Archive for the ‘ gods ’ Category

THE MIX OF FAITH AND EVIDENCE – A Reply

I don’t personally find the author of this post offensive but that doesn’t mean that he won’t from time to time say things that don’t seem right.

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Frank wrote a post called THE MIX OF FAITH AND EVIDENCE. If you want to read the whole thing, go ahead. You’ll have to visit to see the graphic he is alluding to. I just want to comment on some of the points in his post.

So, who insisted that Christianity is built entirely on faith? That’s never been my viewpoint and I’m struggling to think of even one Christian who makes this notion their line in the sand.

The point is that without the faith, the religion is pointless. Christianity without faith is not Christianity. It is the primary pillar of the faith, and it’s the part that is bad.

And yet, someone in an atheist Internet community posted this graphic and figured it would cause lots of people to nod in agreement.
But making a statement in a graphic doesn’t make it true. It would be like me insisting all atheists are militant, arrogant and patronizing. Equally false.

This is true, simply making a statement doesn’t make it true. It was a question: If Christianity is entirely built on faith, why do Christians use evidence?

Before I get going here, let me make it clear that faith is definitely a key part of following Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the son of God). In fact, a section of the Bible called ‘Hebrews’ spells it out: “Whoever comes to God must believe that He is real and that He rewards those who sincerely try to find Him.”
But nowhere does the Bible claim that evidence is irrelevant. Indeed, evidence is mentioned at key points.

He mistakes the claims as evidence, as we’ll see:

Consider the resurrection of Jesus, which is one of the most important parts of Christianity. In a letter that’s now part of the Bible, a missionary named Paul (who helped spread Christianity throughout the Mediterranean), told other Christians that after rising from the dead, “Christ appeared to more than 500 other believers at the same time. Most of them are still living today, but some have died.”

That certainly reads like evidence to me, especially as the underlying message is ‘if you don’t believe me about the resurrection, then go ahead and investigate for yourself’. If Christianity is built entirely on faith, why would this be in the Bible?

For the same reason that con artists lie, I would think. This fundamental belief that the bible is true, word for word, is a basic tenant of Christian belief. Even though he points it out that there are ways to interpret the book as saying you should investigate for yourselves the ‘evidence’ offered there is long gone and religions are famous for not encouraging questions. It doesn’t even mean that the original author was being honest. They didn’t mention anyone by name, no government officials, no ruling body, no religious leaders… just a claim that there were witnesses.

Here’s another example, from a section of the Bible called ‘2 Peter’: “We didn’t repeat crafty myths when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Quite the contrary, we witnessed his majesty with our own eyes.” Again, more evidence.

This ‘evidence’ failed to convince most of the middle east. It was not strong enough evidence to keep him from being killed. In short, even in person very few people believed him to be the Christ. Among the few that did, even they had doubts.

The website FaithFacts.org has this take on the faith vs. evidence debate:
Blind faith is faith without evidence, which would be superstition. The Bible does not call us to blind faith. The Bible calls us to faith in evidence. We submit that various truth claims, including Christianity, should be evaluated on the evidence.

When people evaluate the ‘evidence’ contained in the claim (bible) and find it lacking Christians cry fowl or accuse such people of not having an open heart or enough faith or worse we hate their god or simply want to be immoral (as if not being Christian leaves you with no moral compass).

I can tell you, without any hesitation, that if I was called to follow Jesus based solely on faith, I probably wouldn’t be a Christian today. I was presented with evidence, then asked to make a leap of faith based on that evidence and based on the logic of Christianity. I made that leap and have never regretted it.

I can’t imagine what the evidence was. Clearly it was less evidence that I or others would require. That leaves us with a question: What standard of evidence should be used when evaluating truth claims? The only ones that I know of do not find religious belief to be truthful. If they did we’d not be having this discussion over and over again. Why is it that religion requires a different standard of evidence for it to be true? I rather think that this is special pleading regarding evidence gathering and evaluation.

