Tag Archives: christianity

Christianity is a philosophy, not a religion.

4 Dec

Bill O’Reilly is an idiot. In other news, water is wet.

The other night Bill’O had atheist David Silverman on again to discuss Bill’s annual attention grab war on Christmas. The last time Silverman was on, Bill admitted that he, and probably most of his viewers, failed basic high school science and are unaware of the scientific explanation for tides. On this show, however, Bill said that Silverman was a facist for trying to keep the government to enforce its own laws, and that Christianity is not a religion. (A statement that he later recanted on after it was clear that nobody was going to march of the cliff with him.)

Yes, trying to get the government to remain religiously neutral is the same things as fascism.

Since Bill seems to be so confused, here is the definition of fascism:

Fascism (play /ˈfæʃɪzəm/) is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism. Fascists seek to unify their nation based upon suprapersonal connections of ancestry and culture through a totalitarian state that seeks the mass mobilization of the national community through disciplineindoctrination, and physical training.

Fox News has a lot more in common with actual fascism than any campaign to keep the government out of religion. The claim that what Silverman and his ilk are trying to do is fascism is just  mindbogglingly absurd. Unfortunately, every year we go through the same crap. Christians somewhere try to erect a Christian display on government grounds and then cry oppression when they’re told they can’t be plastering their crap all over government property.  I don’t understand why it’s so hard for them to understand that not being given special treatment does not equal oppression.

But on to Bill’s other blunder: Christianity is not a religion. Jon Stewart has a good little bit in response.

On his show, Bill’O goes on to say that while Christianity is not a religion, groups like the Methodists, Catholics, and  Baptists are. What Bill is describing are sects within a religion. A sect is a subset of a religion, a strain of the religion, yet still part of that religion.

Jesus-Facepalm

Unfortunately, Bill’s not the first to try and pull this “Christianity is not a religion” crock of shit. In the past I’ve heard people try and claim that Christianity is a relationship, not a religion. Quit trying to manipulate and muddy language in order to protect your position. The fact that you have to resort to attempting to obfuscate the meaning of words is a dead give away your position is shit to begin with. No, your religion is a religion. What you believe in is, by definition, a religion. Call it what you like, it is what it is. Don’t want to be part of a religion? Fine, then give up all the privileges that come with being a religion, starting with your tax exempt status.

Merry Christmas or Happy holidays?

22 Dec

Merry Christmas or Happy holidays? This is debate that flairs up every November-December in America.

On the side of “Happy Holidays” you have people and businesses who are trying to appeal to the greatest number of customers. On the side of those who take offense to “Happy holidays” and prefer “Merry Christmas”, you have Christians who feel that “Happy Holidays” is an attack on their beliefs. Some on the “Merry Christmas” side have even gone so far as to call for a boycott of businesses that say “Happy Holidays” as opposed to “Merry Christmas.” I’m not sure about your locale, but you can often find people driving around with the following “Keep Christ in Christmas” car magnets.

It should come as no surprise that I feel that the “Merry Christmas” crowd is acting like a bunch of angry children. Let’s examine the rationale behind why a person might say “Happy holidays” or “Merry Christmas” :

The idea behind “Happy holidays” is simple. There are several holidays celebrated  in the month of December. Since it is not easy to tell just by looking at someone what their religion is, it is a polite way of saying “I wish you well in whichever of the several holidays you will be observing.” It’s nice, it covers everybody, and doesn’t discriminate.

Now, for the “Merry Christmas” people who take offense to “Happy Holidays” their reasoning is some flavor of the following reasons:

I celebrate Christmas, therefore my holiday is the only holiday that really matters.

This is my country, founded on my religion, and everyone else should bow down to the superiority of MY holiday.

You can have your little Hanukkah, or Solstice, or whatever, but normal people like ME celebrate CHRISTmas!

To say “Happy Holidays” is to spit in the face of that majority’s cultural tradition! It’s an attack on my religious freedom [read as: freedom to oppress, marginalize, and belittle those of different faiths]!”

Now someone who takes offense to “Happy Holidays”  might not hold every aspect of the above self-righteous rage, but their reasoning ultimately stems from one of the above mentioned examples.

When someone takes offense to “Happy Holidays” or any other attempt to include others of differing viewpoints in the seasonal celebrations, they truly are acting like a spoiled child throwing a temper-tantrum. I’m sorry if you feel uncomfortable by the existence of people with differing views. I’m sorry if you can’t stand the thought that your holiday might not be superior to, and deserving deference from, all the other holidays going on during this season.

