If You Don’t Agree with That, Are You Still Religious?

It’s a good question: how much of your religion’s actions do you have to disavow before you feel comfortable just walking away from the whole damn thing altogether?

What aspects of your faith did you eschew before you finally stepped away from it for good?

(via Atheist Cartoons)

  • http://primesequence.blogspot.com/ PrimeNumbers

    Spot on! It is now the moral duty of any Catholic to leave the Catholic Church and request their number be removed from the total number of Catholics.

  • MaryLynne

    There is one line in the Catholic mass – It’s been a while now so I forget exactly when you say it. “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I shall be healed.” I stopped saying that years before I started questioning the rest of the faith. There’s something creepy about it.

    Even as a young devout Catholic couple 25 years ago, we used birth control and never had second thoughts.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin

    I’m not a Catholic, but I had a lot of things that bothered me about my faith:

    1) I do not believe the infallibility of the Bible. I didn’t know as much about it as I do now, but even when I was a Christian, I didn’t believe everything in it. What chiefly bothered me was the Old Testament and how it was expected that we ‘just ignore those bits.’ I knew it was written by priests and people trying to sell a story, so I looked at it as a book of mythology rather than a statement of truth.

    2) I couldn’t look at the universe and honestly think it was made 6000 years ago. I tried to fit ideas into it, but came up with Last Thursdayism type realities. ‘Well sure, the universe LOOKS billions of years old, but god could have made it look that way.’ Which brings me to point three:

    3) Looking at the universe, it looks old. Science says it’s old. If god made the universe appear to be as old as it does, then he’s being purposefully deceptive, and making it so lovers of science won’t make it into heaven. How can I believe ‘goddidit’ when I see natural explanations for everything?

    4) My church, while not outwardly advocating it, could be easily seen as promoting the foolish idea that somehow homosexuals and women were less important than the straight male. Women in the church generally held positions like nursery work, administrative assistants, or worship team. They were never the heads of any of these, either.

    5) Don’t get me started on how I was expected to treat homosexual people. I was member of the ‘I have gay friends, so I’m a tolerant person’ club. I will never forgive myself for how I treated a lesbian friend of mine, unless I get the chance to apologize.

    6) Good people going to Hell, that also bothered me. If you were the nicest, most selfless person in the world, it didn’t matter because if you weren’t Christian, you’re going to Hell. Yet at the same time, I would see practicing Christians behaving in reprehensible ways who still, according to my church, were going to Heaven.

    I could go on, so I will.

    Nah, just joking.

  • Karen

    Hell is a very scary prospect for people.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told (about my absolute disbelief) -and I’m sure you’ve heard this a bajillion times, too- “Well, what if you’re wrong?” As if belief should be based upon that presupposition instead of faith itself; believing in God (or Catholicism) “just in case.”

    Yes, your reward will be in heaven because you believed in God for practical reasons :)

    Anyway, from what I can see, once catholic you’re always catholic, even when you aren’t anymore.

  • http://theflightlessgeek.squarespace.com/ James

    Brought up Roman Catholic but I think the first and biggest thing I gave up on was that I had to believe in a God to make my life worth living. In other words I started asking why? ;)

    Everything else slowly pulled itself apart after that.

  • gski

    I decided their claim about love and forgiveness was crap when at the age of 5 or 6 a kid was talking in church and a nun hit him so hard it knocked him off the pew.

    I had trouble too with my guardian angle, I still had to look both ways crossing the street.

    If we are all god’s children, why did the nun upon learning I was being transferred to a public school ask me if I really wanted to go to the same school as the “colored” kids. To this day I remember trusting my parents because at 6yrs I didn’t know what a “colored” kid was. Thanks sister for the education.

  • http://www.secularplanet.org Secular Planet

    Nothing. I didn’t give up a single teaching of the Catholic Church until my apostasy, when I rejected absolutely everything. My “faith” was very rational: If I believed anything because the church taught it, I had to accept everything the church taught. There’s no way around it. There was no way for me to know whether all the mystical claims are true. I wasn’t willing to reject something because I didn’t like it, which is what about 95% of Catholics do. Liberal believers annoy me more than fundamentalists sometimes because they’re inconsistent.

  • Ben

    I was raised as a Presbyterian by very liberal parents. We also celebrated Jewish holidays with extended (reform) Jewish family. Thanks to my upbringing, I was never taught a strict religious doctrine. I was taught that God was real and so was Jesus, but everything in the bible was open to interpretation, even the resurrection. I remember believing even as a young child that he didn’t really rise from the dead, it was just a metaphor for his soul going to heaven. I remember thinking: “this stuff is just too unbelievable, it’s got to be metaphor, no one in this day and age can still believe this.” Creation, The flood, the virgin birth, the miracles, all of it was just stories, like the greek mythology. I somehow believed that God was real, heaven and hell were real, but that the stories were just primitive people explaining a god they didn’t understand. (hey I was just a kid!)

