The Mutt’s Nuts

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

Posts Tagged ‘Christians

No more sacred cows

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For many years now, religious people have sought protection from criticism of their convictions on the grounds that they are ‘sacred’. Until recently, the s-word has usually guaranteed unquestioning respect for beliefs and activities that might otherwise have been considered ridiculous, bigoted or downright dangerous.

Nowadays, certain atheists have become much more outspoken and believers are finding that their religious views are being challenged, in some cases, quite aggressively. Naturally, this hasn’t gone down too well, particularly with the more dogmatic religionists who have enjoyed immunity from serious criticism for far too long and this vocal minority of articulate non-believers has sent fundamentalists of all faiths into a frenzy of indignation.

But why should belief in the supernatural automatically be labelled as sacred? Why should bizarre and unfounded myths about invisible sky-gods, and their accompanying rituals, be singled out for special treatment? Shouldn’t respect be earned? When certain interpretations of so-called sacred writings can engender intolerance, hatred, even murder in a fanatical minority of religionists, can they be considered worthy of veneration? If beliefs and scriptures can legitimately be interpreted to support violence and oppression, are they really deserving of respect?

Fundamentalist views, in particular, shouldn’t be afforded any protection from scrutiny and condemnation if and when it is warranted. The appalling attitudes towards gays, women and members of other religions (or none) by some of those demanding respect for the sacredness of their beliefs must be challenged boldly and consistently. Covering some very offensive ideas with a cloak of sacredness has allowed them to flourish. Disputing those ideas in the light of rationality and morality will show them up for what they really are.

Perhaps we should all start demanding that the things we hold inviolate are protected from disruption or condemnation. For example, after a long, busy working week I consider my Saturday morning lie-in to be sacrosanct. So I don’t appreciate it when earnest proselytisers come knocking on our door first thing every other Saturday, disturbing my peace and sending our neighbour’s dog literally barking mad. I’d tell them to buzz off and not bother coming back, but by the time I’ve stumbled, bleary-eyed, out of bed and found my dressing gown, they’ve moved off to have a loud and fervent conversation with the unlucky woman next door who chose the wrong moment to set out for the shops.

On a more serious note, the majority of people in the UK believe that free speech is an inalienable right. However, the exercise of this freedom seems to get some fundamentalists’ backs up to the extent of parading the streets carrying hate-filled placards and even rioting and stone-throwing if they think they can get away with it.

Most people cherish their families, but, again, religious fundamentalists apparently have no qualms about blowing up other people’s mothers, fathers, sons and daughters to get their warped point across. How can such perverted individuals demand respect for their views and yet feel perfectly justified in trampling on the very things that other people hold dear?

Labelling religious beliefs as sacred, in my opinion, often gives the believer carte blanche to express those beliefs in ways that inconvenience or even harm others with perfect impunity. I say, “No more!” Let them learn the kind of respect for the cherished convictions and freedoms of others that they demand for themselves. And banish the word ‘sacred’ all together.

Isla

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Written by islaskye

March 30, 2008 at 6:41 pm

DILLIGAF

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To the Christians who think that I deserve to suffer an eternal weight of excruciating pain because I can’t bring myself to believe in the idea of a loving deity who condones immorality…

To the Catholics who say birth control is wrong in the face of over population and preventable diseases like AIDS…

To the Kabbalah members who advise that I should buy their blessed water at nearly £4 a bottle to be healed…

To the Westboro Baptist Church members who say that I’m evil for being in favour of gay men, lesbians and bisexuals having equal rights…

To the Mormons who tell me that I should repent – never mind not having anything to repent of! – and return to the fold or lose my eternal reward…

To the Muslims who say that I can’t call my teddy bear Muhammed…

To the Jehovah’s Witnesses who come knocking on my door in an effort to save themselves and try to foist a Watchtower magazine on me…

To the Scientologists who call me an SP because I criticise and make fun of their wacky beliefs…

I say, DILLIGAF!

If you don’t comprehend what it is that I’m talking about, then let Kevin Bloody Wilson explain (strong language):

And DILLIGAF to anyone I’ve neglected to mention who rightly should have been included in the above list.

