Tag Archives: Bible

religion

How to have a relationship with an Atheist

My wife is Catholic. She was born and raised in church. She finds comfort in the community, the family bond, and the idea that God is actively involved in her life – keeping her safe. She enjoys the traditions, loves Christmas time, uses prayer as a form of meditation when life is tough. She’s also married to a non-believer. Me.

My wife is aware of my agnosticism and honestly she doesn’t like it. She can’t relate to my way of thinking. She says I’m all logic and reason with no emotion. Of course that is partially true, but on the same token I fail to understand why she is pure emotion. In a way we balance each other out nicely. I remind her to think it through while she reminds me to have a heart. I don’t think this dynamic is unusual in a relationship.

Discussions on Religion

Sometimes we have brief discussions about religion, but I’m a bully. My thoughts are logical and well thought out – I have data points and examples to prove my thesis. My wife relies heavily on the emotional aspect, faith, and why religion just “feels” right. We quickly realize we aren’t speaking one another’s language and aren’t likely to convince the other of anything.

I don’t want my wife to be Atheist though. There’s something about her conviction that I really love. If religion is where she finds her source of strength and balance who am I to take that away. She’s peaceful and doesn’t use religion as a weapon – overall it’s a positive thing in her life. I suppose it’s no different than the way I use my own thoughts and moments of meditation to get through life.

Finding Happiness with Difference

Sometime people wonder how a believer and a non-believer can live a happy life together. The two ways of thinking seem almost diametrically opposed to one another. They’re not.

We still share the same morals. In principal I believe that many of the moral lesson taught by Jesus were good ones – just as I believe the lesson taught by the Buddha or Gandhi are good. So often instead of focusing on our difference – I focus on what works for us.

Good and Bad on Both Sides

While I am basically against the brainwash of organized religion I do not deny that there are good and bad people on both sides of the religious spectrum.   The Priest that married my wife and I is one of the most wonderful people I have ever met. He is thoughtful, educated, and everything a man of the cloth should be. Carl Sagan, an Atheist, was by all accounts also a great man. I’ll bet if the two of them met they would have a lovely conversation.

I think my overall point, from a non-religious perspective, is that life is more about who you are as a person than what your particular beliefs are. Be a good person - religious or not religious. That is how my wife and I treat our relationship (though we’ve never officially said that). My wife is a wonderful, caring, beautiful person – much better than me. I try to be a man of integrity who puts his family first – treat people with respect. We both WANT to be good people, that’s an important step.

What about the Kids?

How will I raise my kids? I’ll raise my kids with truth and without bias. I’ll teach my children what the historians say, I’ll teach them to about the world’s religions, and a variety of viewpoints. My wife will undoubtedly teach them about Christianity, the tradition, the love, and the comfort of religion. Both are important.

I have complete trust in my future children’s ability to choose what life suits them best – without my wife or I forcing them into anything. What is important to me isn’t if my children are Christian’s or Atheists, but rather if they are good people.

Giving my children the ability to think for themselves is the greatest gift a father can give. Along with that comes the trust that my future children can make decisions for themselves. Love, support, trust, and freedom – that is what my children will receive. I don’t think anyone can ask much more than that from their parents.

Where they fall on the religious spectrum will be up to them.

Thoughts?

sunset6

Jesus the Sun God?

There are undeniable correlations from religion to religion. For example, almost all religions have a flood story. In the story the creator flooded the earth because of our bad behavior, but a few chosen were spared and left to repopulate the earth. This theme can be found across the Globe from the Mayans, the Greeks, and of course in Christianity.

Some might argue these correlations are evidence of the truth of the story. Obviously the flood happened because sparse populations all across the globe are talking about it. Right?

Maybe there is some truth to that, but I think a more likely scenario is that over time these legends and stories have been borrowed and integrated. It’s important to remember that much of religion and culture is based on oral tradition – and if you’ve ever played the telephone game (where you pass a sentence around a group of people until it gets back to the original person and laugh at how much it has changed) you know that ideas and “truth” can change drastically in a short period of time.

Historicity of Jesus

One thing a lot of people fail to realize is that the history and story of Jesus was not written down until almost 100 years after his life and death. Most of these stories (some compiled in the bible) come from corespondents and letters written by Christians. (i.e., Letters of Paul).

Some people have the mis-understanding that the Paul, John, Matthew, etc. from the books of the bible are eye witnesses – Jesus’s disciples. This is just not accurate. No Priest or Pastor would disagree with me there. So ask yourself: how much of the story was changed, exaggerated, mis-remembered, and manipulated after 100 years of oral tradition?

