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Monthly ArchiveNovember 2006



Christianity Admin on 30 Nov 2006

Listen to God Day

This article talks about a new national holiday called “Listen to God Day”:

As the author puts it:

Don’t you think that’s a great idea? I mean, uh, He’s GOD. When He speaks, we should listen. He’s just a few notches up the IQ scale from us, agreed? He made the universe. He made you. He wants to talk to you. Let’s have a holiday!

God speaks? What’s amazing is that when God speaks, people hear so many different things. For example, some people hear God speak and he talks about love and peace. Other people hear God speak, and he tells them to be divinely murderous. Just look at 9/11/2001, or the U.S. reaction to it.

The fact is, when normal, intelligent people listen for God’s voice, they hear absolutely nothing. The author even acknowledges this problem:

Here’s the best part. Listening to God isn’t anything complicated. You don’t have to go looking for a burning bush, hire a monk, or even have your life in order. All you need to do is read. The Listen to God Day is possible because we have 774,746 words in 66 books that are directly from the mouth of God. How do I know this? Check out this amazing statement: “… men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21)

So, already we’ve run into a problem with this holiday. It should really be called “Read the Bible day”, not “Listen to God day”.

Let’s say that we do read the Bible, instead of listening to God. The problem is, when normal, intelligent people read the Bible, they find it to be quite repulsive. The author says:

I wish I had more room to list the hundreds and hundreds of verses that, if you read them with an open heart and willing mind to change, would jump off the page and jump start a new way of thinking for you.

Really? That’s interesting. What if we were to start with these:

Isn’t it odd that, by the author’s own admission, the all-powerful, all-loving creator of the universe never speaks? And isn’t it odd that, just by reading the dozen or so verses listed above, it is obvious that “his book” is repulsive? Why can’t religious people simply look at these two facts, which are apparent to anyone who is rational, and accept the reality of the situation?

Christianity Admin on 29 Nov 2006

Using St. Joseph to sell a house

If you listen to NPR and if you are interested in the economy, you are probably familiar with the show called “Marketplace”. This is a show that normally discusses business, stocks, economic news, etc. in a rational, intelligent way.

Tonight they deviated from their normal format and aired a commentary by Mike Hickcox, who works for United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tennessee. Mike talked about St. Joseph. According to Mike, he was able to sell his house, even in a poor real estate market, by burying a statue of St. Joseph in his yard.

Yes, that’s right. Otherwise intelligent adults were discussing the use of a buried figurine to improve home sales. And NPR was willing to waste 2 minutes of air time promoting this superstition. Here’s what Mike had to say:

“we dropped St. Joe into his basement sales office next to the For Sale sign on a Saturday morning anyway. Lo and behold, people viewed the house on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, we got an offer.

I can’t say I’m a believer, but what can you do?

Our directions told us to dig up our very own Underground Real Estate Agent and take him with us when we moved. We did.

We’ve made an offer on a new house. The instructions tell us to put St. Joseph in a place of honor when we get there. We will.”

[Full text]

This is a classic illusion. It is very similar to the jug of milk illusion, and just as ridiculous. Here is a basic fact of life when selling a house: eventually, every house that needs to get sold gets sold. What happens is that you put the house on the market, and if it doesn’t sell in a month, you lower the price, or you put on a new coat of paint, or you change the ad, or… And guess what – the house eventually sells.

Burying a statue of St. Joseph in the yard has no effect on that process. If it did, then people who used St. Joseph would be able to get substantially more money for their homes in substantially less time than people who didn’t, and that fact would be statistically obvious to everyone by now.

The fact is, whether you use Saint Joseph or not, your home is going to sell. Every rational, intelligent person knows that. The belief in St. Joseph is pure, unadulterated superstition.

Why did NPR run the story? Because a story like this gives NPR a way to pander to the superstitious religious people in the audience. NPR has been doing a fair amount of that lately, as has Time magazine and most other media outlets. In November of this year, half of Time’s cover stories dealt with religion:

Time cover Time cover

and just a few weeks prior there was this:

Time cover

It is amazing to see intelligent people believing in rank superstition. And it is even more amazing to see media outlets like NPR and Time pandering to them.

Christianity Admin on 27 Nov 2006

A fascinating debate between Sam Harris and Dennis Prager

This debate was carried out in email, so there is a complete transcript. It’s fascinating:

Read the debate

Which points seem most important to you?

[Thanks to emodude for the link]

Christianity Admin on 27 Nov 2006

Picking the right religion

Watch the video, and you can see that this is one of the big problems with religion. If you pick the wrong religion, then you are going to hell. And there is no way to know which religion is the correct one. Two billion people think that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Another billion think it is Allah. The other three billion think it is something else. By default, therefore, if Hell were to actually exist, more than half of humanity is going to end up suffering eternal torment in an unquenchable lake of fire. And the “god” that makes this so, being all-knowing, knows that this will be happening. Why create people when he knows that more than half will experience eternal torture?

Why would otherwise intelligent human beings fall for a story like this?

Christianity Admin on 19 Nov 2006

Religion and muscular dystrophy

The article:

Student finds empowerment in religion to continue life-long battle

The article offers a succinct explanation of what has gone wrong with the student’s body:

Stober, a 23-year-old MU student from Sedalia, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a degenerative disorder affecting one in every 35,000 males who inherit from their mothers a recessive X-chromosome with a mutated dystrophin gene. Dystrophin produces muscle proteins that enable the muscle to stay strong and develop. The absence of dystrophin weakens muscle cells, eventually causing them to die.