Curmudgeonly

Written by Curmudgeonly

March 30, 2008 at 1:53 pm

Nailing a Filipino at Eastertime

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I don’t understand why some Christians feel the need to take part in Easter crucifixion rituals in the Philippines. Anyone who is unsure of what it is that I’m talking about, then watch this video and witness the macabre activities that a number of, what can only be described as, maniacally devout Catholics are willing to subject themselves to, all in the name of God and religion:

Every Good Friday, in towns across the Philippines, people atone for sins or give thanks for answered prayers by re-enacting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in every gory detail, sometimes on makeshift Golgothas. One such person named Mamangon, who continues the practice after inheriting it from his father who had been nailed to the cross fifteen times in his own lifetime, has described what he felt after being crucified:

“I feel so refreshed, like all my sins are washed away”

Unhinged is a word that comes quickly to mind. Mamangon added that he “will continue this until my son Alex is cured.” He almost seems to be saying that his son’s illness has come about as a result of his own sinfulness and that until he has performed this act enough times his son won’t be cured. So, in some roundabout way, he blames himself for his son’s condition. To be emotionally caught up in such a pointless and painful ritual is very sad. Considering that the Saviour has supposedly already paid in full for the sins of the world, I can’t help but think what a misguided waste of time this all is. Do these filipinos not think that his sacrifice was enough?

And surely a person of faith could express any thankfulness that they inevitably feel, because of something they believe God has done, in acts of service – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving drink to the thirsty, visiting with those who are sick or any other compassionate act. After all, it was Jesus who said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25: 40). The Bible suggests that it’s sufficient to honour Jesus’s commands, as in that way devotees will find themselves on the good side of God.

Because I was once ardently religious, I often find that I can comprehend, to some extent, the religious psyche, but flagellation and literally imitating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, complete with nails, is far, far removed from what I’m able to understand. I truly don’t get it.

Curmudgeonly

Written by Curmudgeonly

March 23, 2008 at 10:10 am

The Raven Lunatics

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By Nick Gisburne

Curmudgeonly

Written by Curmudgeonly

March 22, 2008 at 4:26 pm

Atheists are deluding themselves

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So says Adam Smith, a Christian. And it must be true as it says so in the Bible, apparently. Let me explain. I stumbled across this little gem when I found myself at The Ultimate Goal yesterday. Whilst there I happened to read a post called Why Atheism Does Not Exist which explains that atheists are really believers in denial! Mr Smith is adamant that it’s a biblical truth that “all men know that there is a God” and goes on to quote from Romans 1:19-20 to lend credence to his claim:

19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Of course, Mr Smith will think me a liar for saying this, but God has never been “evident” or “clearly seen” where I’m concerned. And it’s not like I haven’t attempted to seek him out, I have. But, seriously, what else can he think? He believes the Bible to be the word of God, the very same Bible that tells of a talking donkey, a woman who’s turned into a pillar of salt and a man who loses all of his strength when he gets a haircut. Truly wonderful stuff, if you’re a comedian looking for new material.

I was curious about the verses in question, so I opened my very dusty Bible to Romans 1 and read them in context, and I noticed something interesting. Consider the following:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, … 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. … 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. … 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,

As you can see, I’ve underlined what I think are pertinent points from the chapter. I wonder if Mr Smith could enlighten me as to how I can suppress that which I’ve not known, know something that’s never been revealed to me, exchange a truth for an untruth when I have no prior knowledge of the truth and acknowledge someone who as far as I’m concerned has never revealed his existence to me? It seems abundantly clear to me that Paul the Apostle was referring to those who had at some time or other been devout believers and, consequently, privy to divine knowledge but who had nevertheless chosen unrighteousness over righteousness. So I think it would be incorrect to use verses 19 and 20 as “proof” that all atheists are lying when they say that they have no belief in God.

Besides, I find it annoying that atheists are judged by some small-minded Christians who have no idea of the road they’ve travelled to get to where they are today. I find that it makes them very difficult, perhaps impossible, to respect. It’s typical of the way they divide everything into black and white. Heaven forfend that somebody looks at the world and sees something other than God’s hand in it.

At the end of his post, Smith arrogantly proclaims:

My name is Adam Smith and I wrote this based on Biblical truth; I stand behind it 100 percent. I will not back down from God’s truth and I will not be moved.

Some Christians think that quoting the Bible gives them a licence to be insulting and disparaging towards those who don’t share their beliefs. As soon as this is pointed out to them they deny that they’re being offensive and excuse themselves by claiming that they are just repeating God’s word, as if this justifies their rudeness. It appears that employing a verse or two of scripture covers a multitude of sins.

Curmudgeonly Yours

Written by Curmudgeonly

January 7, 2008 at 9:10 pm

The Illusion of Free Choice

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Christians will tell you that God provides freedom of choice to individuals, which makes them responsible for the consequences of their actions. For example, we are free to choose whether to believe in God or not; to keep his commandments or violate them; to head for heaven or slide down to hell. This choice is sometimes put in the simplest of terms – choosing good or evil. Good, of course, is defined as God-approved, while evil means anything that is in opposition to God’s will.

