In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and misinformation, give yourself the benefit of doubt. This is one skeptic's view of the Universe; natural wonders and supernatural blunders.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

Born again, again: how YA literature affirmed my faith and the Bible killed it

….I am no longer the girl with A Time to Cherish and my Bible on my night stand, searching for all the answers that my mother couldn’t give me. In fact, when I sat down the other day to re-read “A Time to Cherish,” I was so perplexed and troubled by it, I wrote the author herself to ask her some questions. One was her advice to me, a reader who had not only lost her faith, but in the parlance of Born Agains, her testimony – her love for God and desire to share the good Word. “Turn to God,” she replied. “Every life is redeemable. … Shame off you, grace on you.

Her answer made me ineffably sad.

How could I explain? I don’t feel that I need redemption. I don’t feel ashamed. I don’t feel lost, or scared or worried about my eternal soul. I don’t even think I have an eternal soul.

I no longer even value faith; I value doubt.

I do know why, as a young girl, I wanted answers: I was angry, like a lot of teens, and I was learning that growing up doesn’t give anyone solutions, only more complicated questions. I loved Gunn’s book so much because, even as Christy struggles with faith, with being a young woman, having crushes and maintaining friendships, her faith allows her to know that everything happens for a reason, and that everything will be OK.

Somewhere along the way I lost interest in everything being OK.

There’s a moment in Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet in which the German writer urges a young and struggling author, “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love questions themselves, like locked rooms and like book that are written in a very foreign languages.” More than my politics changing (which they did) or my mother passing (which she did), what separates me from the girl who looked to A Time to Cherish for direction is that I became vastly more interested in questions rather than answers.

Which is not to say that I don’t still try to find meaning in my life, or that I begrudge anyone else their own search. A Time to Cherish is still on my shelf, next to my pink Bible, my Quran, Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, Leon Lederman’s tomes on particle physics and collections of Keats. Reading them all gave me more questions than anyone could ever answer.

I used to live in a world of miracles. Now I live in a world of wonder.

The Sacred Texts of Various Religions

There’s quite a few, to say the least.

And you know your particular book is the true one because you must have evaluated the truth claims of all of the others and weighed them against the evidence. Right?

Either that, OR you were just raised to believe in one and to be ignorant of all the others…

It ain’t necessarily so
It ain’t necessarily so
The things that you’re liable
To read in the Bible,
It ain’t necessarily so…

(Source: Spotify)

holymashedpotatoesbatman asked
So I saw that post about not leaning on your own understanding and that some things that seem wrong are right and vice versa. So if God says it's ok to enslave, rape, and murder people(which he does) then it's ok? You don't think that maybe you should use your own discretion? Logic never hurt anyone, but religion sure does.

academicatheism:

peterdwebb:

It’s interesting that you ask that question. The truth is that there are that who feel that murder, rape and abuse are ok. They might not feel any remorse or regret for doing those things. But God is totally against those things, and reveals that in His Word. Regardless of our feelings about gossip, lust, envy, selfishness, and lying, it’s all wrong. There’s a moral standard outside of our feelings. Right and wrong aren’t up to us.

Reveals that in his word? I’ll simply reproduce a response to another idiot. This is the second time I’m doing this, which shows you that your idiocy is quite common.

Your pathetic war god commanded genocide, rape, and slavery; let’s see you dig your way out from under all of these verses!

Oh and no rape you say!?  How did they enjoy the women as plunder?  You think the women of their enemies consented?

More rape!

Oh, let’s make them our wives; that makes it perfectly okay!  Oh wait, that sounds familiar.  If you’re raped, you gotta marry the assailant (Deuteronomy 22:28-29).  Oh and if some foreign guy rapes you and you don’t scream for help, you’ll be put to death with him (Deuteronomy 23:24).  And more rape!  (Deuteronomy 21:10-14).  Wait what!?  Come into her and then she shall be your wife?  Isn’t that fornication?  Contradiction much!  How about a prophecy involving rape (Zechariah 14:1-2)?  How about sex slavery (Exodus 21:7-11)!?

Infanticide in plain black and white!

And how about more ugly!?

 Now how you let a man sacrifice his own daughter to you!?  ”Oh but remember that time he didn’t let Abraham sacrifice his son?”  Your argument is invalid!

And let’s not bicker about translation.  The ESV is regarded as one of, if not, the best translation.  Your amateur textual criticism won’t save you here.

