The Price of Atheism

February 17, 2008

Sorry I’ve just been posting videos lately. I’m in the middle of the spring tour and haven’t had much time to dedicate to TGR lately.

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Why The Ten Commandments Are Unnecessary

February 5, 2008

The Ten Commandments are unnecessary as a moral code. This may seem like a bold statement to a non-secular reader, but hear me out. The Ten Commandments are often used as an argument for a be-all, end-all moral “law of the land” and I argue that not only are the Commandments redundant, they are completely unnecessary to a rational, thinking human.

First let’s take a look at the Ten Commandments as they are stated in Exodus 20:2-17:

2 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;commandments

3 Do not have any other gods before Me.

4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me,

6 but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7 You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

8 Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.

9 For six days you shall labour and do all your work.

10 But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.

11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.

12 Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

13 You shall not murder.

14 You shall not commit adultery.

15 You shall not steal.

16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

17 You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

Or, in short:
1.I am the Lord your God/You shall have no other gods before me
2.You shall not make for yourself an idol
3.You shall not make wrongful use of the name of your God
4.Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
5.Honor your Father and Mother
6.You shall not murder
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 your neighbor’s house/wife

At this point, I’m going to propose something about what we know as “the golden rule.” I propose that “the golden rule” is a naturally understood feeling in humans. I think humans naturally know to treat others how they wish to be treated. I further propose that any behavior outside of that is taught behavior. It is my belief that humans have an inborn desire to show compassion and are born as good people. I also believe that our natural understanding of the golden rule is proven by societies’ desire to improve and build communities. So this “golden rule” of treating others how you wish to be treated sort of gives us a pretty good moral compass in and of itself just through guiding us to show compassion.

Now let’s examine how many of the Ten Commandments fall under the scope of The Golden Rule:

1.I am the Lord your God/You shall have no other gods before me
2.You shall not make for yourself an idol
3.You shall not make wrongful use of the name of your God
4.Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
5.Honor your Father and Mother
6.You shall not murder
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 your neighbor’s house/wife

The last six on the list can all be hit with the simple idea of treating people how you would wish to be treated. They’re all “do good, not bad” Commandments. Since I think that showing compassion and treating others how you would wish to be treated are inborn desires, these 6 Commandments can go.

This leaves us with the first four. And you’ll notice that the first four contain NO moral code. They do not contain anything that would determine anyone’s behavior without an accompanying existing law. Let’s look at them separately.

1.I am the Lord your God/You shall have no other gods before me This is the “committment commandment” that all religions have. All religions have something in them that says “You will believe in me and nothing else and if you believe in the other stuff, you’re wrong.” Otherwise, there would be no commitment to the religion and people would be hybrid believers. Any one religion can’t thrive and exist without this one, so as a law of the religion this is necessary. However, as a law of moral code, unfortunately it is not.

2.You shall not make for yourself an idol Sorry, Ruben Studdard. In reality, this is an expansion of #1. If you make yourself an idol, it threatens the authority of the leader guy. Again – necessary for religion, NOT necessary for morality.

3.You shall not make wrongful use of the name of your God So I don’t have to say that this one is not necessary for morality in any way. A person can lead a good and moral life using any language they want. This is otherwise known as the “sticks and stones” theory.

4.Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy To be quite honest, I can not think of a single reason why a “holy day” is necessary other than to give people time to commit to the religion. As a moral guide, it does nothing for a person.

Essentially, these first four commandments were never meant to be a moral guide to its followers, but rather a way to honor their creator. The rest of the commandments could be summed up with the words “show compassion.” And showing compassion is an inborn desire.


My Answer to A Letter

February 4, 2008

Recently, there have been some comments on my post “Satirical Web Site Gets Taken Seriously.” The latest one directed me to a site called “Talk Jesus”, in particular a post by an administrator named Chad who posted a letter to all atheists who deny God. At first I thought it was weird for someone to deliver a letter to atheists via a Christian web site (not to mention one that is extremely difficult to register for), but then I realized that they had people to distribute the letter via leaving comments on atheist blogs. The letter is in the form of “Do you think it is a coincidence that…” and I will address each “coincidence” separately.

Here’s my personal letter to all atheists who deny GOD.

Dear Atheist,

Do you think its a coincidence that…

of billions of stars and planets in the many galaxies, only earth has life, and abundance of it?

the sun is 400 times the size of the earth’s moon, 400 times further away from earth than the moon, yet they look both proportionally the same size in our sky?

the sun lights the days nicely, while the moon glimmers in the night sweetly and the clouds bring forth rain to water our crops, which bring forth food in your stomach?

