Posts Tagged ‘ Supernatural ’

Life Before Death? There is only life. It All Ends At Death.

Those of you who have read my ‘about me’ page know that “Sometimes I think the way I see the world is perhaps worth writing down.”

That view of the world is as present as ever when I read the posts of other bloggers. I want to know what they wrote and why they wrote it. It tells us something about them, or likely does. One of my favorite theist bloggers is Franks Cottage. His writing is different than a lot of theistic writings. He seems to stay on the positive perspective side of the debate. That he is a theist does not meant that I don’t find cause to stop and think when he writes. That said, Frank has posted recently on life before and after death focusing on the before part from his Christian perspective. Reading that gave me a few thoughts that I’d like to share here:

The entirety of his post is included and quoted but reformatted a bit for ease here.

I guess there are some atheists out there who believe that people of faith are just gritting their teeth and tolerating this nauseating existence before going on to unending glory in the life to come. But from my perspective as a follower of Jesus (whom serious Christians believe is God’s divine Son), atheists and Christians have “life before death” as a common belief. Let me make this as clear as possible: while life after death is of supreme importance, life BEFORE death is just as significant. How can I write that? Consider these words of Jesus, recorded in a section of the Bible called ‘John’: “I came to give life—life that is full and good.” He’s not talking about life after death; He’s talking about life RIGHT NOW. So what does that mean?

This premise is a promise that, as we’ll see, is not a promise of a wonderful life of prosperity

1.  Life becomes full and good because you’ve join a worldwide movement of believers. So you don’t have to make a go of it solo. You can attend a church, read the Bible, regularly pray with (and for) others and support each other through good times and bad.

This indicates that Christians don’t want to do this life on their own, can’t do it on their own. They have to have social intereactions which echo their own beliefs and actions. There is nothing here that could not be accomplished in an Atheist church, outside of praying and which books you read. So here we see Christianity fulfilling basic human wants rather than doing something special this part is a requisite part of human social interaction. Nothing special here. You’d get much the same if you belonged to a D&D club.

2.  Life becomes full and good because you have a new power that helps you set aside the meaningless, superficial priorities of our culture and focus on what’s truly important. So you are put on a path to stop worrying about whether you have a new car, the latest smartphone and the biggest flat-screen TV. You stop looking to your mate or your friends to give you happiness because you realize that happiness comes through following Jesus.

Here is a claim of a ‘new power’ that has no evidence for it. A power which most atheists seem to have or can have, I know I do. So this power being promised is not supernatural nor necessarily derived from a holy text. It’s just humans thinking in one way vs. a different way. That last bit where ‘You stop looking to your mate or your friends to give you happiness …’ is very interesting. You don’t need a god for this or a church or holy text. If you can’t manage this on your own a therapist can help you. This is not a special gift from a god, it is simply good and reasonable thinking. You do not and should not need a god to do this.

3.  Life becomes full and good because you have a pathway to becoming truly generous. It’s no longer about getting a charitable tax break or seeking something in return when you give. It’s about being Christ’s ambassador in a world most of us are willing to admit isn’t doing very well.

Ahh, the old giving altruistically bit. Being religious does not make you charitable or good. Spend a couple of minutes searching for atheist charity on the Internet and you’ll see the folly of this #3 item. In fact, #3 here is rather insulting to those charitable non-believers.

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4.  Life become full and good when you realize that the 70-odd years most of us spend on this planet is merely a blip in time compared to the eternity Christ followers have in Heaven with Jesus. The blessing of that perspective means we no longer have to put so much stake in every good or bad thing that happens to us in this life. We see the bigger picture and it changes everything.

There it is, life is good because there is a promise of eternal life afterwards. Live this life for Jesus so you can live forever at his feet worshipping him and his pappa. That is, unless there is something wrong in that heaven and you want change, then you’ll get cast out. Going to heaven has not been shown to be a one way ticket and it’s hard to imagine what being there would be like if all your loved ones or friends are in hell being tortured for eternity by the very god you worship. This promised next life needs to be approached with logic and trepidation. The promise sounds good but you wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive, for a reason.

5.  Life become full and good because you realize that Jesus died to make up for all the wrong things you’ve done and the right things you’ve failed to do. So the burden of guilt and shame is lifted from you; God sees you as He sees His Son: perfect in every way.

Well now, for this part you have to believe that this Jesus existed and died. It’s hard to come to grips with the fact that most of us do things which are not good at some point. Living with that requires a bit of thinking and attitude adjustment. The Christian’s like Frank think they can absolve themselves of responsibility and guilt by believing a story which says they are forgiven and will even get a reward while their friends and family are roasted in hell for eternity. Sounds selfish to me. Oh, I know. Frank and others are trying to share the free trip to heaven with us. I don’t know about you but I’m a little suspicious of the get out of jail free card given because I believe in the very god who built the jail just to torture me with if I don’t love him. It all seems a bit suspicious. One might stop to ponder at this point how well cows are treated before they are slaughtered for meat. They’ve been taught to trust their human masters who have made life easy for them, keep them healthy, feed them and so on… that small walkway to the new barn is not the stairway to heaven.

Now I’m not going to sugar-coat this and claim followers of Jesus float on a cloud of bliss. In another part of ‘John’, Jesus tells His followers “In this world you will have troubles. But be brave! I have defeated the world!” That means the world doesn’t automatically have the final say on your life. If you decide to follower Jesus, then HE has the final say. And that final say is glorious.

There it is, let me translate: This life is going to suck, sometimes it’s really going to suck. Your 2 year old might even be diagnosed with terminal cancer. Not to worry, if you believe in Jesus you’re promised a full and good life and there is the church to lean on when your mind can’t find the necessary impetus to even walk, they’ll support you and pray for you … and your child is still going to die of cancer before he can be saved by Jesus but hey, at least in the next life you’ll be worshipping the god that killed your kid and doomed him to eternal torture. That, that makes all the suffering worth it, don’t you think?