Grow up.

Don’t confuse people for their religion

5 Apr

Earlier this morning I got into a small facebook argument about conservative Christians and sexuality when one of the people involved said:

“it’s important not to confuse these people with their religion.”

I can provide the full discussion for anyone who wants to make sure I’m not taking this out of context, but the way I understood what he was saying was that an individual (or group of individuals) who claim to be X should not be confused with X when they don’t actually follow X.

For example earlier this week a crazy lady tried to attack a painting saying that it was homosexual and evil for showing two women with their breasts exposed. Now this lady is crazy, there’s no doubt, but she claims her motivation is her religious views. There are plenty of conservative religious people (across all faiths, but primarily Christianity and Islam) who view the human body and any form of sexuality as evil.

When the person in the afore mentioned facebook argument said not to confuse people for their religion, he was saying that although these people claim their views on sexuality are Christian and are rooted in the bible, they’re not, and as such we should not confuse these “Christians” for being “Christians.”

But that just begs the question: What is a person’s religion if not the sum of their personal beliefs?

A group of “Christians” who would ascribe to said crazy lady’s views on the human body would undoubtedly say that they were Christians and that anyone who did not view the body as evil were not “true” Christians. The term Christian is essentially a useless term as it means whatever anyone wants it to mean. (Which royally pisses me off because any attempt at making words useless and thus making it harder to communicate concepts/ideas just reeks of 1984 style new-speak; but I digress)

If group X claims they belong to religion Y, and that their beliefs come from religion Y’s holy book, book Z, but nobody in group X has read or cares to read book Z, then isn’t their religion just whatever group X wants it to be?

Sure, their sexually oppressive version of Christianity might not be what Christianity is to you, but it is their version of Christianity and they’re going to call themselves Christians.  Are they wrong? They sure as hell think you are. Who’s right? Well nobody since it’s all “just a matter of faith and interpretation.”

In reality you can’t “confuse people for their religion;” whatever they say their religion is, that’s their religion. The 9/11 hijackers were Muslims, so too are the Muslims who say what the 9/11 hijackers did was despicable and un-Islamic. Abortion clinic bombers and the Westboro Baptist Church are Christians, so too are the liberal, gay-friendly, pro-choice Catholics. They all claim the same meaningless title to describe their radically different faiths. This in turn just inhibits our ability to discuss them and the views they have because the moment you use the term “Christian” to talk about the Westboro Baptist Church, another “Christian” with a different definition will jump up and scream that you’re generalizing and mis-representing the “true” Christians like them. (But I guess for some people muddying the water and making it harder for us to express ideas by requiring extremely specific, legalistic language is a good thing. Personally, whenever someone tries to inhibit the discussion of ideas, that’s a sign that they’re automatically wrong.)

How else are we to discuss these people if not by the meaningless title they choose to call themselves? Should we adopt an ever expanding system of Christian 1, Christian 1a, Christian 1b, etc? That would be impossible to keep track of, and yet again everyone would argue about what classification they get. Perhaps if we copied how we classified various animals by Life-Domain-Kingdom-Phylum-Class-Order-Family-Genus-Species and created a similar system for religious belief? Maybe then we can stop confusing lions for mammals and Christians for Christians.

Family Radio and the end of the world!

17 Jan

Last week I was driving home from work here in Columbia, SC and on the other side of the street was the most ridiculous bus. I tried to grab my camera to take a picture, but the light changed and it moved on. I did, however, remember the name and made a note. Luckily there are plenty of pictures online. The bus belonged to the group “Family Radio“, an apocalyptic Christian group eagerly counting down the days till all of humanity, including everyone you love, dies in bloody agony at the coming of their god.

Have you heard the awesome news?!?!?! The world is going to end!!!!1 These people are really fucked up. Though the bus is an improvement over their old one:

Free candy for children only!

Apparently they’ve decided the world is going to end on May 21, 2011, and even though people have been incorrectly deciding this for thousands of years. (But oh no, THIS time we’ve got it right. THIS time he’s coming back. We’re special, everyone else was wrong because of X,Y, & Z) It’s a good thing people like this don’t date much. Can you imagine how long they’d wait on the front porch if you stood them up for prom? Jesus has stood them up for over 2000 years and they still don’t get the hint that he’s just not that into them.