So, where do you stand? Does a mix of faith and evidence make sense to you when considering Christianity? If it does, have you done any research? You may have friends or family members that discourage checking out the claims of Christianity, but this is important stuff.

April 25, 2015 by Frank King Photos

Clearly I don’t think the evidence for Christianity points to it being true never mind proving that it is. The people most likely to be accepting of the standards of evidence required for Christianity to be true are those of other faiths. Even they don’t believe in Christianity. If the ‘evidence’ can’t convince most or all of the people who sincerely ‘want’ to believe then how would it convince those that are simply looking for the truth?

On Orchids And Intelligent Design

Here we see an Orchid. They are part of a 100,000 plus variants or species of the flower. Like any life on this planet the various species have evolved to thrive in their environment. Like many forms of life on this planet humans have cultivated them (changed their environment) in order to change them to be more suitable in some way for humans. Every time that we see them in the shop we don’t think ‘oh, it’s a cultivated orchid’. Rather we think about how beautiful they are, how delicate they seem, how genuinely frail and wonderful they are. To be certain, they are all these things and more. All that changes if they start growing in a corn field. That makes them a weed: a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants. Perspective is everything.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orchidaceae

Philosophies are like this.  There are hundreds of thousands of them, most of the ones you know about are cultivated, shaped by humans to be more palatable or useful. Some of them grow like weeds, thriving in their environments. The human mind offers bad philosophical weeds a fertile environment in which to thrive. Once there the human will cultivate it and work to make it grow and fall victim to the wonderment of its beauty to them. They seldom realize that the beauty of the bad philosophical weed is cultivated by them and for them, competing with the philosophies which will sustain them and help them thrive. The philosophical weeds soon choke out the good philosophies we want and need to cultivate and grow. This is not through malice. It is because we humans don’t like to change the environment that our philosophies live in very much. Change is difficult. In fact, left to our own devices humans have shown themselves to be very poor philosophical horticulturists. When it comes to thinking clearly few of us seem to have that envied green thumb. These weeds, like all weeds seem to do, spread far and wide to every niche they can find as suitable to thrive in. That’s what happens when life evolves to survive. It is very opportunistic with little or no long range planning.

It might be said that an intelligent designer might have planned that so we could all see the beauty of such weeds as orchids or some such drivel. If we carry this analogy through, an intelligent designer wouldn’t have designed our minds as such a fertile place for bad philosophies. An intelligent designer would know that bad philosophies should not be designed such that they are beautiful to behold. It seems almost maliciously purposeful that the human mind, if designed, was designed to be a fertile environment for bad philosophy. It seems shockingly bereft of logic that such a designer would turn out to not have a green thumb, unless you consider that such a designer might think bad philosophies are not weeds, and is cultivating them in human minds. If there was or is an intelligent designer it sucks at gardening or its idea of beauty is detrimental to the well being of humanity.

 

Who Is In Control?

Control? Controlling? Control freak?

Interesting aspects of human nature that we generally note with some negativity involved. Wait, what about self control? Does this dog have it?

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the ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotions and desires or the expression of them in one’s behavior, especially in difficult situations.

Actually it’s not even about control. It’s about desiring a different outcome more. Control is not about repressing bad behavior. No, it is about desiring a more favored behavior more. Think about it. When it comes down to the nuts and bolts, choosing rocky road over vanilla is actually exercising control. Control is about expressing the desired behavior over the undesired behavior. Wisdom is in choosing the right desired behavior. There is always a trick, right?

Direct your mind and the body will follow. The dog above gets no love for not eating snacks, he gets the desired loving behavior for holding still. Perspective is everything… usually … most of the time… at least on Tuesdays.

Oh wait I hear you say. Just saying you want the more desired behavior is not enough, that never works. Well, no, not just saying it. You actually have to want it. When you want something enough it’s easy to achieve.