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Stuff You Say When You Are Stoned!

Oh, I know that this could be a long running series but I only intend to make this one post. I think the video says all you need to know when you understand that this is the kind of stuff you say when you’re higher than a kite. We tend to forgive people for stuff they say when they’re high because we know that their brain is not working as it should and the owner of that brain is enjoying the malfunction. If this guy claims he’s not high you can go ahead and laugh at him because he’s clearly stoned out of his mind.

 

Wait a minute, this bag of flatulence is allowed to vote. Seriously, why do believers wonder why non-believers laugh at them and want them locked up?

If you believe in the same book and the same god as this jerk (see what I did there?) could you please explain what is wrong with him? What exactly did he read in your holy book that tells him this stuff?

God Hears Your Prayers

Yes, I stumble across random posts by believers that are trying to give advice to other believers and it hurts. Seriously it hurts. First when my jaw hits the desk and then again when trying to do a triple face palm.

This post is a comment on one from altruisco, you might know them. He feels privileged that he can pray to a god and he is concerned that some might be discouraged when their prayers do not seem to be answered right away.

Our privilege of prayer is from God, and it is as much ours now as when it was given to Israel (Deuteronomy 4:7). Yet, when we pray or speak to the One in Heaven, there are times when He seems not to answer. There can be many reasons for this, and the Scriptures suggest why and how our prayers are being dealt with by the One who is so tender and loving, who Himself loves our communing with God the Father, for He, Himself, is our representative (Hebrews 4:15).

But don’t let George discourage you, let’s continue

A primary reason why prayer is unanswered is sin. God cannot be mocked or deceived, and He who sits enthroned above knows us intimately, down to our every thought (Psalm 139:1-4). If we are not walking in the Way or we harbor enmity in our hearts toward our brother or we ask for things with the wrong motives (such as from selfish desires), then we can expect God not to answer our prayer because He does not hear (2 Chronicles 7:14; Deuteronomy 28:23; Psalm 66:18; James 4:3). Sin is the “stopper” to all the potential blessings that we would receive from the infinite “bottle” of God’s mercy! Indeed, there are times when our prayers are heinous in the Lord’s sight, most notably when we clearly do not belong to the Lord either because of unbelief (Proverbs 15:8) or because we are practicing hypocrisy (Mark 12:40).

I’m thinking this guy has not read

Matthew 18:20 – For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them

Mark 11:24 – Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Another reason why prayer seems to go unanswered is that the Lord is drawing out of our faith a deeper reliance and trust in Him, which should bring out of us a deeper sense of gratitude, love and humility. In turn, this causes us to benefit spiritually, for He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; Proverbs 3:34). Oh, how one feels for that poor Canaanite woman, who cried out incessantly to our Lord for mercy when He was visiting the region of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21-28)! She was hardly the person a Jewish rabbi would pay attention to. She was not a Jew and she was a woman, two reasons that Jews ignored her. The Lord doesn’t seem to answer her petitions, but He knew all about her situation. He may not have answered her stated needs immediately, but still He heard and granted her request.

It’s just a shame he doesn’t answer the prayers of those parents with starving children.

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God may often seem silent to us, but He never sends us away empty-handed. Even if prayer has not been answered, we must rely upon God to do so in His own time. Even the exercise of prayer is a blessing to us; it is because of our faith that we are stirred to persist in prayer. It is faith that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6), and if our prayer life is wanting, does that not reflect our spiritual standing also? God hears our impoverished cries for mercy, and His silence inflames us with a sense of persistence in prayer. He loves us to reason with Him. Let us hunger for the things that are after God’s heart and let us walk in His ways and not our own. If we are faithful to pray without ceasing, then we are living in the will of God, and that can never be wrong (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).

God always seems silent to starving children. He sends them to the grave empty handed and with empty stomachs. Yes, trust that your god will answer your prayer. It worked out so very well for those now dead starving children and their families. Those starving children must not have believed in god with enough fervor. Maybe they forgot to pray without ceasing.

 

 

Proof That The Christian God Exists!

Yeah, I know. That title is more exciting than this post will be. I do that a lot. Still, bear with me this is pretty close.

I’ve been thinking today about the people that tell me answered prayers are evidence of their god existing.

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I know that looks more like a collision between methane and a flame, but whatever.

I wish Christians would keep a tally of the prayers they prayed which were answered with ‘no’ or ‘not now’. They are fond of remembering the ones they think were answered with a yes but they can never tell you how many were answered with no or not now – essentially not answered at all.

Do me a favor, ask them how many went unanswered when you hear that trope.

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I’m sure you’ll get a reaction a lot like the second image.

More seriously, if supposedly answered prayers is evidence of the god’s existence via interaction with the world it should be fair to say that un-answered prayers are also an evidence of the character of any given god. That is to say that if a god does not answer should we count that as abstention or as a Fsck You. In either case it is not a positive answer.

Matt. 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Clearly the Christian god is going to hear a lot of prayers.

If that did not sink in, this means that Gov. Rick Perry got the middle finger from his god in a big way. Of course that won’t count in the tally of what evidence is. No, that was just a ‘not now’ answer.

Do us all a favor, ask those that use answered prayers as evidence for a list of prayers that were not answered. Ask for details. Those prayers too are evidence to be considered. Let’s start making sure it gets the consideration that it deserves.

When the counting is done, here’s a link you might want handy: A book on statistics

I’m not even going to make the argument that they don’t know statistics. I think that simply asking for the list will be enough to start the conversation or terminate it completely.

Give it a try and let us all know how it worked out.

 

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?

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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