Look, this idiot even painted her brand new car with the date when she gleefully awaits the death of all humanity. You know what, I would gladly join their church and pray with them if they signed over all their money and property to me. Why wouldn’t they? The world’s going to end anyways! They’re going to be swept up with Jesus! What hesitation should they have to sign over all their worldly possessions to me? They ARE sure it’s going to be May 21, 2011, right? They wouldn’t happen to have some doubt and be keeping their things just in case, would they? They shouldn’t because according to the bible in Acts 5:1-11 the apostle Paul kills a couple for doing just that.

I really wonder what all these idiots are going to do on May 22, 2011. Can you imagine? It’s happened to thousands of people before throughout history. It’s going to be extremely awkward. The lady in the picture here is probably going to be huddled around her family and these other wingnuts, hands clasped in prayer, eyes squeezed tight, waiting for the clock to strike 12…tic toc tic toc. When it hits there will be silence. She will have her eyes squeezed shut for a few moments till she carefully opens one and looks around… “Maybe it’ll happen sometime today, not right at midnight?” And so she’ll spend the entire day paralyzed with anticipation, just like the rest of the sheeple. When it comes close to midnight of that day she’ll start sweating bullets. “It has to happen! Why is it taking so long! Why aren’t everyone I hate dead!?!?”

As midnight comes and passes she’ll lie there in bed, staring at the ceiling in shock. “Fuck….fuck fuck fuck!!! I have to go to work in the morning!” (The 21st is on a Monday) She’ll maybe get an hour or two of restless sleep, get up, make some coffee, grab her keys and stumble out to her c…..”Oh FUCK! Now EVERYBODY is going to know I’m an idiot!!! People are going to be pointing and laughing at me where ever I go!” (And you damn well deserve it!) How awkward and embarrassing is that going to be? She’s eventually going to have to take it to a body shop and have it all removed, or paint over the date with the new and revised date in case she’s in denial. This is all assuming they haven’t signed over all their possessions to their leader, which is a very real possibility; and I guarantee you if it doesn’t work out, he’ll be on the first plane to the Caribbean with all their money.

Religion is like sports

30 Dec

I can’t put it any better than Sam Harris:

God’s middleman

29 Dec

This is a really basic concept, but it was something that I wrestled with for a while when deconverting from Christianity. The night I became an atheist I laid in bed for several hours pondering hell and eternal damnation. The thought of letting go from the ledge and dismissing the intense warnings and threats of hellfire terrified me. Two realizations comforted me and led me to take the plunge. The first was that I must be able to trust my own reasoning skills. Without them I’m not my own person. The second realization was as follows:

Everything we know about religion and gods, we are told by other people.

 

Think about it. Who told you about god(s)? Your parents? Your friends? Where did they hear about it? Their pastor/priest/rabbi/imam/shaman? Who told them? Another person. But what about the books? People did. People claiming to talk for god(s). That’s all it ever was; one person claiming to know the mind of a supreme all knowing, all powerful super being that created the entire cosmos. All the books, the art, the music, the buildings, the dogma and doctrine, all of it comes from someone who heard about god(s) from someone else, who in turn heard from another someone.

Ultimately, if it were possible to follow the chain of he said/she said’s all the way back, you would come across a single person or group who started the rumors game.

What about this person? What credibility do they have? These are very serious claims they are making. They purport to know the mind of this supernatural being. Entire societies, gender roles, ways of living, eating, procreating, and dying are structured around the claims made by individuals like these. I say that makes it extremely important to determine if they’re telling the truth. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, so what is their evidence?

“Just trust me…”

Seriously, that’s it. Sometimes they’ll throw in a little incentive like “or you’ll burn in eternal hell-fire!” Sure there are stories of miracles, but these miracles are never documented outside of the story books claiming them, nor are they anything beyond what would impress the local population of that time and location. Water to wine? Multiplying fish and bread? Walking on water? (I’m using christian mythology because that’s what I’m familiar with. There are plenty of other examples from other religions) Those are miracles? Why not something like curing amputated limbs, or transporting people to Alpha Centauri, or dividing by zero? And while you’re at it, just so their can be no confusion or doubt, make sure it’s well documented by a large variety of independent sources.  Unfortunately the people who were around when these belief systems were invented didn’t ask for such evidence. They were quick to believe and slow to doubt.

One of the hardest things to wrap your mind around is how just so many people could be so wrong, and yet so sure they’re right. This was another thing I struggled with. “Look around you! Look how Christianity is everywhere! Look how many people believe! It can’t possibly be based on a lie! It’s unthinkable that it could all be wrong! Surely its ubiquity must attest to some level of truth?”