    I was very happy thinking this way and I sort of assumed that everyone believed this way. It wasn’t until around the 4th or 5th grade that I learned about fundamentalism. We were learning about dinosaurs in school and this kid in my class told the teacher that they “died in Noahs flood” I started laughing because I thought he was just being a smart ass. but I looked around the room, and no one else was laughing. Not even the teacher. It f–king creeped me out.

    I had no problem believing in God and the messages of the bible as long as I didn’t have to believe it literally. But that moment was the first of many to come where people would tell me I had to take it literally. I started asking questions, I started looking at all faiths with new eyes, and realized how dangerous they were. I quickly became an agnostic, and by the 10th grade was proudly referring to myself as an atheist.

  • Phrosty

    Unfortunately, this cartoon’s punchline doesn’t apply well to my sister. She believes in all of the above.

  • http://spaninquis.wordpress.com Spanish Inquisitor

    Funny how most of the comments are about Catholicism, when the OP was quite generic in it’s questioning. [EDIT: Whoops. The cartoon had not loaded before I was off to the races and typing my comment, so I didn't realize it was directed at Catholics. My bad. ;) ] Islam seems to have a few sticky bits about it that have to be hard to swallow by someone with any intelligence. And of course, if you have a problem with Catholicism, you have a problem with Protestantism, as an offshoot of the former.

    Not surprisingly, I’m a recovering Catholic, and I know that it only took me reaching the age of independence, and going away to college, to shed my Catholicism. But it took another 30 years to take the next step and figure out that that meant I was an atheist. As a teenager, Catholic doctrine was nonsensical, so it was easy to abandon. But that’s just a theological difference with teaching. It doesn’t answer the big question. As I said, it took me 30 years to realize that the mere concept of theology itself was bullshit.

  • http://sacredriver.org Ash

    I was never a Christian, thankfully, but I did ascribe to a lot of occultist and New Age woo. I never fully accepted the woo, but the last dregs of belief were wiped away in my psychology graduate program. Basically, I learned that our knowledge of the brain, as limited as it is, provided a much more convincing set of explanations for religious experiences.

  • http://flickr.com/breamarie breaMarie

    Maybe I’m unique, but I never had faith.

    As a kid, church was never a part of my life. My dad is not religious, and my mom has been on a life-long search of a church that makes her feel comfortable and welcome. I’ve been to church enough times to count on one hand, and my mom enrolled me in Sunday school but I stopped going because the only kids at the Sunday school were either 5 years older or 5 years younger than me. There was no good fit.

    My mom got me a children’s bible and I read it, taking no more from it than if I had read Aesop’s fables. I got a real bible and read it cover to cover, yet again, taking it for what it was, a collection of stories.

    I didn’t see anything worth basing my life on. So I started doing searches on the internet for a term to describe what I was and I came across the term “agnostic.” I confided in my best friend in 7th grade that I was agnostic and she thought that it meant I was a devil worshipper (of course, if I don’t believe in god, I must believe in the devil .__.;;) I was happy labeling myself as an agnostic until I reached college, came to terms with what I really believe and dropped the agnostic label and moved on to atheism.

    It was really interesting at my school that none of the teachers were religious, and they would consistently make snarky comments like “I can’t believe I still need to make this disclaimer, but ‘if you don’t believe in evolution disregard this next section.’” Or now as a college graduate working in a public health university hearing the former dean of the school speak about health care reform and say that we won’t get anything accomplished since only a third of the population believes in evolution.

    It’s just interesting when you surround yourself with intelligent people that the amount of believers decreases to almost none.

  • http://irresistibledisgrace.wordpress.com Andrew S.

    These are all administrative issues.

    They don’t really hit at the spiritual (or so-called spiritual) experiences that believers have.

    My situation was a bit different. Different church (Mormon), but my shock was in realizing that the only thing I really believed in were many of the administrative, “temporal” features. E.g., the church is a great source for learning professionalism, organizational skill, management, etc.,

    But what I realized was…that doesn’t make a church. To be religious is to believe in the underlying theological framework. Which I simply did not.

    No matter how good your organizational framework is, the theological framework can wreck things (e.g., Prop 8 was a great example of organizational strength…but there was a deep theological difference for it that made it more than just administrative difference.)

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Beth

    It was pretty much all of the above issues. Misogyny in the church was the last straw.

  • Christina

    One question I always had was Why, if we are supposed to sell everything we have, give our money to the poor, then come back and follow Jesus, WHY do we have great big churches with great big statues and gold chalices etc., etc., when there are people starving all over the world?

