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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Ignorant and proud of it: The evils of a “simple faith”

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When I have talked to my parents about some of my problems with Christianity they tell me that they do not have answers to the questions I ask. I wonder how they can call themselves followers of the Christian God without knowing why he allows, indeed commands, the slaughter of children or how he can condemn people to eternal torture in Hell simply because they believed something different. My parents tell me that they will ask God these questions when they get to heaven and that a “simple faith” is fine for now. I have to wonder, what if that simple faith is wrong? Surely it is better to at least try and find answers than to defeatedly accept a faith that may not be true?

Growing up, my parents drilled me with Proverbs 3:5-6. It was the Bible reference my father put in my 18th birthday card (before covering it up by sticky taping a blank piece of paper over it, realising how offensive it was to me). I can still recite the verses:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

I must ask the question: why did God give us brains if he didn’t want us to utilise them? Why would he bless us with the gift of rationality if we must not lean on our own understanding? Is it some kind of cruel joke?

It is interesting that the oh-so-wise Solomon writes such words. Only a chapter earlier he appraises understanding, comparing it to “hidden treasure.” (Proverbs 2:3-4) He encourages us to find understanding, but then we are instructed not to use it. I am confused.

A common excuse I hear in church is that God is so amazing and beyond our understanding that it is futile to attempt to seek answers to tricky questions. The epistemic distance is too great. It’s easier and safer to settle for a simple unquestioning faith. You can’t ask to many questions or else, god forbid, one might become an atheist.

I’ve recently been reading Francis Chan’s book Erasing Hell. It obviously wasn’t a book meant for atheists (it is full of prayers for the reader to pray) but a Christian friend recommended it so I thought I’d give it a go because of it’s relevance to some of my objections to Christianity. In this book, Chan does the same lazy thinking and encourages others to do so. He says it’s “ridiculous” for us to question God because his thoughts and ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9). He is the potter and we are the clay. Chan states:

“God has never asked us to figure out His justice or to see if His ways are morally right. He has only asked us to embrace His Word… ”

This sort of thinking scares the shit out of me. This is how the 9/11 jihadists would have thought: Who cares if it’s morally right? We just have to follow the Qur’an and kill lots of people and never ever ever use our brains.

This thinking also relates to the Euthyphro Dilemma: “Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?” Chan seems to believe that God is the standard of morality. This means that whatever God commands is good, because God commanded it and God is good. The problem with this thinking is that it makes God nothing more than an arbitrary dictator. Genocide, torture, child-sacrifice, sending people to Hell, it’s all fine as long as God commanded it. Again. Really scary thinking.

Christians seem to struggle with the other option – that there is an objective standard of good and God is good because he lines up with that. This means that there is an objective way for us to judge whether God is good or not and therefore it would not be so “ridiculous” for us to attempt to do so. This view would actually encourage us to use our brains! Hoorah!! If only more Christians supported it.

My thoughts on all of this echo Richard Dawkins:

“I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.”

In my own life, understanding has been a central theme so far. I’ve spent 14 out of my 18 years in school so as to gain understanding of this world and I will be continuing my studies for at least the next three years. I am also passionate about the role of understanding in the developing world, through education, as a cure for poverty. Education promotes peace through understanding of different cultures and beliefs. The world needs more people leaning on their own understanding. People who ask questions and find answers. It needs more people to tackle the difficult questions and not settle for a “simple faith.”

You can be a Christian, you can be an atheist, I don’t care. But you cannot be a human being that does not ask questions, that does not think critically. That, I cannot stand. Unfortunately, many of the Christians I know are like this.

I do have one Christian friend that encourages me to ask questions. He shared this George W. Bush quote with me:

“If you haven’t doubted, you probably haven’t thought very hard about what you believe.”

Yes. Oh yes. More people need to think harder about what they believe. Embrace doubt. Just do it. Pretty please.