The problem with this idea of free choice is that it is purely illusory. It requires people to make a choice only within a prescribed framework . For example, we are told that we can either keep God’s commandments or break God’s commandments. Keeping God’s commandments is the “good” choice, the “right” choice. Breaking God’s commandments is the “bad” or “wrong” choice. But the fact is, there is only one set of commandments to choose from and they have been designed by God. Where is the opportunity to decide that, in certain situations, different behaviours are more appropriate or morally benign? What if you want to decide your own morality, based on your own sense of right and wrong, so you discard God’s commandments and create an individual moral code that suits you and harms no-one?

Limiting choices to within a framework which assures the framer the result he desires, cannot be called “free”. It’s like a mother telling a child she can only choose to wear the red dress or the blue dress, because those are the dresses the mother likes best. There’s no option to choose the green dress or the yellow dress. Nor, for that matter, is there the chance to wear a tee shirt and jeans, or a blouse and skirt. In the same way, God limits our options to ensure that our choices correspond to his own predetermined outcomes for us.

Freedom of choice is also illusory when the person making the choice is given no clear idea of the consequences of his decision. Christians will tell you that if you do this you’ll go to heaven and if you do that you’ll go to hell. They witter on about peace and happiness, fire and torment, but you won’t get a clear description of what an eternity of heaven or hell will actually consist of. The trouble is, apparently no human has actually been to either place and returned to give us a full-blown account of their adventure. It’s a bit like the promise that Hank will give you a million dollars when you leave town but, although plenty of people have left town, no-one has ever returned with stories of the huge spending spree they’ve been on with Hank’s million dollars. To have real freedom of choice you must comprehend as clearly as possible what the results of your choice will be.

And while we’re on the subject, portraying the consequences of our choices in terms of reward or punishment is surely a matter of enticement, rather than the offer of free choice. Just as we are influenced, albeit unconsciously in many instances, by advertising, fashion, or popular opinion, so God influences our choices by manipulating our feelings about where we we would want to spend eternity (always supposing we accept the idea of life after death). If he were to include a third option, for those people who don’t necessarily want to live with him, but whom it would be unjust to punish with endless hellfire, at least the alternatives would be somewhat fairer than a simple happiness versus misery scenario. After all, no-one would choose to live in endless misery, so making that one of only two options is to weight the odds very strongly on the side of choosing the path that leads to heaven. However you look at it, that smacks of blackmail.

Probably one of the most important aspects in making a genuine choice is having the ability to act on reliable, verifiable information. You don’t just need to know what the options are, you need to be certain that they’re real. Imagine a man comes to your door and tells you he has a car for sale. It’s just what you’re looking for, it’s in perfect condition and at a very reasonable price. Probably one of the first things you would want to know is when you can see it. How would you feel if the man told you that he couldn’t actually show it to you, but he had a picture of it? Would that be sufficient for you to hand over your money? How about if he produced a written statement by someone who had seen the car, confirming everything that the man was telling you about it? I’m guessing that unless you could actually have a good look at the vehicle, perhaps even getting a qualified mechanic to check it over, and taking it for a test drive yourself, you would tell the man at the door to take his proposition elsewhere.

Christians will tell you that you need to accept Jesus as your personal saviour and that, if you don’t, you will go to hell. But where is the proof that Jesus even existed, or that he was who he said he was? Prior to the time Jesus allegedly lived, there were many stories of mythical saviour figures bearing strong similarities to the story of Jesus contained in the gospels. Being told that you have to accept some historical myth on faith alone is hardly a strong foundation for making an accurate choice. Just as you wouldn’t accept a stranger’s word for the fact that he had a fantastic car for sale without verification of its existence and reliability, so it would be foolish to accept the need to conform your life to the urgings of a religious believer without corroborating evidence of the product he is peddling.

Some might say that, to be convinced of the reality of Jesus as the son of God and saviour of the world, you must set aside your scepticism and open your heart to belief. That only the holy spirit can confirm the truth of spiritual things. But why should you be expected to make life or death decisions based on emotions and desires rather than on concrete facts? That is no foundation for wise choices in matters that have far-reaching consequences.

No, the claim by Christians that God allows people the freedom to choose to follow him or not is bogus. Without being able to choose options that are unlimited by a framework that manipulates the outcome to achieve the framer’s desired result; in the absence of the fullest details about the consequences of the choices to be made; and without verifiable information about the reality of the options apparently available to you, freedom of choice is just an illusion.

IslaSkye

Written by islaskye

December 3, 2007 at 12:43 pm

A pig’s ear of an argument

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Edit: Some of this post is no longer relevant as the person in question has since changed his blog entry.

