Right now, it is raining methane on Titan. The planet Uranus, apparently trying to live up to its name, is orbiting the sun sideways, while Venus spins backwards. There are stars exploding, black holes gorging, galaxies colliding.
And here we sit, on a planet pock-marked by collisions, rocked by earthquakes, shaken by storms. A planet doomed to be fried in radiation as its magnetic fields collapse, until finally the sun grows into a red giant and leaves nothing of the Earth but dust.
Here we sit, glasses on our noses, inhalers in our pockets, braces on our teeth, waiting to die as our heart muscle expires, our cells decide to grow forever, or a blood vessel just pops, and sometimes in unnatural ways, too.
Here we sit, and some of us say, “Behold, look at the order of it all.”
~ Raj Bains
I’ve been trading emails back and forth with a member of my family for the past two weeks, since coming out as an atheist to my family. This person is an intelligent, educated person. This person is one of the many intelligent people in the world with devout religious beliefs, and he recently made the decision to attend a baptist seminary and become a pastor.
I consider myself very lucky to live in a country where there are no legal restrictions against speech that criticizes religion or religious people. Some are not so lucky, like Fazil Say, a composer who’s now in a Turkish prison and being charged with breaking laws against inciting hate and insulting the values of muslims.
His crime? Statements and tweets that are critical of islam and muslims. Some of his tweets are extremely disparaging toward muslims and islamic doctrine:
I am not sure if you have also realised it, but if there’s a louse, a non-entity, a lowlife, a thief or a fool, it’s always an Islamist.
I figured that Sunday would be an appropriate day to finish up the gospel according to Dan. Today, we’ll look at the gospel story, specifically the gospels canonized in the new testament of the christian bible. Feel free to catch up on part 1 and part 2, if you haven’t already read them. What follows is the gospel story, in plain language. I mean no offense by any of the terms, but like I said in part 1, I want to offer an outside perspective of the story to those who believe that the bible is meant to be taken 100% literally, in the hopes that it offers insight in to why skeptical people have a difficult time accepting that any of this could have actually happened. For a more detailed analysis, see below for a list of links.
So, we have four books that supposedly tell the same story. Two of them offer genealogy, because one of the prophecies that Jesus was meant to fulfill is that he is a descendant of King David. Strangely, these genealogies differ greatly. Many apologetic arguments perform mental gymnastics to attempt to explain this away, but there is nothing in Luke to suggest that the lineage is Mary’s.
So, yesterday we went through a brief history of my involvement with christianity. Today, we’re going to go through a plain English retelling of the first two chapters of the first book of the bible. I’ll try and keep it simple and easy to understand, since others have already conducted more detailed inquiries into the scientific accuracy of Genesis. If you haven’t read the first two chapters of Genesis, ever or recently, here’s a link that will allow you to do so. If you believe that the bible is the inerrant word of god and should be taken literally, you should pay attention. If you take the Genesis account to be 100% true, it is impossible to reconcile this version of events with our current scientific understanding of the universe.
If there really were an all-powerful god who had hand-crafted the universe, the very first page of his very own book would have been a damn good place to grab your attention. Starting out with something universal, something unknowable to those who actually wrote the bible, supposedly through divine influence, would have been a great start. A few things that come to mind: read more
I have been living a lie. Despite being quite vocal about my atheism, I have lied to my family about it for years through omission. I freely admit that this is mainly out of expediency, coupled with my desire to maintain stress-free relationships with family members. There are several people in my family that are devoutly religious. One of them recently graduated from a baptist seminary. I have no doubt that some of them will probably not take the news well, but I felt it necessary to tell them about my views because I can no longer deal with hiding it from them. It’s not fair to them to be told lies, and it’s certainly not fair to me to feel obligated to hide my deeply held views in the interest of not making waves.
Here’s the letter I sent them: read more
Many people seem to have difficulty thinking about their beliefs from an outside perspective. It’s helpful to try though, if only to understand how other people view you. For instance, opinions of me probably range from those who think I am demon-possessed or horribly lost from a spiritual perspective, to others who may agree with me but find my manner of argument boorish or my approach too offensive. As an anti-theist, I’m used to being told that I’m being too forceful, too insistent in my scathing posts and comments about religion. I’d like to offer some insight regarding what motivates me, and why I view religion as so damaging. read more
It’s always nice to see my home state in the news. Mt Vernon is about an hour north of Columbus. I have family about a dozen miles away, so I’ve been in the area many times. It’s a mostly rural, very religious area, so this story doesn’t surprise me at all.
John Freshwater has no business being a science teacher. Reading through his Wikipedia page makes it clear that his agenda is not to educate youth, but rather to indoctrinate them with religious claptrap and falsehoods intended to push them toward the christian religion.
In the interest of continuing yesterday’s theme of posting embarrassing snippets from my past, the audio file below was recorded at a church youth group sometime around 1997-98. I’m playing guitar and singing along with a friend of mine as we lead the youth group in a worship song. The song, “Open The Eyes Of My Heart,” has been performed by christian rock heavyweights, including Michael W Smith and Sonicflood, and is a staple of the modern evangelical christian hymnal. If you have the time, I suggest listening to the song, paying special attention to the lyrics. I’ll share my thoughts on the song below.read more
I was in a musical, Once On This Island, during my senior year of high school. I played Papa Ge, sly demon of death. It was fun, because all of the villagers acted as though they were terrified by my presence, and cowered in fear when I pointed my ‘death stick’ in their general direction. At the time, I had just recently come out of several years of being a devout evangelical christian but hadn’t publicized the fact that I was no longer a believer, so it was interesting to watch the reactions to my character because it reminded me of the fear that I saw many exhibit when faced with the prospect of eternal damnation and separation from god. read more
Current project: Working on self-publishing my debut novel, The Lightcap.
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