The Mutt’s Nuts

Where religion is about as attractive as a two week holiday in Afghanistan

Archive for the ‘God’ Category

Dave Allen on religion

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Curmudgeonly

Written by Curmudgeonly

April 23, 2008 at 1:07 am

Impotent God

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Believers claim that God is omnipotent, the creator of heaven and earth. Occasionally in the Bible we see evidence of his powers – raining down plagues and destruction on people he didn’t approve of, making fire suddenly appear from nowhere, whisking a few favoured individuals up into heaven, turning a woman into a pillar of salt and other useful antics. Through Jesus, God supposedly raised people from the dead, fed hundreds with a few meagre supplies and, just to show he was no party-pooper, turned water into wine.

But what’s he been up to since then? Seems to me he’s been a tad shy and retiring for the last couple of thousand years. Although there have been plenty of opportunities for him to show his mighty power, thrill the faithful and confound the doubters, God seems to be resolutely sticking to the small stuff. These days he might help someone to find their car keys or pass an exam. Sometimes he does something a little more impressive, like helping someone to recover from a serious illness or injury when they weren’t expected to (although in most cases, people just die). But surely there’s so much more an all-powerful being could be doing?

God has been quite happy to allow rape, plunder, enslavement, torture, destruction and murder on a grand scale throughout the years. Did he stop the Inquisition in its tracks with a few nasty plagues? No. Did he swallow up the Nazis in the depths of the sea or the bowels of the earth before they had chance to fill the death camps? No. Did he step in to halt the genocide in Rwanda? No. Has he put an end to killer diseases such as malaria, typhoid or cancer? No. Did he put forth his mighty hand to stop the Asian tsunami, or protect millions from the effects of the Ethiopian famine? Did he divert Hurricane Katrina from her course to avoid death and destruction? Again, no.

In fact, what the hell has God been doing all this time? Has he lost his powers, or simply lost interest in us?

Just one more reason to believe that God is about as substantial as a puff of smoke and as likely to exist as pigs are to sprout wings and take to the sky.

Isla

Written by islaskye

April 20, 2008 at 7:43 am

A personal relationship with Jesus?

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Are you sure that you want one?!

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.spike.com posted with vodpod

Although this is humourous, I think it raises some valid issues.

Curmudgeonly

Written by Curmudgeonly

March 24, 2008 at 11:08 am

Tunnel vision

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I’ve recently finished reading the first couple of chapters of Bart Ehrman’s new book, God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer, and I wanted to relate something that it caused me to think about. But first, watch the following short video and make sure you count the number of passes that the team in white makes:

Reading the second chapter of Ehrman’s book made me see how unaware I was of what the Old Testament really said about God outside of my attention. In the same way, when I first watched this video I didn’t see the moonwalking bear, though I correctly counted the number of passes that the team in white made. Because my attention was focused elsewhere, I missed an important part of the overall picture. It truly is easy to miss something that you’re not looking for.

The Old Testament prophets, who Ehrman quotes in order to show how they viewed suffering and how it related to God, were familiar to me as a Mormon, but somehow I had missed the implication of what was really being said. The moonwalking bear was there, but I couldn’t see it. Because of my subsequent loss of faith and accompanying scepticism and with the benefit of hindsight I can now say that it was the paradigm through which I viewed God that blinded me to the unpleasant aspects of his character. It’s quite amazing how obvious his monstrous side is.

As I read through the second chapter I was continually shocked at God’s brutality and even more so with myself that I once believed in this monster. It wasn’t anything that Ehrman said, as the prophets he quoted spoke loudly and clearly enough. Suffice it to say, as I read through the chapter, I experienced a fair few WTF! moments and often berated myself for falling for such an immensely tall yarn.

Let me share some examples of what I consider to be God’s disgusting behaviour. On a people who he considers to be his favourites and who he claims to love greatly, he sends famine, drought, blight, pestilence and destruction (see Amos 4:6-12) in order to force them to return to him and his ways. Graphically, Hosea explains that God will become like a fierce animal that will tear disobedient Israel to pieces:

Yet I have been the Lord your God
ever since the land of Egypt;
you know no God but me,
and besides me there is no saviour.
It was I who fed you in the wilderness,
in the land of drought.
When I fed them, they were satisfied;
they were satisfied, and their heart was proud;
therefore they forgot me.
So I will become like a lion to them,
like a leopard I will lurk beside the way.
I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs,
and will tear open the covering of their heart;
there I will devour them like a lion,
as a wild animal would mangle them.

I will destroy you, O Israel;
who can help you? (Hosea 13:4-9)

And there’s a yet more disturbing image of God:

Samaria shall bear her guilt,
because she has rebelled against her God;
they shall fall by the sword,
their little ones shall be dashed in pieces,
and their pregnant women ripped open. (Hosea 13:16)

Shocking and repugnant, don’t you think? We find in Jeremiah 3 that God is likened to a husband whose wife (Israel) has committed adultery. But I find it very difficult to imagine any loving husband who would threaten his wife in the way that God has threatened Israel in the above verses, even taking into account the wife’s infidelity. I think that God must be a pretty shitty husband and certainly couldn’t ever be considered a good role model for husbands to aspire to. How anyone could justify the acts above is completely beyond me. It’s emotional terrorism at it’s worst.