"Oh but that’s the Old Testament; oh but those are Levitical laws.  Jesus replaced the Law."  The point is not whether these laws are still valid!  The point is why the heck were they ever valid!?  The point is that on your view, they were valid.  On your view, Yahweh actually commanded genocide; he promised it through prophecy and followed through!  On your view, the conclusion is inescapable: it’s not that the Bible condones rape and genocide; it’s that your god commanded those things, promised them via prophecy, and carried out those promises.  It’s okay to believe that a people like the Amalekites were evil.  But unless you believe in that dubious notion of inherited sin, why murder the infants and children?  And come on, you cannot expect people to believe that every single adult was evil.  When was it ever okay to murder infants and children based on the crimes of their parents?  It’s one thing for someone like Hitler to do these things; it’s entirely another for a god, who is supposedly love, to do these things.  Also, since you obviously need reminding: Yahweh is Jesus’ father and Jesus is one with is father and thus, one with Yahweh.  Your savior is explicitly connected to this celestial child murderer, gang rapist, and ethnic cleanser.

What was that about god being against those things? You must be reading a different book.

See original post here.

Ken Ham wants to end the U.S. space program because the aliens are all going to hell

45 years after the Apollo 11 moon landing, creationism hits a new low

…Why? Well, according to Ham, who also runs the Creation Museum in Kentucky, there’s no point in spending money on finding extraterrestrial life for a couple of reasons: First, the search is a deliberate rebuking of God, and second because aliens are already damned to hell.

“I’m shocked at the countless hundreds of millions of dollars that have been spent over the years in the desperate and fruitless search for extraterrestrial life,” Ham wrote.

“Of course, secularists are desperate to find life in outer space, as they believe that would provide evidence that life can evolve in different locations and given the supposed right conditions!” Ham continued later in the post.

Ham does concede that the Bible does not specifically mention whether or not there is alien life. However, he is skeptical.

“And I do believe there can’t be other intelligent beings in outer space because of the meaning of the gospel,” Ham wrote. “You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation. One day, the whole universe will be judged by fire, and there will be a new heavens and earth. God’s Son stepped into history to be Jesus Christ, the “Godman,” to be our relative, and to be the perfect sacrifice for sin — the Savior of mankind.”

Some 46 percent of Americans take a literalist view of creation. This means that 120 million of us place the big bang 2,500 years after the Babylonians and Sumerians learned to brew beer. If our polls are to be trusted, nearly 230 million Americans believe that a book showing neither unity of style nor internal consistency was authored by an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent deity.

Sam Harris (via whats-out-there)

My second reason for doubting that Jesus received a decent burial is that at the time, criminals of all sorts were, as a rule, tossed into common graves. Again, a range of evidence is available from many times and places. The Greek historian of the first century BCE Diodorus Siculus speaks of a war between Philip of Macedonia (the father of Alexander the Great) in which he lost twenty men to the enemy, the Locrians. When Philip asked for their bodies in order to bury them, the Locrians refused, indicating that “it was the general law that temple-robbers should be cast forth without burial” (Library of History 16.25.2). From around 100 CE, the Greek author Dio Chrysotom indicates that in Athens, anyone who suffered “at the hands of the state for a crime” was “denied burial, so that in the future there may be no trace of a wicked man (Discourses 31.85). Among the Romans, we learn that after a battle fought by Octavian (the later Caesar Augustus, emperor when Jesus was born), one of his captives begged for a burial, to which Octavian replied, “The birds will soon settle that question” (Seutonius, Augustus 13). And we are told by the Roman historian Tacitus of a man who committed suicide to avoid being executed by the state, since anyone who was legally condemned and executed “forfeited his estate and was debarred from burial” (Annals 6.29h).

Again, it is possible that Jesus was an exception, but our evidence that this might have been the case must be judged to be rather thin. People who were crucified were usually left on their crosses as food for scavengers, and part of the punishment for ignominious crimes was being tossed into a common grave, where very soon one decomposed body could not be distinguished from another. In traditions about Jesus, of course, his body had to be distinguished from all others; otherwise, it could not be demonstrated to have been raised physically from the dead.

