Archive for May, 2010

05.22.2010 – My Facebook Status Tonight

“I will always be amazed by those that support hate and bigotry, and then can’t figure out why they are so miserable and unhappy.”

i don’t think much else really needs to be said.

05.13.2010 – Why Won’t God Heal Amputees?

There’s a website (and book) called: Why Won’t God Heal Amputees?

I’ve been considering this question for quite a while now. And, while I know this has been hashed out over the internet for a long time, I’m going to give my 2.5 cents worth on the topic now.

I don’t think that admitting or believing that God does not heal amputees will ultimately disprove God. (Although, I can add this to my arsenal of reasons for believing that there is no God for myself.) There are plenty of other arguments out there for that – The Ontological Argument, the Cosmological Argument, and others. What it does for me, instead, is argue against the fundamentalist viewpoint that the Christian God does, indeed, intervene when prayed to and miraculous healings can take place. And if the argument DOES indeed prove that, how do these folks justify the selectiveness of God in their own minds?

I’ve been reading a lot of the counter opinions on this topic and there seem to be a few standard responses from believers. I’ll list some of them now:

1) Free Will – Apparently some believers think that if God were to intervene and cause someone’s limb to grow back that that will, in some way, take away our ‘free will’ to believe in him. I find this rather surprising considering these folks are the ones that swear by the Bible as the inerrant word of God. In the Bible Jesus does MANY amazing miracles that go FAR outside of the normal laws of the universe (healed the blind, raised the dead, walked on water, etc etc). Wouldn’t the folks witnessing these events have had their free will compromised?

2) The ‘Hiddeness’ of God – Kind of goes hand-in-hand with the free will argument. But in the book, the author addresses this rather well. In today’s world, people claim all the time to have been miraculously healed from Cancer. Tumors are just gone after prayer (and usually also after Chemotherapy!). Isn’t that the same thing as having a limb grow back? Doctors can SEE and document a Tumor before and after, thus revealing God (if that were really the cause). So, just because the tumor isn’t immediately visible to the rest of the world, it isn’t truly hidden either. So, God wouldn’t really be hidden at all in that scenario.

3) God’s Plan is Mysterious – Well, this one is a classic of course. It seems the usual take that ‘we can’t know what God’s will is, so we just have to accept it’. I’m NOT ok with this take at all. In ANY of the arguments where this is used. It just feels like such a cop-out to me. Like throwing your hands up and saying ‘We just don’t know, so we’re gonna make up a reason.’

All these argument, just seem to me like more rationalization for the massive paradoxes that result in this question. Like it says in this book (and the way I’ve felt about the world for a while now), if you remove God from the equation, and look at the world as just natural process, and things just happen (both good things to bad people and bad things to good people), then everything just makes a lot more sense. There’s no longer any paradox.

As I’ve said many times, I’m open-minded. I really am (contrary to what most people think about atheists). If someone had a limb grow back, and there was a documented case, I’d believe it. I mean, people don’t regenerate limbs. It’s as simple as that. So, if someone was to be prayed for and they were to regrow a limb, I’d believe. I’m also assuming that if it happened once, it could happen many times. In a world with 6 billion people (and a large number of limbless ones I’m assuming), you’d have to think that the odds are in favor of many people with missing limbs being healed.

05.07.2010 – What Does Prayer Do? An Honest Question

In the wake of yesterday’s National Day of Prayer I got to thinking this morning. What do believers think that praying actually accomplishes? I don’t mean that to sound disrespectful. I honestly would like to know how you resolve that in your head. I mean, in the perspective that I was raised with God is perfect, unchanging, all-knowing, etc. Do you honestly think that your prayers are going to change his mind about anything? If so, how? And if not, why continue? I would love some feedback from believers and non-believers alike on this.

On a related note, A local news station posted the NDP topic on their Facebook fan page yesterday, and I’m just stupefied at some of the comments (bad grammar included):

the left wing federal judge should be removed from the bench.Why are we giving up our rights.

How can praying be unconstitutional? And I agree – we all should pray every day!

Why is it that all other forms of religion are considered acceptable but to be a Christian is to be and acknowledge our beliefs seems to be the ultimate taboo?

that federal judge needs to wake-up! where does he turn in his darkest time? bet he prays!