    Then my freshman year of high school theology (Catholic school) when I learned that the most of the Gospels weren’t written until way after Jesus and by people who had never even met or seen him… It was just all downhill from there.

    I had always been very vocal about my beliefs but then I had a very good friend who was gay and I decided it wasn’t my place or the Church’s to tell anyone they couldn’t find love and be happy.

    I wish I could take back so many things I said and did in the name of the Catholic Church. Looking back on it, I am disgusted.

  • Gerard

    Wow, whoever drew that cartoon was really obsessed by matters of sexual morality!

    Of course, some Catholics are too. But it’s a cheap shot to suggest that those who aren’t are somehow not proper Catholics. That’s the sort of black-and-white, you’re-in-or-you’re-out thinking that usually characterizes fundamentalist Christians…

  • Deiloh

    I suppose if I’d belonged to a much more liberal church, I might still be there. Belonging to a racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-education, fundamentalist church and having the “inerrant” pieces fall down around my ears helped me out of the rabbit hole.

  • http://brazilbrat.blogspot.com/ James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil

    What really disturbs me about the current situation is this. All of the people that knew of the pedophilia and either ignored it or helped protect the guilty and conceal their actions are also felons.

    It’s called “Accessory after the fact” and those people should be arrested, indicted, and imprisoned. Yes, that does include the pope.

  • http://www.frommormontoatheist.blogspot.com Leilani

    I know the exact moment. I could keep using my ‘faith’ to overlook historical inaccuracies in the Book of Mormon, I could look the other way when the Word of Wisdom was broken by family members, but when the Mormon church put millions of dollars into the Prop 8 campaign, I could no longer associate myself with them.

    And I walked away.

  • TerilynnS

    I began to question Jesus as a messiah when I was 13. (Catholic school too). Questioned most religious faiths when I realized that the existence of a vagina was considered “unholy” and women were considered 2nd class citizens by most faiths.
    But what sealed it? A combination of listening to a woman crying over “how” Jesus died and how “extraordinary” his “gift” was. When I asked her to explain the difference between his death and the thousands of deaths suffered by people on a daily basis – many of which were (by her definition) “extraordinary” – meaning they “died for a principle” – what made Jesus any better? Why was his “sacrifice” any different from a student at Tienanmen Square?

    When pressed again – I asked them to tell me what was really the difference between Jesus and David Koresh and I realized right then and there – Jesus just had better press-men and slower international communication time.

    Koresh believed himself to be the son of a diety and had loyal followers and was killed by a Pilate called Reno. We were just lucky enough to see his insanity for what it was AS IT WAS HAPPENING. If there were no telecommunications – it’s possible Koresh’s followers would have spread their cult talking about Koresh’s “sacrifice” for his deity father. (Of course most of the details about who burned with him would have been conveniently left out of the tale.)

    I walked away from the “retreat” and never looked back.

  • Janelle

    I joined the church, not too many years ago, for the fellowship and comfort in a bad situation, and it helped a great deal. Once the bad situation was gone, the inconsistencies and idiocies and ignorance were too much for me to even pretend to swallow. Papal infallibility, my foot!

  • http://www.unmails.com Tyler

    I’m glad I grew up Catholic in the sense that they make it so easy to leave.

  • Sean

    I just grew out of religion as if it was the most natural thing in the world. I didn’t really think about it; I just know that at some point before my early teens I realised that religion was just a bunch of stories, a rough handbook on morality for kids, and I thought believing in God was as silly as believing in Santa or Zeus after a certain age. I certainly didn’t think people took it seriously once they grew up. I remember one time in Secondary school my teacher asked people to put their hands up if they believed in God, and I was shocked that three or four people at the back actually put their hands up – I was shocked! Bear in mind I went to a Catholic Grammar school, where several of the staff were priests, including the Principle, and we had prayers to say in the morning and things like that. I thought it was just some stupid tradition and played along. That day was when I was really enlightened – when I realised how stupid I had been to not see that people actually took this stuff seriously and weren’t just saying it because the rule-book hadn’t been updated in a while. Thats when I stopped saying prayers, and as my teenage years progressed I became a bit more active in my atheism, almost militant – openly mocking religious people and their silly beliefs. Then I watched a few Richard Dawkins documentarys and realised how much of a dickhead I was being so I stopped. (: I still enjoy a bit of debate now and again though; constructive debate. I hope to enlighten someone sometime but unfortunately most are set in their ways. People, especially older people, are terrified of letting go of their beliefs. It’s understandable though – I imagine it would probably feel as if they’ve wasted their life at first – so they scare away the doubting thoughts and continue to believe, if just for comfort. If only they could see the beauty in the unknown.