There’s a lot more that I could say about this, especially as it’s something that I feel very strongly about. But I’m writing this blog entry to simply express my surprise and horror that I hadn’t noticed this side of God as a faithful Mormon, at least not for what it truly is – tyrannical, forceful, controlling and merciless. It’s astonishing that you can miss that which is in plain sight when you’re concentrating on something else.

Curmudgeonly Yours

Written by Curmudgeonly

March 16, 2008 at 8:51 pm

YouTube’s KalsolarUK

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I recently discovered KalsolarUK whilst surfing the YouTube site. And what an unexpected and pleasant surprise it was. His modus operandi is simple – he takes stories of the Old Testament and subjects them to his own brand of literal translation, showing how ridiculous and utterly unbelievable they are and how completely immoral God often is. His “Pythonesque” humour is compulsive viewing and I can’t help but laugh out loud at some of the things he comes out with. Plus, he gets extra credit from me because he’s from my part of the world – the Midlands. So I guess that’s why I get and can appreciate his wry wit. I really couldn’t subscribe to his channel quickly enough. It’s entertaining and original. But if you’re a sensitive soul who despises profanity as a means of expression then you should give his videos a wide berth. If not, then here’s a taster (and be sure to check out his channel if you find that you like them):

The Divine Justice of God All Smitey!

So you think you know evil?

Esau, Jacob and the lentil soup incident

Curmudgeonly Yours

Written by Curmudgeonly

March 9, 2008 at 12:03 pm

Every believer has their own version of God and religion

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I’ve just had one of those “D’uh!” moments. The kind where you slap your head and say “Why didn’t I see that before?”

Reading the recent comments on this blog from Kuri and Snark, I’ve finally realised that everyone who belongs to a church, or who believes in a god, sees that church and that god in their own personal way. When I was an active member of the Mormon church, I believed everything that the church taught, about itself and about God, wholeheartedly. I realised that there were other people in my ward (local congregation) who didn’t appear to have the same kind of commitment as I did, but I put this down to lack of devotion, rather than to a different view of the church and its teachings. I would have been very surprised to discover that many of the people I was judging so self-righteously were as devoted to their own concept of the church as I was to mine.

Now the penny has finally dropped and I realise that everyone (including me, when I was a believer) has their own customised belief about their religion and their god. For some, their belief might cause them to follow the “letter of the law” absolutely, without any deviation or concession, even when it may be inconvenient, uncomfortable or downright unreasonable to do so. For others, it will mean adapting certain teachings to suit their own ideas of what the church or the god should be.

In order for anybody to successfully embrace a religion and its teachings I think they have to reconcile it, to some extent, with their own personality. Otherwise, cognitive dissonance sets in pretty quickly and makes life increasingly uncomfortable. Especially when the person is told that they should believe certain things, or act in certain ways that are at odds with their experience or inner values.

So, when someone tells you that they believe the LDS church, or the Catholic church or any other church, is true, what they are really saying is that their version of the church is true for them. When they talk about God, it’s their version of God that they are referring to. So many religions, so many gods, so many “truths” – they are just different people’s ideas of religion, God and truth. Those people may be the founders or leaders of a religion, but often they are simply the members of that religion, each worshipping and proclaiming the god, and teachings about that god, that suits them best.

I think that’s why people’s responses to certain religious ideas vary so widely. While a set of teachings may resonate with one person and incline them to believe in the institution that is propagating those teachings, another person may find the same teachings unconvincing, maybe even bizarre. I’m satisfied that it’s not a “holy spirit” that convinces people of the “truth” of a certain precept or revelation, but their own inner beliefs, shaped by upbringing, culture, circumstance and personality. This is why different people can firmly believe in the correctness of totally different creeds.

The Mormon church teaches that there are certain people known as “the elect”, people who are particularly righteous and valiant in support of God’s plans and purposes. It is said that these “elect” people will be more inclined than others to accept the church’s version of the “truth” when they hear it. But I no longer believe that it is some special character trait or spiritual sensitivity that accounts for the attraction that certain people feel towards the LDS gospel, but the elements that I mentioned in the previous paragraph. There’s nothing outstanding about them. In fact, in my experience, the LDS church has just as many lukewarm members as any other church.

What all this tells me is that you can never be sure that what you believe about God, or what your church teaches doctrinally, is actually true – it’s just someone’s perception of the truth and that can hardly be reliable. In the end, religious belief just comes down to feelings, and those feelings are triggered by external elements, rather than by supernatural affirmation.

I realise now that, when I used to believe and express that I knew the LDS church was God’s true church, that I knew Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon was true, my “knowledge” was nothing more than a strong feeling about my personal and individual perception of the organisation, the Prophet and the scriptures. I could say that those things were true because I had made them true for me.

Isla

Written by islaskye

March 5, 2008 at 6:48 pm

Potholer54’s “Made Easy” series #3

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Here’s two more videos from Potholer54’s “Made Easy” series.

The first video traces humankind’s migration out of Africa and, using DNA evidence, explains how humans came to cover the earth.

And the second one asks: Could God have designed DNA?

If you’ve missed his other videos, don’t worry, they can be found here and here.

Curmudgeonly Yours

Written by Curmudgeonly

February 10, 2008 at 1:48 am