I like to read Christian blogs. Not because I’m masochistic or anything. I just like to know what Christians and theists in general are saying about atheism, evolution, etc. It provides me with a kind of inspiration.
There is a particular blog that I have been reading for some time now called Alise Write. It’s a great blog by a great and very articulate woman.
In response to the blatant stereotyping of atheists (and she is married to an atheist), she is starting a new series called The Christian Guide to Atheists. It’s about…well, I’ll let her say it (emphasis mine).
Something that I have discovered in the past three years is that Christians can have of a skewed view of what it means to be an atheist. Until Jason came out, I had almost no interaction with atheists at all, so my perceptions about what it meant to be an atheist were not always accurate. I don’t want you to have those same misunderstandings, so each week, I will be writing a short post for The Christian Guide to Atheists. Because who better to talk to you about atheists and atheism than a Christian, right?
To help her along, I sent her a PowerPoint presentation that I made a long time ago, one of the many talks I can give for the Secular Student Alliance’s Speakers Bureau, with the many misconceptions that I and many other atheists have experienced.
I think this is a great opportunity for atheists to get someone to be an emissary to the Christian community who is not an atheist. Many Christians are simply not going listen an atheist, let alone to another atheist, talking about how we’re not worshipers of Satan, which actually will be the first installment of her series that begins on Monday. They may be more willing to listen to one of their own clear up these misconceptions.
Not only that, but many atheists have a hard time communicating with theists (and vice versa), and I admit, I have a hard time in doing that too. I try to remain as calm and respectful as possible, but sometimes this can be difficult with someone who refuses to do the same or says things that are just completely absurd (*cough cough* Ray Comfort *cough cough*).
I hope that you all will read and enjoy Alise’s series. I will also be doing responses of my own to each of her installments as they go along so that there is a Christian and atheist response to all of these. I look forward to the coming months.
Two Georgia parents were released on bond on Thursday after being charged with multiple counts of false imprisonment and cruelty to a child for allegedly holding their fifteen-year-old daughter in a chicken coop and outhouse for several days at a time and electrocuting her with a remote shock collar made for dogs.
The girl, who is currently being held for protective custody by the Department of Family and Child Services, was being home-schooled by her adopted parents Samuel and Diana Franklin and was being punished for supposedly not finishing her schoolwork. Diana Franklin told a neighbour that she was “doing what the Bible says” by feeding the girl only bread and water for days on end, imprisoning her in an outhouse and chicken coop, and forcing her to wear a shock collar.
Children in America are denied life-saving medical treatments, beaten and murdered, and now being electrocuted and imprisoned by their parents, all in the name of their god and holy books. I seriously question the idea of freedom of religion because of these stories.
There is a website called boundless.org, which is a website (including a blog and podcast) about young adults (by adults) and how they should live their lives according to Jesus. Their About Us section goes like this:
The transition through young adulthood is a time of adventure, discovery and excitement; but also loneliness, longing and uncertainty.
With encouragement and advice for navigating relationships, career, culture, faith and more, Boundless helps you mature in Christ as a foundation for marriage and family. That requires living intentionally with purpose by bringing your gifts, talents and Christian worldview to bear on your whole life.
The host for the Boundless podcast, Lisa Anderson, is also the “program director for young adults at Focus on the Family.” Now we can see what kind of angle they are getting, trying to brainwash confused and desperate teenagers and the like into thinking everything will be okay as long as they follow Jesus. This is not a dissection of the entire website. Just some background information which puts this all into context.
A blog post that came out Monday by the name of “Why We Fight” by Andres Hess, who works on the “broadcast production, content development and research teams at Focus on the Family. He teaches Bible and psychology classes at Colorado Christian University…”
The post starts off by talking about the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, which “tells the powerful story of a group of paratroopers who fought in World War II.” Hess talks about the shock the soldiers received when they stumbled across one of the Nazi Concentration Camps. When I first read this article, I had no prior knowledge of what the post was about or the site it was hosted on. I was not sure what to expect, until I read this part (emphasis mine):
Watching this scene, two things struck me. First, these soldiers endured extraordinary hardships fighting in World War II, and second, their sacrifices were worth the lives of the many they were able to save. The world saw the terrible carnage that results when God’s commands are disregarded.
My initial response:
Yes, the world is a terrible place when God’s commands are disregarded, even though Adolph Hitler believed he was doing the work of God by exterminating the Jews. This is directly from Mein Kampf, Hitler’s autobiography (emphasis mine):
I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.