First of all, how do you know that this is the only planet with the necessary conditions for life? I suggest that you realize exactly how big the Universe is (and similarly, how small we are) by watching the Pale Blue Dot video. Even if we are the only one with life as we know it, we’re starting with the end result and then asking “Isn’t it a coincidence?” Of course it may seem that way to you since you’re living on the Earth you ask about.

Second – regarding the size of the Moon and the Sun. For that we look to a little thing called science (see what I did there? I linked to it, assuming you’re unfamiliar). The reason they look the same has to do with something called Angular Size. Here’s an experiment with angular size you can do at home.

Third – You wouldn’t be asking these questions if the conditions on the Earth weren’t perfect for life. Our life has been constructed to be compatible with the Earth. If the sun was less present, for instance, and temperatures were high enough to sustain life, then we would be different – our eyes would be different and our skin would be different. Look at some of the underwater creatures that live in a light-depraved environment and see what I’m talking about. What I’m saying is you’re constructing your argument based on the fact that “it’s a coincidence” that conditions are perfect for life. It’s not a coincidence at all: our life is the result of the perfect conditions. And that, my friend, is what they call “biology.” You might not know about biology like a thief might not know about a police officer.

Do you think its a coincidence that…

birds in the air whistle sweet songs and dogs show unconditional love?

your body heals naturally when you cut yourself, or you become sick and it goes away?

humans have intangible senses, called emotions where we feel love, hate, anger, sadness, happiness, shock, confused, hurt, healed, and so forth?

I do not think its coincidence that birds sing. Like humans, birds use sound to communicate. They sing to greet each other, to define their territories, to let their parents know they’re hungry, to attract a mate, to warn each other of approaching danger and to tell each other about good feeding spots. And dogs show unconditional love because (SPOILER ALERT) they don’t have a very good short term memory.

Regarding healing – Firstly, lets not lump all healing together in the same breath. If you cut your skin, it heals because skin cells are constantly growing and exfoliating. You cannot see them doing it, so you probably forget that its happening. I think its funny that people are amazed that skin heals but aren’t amazed that hair grows back. It’s the same process. The body is creating more of you as parts of you fall off. Our outer structure is contstantly dying, falling off and regrowing. That’s a fact of life. But what about amputees? That doesn’t grow back? What’s your biblical explanation for that?

Regarding humans – Emotions are not a sense. There are only 5 senses (can you name them all?). Emotion is a function of the human brain and is influenced by psychological and sociological factors. We have a complex brain with the capacity for long term and short term memory, so we are able to evaluate the processes that our brain creates like anger or suffering. You act as if love, pain, anger, etc. are these mysterious conditions that have never been studied. They have been studied in great detail but you would not know that just like a thief wouldn’t know the location of a policeman.

Do you think its a coincidence that…

you were born from a lady’s womb and you will die a death, without choice of either?

the complexity of dna is so mind boggling, that scientists worldwide now have gone from ‘no god’ to claiming a “Divine Creator”? (read)

your body’s anatomy is complex, so fine and so articulate that you wonder how this “accident” came to be?

Again, you’re arguing if I think it’s coincidence that life works the way it does. I’m not sure how to answer a question like “do you think it’s coincidence that you’re going to die without a choice?” Might as well ask me “do you think it’s coincidence that the sky is blue and you didn’t ask it to be blue?”

Regarding the complexity of DNA, the structure as we know it has really only been known since the late 1950’s and if you’re talking about the human genome project, it is mapped out to about 92% completion. By “scientists worldwide” I hope you realize you’re talking about a very small percentage of all scientists.

The human body and it’s structure is no accident. Atheism does not claim that the origin of man or the Earth was an “accident.” It is indeed complex. But that does not point to any sort of creator.

Do you think its a coincidence that…

there are endless variety of delicious fruits, vegetables, nuts, wheats to make infinite delicious recipes to satisfy our hunger?

there are thousands and thousands of exotic amazing land animals and thousands more amazing sea creatures?

you have eyes so you can see, ears so you can hear, heart so you can feel, mind so you can think?