Think of it this way: You might not like the thought of eating a kitty kat. When you get hungry enough the desire to not die will over come your desire to not eat kitty kat. Sometimes keeping control feels like that: choosing to eat kitty kat. When the alternative is not living through the week, perspective changes.

All of that, I hope, makes reasonable sense even if it seems a bit off key. Why would I tell you this stuff? When believers say that without a moral law giver humans become amoral and lawless. The god of Abraham means nothing for this dog yet he finds subjective morality and can choose a desired outcome over and above the easy route. Morality is so easy that even a dog can do it.

Oh yes I did just hear you say that without training and a trainer he would not do that. No, without training and a trainer he would not have an object of affection he wanted the love from. The trainer has nothing to do with the dog’s choice to remain controlled other than what value the dog places on the trainer’s love. Oh damn that free will stuff! Yep, I just said that. The dog wants the love of his owner/trainer more than the taste of a snack. That is control… not of an owner over a dog, but of a dog over himself because he desires an outcome from the owner.

Does that make sense?

There are people who will understand what I’m saying. Believers want us to think that the dog is not capable of making a decision and neither are they. Without their god they would gorge themselves on the snacks. They think life is about the snacks or just themselves. Even the dog knows that life is about more. Even a DOG knows how the law of reciprocity works. When believers tell you this kind of thing, remember that they are not even as intelligent as a dog. Then go get some rocky road!

Five Seconds Is A Long Time

Imagine if you will that you could save 5 seconds every morning when getting ready for work. Over the span of an average worker’s life that would be worth 72.222 days. Just 5 seconds per work day.

How much time do or did you spend praying each work day? How much time of each work day do you spend being angry? How much time of each work day do you spend listening to ‘that guy’ that won’t stop talking?

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I know I wasted a lot of days praying. I kind of wish I had them back. What would I have done with it or how would I have spent it? I don’t know for certain but I do think that I could have used it better. That’s not a regret per se’, just an observation on what it cost me to become an atheist. It took a long time to get here. A lot of my life was wasted on what I was taught as a child to believe.

Society, especially in the USA, wastes that time of most children’s lives. Note that they have no proof that its not a waste of time and energy and joy, they do it in case the religion is real. Oh, I know that many of them think their chosen religion is true (or the religion that their parents chose for them). That’s where it get kind of criminal and creepy. Parents are taught to waste so much of their children’s lives on the off chance that a religion that was chosen for them is correct. They do this when there is no proof that any religion is correct about anything. I added up the 5 seconds. Imagine what hours per week looks like in the long run. Just 5 hours per week spent on religion adds up to over 500 days over the span of a work career. That is easily 1% of your life. When  you spend roughly 33% of your life asleep, that extra 1% becomes a pretty big chunk because it is effectively multiplied when you consider it comes out of your waking hours. So you work 8 hours and sleep 8 hours. 3% of the rest of your time is spent on something that was chosen for you, instilled into you, wasting your life.

It’s no wonder that atheists sometimes seem angry about religion.

Self Respect?

One could be forgiven if they thought self respect went out of style with the advent of reality television. I’d forgive you that. That’s not when it happened. Self respect has been bought and sold in churches, temples, synagogues, and mosques for thousands of years.

Full Definition of SELF-RESPECT

1:  a proper respect for oneself as a human being
2:  regard for one’s own standing or position

By definition the adherents of monotheism can’t have self respect. They traded it for some promised eternal life. PT Barnum is laughing from the grave.

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To believe in original sin requires you to sacrifice your self respect.

Killing The First Born For Pass Over

Pass Over is a really big Jewish holiday. They have lots of things to celebrate but the name’s origin has a gruesome story. While the Jews were enslaved in Egypt (if you believe that part) Moses is born and after 40 years as a sheep herder decides to go and free his people.

“When the Pharaoh refuses, God unleashes 10 devastating plagues on the Egyptians, culminating in the slaying of every first born son by an avenging angel. The Israelites mark the doorframes of their homes with lamb’s blood so that the angel will recognize and “pass over” each Jewish household.”