Ehrman, Bart D.. How Jesus became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee, p.160-161. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2014. Print. (via academicatheism)

confrontingbabble-on:

Christianity redefines…and mis-defines…common words, until fundamentalist believers communicate in their own specific double-speak…and deduce “god’s directions” using convoluted rationalizations. Worse, they bastardize morality…until they get to the delusional mindset: if “god” (in reality religious institution’s dogma/bible fueled imagination) directs believers to lie, steal, rape, murder, kill babies…then those actions must be considered moral behavior…because “god” is moral…! (refer http://www.evilbible.com/)
The road from religious fundamentalism…back to sanity…often requires the indoctrinated to relearn and redefine religiously-skewered words…back to honest/actual/secular meanings…
***
Read…
http://truth-saves.com/the-need-to-discuss-christianity
http://truth-saves.com/christianity-isnt-harmless
http://truth-saves.com/has-it-caused-good
http://truth-saves.com/christianitys-immoral-teachings
http://truth-saves.com/how-to-get-involved

confrontingbabble-on:

Christianity redefines…and mis-defines…common words, until fundamentalist believers communicate in their own specific double-speak…and deduce “god’s directions” using convoluted rationalizations. Worse, they bastardize morality…until they get to the delusional mindset: if “god” (in reality religious institution’s dogma/bible fueled imagination) directs believers to lie, steal, rape, murder, kill babies…then those actions must be considered moral behavior…because “god” is moral…! (refer http://www.evilbible.com/)

The road from religious fundamentalism…back to sanity…often requires the indoctrinated to relearn and redefine religiously-skewered words…back to honest/actual/secular meanings…

***

Read…

http://truth-saves.com/the-need-to-discuss-christianity

http://truth-saves.com/christianity-isnt-harmless

http://truth-saves.com/has-it-caused-good

http://truth-saves.com/christianitys-immoral-teachings

http://truth-saves.com/how-to-get-involved

Yahweh and The Elohim

The Hebrew Bible, or the Old Testament, is known to modern readers from the Masoretic text, a compilation of Hebrew texts assembled by Jewish scholars in the seventh to tenth centuries A.D. from older scrolls and codices. That text, and thus the Old Testament, contain two creation stories. It is not unusual for cultures to have multiple creation stories, and throughout this booklet the paraphrases have melded two or more variations of a culture’s creation story into one. However, because the two stories in the Old Testament are so different, the two stories are recounted separately here as “Yahweh” and then “The Elohim”.

Yahweh’s creation story is from Genesis 2:4 to 3:24 of the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament. Extensive analysis of its style and content have led scholars of the Bible to conclude that the story was written in about the Tenth Century B.C.. That was around the time of King Solomon’s reign and in a time when Israel was a powerful nation. In contrast, the story in Genesis 1:1 to 2:3 was written three or four centuries later and under very different circumstances.

The author of the story in Genesis 2:4 to 3:24 is known to scholars as “J”. That is because J referred to the creator as Yahweh ( or “YHVH” in ancient Hebrew, or “Jahweh” in the German native to many scholars of the Bible, or ultimately “Jehovah” in modern usage).

Some scholars have considered J the more primitive or rural of the two authors of the creation stories in Genesis. Others are more generous and characterize J as a poet rather than a priest. J was probably recording his or her people’s oral traditions in written form. Certainly J’s story is a more human story of temptation and punishment than the austere story written later by the author known as “P”, and J’s creator is more anthropomorphic.

In J’s story, the humans that are created have names. To English speakers, “Adam” and “Eve” are just names, but “Adam” meant “man” in ancient Hebrew and may also have been a play on “adamah”, the Hebrew word for “earth” or “clay”. “Eve” was the word for “life”.

——————

The Elohim’s creation story, the second of our two Hebrew creation stories, is from Genesis 1:1 to 2:3. It thus appears first in the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Genesis, but it is actually the younger of the two stories presented there. A considerable body of scholarship over the last two or three centuries has concluded that this story was written in about the sixth century B.C.. That was after Israel was conquered by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. and at a time when the Hebrews were faced with exile in Babylon.

The author of this later story is known to scholars as “P”, because he or she wrote from a much more “priestly” perspective than J, the author of the chronologically earlier story that appears in Genesis 2:4 to 3:24 (see “Yahweh”, above). P’s story is one of creation ex nihilo (from nothing), and the creation is a much more stately process than that in J’s story. Because of the timing of its writing and the grandeur of its language, P’s story has been interpreted by scholars “as an origin story created for the benefit of a lost nation in the need of encouragement and affirmation” (Leeming and Leeming 1994, p. 113). In fact, some scholars have suggested that P’s story was actually written in Babylon.

P used the name “Elohim” for the creator. “Elohim” (pronounced “e lo HEEM”) is actually a plural word perhaps best translated as “the powerful ones”. P also used plural phrasing in the Elohim’s creation of humankind “after our own likeness”. Scholars have suggested that the use of the plural “Elohim” rather than the singular “Eloha” may hearken back to polytheistic roots of Middle Eastern religions and was a way to emphasize the magnitude of the deity in question. P’s first people have no names at all, in keeping with the story’s focus on the grandeur of the creator rather than on the created.

Sources