I took this picture a while back while travelling to the coast in North Carolina on vacation. Not sure why, but something about it makes me laugh, as if Ronald McDonald and the huge church cross in the background, the kind that you see scattered all over the American South almost as much as the golden arches, somehow fit together. He’s got his little rules written out for how to play in his playground, and standing under the cross he’s looking like a Moses figure or something… anyway, I thought maybe some of you might see the humor in it. Enjoy!
Posted by Paulo on January 27, 2013
Posted by Paulo on August 14, 2012
Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist, so he knows what he’s talking about. Just watch the video, it’s pretty funny too. I love this guy…
Posted by Paulo on May 4, 2012
How many times in my own life have I heard Christians, Muslims, and whoever else lamenting about how evil this world is and how they can’t wait for this world to end. The late Christopher Hitchens says it much better than I ever could.
Yes, he sounds like an arrogant bastard in the beginning but don’t let that put you off. Keep going and listen to what he has to say. He is dead on.
Posted by Paulo on February 20, 2012
This is the only thing I like about Easter: Cadbury Caramel Eggs. Chocolate on the outside and chewy caramel on the inside. I stopped by Walmart today on my way home from work and saw that they were there. Every year, that’s how I know Easter is right around the corner.
Posted by Paulo on February 10, 2012
… More on FACEBOOK PHARISEES
Posted by Noraa on February 4, 2012
Now that the Chaplain has left us, I guess we have no regular antagonist for the conversation. So I’m going to throw a thought out there I’ve been mulling over for some time now: pantheism.
I like this definition, although you could put it a number of other ways: “Pantheism is the view that the Universe (Nature) and God (or divinity) are identical. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal, anthropomorphic or creator god. The word derives from the Greek (pan) meaning “all” and the Greek (theos) meaning “God”. As such, Pantheism denotes the idea that “God” is best seen as a process of relating to the Universe. Although there are divergences within Pantheism, the central ideas found in almost all versions are the Cosmos as an all-encompassing unity and the sacredness of Nature.”
I’m just curious as to what a group of “non-believers” feel about the idea. Let me ask that you not get too hung up on semantics. The word “god” and the suffix “theism” are very touchy, but from a pantheistic perspective I think they only have a vague semblance to the Christian fundamentalist use of the words.
I have been kind of embracing this idea lately. I guess you could argue it’s just me trying to fit my Christian upbringing together with my more current secular views. To me it just more accurately expresses how I perceive as the connected nature of the reality we live in than the word “atheist” and the like. There is something almost “magical” about life and the way everything ties together and works, in my experiences. While I realize that the “magicalness” of it is purely my perception of natural laws and processes, I believe my perceptions merit the right to have some bearing on how I label my view of reality.
I wasn’t really sure how to bring up this topic but I’ll leave it at that…….
Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on January 4, 2012
I wanted to write all of you to share some final thoughts about my secular life, my connection to the world of evangelical Christianity, and to explain why I will soon be leaving my role of co-adminstrator and contributor to this blog. The epistolary form thus seems most appropriate; consider this a goodbye letter.
Let me start with the beginning of the journey that brought me to the creation of this blog. When I was suspended from a Christian college for missing too many early-morning, weekday chapel services (and after having already completed 2 1/2 years of my education), I made a pretty clean break with my Christian beliefs. It took a few more years to get to my Devil’s Heart Experiment, but for the most part I had little contact with church-going Christians and thought about religion very rarely. This period was followed by the completion of my undergraduate and graduate degrees at a secular state university–again, I was only occasionally immersed in a Christianity-drenched setting.