Yesterday, Twelve of the Broken Microwave blog wrote about a recent “argument” that he was engaged in with an atheist. (Actually, it was two atheists, but I just want to concentrate on what he said to the alleged less experienced atheist.) Suspiciously, Twelve neglected to link to wherever it was that the said argument had taken place, thus not allowing anybody to see the argument in context.

The atheist is quoted as having said:

Did you know Jesus in the bible killed a herd of pigs? Really. He really did. So much for Gentle Jesus! Matthew 8:32 And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, the devils went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.

That makes Jesus nastier than the average person. He could have found a much kinder way of doing this. Jesus shows by this one act that he was immoral.

According to Twelve, the atheist was wrong and guilty of doing “no research” when he claimed that Jesus had killed a herd of pigs and when he concluded that this one act caused Jesus to appear quite nasty, not at all kind and without scruples.

gaderene-swine-briton-riviere-1883.jpg

A sensible reading of the scriptural verses in question shows that Jesus was indeed culpable in the deaths of the Gadarene swine. There’s just no getting around that, unless you’re a Christian who thinks that God can do no wrong. After all, who was it who permitted the devils to enter the herd of pigs that were feeding nearby? Jesus. The devils sought his permission and he gave it.

Although this is a case of animal cruelty, my main problem with this story is Jesus’s apparent indifference towards the owner of the pigs whose livelihood had perished in the sea and the swineherds who had suddenly found themselves redundant. The latter – upon seeing Jesus’s dubious moral character – fled into the city and told the people about what had happened, to which the “whole city” came out to meet with Jesus and “besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.” Can you blame them? Whose livelihood would be next on the chopping block?

There’s no indication that Jesus offered any recompense to the owner or his employees for the disaster that had befallen them. I concur with what the atheist concluded from this story. Jesus does seem to have an unlikeable side to him. You’d think that as an omnipotent being he could have thought of a better way of dealing with the devils, without impacting adversely on the lives of innocent people.

Twelve responded to the atheist by suddenly talking about a totally different time and situation – the tenth plague that was inflicted upon Egypt by an ever-loving God. I was confused by the jump. After quoting the atheist on his blog, Twelve said, simply:

This just screams, “No research!” so I replied with this:

I concluded that Twelve had left out certain pertinent parts of his argument with the atheist, for reasons that I can only guess at. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was being deliberately vague for some reason and, if so, that might very well explain why he hadn’t linked to where the argument had taken place.

Anyway, the first sentence of Twelve’s reply clearly showed that more had gone on between what the atheist had said and his response to it:

observingworld [the atheist], I know the firstborns didn’t do anything, but Pharaoh was the one who decided the fate of those animals and children, not God. God gave Pharaoh a choice, and he chose to have all of the firstborns killed. That’s not God’s fault. If the cattle died, that’s Pharaoh’s decision. No matter how unfair it was for the firstborns to die for Pharaoh’s mistake, the blame doesn’t fall on God, but Pharaoh.

This appears to be to a response to something else that was said and not to what had been initially said. Twelve seems to be rather disingenuous.

pec001_l.jpg

Anyway, I’m continually flabbergasted by Christians like Twelve who try to make a silk purse out of any story from the Bible, no matter how much of a sow’s ear it really is when you discard the believer’s bias.

Notwithstanding that God had hardened the heart of Pharaoh against giving in to his demands, there’s still no way that Pharaoh was to blame for the death of “all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast”, which resulted in there being not a house where there would not be somebody dead. The holy plague touched every Egyptian family. And, who knows, maybe if God hadn’t messed around with Pharaoh’s heart, this tragedy might never have happened. It’s almost as if God wanted the opportunity to slaughter thousands of people to demonstrate his power.

Imagine that an Islamic hijacker had taken control of an American aeroplane and was demanding that the government release all of the prisoners from Guantanamo Bay or he would blow up the plane on the orders of Allah with all the innocent passengers on board. The US president refused to capitulate and so the hijacker carried out his threat. Is this scenario any different than the dilemma that faced Pharaoh? The central issue in both situations is the use of blackmail as a motivating force in achieving a certain aim, where the lives of innocent people are used as bargaining tools. How moral is that?

And as a leopard cannot change his spots, so God is continuing to blackmail people into heaven in this day and age. He’s still the monster he’s always been, as is abundantly evident in the Bible, threatening everlasting punishment on those who don’t submit to his demands of obedience.

Curmudgeonly Yours

Written by Curmudgeonly

November 25, 2007 at 4:44 pm