc. That said, I never meant to compare myself to a worm except to say that a worm is superior to my species in terms of which one does the most good and the least harm. Are we smarter than worms, and can we do more things than worms? Yes, but is that of any consolation to the billions of creatures that we kill each year, most of them for no reason other than callousness? I therefore hold worms as being more worthy of life than we.

rhymeswithplague said...

A slight correction to keep things accurate: "Amazing Grace" by John Newton has "how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me" but doesn't mention anything about a worm. Worm is in the original version of "Alas, And Did My Savior Bleed" by Isaac Watts, which continues "and did my sovereign die? Would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?" However, most hymnals published in the last 50 years have changed it to "for sinners such as I?"

rhymeswithplague said...

Watts lived from 1674 to 1748. Newton lived from 1725 to 1807. I checked.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Snow, you are very confused. I don't call myself a worm nor do I think like a worm. A person who thinks like a worm will praise the worm. I belong to a superior class. I don't belong to rats, worms, cockroaches, wasps etc. I consider myself as the most superior class among all creatures. All other creatures are subservient to me. However, I don't mind if you want to consider yourself as s worm or any other crawling creature in the universe.

You are an amazing person who don't know the difference between a worm and a human being.

Best of luck

Snowbrush said...

Rhymes, I just knew you were wrong, and even now that I’m unable to find the phrase in “Amazing Grace,” I still can’t fully accept that you are right because I remember it so vividly. Either this is an illustration of the limitations of memory, or they cleaned up the song. In the case of the former, what happens with memory is that the longer ago something happened, the less our memories regarding it are of the event itself, and the more they are of our previous memories making it possible for errors to creep in that are completely beyond our awareness. The following is from Wikipedia’s entry regarding “worm theology”:

“Worm Theology is a term used for the idea in Christian culture that in light of God's holiness and power an appropriate emotion is a low view of self. Some might suggest that because of this view God is more likely to show mercy and compassion. The name may be attributed to a line in the Isaac Watts hymn Alas! and Did My Saviour Bleed (Pub 1707) [1], which says "Would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?" This thinking was prevalent in the days when this hymn was originally written, perhaps because there was also a higher view of God. Furthermore, worm theology can be attributed to a recognition of the ugliness of sin, resulting in contrition.

“Some might suggest adherents of worm theology have inner wounds that they are not necessarily aware of, and such a belief just matches what they feel about themselves and sometimes others. On the other hand, God detests sin so much because it separates us from Himself; it could then be argued that in our sin we are as worms in God's sight.
Its Origins

“John Calvin (1509–1564) a 16th-century theologian and Protestant reformer much of his theological thinking was similar to Augustine of Hippo (354-430) Augustine of Hippo [2] Calvin saw mankind as being totally unable to do anything for ourselves to free us from the stranglehold of sin, hence the reason why Jesus came to reveal what God the Father was really like (John 14:6) and that it is only through faith in Jesus and a continual yielding of ourselves to the Holy Spirit that we are able to have an intimate relationship with a holy and righteous God [3].

“The term 'worm theology' is generally used by those who do not accept this, and so is used as a way of expressing the belief that this theology is wrong.”

“All other creatures are subservient to me.”

They don’t know this, I’m sure, and wouldn’t accept it if they did. You’re only superior to them in the sense of being able to destroy them at will. It is for this same reason that Americans feel superior to you. It’s also true that you’re not able to destroy all of them at will, or else there would be no parasites, parasites that not only don’t bow to your imagined greatness but actually feed upon you and, in many cases, kill YOU at will.

“You are an amazing person who don't know the difference between a worm and a human being.”

Again, I’m getting that “talking to a wall” feeling. Joseph, are you really this uncomprehending, or are you baiting me? I am trying my best to maintain trust in your goodwill, and I need your help to do it, and in this regard I would ask that you never, ever play games with me.

“Best of luck.”

This is a phrase that is sometimes used ironically in America. That is it’s used by one who has no thought but what the person being addressed is going to come to a bad end. Is that how you meant it, or I am just being paranoid?