However, that all changed with the emergence of the MySpace social-media application. One day, as I was browsing, I discovered a MySpace discussion forum devoted entirely to the Baptist, Missionary-Kid boarding school I had attended for three years in high school. The site consisted mostly of ICAers who were about a decade younger than me, but there were also quite a few people from my generation. My first contribution to the forum addressed an ongoing discussion about abortion. I wrote an even-handed and calm analysis of the arguments used to justify the pro-life and pro-choice positions. As the discussions went on over the next several months, I began to waste more and more time each night after work (or even at work) writing these endless rebuttals, explanations and defenses of my views on a whole slew of issues. Those writing marathons became increasingly fueled by bottles of wine and growing frustration, as my posts became more and more incredulous and aggressive. I was actually naive enough to think that providing a full deconstruction of Christian arguments and evidence would show MKs like me they’ve been living their lives based on falsehoods about the nature of reality. Crazy, right? I didn’t realize, at that time, most Christians don’t care about the evidence, or how meaning gets constructed through rhetoric and argument. It’s obvious to me now; I should have remembered that faith (belief without any evidence) is considered a virtue in their belief system–it has to be to perpetuate the belief in the make believe. Eventually, I went on a drunken rant where I insulted the intelligence of the folks I’d been debating, and I left the discussion group for my mental health.
I started this blog when I left that MySpace group. At the time, I discovered I was good at discussing and writing about Christian beliefs from an ex-Christian viewpoint, and it just seemed natural to continue what I had started. As it turns out, this is not a life-long mission for me. Rather, it is a process, and it is not an endless one. I’ve reached a point now where I have nothing new to say, as I feel like everything there is to say about the falsity of Christianity has been said. I needed to write about it to reason it out for myself and to test my arguments for leaks and holes. It’s been fun, but now I want to transition back to that time in my life when there wasn’t so much negativity (i.e. Christian ideas) floating around in my head. I want to be able, once again, to see a news headline related to Christians and to think, “Who gives a fuck?” Even debunking Christianity is a form of immersing yourself in it, and I want to wash that religion right out of my hair. Fortunately, I’m mostly bald, so I don’t anticipate any problems.
My plan within the next few days is to transfer all 119 of my posts to one of the other administrators on this site, so they will continue to exist. I’d like to especially thank Ann and Paulo for working on this blog with me from the very beginning and for writing such great posts and comments. Thanks as well to Jerry, prb3, dsc01, Noraa and Jester for acting as contributors and for writing such thoughtful comments and posts. Finally, thanks to you lurkers out there (JN!) who also made significant contributions to our discussions through your comments.
Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on December 16, 2011
Here is a quote from Hitchens I found in one of the articles on the web that commemorates his life: “Faith is the surrender of the mind; it’s the surrender of reason, it’s the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other mammals [...] It’s our need to believe, and to surrender our skepticism and our reason, our yearning to discard that and put all our trust or faith in someone or something, that is the sinister thing to me. Of all the supposed virtues, faith must be the most overrated.”
Posted by dsc01 on December 14, 2011
I’ve mentioned before that letting go of theism lifted a weight from my shoulders. It certainly did. Believing the unbelievable is an unbearable burden. Carrying constant guilt weighs a person down. But that doesn’t mean that disbelief doesn’t come with its own burdens to bear.
I am fairly “in the closet,” as an atheist, for a number of reasons, the primary one being the likely loss of my job, should I ever come out too publicly. However, whenever I can, I strive to be brutally honest–amiable, to be sure, but wholly unapologetic.
Now, my totally reasonable terror of losing my livelihood is ample evidence of societal discrimination against atheists. That’s only aggravating. The discrimination becomes a burden when it hits closer to home.
Recently, my wife and I were uninvited from an extended Thanksgiving celebration that we had been looking forward to. The bearer of the news, one of my best friends, ever, was pretty irate, but he had to keep the peace with his sister-in-law, who expressed annoyance at the invitation of non-family members. You know, in the grand tradition of the first Thanksgiving, which was about familial insularity and not communion with people one usually didn’t associate with (/sarcasm).
Eventually, it came out that my family–my wife and I, that is–was the specific problem. The aforementioned sister-in-law to my dear friend doesn’t trust us wicked atheists around her children.
And there is the burden. It’s one thing to be able to feel righteous indignation about discrimination in our society. It’s another thing to be barred from a family gathering (and I do consider this friend to basically be my family) because one is an atheist.
That’s pretty rough. And it’s a bunch of bullshit. And it hurts.