The Bible commands that believers kill nonbelievers and those of other faiths, among many more people for many more reasons. Before anyone says it does not, please read this. God’s commandments were not being ignored, quite the opposite, they were being carried out by a faithful follower. I wonder if Hess thinks that Hitler was an atheist. He probably does, and then if pointed out all of the evidence for Hitler’s Christianity, he would probably use the classic “No True Scotsman Fallacy” that Hitler “wasn’t a true Christian.”
Hess goes on to say, “Sometimes people ask why we engage on controversial family issues like cohabitation, homosexuality and abortion.” He goes from Holocaust to homosexuality. I cannot wait to see how this one turns out.
Wouldn’t it be easier to just let everyone do what they want? Why can’t we just do our own thing and leave others to do theirs? Well, yes, that would definitely be easier. It would be much simpler to tolerate and to avoid the seemingly endless debates. So why not just leave it alone?
Yes. It would be easier, so please, as a bisexual, pro-choice atheist that is currently in a “cohabitation” with someone I care for very deeply, leave us alone and stop trying to take away our rights.
We can’t and won’t disengage on these issues because we love people and hate things that destroy people.
That old “hate the sin, love the sinner” nonsense. His entire blog post seems to be an elongated version of that overdone message, mixed in with some “we’re going to keep doing this, even if the world hates us for it, because we love Jesus and Jesus loved people, so we love people.”
These next bits are just… I really do not know how to describe it. Just read (emphasis mine):
Some may not see the connection between the evil of the Nazi war machine and the evil of abortion and sexual sin, but biblically, they are analogous. It’s sobering to consider all sin is a serious offense against a holy God and reaps punishment from Him. The Bible is clear. All sin offends God and deserves eternal punishment away from His presence.
Yes, he is comparing the Holocaust, one of the worst tragedies in history that killed ten million innocent men, women, and children, to gays and people living together who are not married.
How do Christians reconcile the idea that murder is just as bad as homosexuality? I have always wondered how they manage to think that loving someone deserves the same kind of punishment as murdering someone. “All sin offends God and deserves eternal punishment” is how they seem to do it. The punishment given to gay people who love each other is the same punishment as murderers. How is that “holy”? How is that moral?
Hitler’s sin and my sin both evoke God’s righteous wrath. The holocaust was one of the worst eruptions of evil in the history of the world, but what awaits those who reject God is worse, far worse.
Not only are homosexuality and cohabitation just as bad, according to Hess’ god, as the Holocaust, but rejecting his god, being an atheist like myself, is “worse, far worse” than systematically slaughtering entire races of people. Seriously?! How is it moral to think that not worshipping something, which has no evidence for its existence, is worse than killing countless numbers of people?
This is the kind of religious garbage that is passed off as just and fair morality to children who do not know any better. The website itself is aimed at teenagers who will grasp onto anything that will throw them a raft when they feel that they are drowning. These are taught as good and moral values to have. How are these things considered good? How is it moral to think like this? These thoughts and beliefs are immoral and dangerous.
If anyone who was not religious thought these things and expressed them on a daily basis, everyone would believe they are disgusting people who need to be locked away before they hurt anyone. However, once we tack on “God told me to,” wrapped in a bundle of nicely worded bigotry, then they are moral, righteous people, and we should respect their viewpoints, even if their viewpoints say that many people should have their rights taken away.
Curtis Knapp, pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, Kansas, said that the United States government should exterminate gay people, because God commands their execution.
On Sunday May 27th, Knapp told his congregation about one of my favourite Bible verses, Leviticus 20:13, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death.”
He went on to say, “They should be put to death! ‘Oh, so you’re saying we should go out and start killing them, no?’ I’m saying the government should.” You mean the government that is run by people like you, so the difference is what exactly? “They won’t, but they should.” Similar to the North Carolina pastor that wanted to create a giant concentration camp for gays and lesbians, this guy simply to the source for why he hates gay people. It’s not, “We want to defend traditional marriage,” or “They’re damaging society, because they’re AIDS monkeys and they molest children.” No, none of that beating around the bush bullshit. It’s just, “God said so, so I want them dead, and I want the government to do it.”
Fundamentalists can be the most intriguing of people when they are not the most infuriating and outright scary. You can listen to Knapp’s entire sermon here.
This next part of his took the words right out of my mouth, “You say, ‘Oh, I can’t believe you, you’re horrible. You’re a backwards neanderthal of a person.’ Is that what you’re calling scripture? Is God a neanderthal, backwards in his morality? Is it His word or not? If it’s His word, he commanded it. It’s His idea, not mine. And I’m not ashamed of it.”