Edit: The information to follow is highly disputed and for the most part subject to interpretation. After you watch the video give this website a once over and decide how serious to take it.

In general, describing Jesus goes something like this:

1. Born of a Virgin
2. Performed Miracles
3. Known as the light, the truth, God’s Son, etc.
4. 12 disciples
5. December 25th: Star of Bethlehem, followed by three kings on his birth night
6. Sacrificed himself for the sins of the people
7. Resurrected after 3 days

It turns out this story, like the flood story, is pretty common. See the video below.

The Planet is NOT 6,000 years old you Young Earth Dummy!

If you choose not to believe in evolution, fine. The theory isn’t perfect and there are a few scientific alternatives to our arrival on this earth as a species.

Hell, you can even believe God put all of this into action. Believe that God created these processes that eventually and inevitably lead to our very existence. You can believe in big-foot, the tooth fairy, monsters, the paranormal, and whatever else you want too, but PLEASE can we give up this young earth creationist bullshit?

Christian’s are the only ones clinging to this idea too (not all of them, even Catholics are laughing). Why? Because apparently you can trace the linage from Adam to present day at about 6000-10000 years. Taking the bible, a book whose stories existed as oral tradition for 100s of years, as historical fact is your first problem, but I won’t go there. The real question is how are you ignoring all the scientific evidence to the contrary?

Dinosaurs

One evening when my wife was out to dinner with and old high school friends, catching up, the friend brought up the young Earth theory. She said:

“Well, the bible talks about dinosaurs. It mentions behemoth, which is the description of a dinosaur…and you can’t refute the bible.”

No. I’m not fucking joking. This individual is responsible for another human life and is attempting to reconcile the existence of dinosaurs to a fucking verse in the bible. If God exists he is as disappointed as I am.

If Dinosaurs existed during the time of man humans would have worshiped them. We wouldn’t have drawn sketches of buffalo or lions on the side of caves and pottery, there would be monuments dedicated to T-Rex! Who the fuck gives a shit about a puny antelope when there are goddam brontosaurus roaming around!

I would rather believe fucking ancient alien theory than this shit.

Brainwash

Let me get serious for a second because I know a thing or two about religious brainwash. Why? Because it almost happened to me.

I was raised to believe that the bible is the literal word of God and when you are told to believe a certain thing your entire life the bullshit isn’t always obvious. For the first 12 years of my life I’m not sure I realized there were other religions (or lack there of) at all.

When all of the people you love and respect teach you the same thing, drill it into your head, it seems real. Of course they never bring up the holes in their arguments – no one EVER teaches you about that – not until your brain is so full of mush someone could show you a monkey transform into a human and you would deny seeing it.

Anyways – that’s pretty much how I grew up. Not forced to believe, not abused, just never shown anything different. So by high school I was doing my very best to believe, but I always had problems.

Looking back I could never fully commit myself to a belief in the God I was taught about. I tried though – and I was a hard worker so I did my studies. I read every argument, searched for videos, read articles.

By the time college came around I bumped into an evangelist who almost sucked me in. I might have been a fucking campus street preacher – one of those annoying bastards. That not happening may be proof there is a God after all.

Luckily at the same time I was also taking my first religion class. The women teaching it was actually a Christian. The class blew my mind. I had no idea how the bible was put together. I had no idea so many religions were so much older than Christianity. By the end of the class I wanted more – I eventually earned my minor in religion, but that was only enough to make me realize I know exactly nothing about it.

So here I am now – a guy saved from religion – by studying religion. I find that ironic.

My Problem with Calvinism

Our destiny is decided.  What we want doesn’t matter.  Whether we follow the path of righteousness and enter heaven or follow a path of evil and find hell awaiting us after death is all predetermined.  Hell, whether we choose Frosted Flakes or Lucky Charms for breakfast tomorrow morning has already been decided too.  Predestination – one of the illogical pillars of Calvinism that I despise.

Calvinism is even illogical from a religious perspective.  Double predestination assumes not only does God choose a few elite persons  (at random?) to go to heaven, but that the rest of us poor saps are going to hell, forever, and there’s nothing we can do about it.  What kind of loving creator creates something to ultimately be tortured for eternity?  If we go by that logic, assuming there is no such thing as free will, then not only is God himself responsible for sin and evil, but also for our eternal damnation.  Surely this can’t be the case.

I mean seriously.  Does it at all seem logical for an all loving, all just, creator to build something, specifically programmed to behave a certain way – then arbitrarily choose most of them to spend the rest of time in pain and agony.  When you created them to be exactly as they are!  Free will seems infinity more logical and just.

