Post Hurricane Analysis: Why Is God Mad?

Republican Presidential Candidate, Michelle Bachmann, is discussed endlessly in blogosphere these days because of something she said in a speech.  She said God sent Hurricane Irene as a message.

She referred to something about government spending right after that–so maybe she thinks God is mad about that.

Many people think God is really mad about gay marriage and abortion.  Hurricanes could be eliminated, if that is the case, by stopping these.

I think we need to consider the possibility Bachmann and others are wrong about why God is mad.  The Bible does not mention gay marriage, abortion or government spending specifically as sin, as far as I know.  It does mention other sins.  That being the case, it would be more logical to conclude God is angry about the sins we know to be sins.

One of these is working on Sunday. If any sin has the potential to send hurricanes, it seems like this would be one of them.  It’s punishable by death.

Another big one is swearing.  Is not it possible the hurricanes were sent because the “f” bomb is widely used? It’s so common I think we’ll hear it from a pulpit soon.

Then, there are children who talk back to their parents.  Death by stoning.

In any case, Bachmann is on to something here.  Why worry about making buildings hurricane proof is you can just eliminate the hurricanes?

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Coming Sept. 24,  the 2nd Annual Red River Freethinkers’ secular conference.  Fun and new friends:   www.redriverfreethinkers.org

9/11 and U. S. Exceptionalism

The fight to put up a debris Christian cross at the site is part of a larger problem.  It’s not only that atheists, Hindus, Buddists, Muslims and people of other faiths were among the dead, it’s  the idea 9/11-like events happen in other countries and we should be spared.  That’s because we are “exceptional”.

In my view, exceptionalism starts, at least in part, with Christianity.  There are folks who believe God actually blessed this country in some special way.

Exceptionism bites us in the pocketbook.  In order to pretend we will never be attacked again, our political leaders formed Homeland Security and dumped lots of money into states and cities.

The $75 billion spent each year saves about the same number of people as die in bathtub accidents each year.  The chances of being killed in a terrorist event are a miniscule one in 3.5 million.

The amount being spent continues to increase.  It appears our political class believes the odds should be lowered still more to one in 4.5 million.  The amount required to lower the odds still more will cost even more than the earlier benchmarks.

I remember my jaw dropping when I read Bush/Chaney had decided any threat justified a full scale response.  It appears this policy is still in effect.

9/11 did not threaten the fall of our country.  People of many faiths and no faith were killed.

The less we hype up our exceptionalism and Christianity the more rational our response will be.

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Hurry. Get tickets now.  Red River Freethinkers annual conference, Sept. 24.  Great speakers, new friends.  www.redriverfreethinkers.org

 

A New Religion Meeting in Christian Churches

Albert Molher, Jr., President of Southern Baptist Seminary, is as much insider and establishment as one can find in his branch of Christianity.  In an article appearing on ChristianPost.com you can read the most revealing view on religious changes afoot one can find anywhere.

Mohler sited the Dutch protestant pastor I discussed here a few blogs ago.  This pastor believes the Bible is metaphor and that the god worshipped by Christians is but one of the mind.  There were calls for the pastor’s dismissal but too many of his congregation believe as he does to make the dismissal happen.

Molher thinks this threat to the Christian faith is unique.  It is coming, not from another faith that is sweeping away the status quo, but from within the established faith.  He quotes a prominent liberal theologian, Harry Emmerson Fosdick, as saying the modern world has simply rendered traditional Christian doctrine unintellibible to the modern man.

To me, the problem is not only “modern man”, but modern youth.  Teachers and parents urge acceptance, not rejection, of people unlike themselves.  They urge accomdation of views different from one’s own.  It has been reported regularly young people are not finding a home in today’s Christian churches.

The irony of Molher’ accurate assessment of the state of affairs is that he does not suggest his branch of the faith is in error.  He, and others, seem to think their’s is the only ship on the sea.

Finding their way to a more sturdy vessel apparently is not an option.

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Speakers, fun, debates, all at the Red River Freethinkers Conference, Sept 24.  Register at www.redriverfreethinkers.org

Is Life After Death a New Idea, or, an Old One?

What’s old is new again.  This is the theme of an article written by Peter Berger in The American Interest.  The article’s title is,  “Immortality and Hay Fever.”

He writes his life will live on through memories, things he has written, DNA and his hay fever. There will be no afterlife.

But, Berger’s interest is really in plotting the belief, or nonbelief, in life after death in Jewish history.  The most ancient Isralite tradition did not include a happy life after death.  That changed about two centuries B.C.E.