Yes, your deity is a barbarian, a thug, a bully, a jealous and petty child, a psychopath, a genocidal maniac, and so much more. You follow a fictional version of Hitler, and you’re “not ashamed of it.” You are backwards. Your scripture is backwards. Your god is backwards. Your religion is dangerous, and so are you.
These are the kinds of people that want Rick Santorum in office to be their moral crusader. These are the kinds of people, who back in the day, would have been in favour of slavery, because the Bible says so. These are the real things that are damaging society. It’s not the “gay agenda.” It’s not those godless heathens (like me). It’s not the liberal media. It’s these people. The people who promote ignorance, fear, and bigotry. The people that want others dead for not believing in or disobeying the will of their imaginary friends. This is why I have a hard time accepting the idea of “freedom of religion” when their religion is promoting the mass murder of people, state-sponsored nonetheless.
So apparently, John Christy, the Christian that was on Dogma Debate recently who I wrote about in my most recent post The Christian Listener, has his own blog. I was unaware of this until I got a call from David Smalley about John’s response to the discussion we had on the show.
After thanking us for having him on the show for half the post, he starts off with this:
Smalley kept using Malachi 3:6 as a reference stating, “I the Lord do not change.” Smalley used this claim as the Bible’s support of killing homosexuals and slavery. What he did not read, and I failed to bring to his attention, was the second half of that verse which also states “So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed”.
Looking at the full context of this verse, which John is so big about, we see that what David said was not out of context.
“I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.
Always, every time, every single time an atheist quotes the Bible, a Christian will say some variation of, “You’re taking it out of context!” Even if they’re wrong, they will say it, because they will immediately say that we are wrong for “taking it out of context” once you say something from the Bible that they disagree with. “I the Lord do not change,” is not taken out of context. I have seen Christian apologists even quote Malachi 3:6 just as David did to prove similar points.
However, there are verses from the Old Testament where God does change his mind on things, as is clear from Jeremiah 18:7-10.
If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed,and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted,and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.
This could be construed as changing his mind, but if God is omniscient, then he knows what nations and kingdoms will do what he wanted and which ones will not, so it’s not really changing his mind if he knows what is going to happen.
Then Hebrews 7:21 says, “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind…”
So God does change his mind from the Jeremiah verses, but also he doesn’t from the Malachi and Hebrews verses. This is but another contradiction in the Bible for people to cherry-pick all the verses that support their interpretations of it.
Next in his post, John says this.
Smalley also avoided my continual usage of Jesus’ statement to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31). This is why a proper contextual understanding of the Bible is so critical to not only bring balance and understanding to God’s word but also to his nature.
Yes, it is true. Jesus did say the greatest commandments are to love God to love your neighbour. So what? It doesn’t mean the Malachi verse was taken out of context.
“You’re taking it out of context!” is not an argument unless you can show how it actually has been taken out of context. If someone quotes a person as saying, “I want to kill everyone,” and we look at the actual context of what that person said and what they actually said was, “It’s not like I want to kill everyone, but I am angry,” then that is an example of something being taken out of context. Quoting Malachi 3:6 as, “I the Lord do not change,” is not something that has been taken out of context. Please understand the difference.
During the most recent episode of Dogma Debate, we had on John Christy, a Christian listener of the show, for David Smalley and the rest of us to converse with. The segment was supposed to be only about twenty minutes long, maybe forty at the most, but we ended up talking to him for over an hour and a half. A reason for that is because 1) we had a lot to talk about, and 2) he takes forever to say anything.
He was a nice guy. I am not trying to hate on John. I like him as a person. I am not a bigot against Christians, as much as Christians (and some atheists) would like to think I am. I do not like his beliefs. I do not like what he stands for. I do not like the source he claims is his moral compass. There’s a difference. If the Christian can say, “Hate the sin, love the sinner,” then we can say, “Hate the beliefs, not the believer,” which is how I felt about John.
A very big problem I did have with him during the show was how when asked very specific and direct questions, he would employ how it takes forever for him to say anything, which derails the conversation to avoid actually answering the question. While the show was going on, I got comments from listeners who were saying exactly that. When repeatedly asked the same question because he was avoiding it, he just continued to ramble on as if he did not hear a thing (which maybe he honestly didn’t because he was calling in on Skype).
Getting onto some specific points from the discussion.
John claimed that Jesus was breaking the Mosaic Laws, such as when he broke the Sabbath, and this is why we shouldn’t follow those laws anymore. The problem here is that it’s not biblically accurate, which is funny, because John kept saying that we weren’t being biblically accurate, neither was the North Carolina pastor who wanted every gay to be put into a giant concentration camp for them to die off in.
