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Monthly ArchiveNovember 2008



Christianity Johnson on 11 Nov 2008

Is Hell real?

One of the most amusing things about Christian mythology is that fact that Christians cannot agree unanimously on any part of their mythology. Let’s take the simplest possible question:

Is Hell real?

Many Christians believe that Hell is absolutely real. They claim that Hell is vividly described in the Bible by Jesus himself.

Other Christians claim there is no Hell:

- Heretics

- Without hell, a megachurch goes cold

- Hell-Bent on Fundamentalism (comments too)

It is easy to see why some Christians might believe that Hell doesn’t exist. According to Jesus, Christians are supposed to love one another. They are supposed to love their enemies. So how can Christians “love their enemies” while at the same time God is sending people who happen to disagree with him to a place of eternal torture? The contradiction is profound.

Another question: If Hell is real, who goes to Hell? For example, do Christian homosexuals go to Hell or not?

The funny thing is that you can pick any part of Christian doctrine, and Christians cannot agree:

- Was Jesus a man, or was he God incarnate?

- Is the Bible literally true or not?

- Did God create man as in Genesis, or did God affect evolution, or did evolution have no input from God?

You can find Christians for and against.

You can find Christians who believe the craziest stuff. Even famous Christians like John Calvin claiming things like predestination:

And no matter who says what, ALL of them can back up whatever they believe with scripture. Calvin had very good reasons for believing in predestination. And lots of other Christians have very good reasons for not believing in it. But who is right? And how would Christians ever know?

How can this be? If God is real, then how can there be any question about what is true about God and what isn’t? Why can people make up anything they like and attach it to God?

If you are a Christian and you think about it deeply, you will discover the answer to this question. The reason why people make up anything they like about God is because God is imaginary. Click here to learn more:

- Whywontgodhealamputees.com

Christianity Johnson on 11 Nov 2008

Keith Olbermann Speaks Out On Prop 8, and religion responds

Keith Olbermann states his case:

The religious community states its case:

Christianity Johnson on 10 Nov 2008

The myth of Christian morality

Christians claim to be moral people. They claim that God acts as their perfect source of morality, and that the punishment of Hell provides the incentive to behave properly.

Yet every day we see the failure of this system. We talked last week about Sarah Palin’s failures. Over the weekend we learned that her behavior was so egregious that she incited a spike in death threats to president-elect Barack Obama:

Sarah Palin blamed by the US Secret Service over death threats against Barack Obama

The article puts it this way:

The Republican vice presidential candidate attracted criticism for accusing Mr Obama of “palling around with terrorists”, citing his association with the sixties radical William Ayers.

The attacks provoked a near lynch mob atmosphere at her rallies, with supporters yelling “terrorist” and “kill him” until the McCain campaign ordered her to tone down the rhetoric.

But it has now emerged that her demagogic tone may have unintentionally encouraged white supremacists to go even further.

The Secret Service warned the Obama family in mid October that they had seen a dramatic increase in the number of threats against the Democratic candidate, coinciding with Mrs Palin’s attacks.

Christians often ask, “Why do you fight against Christianity? What did Christianity ever do to you?” In this case, Christianity threatened my president with death.

Surely the act of provoking “a near lynch mob atmosphere” is immoral. Yet, strangely, neither Palin’s “strong Christian morals” nor the threat of eternal damnation slowed her down.

Now we learn of this amazing event – Christian clergy in a giant fist fight, with each other, in a church. The video is astounding:

More details:

Monks brawl at Jerusalem shrine

What were they fighting over? Really important stuff:

Shocked pilgrims looked on as decorations and tapestries were toppled during Sunday’s clash.

Dressed in the vestments of the Greek Orthodox and Armenian denominations, rival monks threw punches and anything they could lay their hands on.

The Greeks blamed the Armenians for not recognising their rights inside the holy site, while the Armenians said the Greeks had violated one of their traditional ceremonies.

Didn’t Jesus teach his followers to love their enemies? As a matter of fact he did: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt 5:43-44)

Where is the love?

Note that in these two examples, it is the leaders who are behaving so immorally. If this is how the leaders behave (with the leaders presumably having the “closest connection” to God/Jesus and their “love”, and the most vivid understanding of the perils of Hell), we can only imagine what the followers are doing. One telling indicator: American prisons are overflowing with Christians.

So why is Sarah Palin inciting a lynch mob, and why are Christian clergy punching each other in the face?

It is because the whole idea of “Christian morality” is a myth. Christians, by and large, are not moral people. What we have seen over and over again throughout history is that Christianity leads to racism, homophobia, hatred and violence. See these posts for more details on the immorality of Christians:

- How Christians use extortion to spread their bigotry

- The Christian desire to kill

- “The main source of hatred in the world is religion”

- How religion uses superstitious beliefs to steal money from people

- Another Virtuous Christian

- The Message from Saddleback Church: Christians Cheat and Lie

“Christian morality” is a myth. It is an oxymoron. It is time for us to recognize this fact and act on it.