The irony is that while the “traditional”, or main stream thinking today, within the Jewish faith remains with the rewarding afterlife, it is falling out of favor in the younger generation of Jews.  These younger Jewish scholars are returning to the view that prevailed earlier than two centuries B.C.E., that of no happy life after death.

The first Old Testiment reference to a rewarding life after death was in the 12th Chapter of Daniel.  Daniel is thought to be the most recent of the cannons of the Hebrew Bible. It revealed the new view of life after death.

Berger discusses a couple of possible reasons for the change in Jewish thinking.  One was the violent conflict between Jews and the Greeks and their Hellenism.  Dealing with the death of Jewish martyrs was helped by developing the view they lived on as a reward.

Religious truths were changing back then.  They are still changing.

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Register now:  Freethinkers Annual Conferernce, Sept 24, Fargo.  Speakers, debates and fun.   www.redriverfreethinkers.org

 

How to Hang on to Your Faith

All of us know people who once were part of the faith but who lost it.  Also, we know people who moved the other direction, were secular but found the faith and are happy about it.

If you are a religious person and want to stay that way, or, are a parent or grandparent and want your offspring to stay in the faith, there are things to consider.

Obtaining a college degree is one of the most dangerous things one can do.  Advanced degrees are even worse.  The percentage of people who say they practice no religion skyrockets with the number of advanced degrees.

There are fields requiring advanced degrees where retaining one’s faith is more common.  In general, applied fields are safest.  The percentage of doctors and dentists, for example, who retain their faith is relatively high.  Other applied fields would be engineering and management.

Going into the sciences is risky.  There one digs into the origin of all kinds of things that ultimately endorse evolution.

Going into the social sciences in no better.  Studying human behavior can undermine the belief a god is separate from the human mind.

The humanities have long been the home of secular thinking.  Steer clear.

Home and parochial schooling keeps protestants in the faith better than public school.  It does not work as well for Catholics.

The old World War II song asked, “How will you keep’em down on the farm, after they’ve seen Parie’?”  I never heard an answer to that.

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An atheist & a Christian will duke it our, Sept 24, 2011.  The annual Red River Freethinker’s conference. Come and enjoy.  www.redriverfreethinkers.org

 

 

Politics and Religion: The Demographics

There is a strange thing going on.  Presidential candidates talk more about religion than ever before.  The U. S. public cares less than ever.

Mark Chaves, Professor of sociology and religion at Duke Universty, plots attitudes toward faith in,  American Religion: Contemporary Trends.

“The Michele Bachmanns and Rick Perrys of the world are playing to a base that’s much smaller than it was in the 1970’s and 1980’s,” he says.  While the U. S. is still a religious country, it is changing.

In 1957, only three per cent of the public said they had no religion.  Now that number is 20 per cent.  Recent polls reflected only a 20 approval of the Tea Party–a tie so it appears. Also at 20 per cent is the percentage of U. S. adults who attend church services regularly.

One of the most dramatic of the findings are the number of people who do not approve of religious leaders pushing themselves into politics.  This disapproval has grown from 30 percent to 44 percent in the last 20 years.

So, one has to wonder why Republican candidates for President spead so much time and “political capital” talking up how religious they are and how important it is to the country that religion play a big role.  One explanation, of course, is the primary system. 

It takes some motivation for someone to leave their home to go to a political meeting or vote in a primary.  Religious voters are seen a people who will do this. 

Another explanation is religious candidates are unaware the public has changed. 

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Come the the Red River Freethinkers conference, Sept 24.  The biggest debate ever in ND between a Christian & atheist.  Speakers and new friends.  www.redriverfreethinkers.org 

 

Are Atheists Just Abused Christians?

Recently, one of our regular commenters on this site told me the reason I am not a believer must by due to abuse I had at the hands of my parents or others.  This conclusion is somewhat amusing because it is so commonly made to people like myself.

Once it came up at a gathering of Freethinkers. It struck a cord with people there because many had been told that by Christians. 

Somehow in the logic of believers, when they ponder why there are nonbelievers, the most logical conclusion is nonbelievers arrived at their status, not through an intellectual process, but by an emotional one.  Belief is the more rational route, they seem to reason, so it had to be an irrational emotional.

They do not apply the same reasoning to themselves.  That is, they do not conclude they are believers because they had an abusive experience with atheists.

On the day we Freethinkers discussed this, no one in the room recalled their previous lives within the faith as unpleasant.  To the contrary.  They recalled mostly fun times and good memories as practicing believers. 

What many describe is one day simply being unable to believe the tenents of the faith.  Now, they may have encountered unpleasant people along the way, but they are among both believers and nonbelievers.