The Dangers of Calvinism

The Calvinist way of thinking is a dangerous one.  It’s essentially a hopeless one.  Why do anything when you are doomed to hell or blessed with heaven by no actions of your own?  (Although I’m sure all people who are actually Calvinist believe they are part of the elect selected by God to go to Heaven.  How convenient.) If you do not feel the call of God, you are going to hell anyways, so why live?  Calvinism essentially leads to an overall environment of moral nihilism.

In fact, it only makes sense that people who believe they are going to heaven are Calvinist.  Is anyone a Calvinist who actually believes they are doomed to Hell?  What a bunch of elitist pricks.

The Undeniable Logic of Free Will

If you are a Christian you MUST believe in free will.  If not, what point was it for Jesus to die on the cross for the sins of all mankind?  The fate of the people have already been decided. By the Calvinist’s logic: God decided in advance who goes to heaven or hell, then sent himself to earth to die on the cross for sinners, sinners who he had already decided were going to heaven or hell anyways. Right?

This is all Bullshit Anyways  

Look folks, if we are going to start cherry picking versus from the Bible to support our way of thinking we may as well consider ourselves screwed anyways.  Calvanist pull versus like “…also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will…” to demonstrate clear references to predestination.

Alright, fine. I’ll pull this one “Yet she increased her prostitution, remembering the days of her youth when she engaged in prostitution in the land of Egypt. 23:20 She lusted after their genitals – as large as those of donkeys, and their seminal emission was as strong as that of stallions. This is how you assessed the obscene conduct of your youth, when the Egyptians fondled your nipples and squeezed your young breasts.” (Ezekiel 23:19-20)  The only thing I’m wondering is – are my genitals supposed to be “as large as those of donkeys” or am I missing something?  Wow.

In the End

If you are religious and believe in God – use a little common sense.  The Bible isn’t literal and once we understand that – Calvinism starts falling apart.  If you aren’t religious – well, you know.

Income, Education, Age, and Geography Determine Political Leaning. Religion not as important as expected.

Yesterday I posted about the correlation between people living in cities, having higher income, and more education being more liberal. Today I want to add into the equation the factors of age and religion. Again, I selected the states of Florida, Georgia, and Kansas at random to inspect the data. See below for the results and scroll to the end for the conclusion.

Georgia

Georgia by percent of population over 64
Georgia by religious practitioners

Florida

Florida by percent of population over 64

Florida by religious practitioners

Kansas

Kansas by percent of population over 64
Kansas by religious practitioners

Conclusion

As we can see from the data above and posted yesterday the major factors effecting political leaning are income, age, proximity to major cities (jobs), and education.  Religion, while it appears to have some impact, is not as critical as expected.

Religion:
In Florida and Georgia religion appears to have little to moderate correlation to political leaning. There are less and more religious counties all over each state. However, in Kansas we see a more direct correlation. Near the city of Topeka, a more liberal area, there are less religious practitioners. We can conclude then, if anything, the more religious an area is the more conservative and the less religious the more liberal – in general. (Also the more religious the less educated and poorer an area.)

More stuff to examine
I think the next step would be to examine what are the determining factors when it comes to voting.  Are people voting based on social issues of fiscal issues?  Do people self-identify as progressive or conservative?  How are people voting if there is a conflict between their fiscal beliefs and social beliefs?  What role are independents, libertarians, and members of minority parties playing?

For now, it seems we can safely assume that the individuals with higher income, are below the age of retirement, have a college degree, and live in close proximity to cities are generally more liberal than their older, less educated, lower income counterparts.

Resources:
US Map by Religions Practitioners
US Map by Age

The Thoughts of the Simple Minded

I hate to keep bombarding the loyal readers of this blog with garbage from Facebook, but wow does it give me a lot of good material to complain about – which is also the sole factor preventing me from deleting my account and all of these good ole’ boys right along with it.

In any case, below is a lovely conversation between a village idiot I went to high school with and happily a few people that seem like they might actually have a brain in their head.

Yes, this is life in the South at times.  There are some good guys, some bad guys, and a lot of idiots.  Enjoy shaking your head and wondering to yourself if the world is doomed after all.  Just in case you were wondering – no I didn’t comment.

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As an advocate for Liberty I appreciate what Obama did today

Although he didn’t do it for exactly the same reasons I may have fully appreciated Obama made a great step as a leader and advocate of Liberty today. He openly supported the rights of human beings to engage in personal relationships without the intervention of the Government. He advocated for personal and private property rights, human rights – Gay rights.

Although there is a whole lot I find myself disagreeing (and sometimes agreeing) with Obama about I can and will always respect a politician who takes a stand, the right one, even when it is construed by many as unpopular.