The reason John is not biblically accurate is because Jesus was angered by the Pharisees for not following the Laws of Moses, as is clear in Mark 7:9-13.
And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)—then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother.Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”
Jesus is clearly mad that people are not following the Old Testament laws, especially the hypocrites who claimed he was not. Jesus wants us to follow the Old Testament laws of Moses. Jesus wants disobedient children to be executed. It’s right there in black and white.
In response to when I pressured him about this, John claimed that Jesus was a law-breaker, that he broke the Sabbath repeatedly. This is partially true. Jesus was accused of working the Sabbath by the Pharisees, because he ate grain on the Sabbath, which required work. Also, the Pharisees accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath by healing the sick. However, according to an apologetics site, Jesus was not sinning when he worked on the Sabbath.
When Jesus healed on the Sabbath, He was not breaking the Sabbath, but fulfilling it, because one is not at rest when afflicted, oppressed and bound by disease or infirmity. As many scriptures show, God delights in redeeming and restoring the afflicted, and giving them the rest exemplified by His Sabbath. God “hears the cry of the afflicted. When he gives quietness [rest], who then can make trouble?” (Job 34:28–29).
I’m not saying that I agree with the either John or the apologetics site, but it’s funny to see how Christians disagree with each other so much with their interpretations of who Jesus was, what he did, what he taught, and how we should live our lives according to his teachings.
Now the reason John brought this up was because he was saying that the coming of Jesus, that his time here on Earth, was him creating a new covenant and getting rid of the Mosaic Laws, such as stoning gays, disobedient children, people of other faiths, people who work on the Sabbath, and other people for what today would be considered barbaric and for arbitrary reasons. Well, that same article on Jesus breaking the Sabbath has this to say on that.
Had Jesus Christ actually broken the Sabbath, He would have been sinning. But the Scripture says that He “committed no sin” (1 Peter 2:22). Had He sinned, He could not be our Savior. But He, being undefiled and separate from sinners, offered Himself without spot and without blemish to God for our redemption (Hebrews 7:26; 9:14; 1 Peter 1:18–19).
Breaking the Sabbath, according to these Christians, is a sin even today. John did not say that Jesus did not break the Sabbath because he was doing God’s will or because it was a matter of life or death, only that Jesus broke the Sabbath, because he was creating a new covenant for people to live by. I, if I were a Christian, would spin this to say that the new covenant had already been made, so Jesus was still perfect and had not sinned, therefore he could still be sacrificed to God (who is himself…but is also his father…but is also a part of him…who is still separate…and then there’s that Holy Ghost thing…what?) for the sins that he let happen.
Speaking of, Smalley also tried to get an answer out of John on this one. Jesus was a sacrifice to God for the sins that God was fully aware were going to happen. God knew that Adam and Eve were going to sin by eating from the Tree of Knowledge. John responded to this by going around the question and speaking for a really long time without really saying anything that had anything to do with the question.
Here is the difference between Christians and atheists. Christians, when faced with the tough questions, will make excuses and/or go around the question itself. Atheists will straight up answer that question.
Another thing he claimed was that Christianity does not command the murder of people for things such as homosexuality, fornication, adultery, working on the Sabbath, etc. This is why he thought, when we played the audio of it, that the North Carolina pastor was being biblically inaccurate for what he said. However, nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus, or anyone for that matter, say that the laws of Moses have been voided, and it is all the more clear that Jesus himself wants us to follow those laws with how he quoted them himself. If he did not want us to follow these laws, then it would be just another contradiction added to the mountain of contradictions found in the Bible.
My favourite part of the interview, the part where you just want to facepalm so badly, is when John said this.
I’m not even allowed now to have my own opinion to myself. I don’t go out and attack homosexuals. I disagree with the Westboro Baptist Church, you know. But I can’t even just think that it’s sin in my own life. Now I have to conform to what society believes, otherwise, I’m gonna be in trouble. I’m gonna lose my friends…
Bigots should be ostracised. Why is the KKK ostracised? Why is it considered a hate group? Because it is! Soon NOM and other anti-gay groups and people will be seen as the same, and they should be. Persecuting others for their sexuality or their gender or their race is not acceptable. Thinking that they are inferior, that they are going to hell, that they are going to be eternally punished because of something that they can’t control should be frowned upon for so many reasons.
However, Christians are not persecuted in America. Christians are not banned from holding public office in several states. Christians are not misrepresented in the media. Christians are not told that less than half of all Americans would vote for them. Christians are not legally allowed to be discriminated against in the workplace. Atheists are. Gays are. No Christian can say they feel persecuted in a country where 80% of the population are Christian.