But that’s life, after all.
Posted by Ann on November 29, 2011
Okay, maybe not like this one. The other one with the loaves and fishes for every single person in the world.
Posted by Ann on November 29, 2011
P.S. love ya Christians, or at least the ones I love, but can’t help posting this. I know most Christians don’t personally want people to suffer, but God sure seems to want it, and we are told in His Word to be more like Christ…
Posted by Ann on November 2, 2011
Here’s a quote by a Facebook friend, who also happens to be an atheist, an MK, and a Master of Divinity. Like the contributors to this site, a majority of his friends and family are fundies. He is writing in response to a fundamentalist “friend” who has a long history of going onto his wall and posting incendiary comments under his status updates. His page is public, so I don’t think he’d mind me putting this up, at all…(shout out). Although he has technically “come out” as a non-believer, this is the first time I’ve seen him write this strongly about his lack of faith. He was attacked by more than one fundamentalist in this same thread:
Everyone has had hardships in their life, but I’ve not been ‘hurt’ in some way that makes me broken and angry toward God. You don’t know me, or my heart. Honestly, it’s completely inappropriate for you to speak like that. You should be ashamed of yourself. And it’s completely arrogant for you to assume that if I don’t believe in God I must be angry. What a cop out. You are just making stuff up, that has no basis in reality.
No, I don’t believe in God or Jesus, because I have no reason to. Where are they? What are they doing in this world? Nowhere. Nothing. If Jesus was ruling on earth, I’d serve him. But he’s not. How convenient, he went up to ‘heaven’ to rule. Ya, JFK is ruling in heaven too, right? Anyone can claim that, and it’s completely irrelevant. Unless God is active in the world, unless Jesus is ruling on earth, he’s irrelevant. And anyone who believes in his ‘rule’ is deluding themselves. Do it if you like, but don’t act surprised when others of us consider it delusional. We don’t ‘hate’ God, or run from Jesus because we’re hurt. We just don’t feel like deceiving ourselves and making things up. If it’s true, let’s see it. If it’s not something that we can know, then we’ll let others have their faith.
I’ll leave the condescending judgement to the religious people like yourself.
While I haven’t been hurt in some way that has broken my ability to think rationally and that has caused me to “run from god”, I have heard the same line from many people and my patience for that tactic is gone. I will not tolerate it. It does however go along with what I’ve consistently witnessed in the Christian community by a minority of people, albeit those in positions of power. I’ve seen it used against others and I’ve had it used against me. I’m speaking of this tendency for Christians to start thinking they have some special insight into the heart or spiritual life of another. And it’s usually masked in “concern” for the wayward brother, but it’s mostly arrogance and manipulation to accomplish some agenda. Very often it’s completely mistaken, like your comment. But these leaders have such spiritual authority in their dominions that few people are able to challenge them for fear of being labeled a rebel and trouble maker so the spiritual abuse continues. This has been rampant in nearly every Christian community I have been a part of, and that is a lot. It’s a way for these leaders to defend themselves by asserting spiritual superiority, and to avoid dealing with issues by projecting weakness in other people, under the guise of the holy spirit’s insight. I makes me so angry to witness that sort of abuse. That’s the background hopefully you can understand why I recoiled at you statements. And hopefully you will think twice before ever doing that to someone again.
I apologize for my inciting words as well. You are right that we have different perspectives. I didn’t post this to start an argument with you. But if enough people poke the dog, don’t be surprised if it bites back. It was a diary of my own thoughts on my wall. I welcome feedback but only if its intelligent and on topic. I do my best to respond to the numerous trails that fork off but I do get frustrated by statements which are patently false, e.g. It violates the laws of thermodynamics.