Admittedly, openly supporting Gay marriage isn’t exactly political suicide for Obama or anything and Biden already tested the waters for him days earlier by openly supporting Gay marriage himself. Most of Obama’s supporters agree with him on this issue and most of the people that advocate a ban on Gay marriage almost certainly aren’t voting for Obama anyways – I still respect the steps he took today.

I can respect any man who is honestly trying to do the right thing and taking steps to get there – even if and when I personally disagree with them. It’s certainly better than shitting on the people or war-mongering. Which is more than I can say for most of the Republican candidates.

I only hope that Obama continues to take steps to advocate personal freedoms and common sense lawmaking. Giving the power to the people, protecting the individual, and empowering everyone to do the best they can for themselves and each other is a great way forward. I just hope Obama keeps making choices that keeps the Government out of our bedrooms, emails, personal lives, and personal decisions – especially when we don’t want them there.

Obama may be the first president to openly admit, while in office, that he supports same sex marriage. History was made today.

Oneness Without Religion

I work in an environment where almost everyone has at least a Masters degree.  I say that to point out that I work with fairly educated and one may even go as far as to say “smart” people.  That’s why I find the variety of opinions and beliefs among this tiny cross section of accountants and business consultants so interesting.  It seems, for a variety of subjects, education has made us no less intelligent nor any more in-step on a variety of topics. 

For example, one woman I work with is Hindu.  She is very intelligent and thoughtful; however, she is also deeply religious.  We have on several occasions had discussions about religion (more an academic inquiry than anyone trying to convince each other who’s right or wrong) and I find Hinduism as illogical and fascinating as almost any other religion. 

I think that’s why I find it ironic that a logical women (she’s a tax accountant) with a higher level degree from a prestigious University has never found it illogical to have any spiritual belief.  Upon our conversation I was also surprised just how little she knew about Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. 

Sometimes I forget that not everyone carries with them a fascination of religion like I do. (I was a business major in college I nearly double majored in religion.  I have also written about and studied religion independently.)  In any case, Hinduism is a polytheistic religion – and each “sect” of Hinduism carries a certain and differing amount of praise for each God.  We both found the difference in monotheistic versus polytheistic religions fascinating – she even pointed out that the belief in one God seemed very strange.  In a mostly Christian society I found that thought interesting and unique. 

I have had conversations with people of all backgrounds and education levels from a variety of religions and it never ceases to amaze me how people can be perfectly happy with their beliefs while ignoring or rejecting the plethora of differing ideologies all simultaneously claiming with certainty their religious validity and accuracy.  For me, it bothers me deeply that two perfectly rational, educated, and presumably smart people can come to two different and often opposing views on religious truths.  Almost always determined by geography and what your family taught you as “truth”.  Maybe this is the largest and most compelling reason I find atheism so easy to accept. 

Once you start seeing religion as a big picture rather than how you “feel” about a belief all of the contradictions begin to surface.  Maybe that’s why there is a patter that emerges: often the more “educated” a person becomes regarding religion – the less “religious” they usually become.  Some say that the academic study of religion is evil – I think it’s more likely that academia simply draws a logical conclusion from the evidence. 

Religion is Beautiful, Natural, and Dangerous

No one can deny that what you believe is largely determined by what you are taught to believe.  Yet people will often fight and die for a God or Prophet that someone else doesn’t even understand to exist.  I’ve always found this tragically interesting. 

On the other hand – most “great” religious teachers (Jesus, Gandhi, Buddha, etc.) practiced and taught absolute peace, moderation, and understanding.  Almost everyone can agree that those are very admirable traits.  So I can not say that religion itself is evil, it’s not.  Rather the interpretation (or misinterpretation) of a religious belief to make it fit someone’s personal agenda is where the problems begin.  Belief and religion are certainly powerful tools – which can also be dangerous.

I can sympathize with believers.  I used to be one.  There is some sense of belonging when you are a member of a religious organization that is hard to find elsewhere.  When you are surrounded by a room full of people who are literally ready to weep for a common belief in an unseen entity there is a feeling of “oneness” that is truly special. 

This feeling isn’t unique to religion though.  I’ve felt the same way other times too.  When the wrestling team I was on in high school made it to the state tourmament – we all felt almost transcendent – we felt oneness with each other.   Sometimes when I am having a discussion with my best friend and we come to identical conclusions we feel a deep connection.  I think that is the key.  Religion provides a deep and needed natural desire to become one with other people.  That is beautiful.