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Snow, I am not interested what others write but Jesus never compared human beings to worms. You are living in the past. Be practical. Christianity is a way of life and the it is the best way of life.

I am not trying to convert you nor am I trying to make you believe what I believe. You can believe what you want and write what you want. You writing is not going to change my mind at all.

As you rightly said I am a wall as far as Christianity is concerned. Make no mistake about it.

Best wishes

Snowbrush said...

“I am not interested what others write”

No, that’s why I don’t care to write to you about the content of your faith, by which I mean the Bible and the church, it being pointless to write to someone who truly doesn’t care what I have to say, but just turns what I say into ammunition to attack me without the least regard for whether he even understands me correctly. I’ve lost faith in you, Joseph, and have therefore come to think of you as a bigot in the area of religion.

“You writing is not going to change my mind at all.”

I never have any confidence in my ability to change anyone’s mind about anything, but I had hoped that, in the name of friendship, we could each understand the other, but since you’re not interested in what I write, I seriously doubt whether you’re even capable of being my friend. You mistake faith with being close-minded.

“As you rightly said I am a wall as far as Christianity is concerned.”

A person can be firmly grounded without being rigid, but I perceive you as a wall not so much in regard to your faith as in regard to understanding other people’s viewpoints. I’ve wondered why this is, and can only come up with two possibilities. One is that you’re too devoid of imagination to put yourself in another’s person’s shoes, that is to understand why he or she might think differently from you. The second is that your faith is so weak that you’re afraid to allow yourself to see other people’s viewpoints lest you lose what faith you have. When a person talks of his religious fervor in terms of it being a rock or a wall, it implies not just a sincerity of belief but an imperviousness to other people’s viewpoints, yet, as Rhymes pointed out, you would be a odd duck in America in that you take the liberal position of being tolerant of non-Christian religions, yet you’re a hardcore conservative in other ways. It’s a combination that would make it hard for you to find a welcome anywhere. Try to think of me this way. Whereas you’re an atheist in regard to every deity on earth other than Christ, I’m an atheist in regard to all of those deities too, only I carry my atheism one deity further than you. Just as you don’t believe in Zeus and Odin, I don’t believe in Christ.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Snow, I cannot understand you correctly because your writing is highly biased and you have a closed mind as to belief in God's existence. You refuse to see,hear and feel the existence of God.

My friendship is not based on mutual agreement on subjects which we strongly disagree. I will continue to disagree with you if I think what you write is wrong.

I don't want to put myself into the shoes of Atheists who create confusion and chaos in the world. Atheists have contributed nothing for the betterment of the world. So what they are talking is nothing but nonsense to me.

Once again I would like to assert that the idle talk of the atheists is anathema to me and to all civilized people on this earth.

You are an American but I have more friends in America than you. You don't understand America although you are living there.

You are welcome not to believe in Christ and it is not my concern. But I believe in Christ and I am proud to say that I belong to generations of Christians.

Best wishes

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Faith is bred into toddlers by their family in all culturs at a very early age before toddlers have any sense to reason. By the time they can reason many have accepted the notion of the spiritual world that is presented to them. Since there are many versions of a spiritual power being omni present I suppose the human mind has a need to believe in some greater power sight unseen. Battles of right or wrong are nonsense as it is all based on blind faith and what was said by others over time. No scriptures are historically accurate. They are just events retold. People opt to breath life back into past events in some hope that it brings them an inner peace or even good fortune. Watching world events unfold it is more clear that humans are not guided by any greater power than self love, a need for power and a very strong sense of greed. It has been that way with all life forms as all is driven by a survival gene, a need to keep one's species alive over time.
We are what we were brain washed to be and the brain washing is now a science so profitable that we cannot escape it. The technology that presents itself over satelites globally has a hold on everything now. Religion is not able to compete. Many are turning away from it. Music is replacing prayer as everyone walks around with earbuds or has some form of medis running in their life. Cell phones have reached remote villages to covert those folks to become capitalists as they yearn for a better educated life style set out by the media that they engage with.
Hard to grasp that there are folks who are so deeply attached to the faith set out to them when evidence seems to be questionable.