People who are surrounded by Islam think the same thing. So do the people who are surrounded by Buddhism, Toaism, Judaism, animism, voodoo, etc. The people who were surrounded by the worship of Thor felt the same way. As did those who grew up in ancient Egypt with Ra. Your location, your cultural preferences, they are not the world. For ever million believers who think like you, there are just as many equally fervent believers of another faith. They make the same justifications and rationalizations that you do, but they change the name of the god(s).

The problem is that the system reinforces it’self.  One person starts a rumor, then more people spread it, and then more until it spreads exponentially.  Eventually everybody in a location knows the rumor and it becomes common knowledge, common truth. Children are then raised in a society saturated in the rumor and it’s taken as a given, a natural existence.  The more people who believe in the rumor, the more the individual believer feels secure in their belief.

No matter how many people believe something, no matter how many books are written, buildings built, and songs sung, it all goes back to that one individual, god’s middleman.

“Just trust me…”

Laws are NOT based off the 10 Commandments

10 Dec

The good Christian congressman from the proud state of Texas, Dan Flynn, has introduced a bill aiming to place “the” 10 Commandments in public schools. Let’s cut the bullshit and drop the pretensions people. We all know this is an attempt to erect a monument to the Christian religion on public school property. There is no sense trying to cover it up by saying “Oh, but “the” 10 Commandments are the basis for all of Western law! It’s just honoring the importance that they played in forming our legal system!”

First of all, “the” 10 Commandments was given to Jews in the Middle East, not twinkling blue eyed Englishmen.  Pagan Rome and their legal code, which was spread all over the West for a thousand years, had a hell of a lot more influence in our modern “Western” legal system.

Secondly, which 10 Commandments? That’s right, in case you haven’t read the bible (which is likely since very few who claim to believe in it have actually done so) there are two sets of 10 Commandments and they say different things.

(Click to enlarge)


The funny thing is that the first set of stone tables, the ones most people imagine of when they think “the” 10 Commandments, was smashed by Moses. God made a second set and changed the Commandments around after the first were destroyed. (But nobody remembers this or brings it up because it’s not convenient for their agenda, or they’re just plain ignorant)

So, ignoring this inconvenient fact, lets look at what exactly the laws are in “the” 10 Commandments.

  1. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me.
  2. You Shall not make for yourself a graven image. You shall not bow down to them or serve them.
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  4. Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.

Ok, the first 4 of “the” 10 Commandments are explicit religious commands about the nature of this particular god and how you are to serve him. Now please kindly tell me what this has to do with the US Constitution, the 1st amendment separating church and state, and which of our thousands of secular laws are based on these 4 religious commands pertaining to this one particular religion? (Here’s a hint: nothing.)

5. Honor your father and your mother.

Simple enough, listen to your parents. We don’t have any laws about this, except if you are under the age of 18, so again this is largly irrelevant to our legal system.

6. You shall not kill.

7. You shall not commit adultery.

8. You shall not steal.

9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

10. You shall not covet.

Finally, something sort of related to our laws, but here’s the catch: these are universal concepts. I often hear Christians say “The 10 Commandments are the basis for morality!” to which I respond “Murder, stealing, and perjury were wrong before they were ever written down in stone.” Those are really the only three commandments that have any bearing on our legal system, 6,8, and 9. Three! Three out of ten! Adultery is not a crime in our legal system. (And thank goodness because it’s human nature to cheat (unfortunately) and in the countries that do have it as a crime, they often stone the women to death and let the men go)

As for #10, I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that our good congressman Dan Flynn, being a republican, is a big fan of free market capitalism. Capitalism, the economy, everything would fall apart if people did not covet other people’s possessions. Do you want to destroy capitalism Mr. republican congressman? Didn’t think so.

So now that we’ve established that 40% of this document is comprised of religious edicts, 10% on how to treat your parents, 10% on sexual conduct, 10% on destroying capitalism, and only 30% on concepts that are universal in morality, does this religious document (if it ever existed at all since we don’t have the originals and there are no mentions of it outside of the myth that mentions it) belong in public schools or on public property as a monument to one particular faith? No. If you’re going to erect a monument to one faith on government property, then you must erect a monument to all faiths on government property. To not do so would be to favor one religion over another, and the constitution (which I’m sure Mr. Flynn claims to adore, just like so many other conservatives) strictly forbids such action in the very first line of the very first amendment.

 

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