So, yeah, I couldn’t help myself and responded:

so many comments here just make me *facepalm*. the judge in NO WAY determined that you are not allowed to pray. Only that the government cannot ENDORSE a national day of prayer. the judgement did NOTHING to change your freedom to do so or NOT do so. And that’s the way it SHOULD be. If you want to pray…you pray. If you don’t…you don’t have to. It can be a national day of prayer if the churches or other organization want to promote it, but the government needs to stay neutral. Any who think that’s NOT the way it should be are asking for us to live in a theocracy. Think for a few minutes about what that really means. A free country needs to be free for ALL. Not just the majority.

05.04.2010 – Jesus, Interrupted – A Quick Review

I just finished reading Jesus, Interrupted by Bart D Erhman. It was one of the easiest reads I’ve done in quite a while. Not because it was over-simplified or non-scholarly. It is quite the opposite really. I think it was so easy for me, because it’s a topic that I find great interest in and one that I was deeply immersed in from childhood through young adulthood. In this book, Erhman discusses the many inconsistencies and discrepancies within the New Testament. These inconsistencies are not only in the actual words within the various manuscripts that we have of the books, but also its major theological themes between the various writers of the books (many of which are anonymous, contrary to popular belief).

Erman discusses how this information is found through the historical-critical method of biblical study. This is what all seminary students are required to learn. He outlines how we have no original manuscripts of the gospel books. And the versions we do have were passed down via word-of-mouth for several decades after the supposed death of Jesus before they were written down by people who never even knew Jesus. He also discusses the evidence that shows that Paul didn’t actually write many of the books that are actually attributed to him.

While I already knew of a lot of the inconsistencies and the history of how the bible was put together, Erhman’s scholarly approach was very interesting. The information he presented in the book is widely accepted throughout the world, by biblical scholars, as legitimate.

Erhman is a self-proclaimed agnostic even though he was raised as a fundamentalist Christian. He maintains throughout the book that the historical-critical study of the bible did not lead to his loss of faith. The last chapter of the book is dedicated to a high-level explanation of what led him, ultimately, to disbelief.

What amazed me most from what I read in this book is what I mentioned in an earlier paragraph: That all seminary students are presented with the historical-critical perspective as a part of their religious education. Ehrman explains, most Christian parishioners that he has talked to over the years, have never heard this information from their pastors. Why is it that pastors chose a devotional/emotional approach from the pulpit rather than ever discussing the history that they’ve been taught? Are they afraid of losing some of their congregation due to the obvious questions that would result from finding out that the bible is not the inerrant word of God? Are they merely history deniers? I wonder what the reasons would be. I know that in all the many years that I spent in church, I never heard this information until I started digging for myself, and from my perspective this information just goes to further secure what I’ve already been questioning for many years.

05.03.2010 – Quiet the Chatter

I find myself, in recent days, trying desperately to ‘quiet the chatter’ so to speak. I’m not sure how else to put it really. I think I’ve grown tired of hearing all the hate and anger coming from both sides of the theological debate.

I now have a TON of atheist friends on my Facebook friend list now, and I while I am enormously grateful to have this support group, they really do seem to be the most vocal group that I have there. In general, I think that’s a great thing. I’ve always been an advocate of promoting the positive attributes of this worldview in the hopes that it may one day limit the misconceptions. However, the vast majority of posts made by this group are VERY hateful, disrespectful, divisive, slanderous, and downright offensive. I understand that a lot of times the believers posts are a lot like that as well, but shouldn’t we take the high ground in order to gain the respect that we feel we so rightly deserve?

I can’t see how promoting atheism or the wrong-doings of religion this way could possibly be a stepping-stone to a more respectful coexistence between our two groups. While I would be more than happy to see religion go away permanently, the realistic side of me can’t see that happening any time soon. So, shouldn’t mutual respect and tolerance be what we are striving for instead?

I realize I’m just talking to the wall here, and that this isn’t going to change any time soon. But as always, just getting these thoughts out of my head and in print can help me sort through them.

I also mean no offense to my fellow atheist out there. I guess I’m just in a bit of a passivist mode right now.