Later, to celebrate the killing of the first born sons the Jewish people had Jesus killed at Pass Over time. Of course they’re never going to tell the tale quite like that but that’s how it happened. YHWH should have put some lamb’s blood on his door, or something like that. The holy book is not quite clear if he was sacrificed before the feast or after but hey they’ve got 8 days in which to do the celebrating.
The whole business of religion is pretty iffy. Here’s a few good reasons why:

Easter, as we know it today, is not really the Pass Over celebration of years gone by. The Christians made a dubious choice and decided that they would celebrate the death (and resurrection) of their man-god hero at exactly the same time as the pagans (you  know them, everyone that’s not a Jew or Christian) were celebrating spring and the rituals of renewal and life. That’s where the name Easter, the rabbit, and the eggs come into it. Enterprising businessmen brought us peeps, jelly beans, and all manner of candy eggs. For those reasons some Christians are getting a bit picky about what they call their celebration. Good on them I say. It’s about time they stopped claiming other people’s holidays.

I just wanted to remind everyone that Pass Over is that time of year when the Jews celebrate killing of other people’s first born sons. Just something to think about as you’re ‘exploding some peeps in the microwave’

 

Nothing makes the holiday more ‘Murican than exploding some stuff.

The First Christian … Ever

Christians manage to quote their holy book quite a bit in conversation and blog posts. It often seems like they might have read it. I don’t think they have. Yes, I’m walking out on a limb here. Today I had an exchange with a believer who said “you don’t understand what you’re reading or you’re not willing to believe” when I posited that reading the Christian bible was a fast track to atheism and that their certainty that their faith was right should be questioned. I think that moments like this are double face palm moments. There is no reasonable manner to read the new testament and think that Jesus and Paul were talking about the same things. Google is your friend. There are many Christian websites and blogs talking about how they definitely were not talking about the same things.

Sometimes I want to scream at believers asking them whether they are followers of Jesus or Paul. Most of them I run into don’t seem to know the difference. For those that haven’t read the book it might not seem a big thing. If you have read it you will know that Jesus and Paul had quite different messages. Conservative Americans will be fans of Paul. Liberals and socialists will be fans of Jesus. It’s not really a book for anarchists or those with the will and desire to face life on it’s own, on their own. It’s really a self help book with rules about how to not spend eternity burning alive, and of course some ways that you should punish your neighbors if they do stuff that Paul didn’t like. It’s not really a pleasant read and right at the end it gets downright loopy. Once you discount the repeat stories and plain crazy stuff, Paul wrote most of the rest of it. He had a lot to say to various people, quite a bit more than what we supposedly know that Jesus said.

I think Paul’s episode on the road to Damascus is a bit dubious, I always have. The most prolific writer in the NT and his conversion story has two versions is something I find more than a little bit interesting. There are people that talk about hermeneutics. They want you to interpret the stories in just the right way. The whole thing is up for interpretation and the way I read it Paul was a pretty ambitious man. He went from persecuting believers to telling them how to live. In some ways that’s not much of a change but in other ways it was pretty radical. What makes a guy who is pretty much a dick change tactics and go completely the other way? It’s interesting to think about. He not only did an occupational about face but he also taught differently than Jesus did. This guy was coloring completely outside the lines, and he brought his own crayon box with him. He was off the reservation right up to the Council of Jerusalem around 50 C.E. That’s where he got his street cred and off he went. That’s where Christianity took a left turn.

The story of Christianity is not a single, homogeneous story. Basically shards of stories, letters, stuff that you have to piece together to get a picture or glimpse of the authors and what they were like, what life was like and so on. It’s all up for interpretation and it takes a lot of study to make sense of it. That is something that most believers just don’t have in them. It’s stuff they aren’t going to do. They are going to regurgitate what they hear from the pulpit each Sunday.