For myself, I recall mostly pleasant memories of my decades as a practicing Christian. The doubts just kept coming.

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Come to the Red River Freethinkers Conference, Sept 24.  Great speakers. A great debate, “Theism vs Atheism: Which is the more reasonable view.”  August Birkshire, Pres. MN Atheists vs Ronn Johnson, Northwestern College.  www.redriverfreethinkers.org

Here’s a God People Might Like

Studying the gods that capture peoples’ hearts and minds is to learn about “the human experience”.  The more we know about gods, the more we know about people.

If ever there was an attractive god,  it would would be the Hindu god, Krishna.  In the 1960’s and early 70’s, young people chanted, “Hare Krishna”.  Hare Krishna is a pop term referring to the International Society of Krishna Consciousness.

An important development in today’s Christianity is the growth of the “emerging church” movement.  This version of Christianity plays down sin, the cross and hell and replaces it the a Jesus figure who accepts us all, sinners included.  This upbeat version of the cranky, jealous and vengful God/Jesus concept seems, to my amature eye, to be much like the god, Krishna.

A few years ago, a young science professor gave a presentation at our Freethinkers about the Hindu faith.  He is convinced there was more evidence of the once human god, Krishna, than for the figure, Jesus.

In the Hindu faith, Krishna lived 5,000 years ago in Mathura, 91 miles south of New Delhi.  He was always happy to serve his followers. One thing he did for them was wash their feet.

The holy book of Krishna is Bhagavad Gita (“the song of god”).  In another ancient text the earthly Krishna is described as “…possessing the beauty of blooming youth…” 

In our youth-focused society, people might find a young attractive god just what they are looking for. Perhaps one day the names Krishna and Jesus will be used interchangably.

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It’s coming, the 2011 Freethinker’s Conference, Sept. 24 in Fargo. There will be a great debate between a Christian & atheist. Many speakers and new friends. Come join us.  www.redriverfreethinkers.org

 

 

Gay Pastors and Reverse Engineering of Theology

There is a meeting going on as we speak of a Presbyterian protest group who will soon split off into a new denomination.  Maybe some day there will be as many branches of Presbyterians as there are of Lutherans. 

And why not.  Every group who feels they know absolutely the most lofty of morals, and, who enjoy looking down on lessers should form their own denomination. 

The consequences of forming yet another Presbyterian denomination is inconsequential. The Lutherans did it recently.     

One thing I’d prefer would be some candor.  Those denominations who split off over the gay issue should include “No Gays Allowed” in their names.  I’d suggest something like WE-DON’T-LOVE-YOU Lutherans or PLEASE-GO-AWAY-GAYS Presbyterians.

We who are nonbelievers find this splitting up of old denominations a teaching moment.  It demonstrates so clearly theology is not something that comes from an independent and objective source, but exclusively from our minds.  We take who we are, what our values are and reverse engineer them into them into a belief system.  It has always been that way, and, always been denied this is so.

Were it not for these preexisting bias’ and prejudices, it would have been quite easy to resolve the gay issue.  Everyone can read the Bible.  Since it’s right there in black and white, it should be easy to agree on what it means.

Theology is a growth industry.  People are making up new theology everyday to suit their individual needs.

More on the Defining “Freedom”

This is about an article on ChristianPost.com expanding on the topic of religious freedom. It’s worth revisiting.

The State of Illinois is terminating its relationship with Catholic Charities.  If I understand correctly, the termination came about because Catholic Charities does not place children for adoption with gay couples.  Illinois law now allows gay marriages and adoptions.

Catholic Charities claims it religious freedoms are being harmed.  It does not place children with gay couples for religious reasons.  The State’s gay marriage legistlation was not to infringe on anyone’s religious freedom.

So, we’re returning to the question, “What is meant by religous freedom?”  Is is to believe and worship in any way you choose?  Or, it is to conduct business in anyway you choose, even if it means depriving certain groups of their rights and/or discriminating against such groups?  

If we could take our current laws and political practices and project them backwards to, say, 1950, here is what the majority of voters would be saying.  “Do not integrate the schools in our state.  Forcing my child to go to the same school as Negro children violates my religious freedom.”  The religious freedom they would have been talking about was a Bible based prohibition of interracial marriage.

In my opinion, Catholic Charites is making a mistake by using this argument.  They are bound to lose.  It may jepordize other places were the “religious freedom” excuse is used.

In this era of faith based institutions receiving tons of money from government, it would be wise for churches not to overreach.

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Announcing Red River Freethinkers 2nd Annual Conference, Sept 24, 2011.  Make new freinds.  Watch an epic debate.  Info at www.redriverfreethinkers.org