People stop it! Just….stop it!
Images like this one just make you look stupid. Do you really believe this? Really? If so, and for a minute or two, let’s assume you do. The following questions (among many others) are raised:
1) Is God not allowed in Malls? Click here
2) Is God not allowed in Movie Theaters? Click Here
4) Is God picky about how he’s worshiped? Click Here
That list isn’t even close to comprehensive, but it goes to show that this mindset is idiotic! Either that or this god that you give your allegiance to is as spoiled and rotten as a misbehaving child. Any deity that would allow 20 innocent children to be massacred because he’s upset about being ‘not allowed in schools’ is a monster and not worthy of anyone’s adoration. Not to mention the idiocy of an all-powerful god being pushed around by us peons. If you believe this crap, you can consider yourself to rank with the Westboro Baptist douchebags!
And besides all of that, the statement is just false. Yeah, teachers and schools can’t LEAD or DIRECT prayers, but kids are allowed to pray, carry bibles/korans, etc, and even can have prayer groups that can meet on school grounds/classrooms. So, stop it with this god isn’t allowed in schools BS. It’s just that. BS!
And then there’s this:
What a disgusting point of view. There is no positive spin that can be put on this horror. My heart breaks for these parents. I can’t even imagine the pain they are going through right now. Stuff like this is horrible! No amount of mental gymnastics can take away that horror! I’m just so pissed off about this right now that I find it hard to relay my feelings! I really don’t care who I piss off with this either. This is the problem with the religious. Things like this devalue human lives. Believing that we go somewhere after death removes the preciousness that is life!
JUST. STOP. IT.
I find myself intrigued by the various arguments for and against God. Lately, I’ve been considering the Fine-Tuning argument (a subset of the Teleological Argument). In a nut-shell, it goes like this:
The Fine-Tuning argument is a modern variant on the overall Teleological argument and is based on the anthropic principle. The anthropic principle deals with the seemingly delicate balance of conditions that are necessary in order to support human life. It finds its evidence mostly in the vast improbabilities that the universe would find the conditions that it has in order to produce human life. And because these improbabilities are so vast, that leads to the assumption that a designer needed to be present.
I’m not going to get into the specific numbers of this argument (they are, after-all incomprehensibly large), because the refutations to those are out there to be had (basically, life DID occur in this universe, so the probability is technically negligible and there’s nothing that we know of to measure it against. ie…a universe that did NOT produce life). What I DO want to discuss, though, is MY take on it. It may not be scholarly, or based on any kind of scientific data or research, but I believe it to be based on some common sense. And, as always, I’m open to other people’s takes on the topic.
What we see in the observable universe are mind-bending amounts of empty, black space. Vast areas of absolutely nothing in the Cosmos. And in all that space and time, to the best of our limited knowledge, WE are the only life that has developed in this universe (though, I fully expect in the coming years, decades, and centuries that may change, but for the time-being I must rely on reality, and reality is, we are all we know of). My trouble with the fine-tuning argument is this: If the universe is fine-tuned for human life, why are we the ONLY human life in an unbelievably enormous universe? Doesn’t it seem like an awfully huge waste of energy and matter in the universe to have only us here, on this tiny ‘Pale Blue Dot’ in the arm of an otherwise ordinary spiral galaxy? If the universe was fine-tuned for human life, shouldn’t it be absolutely bursting at the seams with human beings? It seems that if it WAS designed, it wasn’t done so very efficiently and that doesn’t seem like the modus operandi of an all-powerful, eternal engineer.
Now, I’m obviously not a scientist. I’m not even all that smart of a guy. I get that the constants in the universe, and the coincidences in the numbers are impressive. I also understand that even the slightest changes in those numbers could have resulted in a lifeless universe. However, reality is what it is. The universe has produced intelligent life. But how many other universes are out there that are completely void of life? We will probably never know.
I’m just starting my deep investigation of these claims, so I expect that I will post more on the topic as I learn and dig into the various explanations. And a lot of times I feel like I don’t have a clue what some of these arguments are talking about. But I’m making progress, and while sometimes they give me pause, ultimately, I’m secure in my belief set.
Predestination is a concept that I’ve thought about many times throughout my life. It’s probably one of the main ideas that have given me pause over the years, particularly my years as a believer.
Webster’s dictionary defines predestination as follows:
And therein lies my trouble. How can an all-knowing God NOT have predestined human beings for salvation or damnation ahead of time? I realize that Calvinists firmly believe in this concept and that God has pre-chosen an ‘elect’ set of people whom will be saved. I have no trouble with their beliefs on the subject. If you are to accept the idea of an all-knowing God, I don’t see how you can reject the concept of predestination. So, therefore I don’t find what they believe to be hypocritical in any way (at least on this topic).
Many of the people who I’ve talked to over the years like to say that God has given us free will. We are free to choose or reject him. But those same folks also claim that God is all-knowing. I really don’t see how you can have it both ways. If God is all-knowing, then he knows (and has known throughout all of time) who among us is to be saved and who among us will be damned to hell. I don’t see how it’s any more complicated than that. If God is NOT all-knowing, then there’s a limit to his power. And if there’s a limit to his power in THIS subject, how are we to know that there are not other limitations?