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That doesn’t mean that nobody has ever sat down and read it and thought about what it all means. Let’s run to a quote that inspired the title of this post. Read it a bit carefully, the language is a bit of a run-on but if  you go slow it makes sense.

    The first Christian. All the world still believes in the authorship of the “Holy Spirit” or is at least still affected by this belief: when one opens the Bible one does so for “edification.”… That it also tells the story of one of the most ambitious and obtrusive of souls, of a head as superstitious as it was crafty, the story of the apostle Paul–who knows this , except a few scholars? Without this strange story, however, without the confusions and storms of such a head, such a soul, there would be no Christianity…

That the ship of Christianity threw overboard a good deal of its Jewish ballast, that it went, and was able to go, among the pagans–that was due to this one man, a very tortured, very pitiful, very unpleasant man, unpleasant even to himself. He suffered from a fixed idea–or more precisely, from a fixed, ever-present, never-resting question: what about the Jewish law? and particularly the fulfillment of this law? In his youth he had himself wanted to satisfy it, with a ravenous hunger for this highest distinction which the Jews could conceive – this people who were propelled higher than any other people by the imagination of the ethically sublime, and who alone succeeded in creating a holy god together with the idea of sin as a transgression against this holiness. Paul became the fanatical defender of this god and his law and guardian of his honor; at the same time, in the struggle against the transgressors and doubters, lying in wait for them, he became increasingly harsh and evilly disposed towards them, and inclined towards the most extreme punishments. And now he found that–hot-headed, sensual, melancholy, malignant in his hatred as he was– he was himself unable to fulfill the law; indeed, and this seemed strangest to him, his extravagant lust to domineer provoked him continually to transgress the law, and he had to yield to this thorn.
Is it really his “carnal nature” that makes him transgress again and again? And not rather, as he himself suspected later, behind it the law itself, which must constantly prove itself unfulfillable and which lures him to transgression with irresistable charm? But at that time he did not yet have this way out. He had much on his conscience – he hints at hostility, murder, magic, idolatry, lewdness, drunkenness, and pleasure in dissolute carousing – and… moments came when he said to himself:”It is all in vain; the torture of the unfulfilled law cannot be overcome.”… The law was the cross to which he felt himself nailed: how he hated it! how he searched for some means to annihilate it–not to fulfill it any more himself!

And finally the saving thought struck him,… “It is unreasonable to persecute this Jesus! Here after all is the way out; here is the perfect revenge; here and nowhere else I have and hold the annihilator of the law!”… Until then the ignominious death had seemed to him the chief argument against the Messianic claim of which the new doctrine spoke: but what if it were necessary to get rid of the law?

The tremendous consequences of this idea, of this solution of the riddle, spin before his eyes; at one stroke he becomes the happiest man; the destiny of the Jews–no, of all men–seems to him to be tied to this idea, to this second of its sudden illumination; he has the thought of thoughts, the key of keys, the light of lights; it is around him that all history must revolve henceforth. For he is from now on the teacher of the annihilation of the law…

This is the first Christian, the inventor of Christianity. Until then there were only a few Jewish sectarians.

from Nietzsche’s Daybreak, s.68, Walter Kaufmann transl.

But we’re just not reading it right apparently. Only believers can read it right, so I’m lead to believe. The problem I find with that is that whenever a smart person reads the book then end up not believing and tend to have the same kind of interpretation as I do. I’m not trying to say I’m smart or something, just that confirmation bias seems to really skew what the book says. Nietzsche doesn’t seem to have a high opinion of Paul – the first Christian. I tend to agree with Nietzsche. Moreover I think that modern day Christians are not really doing what they ought to be doing as Christians according to their Jesus.
That won’t stop them from trying to tell the rest of us that we’re doing it wrong.

Somehow, I just don’t believe it. How is my interpretation wrong? Oh yeah, I don’t believe but I think I’m in good company.

 

 

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