It really drives me crazy to hear someone say that they are the protectors of true science, contra all the scientists that disagree with them. Especially when that person’s entire world view is based on faith without evidence, and is the opposite of “good science”. It is difficult to hear you attack evolution as bad science, even though it has been rigorously debated and studied and tested for two hundred years by eminent scientists that know their field and the scientific method far better than you or i will ever know, meanwhile your beliefs are the exact opposite of good science. How can you condemn evolution as bad science, which is a very difficult thing to prove, and at the same time embrace a belief that flies in the face of all science. You can’t ride the same horse you are beating. Any claims you make against a closed loop equally apply to creation and God. We talk about physics because these laws govern how our known universe works. But there is much about our universe that we don’t know about. Origins of matter are mysteries we haven’t discovered yet, but that doesn’t mean we won’t learn. Or if they remain mysteries that is okay too, the physics and biology we can observe and test can still be true even if we don’t understand the origin of matter. It may call into question our perception of time, of start and end, and we may learn that to ask where something came from is in fact a silly question if there is no beginning or end but only a time loop where all things simply are. Will we understand, maybe never. But that doesn’t mean that within this reality plane things don’t work the way we observe.
In seminary Bruce Waltke pointed out the plain fact that there had to be cellular death before the fall. Trees have bark, animals ate plants, overpopulation of bacterial that never died would have killed the host animals that rely on them. Bugs and animals would have overpopulated and destroyed all life like a swarm of locust. It doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. And it only has to if you assume the authors were writing a modern scientific history, which clearly they were not.
The point is that Christianity does not teach science. It is skewed to the cultural knowledge of the writer’s time. And it’s preposterous to try to take the creation story as science because it simply is not written for that purpose. You are fighting a battle that isn’t important. And in the process you are condemning good science because it challenges your view of the bible, and this makes you suspicious of all science do you become an obstacle for responsible environmental stewardship as well. It’s all connected.
The fundamentalist guy comes back with the comment:
Just defending my God as you defend yours.
My friend CM, after deleting the guy W as a friend, responds:
You didn’t act like a friend W…. You never had anything but criticism for me. So I’m sure it’s no surprise that you’ve made yourself unwanted. There are consequences for your behavior. I’m sure it’s no great loss for either of us. You didn’t value anything I said anyway.
Take that! lol!!
P.S. Something he wrote earlier in this thread, in response to the claim evolution does not explain the complexity of life on earth:
You said “evolution” is bad science. Micro evolution is evolution. There is no difference, except scale and time. It’s the same principles. The universe is about 14 billion years old. We can see that in space radiation. We can calculate down the first fractions of a second when the big bang occured. The earth is about 4.5 billion years old. That’s a long time. Like it or not, a lot of micro-evolution has happened over the course of earth history. You and other Christians have way too simplistic a view of evolution. You fail to comprehend the scale of a millions of years and the minute changes that accumulate over time. The fossil record shows these subtle changes. Living species show how fast species can adapt. It’s crazy to think about. It’s mind blowing to comprehend, but then again, so is that scale of time. We can’t comprehend the size of the universe, or the scale of 14 billion years. And yet, it’s real. Just because we can’t comprehend it, doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible.
Evolution is a theory. Just like Gravity. We don’t know everything about it. Science doesn’t claim to have complete knowledge, only what it knows how to test today. But we can know enough, to have confidence that gravity is real and predictable in most situations. The same is true of evolution. We don’t know with certainty how everything happened, we can’t literally look back in time. We can only study the fossil remains and living biology. And we will continue learning more. But we have learned enough to say that evolution is the best theory about the origin of the species, based on the best science that is available to us. In the future we may have better science and our theory may improve, but it is the best explanation for the facts that we currently have.
You may accept six day creation by faith (many christians hold that it’s a poetic myth told for theological purposes). That’s fine. But it has no scientific evidence to support it. So don’t attack evolution for not being completely provable. At least evolution has way more proof than creation. If you don’t care about science, fine, believe in six day creation and ignore the science of evolution. But don’t pretend that it is ‘bad science’ because it contradicts what the bible says. Just agree to believe the bible regardless of science, because that is what you are doing.
You may not like the science because it makes you ask hard questions about your faith. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that the science is bad. Don’t try to claim science as your defense, while at the same time believing in a faith that has no scientific evidence. You can’t have it both ways.