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Atheism in Song

Music is a wonderful way of communicating. The above has pretty much been my theme song for the last 6 months. It totally reflects how I feel about God and about life in general. Not only does this guy sing about questioning God, but he also has a wicked-awesome-cool song about gay rights, and has made a music video about the Catholic Priests who rape children. The title of his most recent album says it all…..Think Bigger. If ever there was a message Christians need to hear, those two words would be it. Furthermore, after seeing him live at a music festival, I have fallen totally madly in love with him. (I’m a teenage girl, I’m allowed to have crushes like this)

Another band there that inspired me was First Aid Kit. It is comprised of two gorgeous Swedish girls. I love their lyrics:

Well, I see you’ve got your bible, your delusion imagery.
I don’t need your eternity or your meaning to feel free.
I just live because I love to and that’s enough, you see.
So don’t come preach about morality, that’s just human sense to me

It’s one life, and it’s this life, and it’s beautiful.

They dedicated this song to Richard Dawkins. I cheered really loudly when they did this and subsequently got some weird looks. I’m the only ex-Christian that I know, (outside of the internet) so I do get extremely excited over atheism at such a mainstream event. It was incredible.

Impressive! A Christian who understands the difference between atheism and religion. I have a lot of respect for that.

Atheist Forum

This blog post originally appeared on the City Bible Forum Blog. It is reprinted in full here.

In many recent discussions I’ve had with atheists, we’ve touched on the question “Is atheism a religion?”. Many Christians propose that atheism is a religion. Yet this is vehemently denied by atheists, such as Penn Jillette in this recent article. I want to be a little controversial by agreeing that atheism is not a religion.

1. Definition of atheism. Atheism is the belief (or non-belief) in the existence of God. This does not immediately imply that atheism is a ‘religion’.

2. The opposite of atheism. One of the key reasons I suggest that atheism isn’t a religion is by examining its opposite. The opposite of atheism is theism – the belief in the existence of God. This clarification is very helpful, because I doubt many people would classify ‘theism’ as…

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There’s More To Me Than My Virginity

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Virginity has been valued since ancient times. Virgins have been said to possess supernatural powers. They have been given a special religious role such as the Vestal Virgins in Ancient Rome. The Aztecs made sacrifices of virgins to the gods. And, of course, the virginity of Mary has always been an important article of the Christian faith.

Even in the 21st Century virginity is valued highly (albeit mostly in the developing word). In the Middle East, a woman who does not have an intact hymen on her wedding night may be killed for it, even if she lost it through rape or riding a camel. In prostitution, sex with a virgin is much more expensive than with a more experienced worker. Furthermore, due to the rise of STIs such as AIDS, virgins are becoming increasingly sought after for their purity. In some cultures it is believed that sex with a virgin will cure such diseases, increasing the value of virginity.

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Given this ancient, superstitious obsession with virginity, I get a bit sceptical when Christians tell me that my virginity is sacred. Beliefs like that seem a bit too tribal for my liking, particularly when the virginity of women is valued over that of men. At school, I was given a warning that one day the love of my life may refuse to marry me if I’m not a virgin.

I have something to say. I AM NOT ANY LESS OF A HUMAN BEING BECAUSE I AM NOT A VIRGIN.

Any guy that refused to marry me because I’m not a virgin is obviously an ignorant dickhead, and I would not like to marry someone like that. In fact, being sexually active has enriched my life and my relationship with my boyfriend. It is not a bad thing at all. I’m not sure why a person’s first time is so often described negatively: losing your virginity, de-flowering, popping the cherry. Sex is just another life experience. Sometimes it turns out bad, sometimes it turns out wonderfully.

Sure, I think it is sad when people lose their virginity on a drunken, meaningless one night stand. The sex wouldn’t even be that good with the awkward, inexperience of a virgin and the lack of coordination that comes with alcohol. It might not even be remembered the next morning. While I don’t think virginity is overly important, sex isn’t something to thrown around like it’s nothing. It is an expression of love, and it has nothing to do with God.