Oneness without Religion – with Humanity

The biggest disadvantage of religion that I see is that the same force that brings us together also serves to divide us.  That same understanding that causes some people to weep and feel the deepest emotion of love and togetherness causes others to murder each other. 

I wonder if we can find that in simple humanity.  The desire to help and love our neighbor because they are a member of the human race and because we can empathize with their human experience.  I think this is possible. 

The more I learn and understand that everyone has such a variety of human experience I begin to realize that, that very variety is what makes our experience so similar.  Which makes me feel a part of it all – connected, but without the need for a religious doctrine.

“Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.  ― Neil deGrasse Tyson”

rights all intellectually honest, liberty loving, Americans should demand: GAY RIGHTS

Marriage is defined as between a man and a woman. That’s what the law tells us. So what about two individuals of the same sex? Why is it that so many Americans find it immoral for this group of individuals to have the same right – to engage in marriage under the law? Furthermore, how can the legal system justify withholding this right from a certain group of people?

It is a basic tenant of personal property rights that individuals may engage in any personal relationship they wish when their rights do not infringe on anyone else’s property. How can the government limit such a personal relationship, especially when it is between two consenting adults in which there is no victim of their actions?

To quote congressman Ron Paul:

“I think the government should just be out of it (marital rights). I think it should be done by the church or private contract, and we shouldn’t have this argument…Who’s married and who isn’t married. I have my standards but I shouldn’t have to impose my standards on others. Other people have their standards and they have no right to impose their marriage standards on me…if we want to have something to say about marriage it should be at the state level, and not at the federal government.

In a free society…all voluntary and consensual agreements would be recognized…There should essentially be no limits to the voluntary definition of marriage.

Everyone can have his or her own definition of what marriage means, and if an agreement or contract is reached by the participants, it would qualify as a civil contract if desired…Why not tolerate everyone’s definition as long as neither side uses force to impose its views on the other? Problem solved!” (re: Ron Paul)

An honest American will admit that the SINGLE reason the personal relationship between two members of the same sex are constricted is solely due to the Judeo-Christian values are being enforced by the Federal Government and have become the status quo of our American society. No legal, moral, or political reasoning can be given to justify the withholding of such a right to a certain minority in the population. While a religious person may argue that the majority of Americans share these Judeo-Christian beliefs, thus it is justified that the majority rule when it comes to upholding moral philosophies by law; however, how can that be when the law is to be enforced outside and independently of any religious dogma or any majority rule!

The Judeo-Christian moral code is irrelevant in cases of the law! Most religious people would agree that Satanism is immoral; however, the Satanist belief system and practice is protected under the law. Again, other issues that may be viewed as moral vices are protected as well – pornography, intoxication, and lude language, to name a few. Why does society accept these activities, but raise such concerns with homosexuality? Could it be because society, in general, enjoys the right to sometimes utilize such “immoral” behaviors? Yet the majority so willingly and hypocritically advocates the removal of another’s personal and legal rights when it does not interfere with the lives of those making or enforcing the law! Even if one may argue same sex marriage is immoral – they cannot justifiably remove the institutional right under the law!

Only a few decades ago our legal system thought it appropriate to limit the rights of an individual based on race – today we realize that such a notion is completely ridiculous. In the South, blacks were prohibited from eating at certain restaurants, attending the same schools, or even using the same seating section on public transit. To go a step further – it was unheard of for a person of color to engage in a relationship with anyone outside their race. Today it is morally unacceptable to argue such things! So why does society condone the limiting of basic civil and property rights to a person who happens to be attracted to, and fall in love with, a member of the same sex? Who are we so perfect to deem their relationship and feeling unworthy?

To take another approach – what is so immoral about two consenting parties engaging in the ultimate commitment to each other? Can one form an intellectually logical argument against Gay marriage? Can one deny the feelings two responsible adults feel toward each other? Can one deny the positive influence the Gay community has had on neighborhoods across America? (re: The Castro District) Wouldn’t a gay couple engaging in marriage, reaping the emotional and psychological benefits of a stable monogamous relationship be something that all Americans want for our citizens if they so choose? None of this really matters though – as this is a matter of personal liberty and property rights – not one sects view of morality!

The simple fact is this: regardless of your personal feelings and beliefs about homosexuality or Gay marriage, marriage of any kind between two consenting parties is an individual property right – they own the right to whatever relationships they deem necessary for their particular pursuit happiness! The Government has no right – naturally, legally, or constitutionally – to prohibit such a relationship from being formed. Societies current opinion on the issue is irrelevant. I will say this though – history has always sided in favor of civil rights – and in the coming decades we will look back on this restriction of personal relationships as a blemish on par with racism that we so shamefully regret today.