If you are a Christian who has started to understand how immoral your religion is, this free book can show you a better path to moral and ethical behavior:

- Whywontgodhealamputees.com

Christianity Johnson on 07 Nov 2008

The differences between liberal and conservative thinking

There is a tendency, although not an absolute one, for “conservatives” to be more “religious”, while “liberals” tend to be less “religious”. This video explores some of the reasons for that split, and may be interesting to you if you are interested in the split:

One quote from the talk: “It really is a fact that liberals are much higher than conservatives on a major personality trait called ‘openness to experience’. People who are high on openness to experience just crave novelty, variety, diversity, new ideas, travel. People low on openness to experience like things that are familiar, that are safe and dependable.”

Liberals like a society that is open and changing. Conservatives do not.

The speaker’s goal seems to be to help liberals understand what makes conservatives tick. The speaker tries to develop five foundations of morality, and then compare them between liberals and conservatives. The five foundations of morality are:

1) Harm/care – we have strong feelings about people who cause harm

2) Fairness/reciprocity

3) In-group loyalty – large groups that join together and work together. Tribal psychology.

4) Authority/respect

5) Purity/sanctity

The web site YourMorals.org allowed the speaker to get tens of thousands of data points and see how liberals and conservatives compare on these five foundations. He found:

1) Everyone cares about the first two (liberals slightly more than conservatives, but not a big difference).

2) On the other hand, liberals don’t care one bit about the last three, while conservatives think the last three are very important.

The speaker asks: Aren’t the last three just the morals of xenophobia and authoritarianism and puritanism? This appears to be the crux of disagreement between the two groups.

The problem seen by liberals: Traditional authority and morality tend to block change and tend to repress groups (women, minorities, poor, etc.)

The problem seen by conservatives: Order is really hard to achieve and therefore it is precious. It is really easy to lose.

So it is a balance between change and stability. Anarchy is bad because you end up with death and destruction. Total tribal behavior is bad because you end up with the poverty and backwardness of Afghanistan or tribal Africa. A police state is bad because everyone is locked down. In all three cases, people have no justice, therefore no fairness and lots of harm.

It is interesting that freedom/autonomy is not in the five foundations of morality. Perhaps that is the thing every liberal is seeking. Real freedom would be the ability to do whatever you want without being harmed by others, and without you having the ability to harm others. We could call it harmless freedom.

It is also interesting that the speaker does not question the last three morals, which are rejected by half of the population. Is there a reason why they are rejected? Are there other ways to achieve order besides “the morals of xenophobia and authoritarianism and puritanism?”

The problem that conservatives present with their authority/purity/loyalty mindset is that they want to control other people, and that behavior automatically blocks harmless freedom. The most obvious example today is the conservative/religious desire to block same-sex marriage, even though same-sex marriage between consenting adults is completely harmless.

The speaker closes with this thought: There are many people who are “passionately engaged in changing the world for the better.” The only way to achieve the change is to understand the psycology that drives people to do what they do.

Christianity Johnson on 06 Nov 2008

Sarah Palin Lost Because She Ignored Jesus

According to USA Today and many other sources, Sarah Palin famously said that she was praying to God and “putting this in God’s hands, that the right thing for America will be done at the end of the day on Nov. 4.”

Obviously, since God is imaginary, this was a silly thing to say. Human beings determine an election, not an imaginary God.

And many human beings looked at Sarah Palin and decided that she was damaged goods. For example, Dennis Hopper, longtime Republican, voted for Obama because of Palin, and publicly admits it in this video:

What Sarah Palin seems to miss is that she represents the worst of Christianity. She is a complete hypocrite. She proclaims belief in God, Jesus and the Bible, and then completely ignores what the Bible says. For example:

1) A Christian is supposed to love her enemies. Sarah Palin did not love the enemy. She attacked the enemy – in this case Barack Obama.

2) A Christian is supposed to obey the ninth commandment (You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor). Instead, Sarah Palin dropped lies and innuendo about Barack Obama in every public appearance she made.

3) A Christian is supposed to be give money to the poor. Instead, Sarah Palin went nuts buying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of clothing for herself and family when given the chance. See this article: Hackers and Spending Sprees:

NEWSWEEK has also learned that Palin’s shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain’s top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family—clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent “tens of thousands” more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as “Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast,” and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.

4) The Bible suggests that knowledge and wisdom are good things. Ecclesiastes 7:12 says: “Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor.” Sarah Palin is the picture of ignorance. How ignorant? Her interviews made it painfully obvious. As pointed out here, she does not even know that Africa is a continent:

5) A Christian is supposed to be humble. Matthew 18:4: “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Sarah Palin was the opposite. She was truly arrogant. Many described her as a “diva”: McCain adviser: Palin ‘is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone.’