It is not a coincidence that there are endless variety of fruits. If the same fruits grew everywhere, it would point more toward a creator. But they don’t. Because different growing conditions based on levels of available sun, minerals in the soil, and weather conditions create different opportunities and variety of crops. Our hunger would be satisfied if we ate nothing but one type of food all the time, which I’m sure is what people had to do before they started traveling and trading across nations. You think your Hershey bar is a coincidence. Before the necessary beans were shipped to an area nearby, you wouldn’t have even had one.

Again with the complexity of biology. It is amazing and beautiful to look at the thousands of variations of creatures on this Earth. They have all developed due to the same conditions we have.

The last point here goes back to the circular reasoning that I keep talking about. You ask if its coincidence that we have eyes so we can see? You would never ask this question if we didn’t have eyes to begin with. And if we had a lobster claw for crushing nuts because nuts made us run, you would ask me if that was coincidence too.

Do you think its a coincidence that…

there are thousands of recovered artifacts proving the validity of Scripture, the Holy Bible itself? (example)

those who have faith in Jesus Christ witness miracles, worldwide? (read)

almost all Old Testament prophecies have been already fulfilled and more continue being fulfilled? (read)

There are. Because the Bible was indeed written a long time ago and has been believed for 2,000 years. Many of the stories within the Bible are very similar if not identical to stories found in other (some even older) religions. Folklore has been passed down for centuries. In the eternal game of telephone, stories are passed down while names, places, and details get varied slightly from person to person.

While you claim a supernatural power has allowed people to witness miracles, never has an actual “miracle” been proven. If you can prove a miracle caused by the supernatural, this man will give you a lot of money.

The reason you think the old testament prophecies are fullfilled is the same reason people believe Sylvia Brown is really psychic. Half of the things she says are so vague that they could apply to anybody. When she finally gets specific, she’s wrong a lot of the time. Of course these “misses” are overshadowed by the few “hits.” Many people claim Nostradamus prophetic. But his writings are so vague and dependent upon translation and interpretation that anyone could make them appear to predict anything.

Do you think its a coincidence that…

a farmer plants the seeds, yet the farmer does not make the seed grow and the farmer never initially created the seed?

that fruits and vegetables have seeds so that they produce more fruits and vegetables?

your body needs vitamins and nutrients found in GOD’s natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, wheat?

Okay, this one is laughable. You’re asking if I think its a coincidence that a farmer grows crops from the seed that he bought at the store? Do I also think its coincidence that I didn’t create my car, yet it runs when I turn the key? I think that maybe you skipped some biology classes in school. Frankly I’m concerned with the educational system in this country and whether or not they’re still teaching biology as a subject.

We are a product of our environment. You’re looking at the environment and saying “well don’t you think its STRANGE that this is all suited perfectly for us?” NO. We are the way we are BECAUSE of the environment we live in.

Do you think its a coincidence that…

you just happened to be here on a Christian site reading this letter? (read)

Hahahaha. No. But as I stated earlier, I do think it’s odd that you posted your letter to atheists on a Christian forum. Try posting it at http://www.atheistnetwork.com/index.php. But if you’ve got people to spread the little “letter” around to atheist blogs, then no it’s not a coincidence. It’s called a hyperlink.

And finally – the dumbest quote ever being used to try to make a point.

Quote:
“The atheist cannot find God for the same reasons a thief cannot find a police officer.”

An atheist is not looking for God – and a thief does not seek out a police officer. I suppose this is what this is MEANT to mean. But what if I want it to mean that an atheist does not need God and a thief does not need a police officer. And why is it assumed a thief cannot find a police officer? Isn’t that what happened every time a thief got caught? Maybe you’re arguing that the police officer FOUND the thief. In that case, did he put the thief in prison through supernatural miracles? Or through physically grabbing him and pushing him into the back of a police car? I could go on, but I think you get my point.

********
UPDATE
********

I wanted to go over to the JesusTalk forum and let Administrator Chad know that I answered his letter. I urge you all to do the same, but in registering, I encountered their forum rules which I thought were HILARIOUS. Here they are:

Talk Jesus is mainly about two things. Praising Jesus Christ and sharing Truth with others. It is not for speaking against Scripture simply because you are in disbelief. If you disagree with the Word of GOD, please leave unless you came to learn the Truth as told by GOD in Scripture. If you are an unbeliever, it is likely you’ve been led here by GOD so you may learn about His love for you found in Jesus Christ alone.