I am thankful I lost my virginity to a boy I was (and still am) deeply in love with. A guy I could call my best friend. Who I wasn’t embarrassed to make a fool of myself in front of and who I didn’t feel the need to impress. It was a safe, fun, respectful experience. We weren’t married, but that does not make it any less special or valuable. I was 16, he was 17.

My boyfriend wasn’t a virgin and I was barely a virgin. This was not a big deal at all. What mattered was that we loved and respected each other, and were committed to each other. (Needless to say, he had been tested and we used contraception. SAFETY FIRST.) His past experiences and my past experiences made us who we are. They brought us together, and so there is no need for regret.

Virginity is totally overrated, thanks to Christianity. Lack of virginity should not get in the way of a relationship. Sex is an experience that can enrich or ruin your life. Be smart about it. Be critical about it. Don’t let the religious lies about the importance of “purity” stop you from having a wonderful, healthy sex life.

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Need an Ark? I Noah Guy

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As a kid, I loved the Noah’s Ark tale. I never cared about all the people that died. Never considered it. I guess they don’t teach you about that in Sunday School. When I was in my early teens I thought about it and dismissed it. God gave the evil people lots of warnings. It was their fault for being evil anyway. Now I see it as a sickening story that has to make one doubt the goodness of God’s character. How could he kill all those people? He’s all powerful. We know he could have come up with a way of redeeming them. But he killed them instead. “With great power comes great responsibility.” I don’t think God has the got the responsibility part happening yet.

Dear Christians, Come to the (not so) Dark Side

Dear Christians, Come to the (not so) Dark Side

Here is yet another disagreement with a speaker at my church. The sermon was a few months ago, before I started this blog, but one thing he said stuck with me as untrue and insulting.

He was talking about the trip his family had made to the U.S.A recently. For some reason, they spent a night or two in Las Vegas: Sin City. Unsurprisingly, the kids weren’t totally excited about it. It isn’t exactly a place full of children’s entertainment. The speaker and his wife weren’t impressed either; being uninterested in participating in the sins of Sin City, there’s apparently not much else to do.

Seeing his kids’ disappointment, this speaker explained something to them: “This is Vegas, it’s THE ULTIMATE for non-Christians. It’s PARADISE for them. According to the world, it’s HEAVEN. Their goal in life is to get here. But it’s not very nice though is it? Why would anyone want this when they can have Jesus?” (not a direct quote, just the general gist of what he was on about.)

Firstly, a kid should not understand the appeal of Vegas anyway. It’s a city all about adult entertainment! It seems he’s kind of exploiting their ignorance on this: turning them off an experience before they are old enough to appreciate it. I don’t like that.

Secondly, as a proud member of what my church calls “the world” or the secular culture, I feel as though I am being misrepresented here. The gambling, sex, drugs, alcohol, rock ‘n’ roll of Vegas is not my idea of heaven. Sure, I love a bit of Elvis Presley and would like to visit Vegas one day even, but it is not my “goal” in life.

I don’t understand why Christians feel the need to paint “the world” as a dark, vile place of addiction, hate, greed and selfishness. I’ll be the first to admit there is a lot of that out there, but many people are irreligious and don’t possess such qualities!

I’m an atheist. My goal in life is to give contribute what I can to make the world a better place. I want to get married and have a family. I want to learn about art and philosophy and science and history. I want to read books. I want to encourage love and peace. And GUESS WHAT! I can do all of this as an atheist. Just because I’m not a Christian does not mean all I want in life is self-satisfaction. The Vegas dream is low in my priorities.

A Christian woman I knew used to say “Life’s too short to not live for something bigger.” For her, God was her “bigger”. I reject that God, but I am still living for something “bigger.” It’s called love. I think love is much better than the capricious, “slaughter every woman and child” God of the Bible.

God’s Satanic Schemes

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