The concept of an all-knowing God is one that has always caused me difficulty. For as long as I can remember there have been times when I’ve tossed this around in my head. When I was a believer, I would just blow it off after a while and say to myself “All will be revealed when we meet God”, but there was always a nagging feeling that something was wrong with this concept. Now as a non-believer, it makes a LOT more sense to me. There is no trouble with an all-knowing God concept when you realize that there is no God to believe in in the first place!
The other day I read a passage in the book I’m reading currently that mentioned the fact that, according to the bible, all men must face judgement after death. And that simple statement kicked off a big-time flashback to childhood for me.
I can remember being terrified of this when I was just a very young child (between 6 and 9 years old). I remember vividly picturing the scenario in my head. It went something like this…
I was dead (obviously ;)), and standing before the throne of God for my judgement (after waiting in a LONG line of other recently deceased souls! Can you imagine the wait that must be? Having to stand there while each and every human soul is judged on everything they’ve ever done in life? Not to mention if you were to be taken up in the rapture…the huge influx of souls all at once would certainly cause a bottleneck the likes of which the universe has never seen before!). What I was seeing was basically a HUGE movie screen. And on that screen was projected everything bad that you had ever done in your life. I remember thinking how amazingly embarrassing some of the things that would be shown would be. Kind of like the ultimate ‘He sees you when you’re sleeping, He knows when you’re awake’ scenario. I also remember thinking how unfair it all seemed that all those waiting in line were able to sit in and enjoy the ‘show’.
Now that I realize that this was all a product of the indoctrination that I had as a child, as an atheist adult I am able to see how silly that all was. It also shows how easy it is for religion to control people through fear.
I’ve kept this post to rather light-hearted in tone, but the reality is that while I was living those years, there was real and tangible fear in me about this. I remember having a LOT of fear as a child. I’m glad that I’ve been able to create what I hope is an environment without all of these irrational fears for my daughter. I hope when she looks back at her childhood when she’s an adult, that she only has images of joy, hope, love, and fun. I know I can’t shelter her from all of the REAL sorrows that are a part of life, but at least I know I can avoid having her suffer needlessly concerning things of this nature.
I never want my atheism to define me. It’s only a small portion of the person that I am. It seems, though, that the religious majority forces my atheism to be an issue on a nearly day-to-day basis. I’m constantly subjected to having to answer questions and be forced to defend my position all the time by the theists that I’m around. It’s tiring. It hasn’t been as bad over the last few months (because I’ve been more quiet in voicing my opinions on various topics), but still there nonetheless.
At our Father’s Day gathering at our house yesterday, my Mom tried on several occasions to get me to acknowledge the fact that she felt that she had been ‘divinely healed’ of an ailment that’s been bothering her for years. I refused to even give it a follow up comment (she got plenty of support from her theist friends on her Facebook post about it though). I think that’s probably the best ‘modus operandi’ for me to take going forward. I’m just not going to give fuel to the fire anymore unless I’m directly addressed with a question or if I hear someone preaching outright falsehoods to people who aren’t questioning them.
A few weeks ago, she asked me if I wanted to send my daughter to ‘Teen Quest’, a religious summer camp for kids and teens. That question just left my jaw hanging open. I just couldn’t believe that she’d even ask that. It just reeks of a complete lack of respect for my belief system, and for the way that I choose to raise my daughter. Again, I just blew it off. Basically because I know I can not win the argument should I choose to engage. So, it’s in the best interest of my stress levels, that I just leave those arguments go.
There’s so much more to life than our positions on whether or not we believe in a god. Sadly, though, the vast majority of people in the world believe that that is THE most important thing. I, rather, chose to be defined by what I DO believe in, rather than what I do not. I’m an atheist because I don’t believe in any gods ONLY, but there’s whole list of things that I DO believe in and I think those things define me much more completely than merely the fact that I’m an atheist. See my post from last week about my revised new 10 commandments list for just some of those things.
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.
I’ll start this post by just saying that today sucks. It’s one of those days for me when everything seems to have caught up to me and beat me relentlessly with large clubs. I’m pissy! I’m moody! And at the same time, pretty certain that tomorrow will be a much better day.
That being said, and the reason for my post is, that I find it funny that God isn’t telling my religious family and friends about my mood. No words of wisdom from the Almighty to them, telling them how much I could use a phone call or a message. You’d think that he’d let them know right? Like a voice to my Mom’s head: “Hey, your oldest son is having a rough go of it today, you might wanna check in on him” or to any of my siblings: “Your brother could use a phone call”.
Nope, that never happens. Unless I go out of MY way to mention it somewhere, they will never know. Why? Because this is just another little piece of the ‘Evidence Pie’ that I can add to my own collection that further supports my non-belief.
I’m sure someone will spin it to blame it on me for my lack of faith. But the reality is, that would be one REALLY easy way for God to prove himself to me. I’d almost convert on the spot if someone called me out of the blue and said “You know…God just told me that you’re feeling pretty down today. And I thought I should call you to make sure you’re doing ok”. I mean really? How hard would that be? I’m sure I’d still have the thoughts of ‘pure coincidence’ rolling around in my head, but that would certainly give me pause. (of course, now that this blog post is out there, there’s always the chance that someone saw it and put 2 and 2 together! ;))
For the record, this post is not a cry for sympathy from the readers of this blog. Just a fleeting thought that crossed my mind today. I’ll be fine tomorrow. Maybe even later today.