If you are going to claim to follow Jesus, then you should follow Jesus. Imagine if Palin had come into the public spotlight as a humble, respectful, modest, loving person. What if she had admitted her weaknesses, and said, with humility, that she had a lot to learn and would do her best. Instead of tens of millions of people hating her and seeing her as an idiot, they might now respect her.

Everyone with intelligence – both religious and non-religious – sees the hypocrisy of Sarah Palin and her ilk and is repulsed by it. That may be one big reason why Sarah Palin lost.

In other words, if you are claiming to believe in an imaginary God, you should do what your imaginary God tells you to do. Otherwise, you come off as a hypocrite.

Christianity Johnson on 04 Nov 2008

The insanity of religion

This video takes a look at religious cremation practices in India. As you watch the video, try to keep a count on the number of insane elements that religion injects into the process in just four minutes:

Transcript:

0:00 – 0:15: Varanasi, India. Stretching along the sacred Ganges, it is Hinduisms holiest city. Millions of pilgrims come to bathe in the purifying waters…

Touching the water in this river (much less immersing yourself in it) is insane because of the pollution. This page notes:

The majority of the Ganges’ pollution is organic waste – sewage, trash, food, and human and animal remains. Over the past century, city populations along the Ganges have grown at a tremendous rate, while waste-control infrastructure has remained relatively unchanged. Sewage systems designed near the turn of the 20th century today do little more than channel waste into the river. Some 300 million gallons of waste go into the Ganges each day, and the effects are stunning: recent water samples collected in Varanasi revealed fecal-coliform counts of about 50,000 bacteria per 100 milliliters of water, 10,000% higher than the government standard for safe river bathing. The result of this pollution is an array of water-borne diseases including cholera, hepatitis, typhoid and amoebic dysentery. An estimated 80% of all health problems and one-third of deaths in India are attributable to water-borne diseases.

Getting into this river sounds grotesque. Religious faith brings millions of pilgrims into this fetid water.

But sewage is not the only thing that people dump into the river. There’s also the dead bodies…

0:15 – 0:30: But others come for a far different purpose. They come here to burn the dead, out in the open, in public, out in the open.

This page talks about the practice:

The sacred practice of depositing human remains in the Ganges also poses health threats because of the unsustainable rate at which partially cremated cadavers are dumped. In Varanasi, some 40,000 cremations are performed each year, most on wood pyres that do not completely consume the body. Along with the remains of these traditional funerals, there are thousands more who cannot afford cremation and whose bodies are simply thrown into the Ganges. In addition, the carcasses of thousands of dead cattle, which are sacred to Hindus, go into the river each year.

Dumping dead bodies into a river that people use for bathing is insane, but the religion demands it.

Partially burning over 100 bodies a day on smokey wood fires in a city of millions is also insane.

0:30 – 1:10: Thene Thyol (sp?) has a job that many might find appalling. Thene belongs to a unique Indian caste, or community, known as the Doms. It is the traditional role of the Doms to cremate the Hindu dead. Members of Thenes family have been burning corpses for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. For devout Hindus, touching a corpse is highly taboo. It is a ritually polluting act. Those who work with the dead are considered unclean, and therefore untouchable. They are outcasts.

The Doms are one of dozens of castes in India. Castes are insane – we could devote whole books to the appalling and brutal injustices of this form of discrimination and prejudice.

The “taboo” of touching the dead and the idea of a “ritually polluting act” are superstitions, which are insane. “Taboos” like this fuel the discrimination of the caste system.

1:10 – 1:50: But the Doms also pay a pivotal role in the Hindu approach to death, which is based on the idea of reincarnation. Hindus believe that every Hindu soul passes through many lives. The ultimate goal is to unite with the supreme being. But until they are worthy, they continue to be reborn. The holy city of Varanasi provides a sort of spiritual shortcut. Hindus believe that if they die here and their ashes are scattered in the Ganges, their souls are liberated from the cycle.

The idea of “reincarnation”, along with the idea of a “supreme being” and the idea of “uniting” with it are pure fairy tales, and therefore believing in them is insane. And the “shortcut” is insane as well. In addition, the “shortcut” is a process that pumps putrid bodies into the river every day.

We aren’t even to the two-minute point and every rational person is dumbfounded. How does such insanity take root and survive? Why would hundreds of millions of people base their lives on this insanity? Why would millions immerse themselves in such a disgusting river because of the insanity? Or why, if the river is so sacred, isn’t it kept in pristine condition out of respect for the religious beliefs?

Note also that the Christians reading this description of the Hindus are laughing at the insanity. Christians don’t believe in reincarnation at all. Meanwhile the Hindus laugh at the insanity of Christian beliefs, noting that the Christian heaven (without any reincarnation) is ridiculous. Neither party can recognize their own insanity, which is brilliantly reflected in the other.

Religion is utter insanity from beginning to end.

Christianity Johnson on 03 Nov 2008

Does a Christian really have free will?

This video ponders an interesting question: Do you really have free will in Christianity?

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