One day, there will be a cure for this disease. Science is the force that will create the cure. God is nowhere to be seen. God has not cured this particular patient, nor any other muscular dystrophy patient. If God were to exist, and if God were to answer prayers as the Bible promises, then this disease would not exist.

And yet…

“I couldn’t imagine responding as well as I have to my disability without the strength I got from my faith,” Stober said.

And…

“He (God) gives me a hope for the future, a purpose and assurance that he’s going to work things out for my benefit,” he said.

And…

“And this is the dream,” he said. “When I graduate, I want to go to seminary to become more knowledgeable about the Christian faith. I’m called to write, to teach, to speak, to defend the Christian faith. I think I have a story to tell.”

Unfortunately for Stober and everyone else who suffers from this disease:

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy eventually affects all voluntary muscles, as well as the heart and breathing muscles. Survival is rare beyond the early 30s. Death typically occurs from respiratory failure or heart disorders.

Why isn’t the story obvious? Why isn’t it obvious that God is imaginary based on the evidence inside his own body? If God were to answer prayers as the Bible promises, this student, and millions of people like him, would simply pray for a cure. Instead, every cure comes from science, or the body heals itself. It has been proven without question that every answered prayer is nothing but a coincidence.

Therefore, the question shifts. What is this student, and billions of others like him, gaining from their belief in an imaginary friend? And why would a newspaper write an article about someone who professes such belief?

What is the rational replacement for an imaginary friend?

Christianity Admin on 19 Nov 2006

Children on God

Christianity Kevin Crady on 18 Nov 2006

Why Do You Oppose Christianity? Aren’t You Just Mad at God?

I was born into a family that sold Yeshua’s Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm  Yeshua’s Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm is said to be a wonderful substance, and if you drink it, you will have peace and joy in your life, your life will have meaning, you can know how to be a good person, and it will also make it so you can live forever.

 

So I grew up reading the company’s Sales Manual.  There, I leanred that if you join up and sell Yeshua’s Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm, that you don’t have to worry about your future, because Yeshua, the Compnay’s CEO, will make sure you get taken care of.  So, I spent the formative years of my life learnig all about Yeshua’s Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm, the history of the Company as described in the Sales Manual, and about the wonderful future I had guaranteed, as an employee of the Company.

 

I tried to sell Yeshua’s Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm as well as I could, and trusted in the life advice the CEO gave me, that I shouldn’t plan for the future, since I had no control over the future anyway, but as an employee of the Company, I didn’t need to anyway.  And, I knew that if I stopped drinking Yeshua’s Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm I would suddenly find myself alone, with no meaning or purpose to my life, and, having not planned for the future, I would be up shit creek.  Furthermore, people who don’t drink Yeshua’s Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm will suffer terribly in the future.

 

Then, one day, I found out that Yeshua’s Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm wasn’t magical at all!  It was just colored water with some flavorings and suspicious chemicals added!  These chemicals would cause some people to become extremely violent.  In fact, people had been burned at the stake, and horrible wars launched, by people under the influence of Yeshua’s Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm

 

Not only had I wasted my life and energies up to that point, there were vast numbers of people who were still trapped in the Company’s lies, wasting their lives trying to sell Yeshua’s Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm.

 

And that wasn’t all.  You see, the company that makes Yeshua’s Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm turned out to have an enormous amount of political influence, making legislation so that children in schools would have to say they liked Yeshua’s Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm before class started, our money was printed with “In Yeshua’s Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm We Trust,” and our country even goes to [b]war[/b] because the Yeshua, the CEO of the company that makes Yeshua’s Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm is the President’s favorite philosopher and chief advisor.  Acting on Yeshua’s advice, my country has declared war on a billion other people who drink another company’s product, Mohammed’s Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm which turns out to be almost exactly the same stuff as Yeshua’s Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm, but with different colorings added.

 

And so, I realized that Yeshua’s Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm (as well as the other brands of Amazing Magical Snake Oil) was not merely some harmless fraud, it was a positive danger to the very survival of the human species and the biosphere of our planet.  I started to oppose Yeshua’s Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm and try to help other people stop selling it.

 

Then one day, a person who still sold Yeshua’s Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm asked me, “but if Yeshua’s Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm isn’t really magical, why do you oppose it?”

Christianity Admin on 18 Nov 2006

Pastors buy their sermons?

Preachers can now go to creativepastors.com and buy sermons for $10 each.

Some pastors look to the web for sermons

From the article:

The sermon — an oration traditionally expressing the thoughts of the cleric doing the talking — has entered the age of reruns. Topics and transcripts are available on sites like sermoncentral.com, pastors.com, sermonspice.com, and desperatepreacher.com.

Why wouldn’t the pastor simply pray, and be inspired by the Holy Spirit with a perfect sermon every time? It might be the same reason why God won’t heal amputees.

Christianity Admin on 17 Nov 2006

Baptist group poised to bar gay-friendly churches

Baptist group poised to bar gay-friendly churches

From the article:

Membership in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina will hinge on one single issue — whether a church accepts gays — if a bylaw change is approved by delegates at the convention’s annual meeting in Greensboro this week.   

Those churches that “affirm, approve, endorse, promote, support or bless homosexual behavior” will be excluded from membership, according to the proposed bylaw approved in September by the state convention’s board of directors. There is no other requirement for membership aside from donating money.

Proponents of the change say it is needed to counter an aggressive cultural effort to redefine homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle. The measure would go further than many Protestant denominations in making opposition to homosexuality the only test for membership.

Why is it that Baptists do not love their neighbors, as Jesus commands? Christians ignore Jesus all the time, but why?