/:* Talk Jesus is Not a Debate Forum *:\

Talk Jesus: Ten Commandments

1. Treat others with respect when posting
2. No profanity or slangs
3. No links unless you meet 2 requirements
– 50 posts minimum in the forums
– request Chad’s permission via private message
4. No False teaching of Scripture
5. Do not gossip
6. Cite author(s) when copying/pasting articles
7. Provide Scripture when making a biblical point
8. Share Talk Jesus with everyone you love
9. Abide by forum posting etiquettes
10. No soliciting

Tip: Pray before you post

Rules for Signatures & Avatars

* No custom avatars. Choose from our selection.
* No images *WTF? No images in your avatar? haha
* No advertisements
* No links
* Maximum 2 lines (approx. 50 characters max per line)
* Maximum 2 colors *God will smite you if you combine 3 colors

Rules for Posting in Forums

* Proper Editing Guideline: (click here to read)
* Max 2 colors allowed
* Do Not Post
o only smilies, no text
o one word responses
o double post
o all CAPS (considered shouting)

Infractions

You get a simple warning via private message if you break a rule. Please respect the community. Its a privilege to be here, not a right. You get banned immediately if you curse, insult someone else, preach anything outside of Scripture purposely.

Chat Room & Shoutbox Etiquette

* no flooding
* no insulting
* no gossiping
* no prayer interruption
* no solicitation

Photo Album Rules

* Clean family friendly photos
* Comments must be polite and Christ mannered
* No provocative photos allowed

Warning

I take harassment seriously. If you are here to cause trouble, remember every action is literally recorded and logged. Do not assume you can hide behind “proxies” or get away with wrongdoings. GOD is watching your every move. Be wise, respectful and humble yourself. You know your intentions and I know mine.

Jesus Christ! It’s an Internet forum. Lighten the hell up!


God’s Will

January 20, 2008

Married To The Sea
marriedtothesea.com


Christian Poster Child Tom Coburn Endorses John McCain

January 18, 2008

faithwatch
PFW:28

Beliefnet.com reports that Tom Coburn has endorsed Senator John McCain for President. Let’s talk about this endorsement for a second.

coburn

Tom Coburn is a U.S. Senator for Oklahoma with some extremely hypocritical views that are closely linked to his never-faltering Christian beliefs. From calling his fellow Oklahoma citizens “crapheads” to radical pro-life views, he’s a few cards short of a deck. For example, Coburn is ‘pro-life’ and goes with the “sanctity of life” right-wing buzzphrase that “all life is sacred” as if liberals hate life. Meanwhile, Coburn advocates the death penalty for abortionists. Pretty funny for a guy who has admitted to have performed abortions. The list goes on.

So congratulations, John McCain, on picking up thie stellar endorsement from a hypocrite. I’m sure it will ring loud and clear with psycho-conservative Christian people everywhere.


Young People Rejecting Christianity; View it as Homophobic

January 17, 2008

via Alternet.org

A new study published by The Barna Group surveyed a group of 16-29 year olds and found that the age group may be more cynical toward Christianity than people of their age in the previous decade.

The study shows that 16- to 29-year-olds exhibit a greater degree of criticism toward Christianity than did previous generations when they were at the same stage of life. In fact, in just a decade, many of the Barna measures of the Christian image have shifted substantially downward, fueled in part by a growing sense of disengagement and disillusionment among young people. For instance, a decade ago the vast majority of Americans outside the Christian faith, including young people, felt favorably toward Christianity’s role in society. Currently, however, just 16% of non-Christians in their late teens and twenties said they have a “good impression” of Christianity.

Even among young Christians, many of the negative images generated significant traction. Half of young churchgoers said they perceive Christianity to be judgmental, hypocritical, and too political. One-third said it was old-fashioned and out of touch with reality.

I found the following chart very interesting:

christinity

What’s also interesting is the fact that many attribute a negative attitude toward Christianity to the religion’s attitude toward homosexuality.

Interestingly, the study discovered a new image that has steadily grown in prominence over the last decade. Today, the most common perception is that present-day Christianity is “anti-homosexual.” Overall, 91% of young non-Christians and 80% of young churchgoers say this phrase describes Christianity. As the research probed this perception, non-Christians and Christians explained that beyond their recognition that Christians oppose homosexuality, they believe that Christians show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians. One of the most frequent criticisms of young Christians was that they believe the church has made homosexuality a “bigger sin” than anything else. Moreover, they claim that the church has not helped them apply the biblical teaching on homosexuality to their friendships with gays and lesbians.

Read about the study here.


Christianity & Atheism Timelines Compared

January 17, 2008

Christian

Click image to view larger.