  • nankay

    I was raised Catholic, but struggled with it from about the age of 8. Nearly 25 yrs ago, I went to “welcome back to the Church” classes for “fallen away Catholics”. I was like the person in the cartoon and asked the priest point blank what I had to believe to consider myself a Catholic. He was very honest and direct which I appreciated and I walked away for good at that moment. It wasn’t much later I realized I didn’t believe anything and finally embraced atheism.

  • Carol

    I freely admit, I started questioning religion when I was about 12-13 because of the “masturbation is bad” thing…it was all down hill from there!

  • codemenkey

    “administrative” issues are still moral issues. to not abandon the church is to condone its behaviour. that’s what i think. oh, and renouncing “the faith” was easy. i never really believed any of the stuff to begin with; maybe realizing that even if god did exist, some jackass in a pulpit isn’t going to enlighten me on what it thinks and wants, assuming that it does at all, was what made me decide not to bother with it. all in all, though, i just hated church and never attended when i could help it.

  • Neon Genesis

    I disagree with the above cartoon’s presumption that being a Christian means you have to agree with all your church’s political issues. It is quite possible to be a Christian and believe in all their theological positions while disagreeing politically and many congregations within the same denomination may have different positions on political issues even if they all have the same theological views. I was never a Catholic, but when I was a Christian I believed that the bible was the inerrant word of God yet at the same time I disagreed with my congregation’s support of the Iraq war. One of my friends is also a Catholic who has conservative theological beliefs but has moderate political beliefs. Like she believes premarital sex is a sin that you shouldn’t do but at the same time she supports comprehensive sex ed over abstinence only because she’s practical that people are going to have sex anyway. She’s also pro-life but she said her congregation told her that you’re never going to find a politician who agrees with all your beliefs, so you shouldn’t vote for a politician just because they’re pro-life.

  • http://facebook maryjane

    I wasn’t Catholic, but went to church school, where they told us “If something is 90% true, but 10% false, then you have to dismiss it all.” In the end, I figured a WHOLE LOT MORE THAN 10% of what they taught was outright falsehood, and they knew it. That started me on the train of disbelieving, and finally, to consider any preacher a “liar”.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/noblinksnake/ laviniaserpent

    On the one hand this cartoon makes a great point, unfortunately the same reasoning has been used to convince people to stop paying taxes. It’s all too easy to forget that most people would rather have inconsistent beliefs than no beliefs.

    This is why, as much as I want to spit when I say it, the non-religious need something like the religious’ PR and Lobbying powers.

  • spink

    I first stopped revering Martin Luther. He was openly, cruelly Anti-Semitic, and the Lutheran Church seemed to care more about ignoring that fact than addressing it.

  • Angie

    When I was a young Catholic, I believed whatever was handed to me by the Church because I lived in mortal terror of Hell if I disobeyed. Because many of these beliefs were absurd or contradictory, embracing such beliefs became more and more of a strain. Finally, my mind could not bear the weight of any more ridiculousness, and I rejected Catholicism outright. I never looked back, and I’m a much happier, saner person for leaving.

  • http://universalheretic.wordpress.com/ Victor

    “I disagree with the above cartoon’s presumption that being a Christian means you have to agree with all your church’s political issues.”

    I don’t see the issues being brought up in the cartoon as being political at all, except for perhaps the covering up for pedophile priests which would be church “politics”, not civil politics. It’s definitely a moral decision, something churches claim to have a good insight on.

  • jeff

    As far as good people going to hell, you are missing the pertinent theological position that “there are no good people.” Since God’s standard is perfection, no one deserves heaven but His own Son, the Lord Jesus. Because of His sacrifice anyone may now go to heaven but still only because of His merit, not his or her own.
    The reason “good people go to hell,” as you put it, is because they choose to ignore, denigrate, or otherwise reject His provision.
    If you are God, how good is someone who tells you, “No, I don’t need you. I am big enough, able enough and good enough without you.”?

    Well certainly not big enough to counter the eternal cosmic consequences of that choice.

  • unbound

    Growing up as a Roman Catholic in the midwest, I had various doubts, but the local priests were good about spinning the story. Hearing the weekly sermons made sense since the readings used avoids the controversial issues. However, I learned at a younger age that nearly all the Catholics I knew didn’t fall all of the rules, and noone questioned that (in fact most of the more onerous rules were never taught to me as a kid).

    My first encounter with true difficulty occurred when I got married. The priest demanded that my future wife (and only her) take a written test to see if she was ready to be married. She wasn’t that young, and I wasn’t much older than her, so it didn’t make sense why only my wife was to be tested. A few years later, I met a fundamental christian who was insistent on creationism which just increased my doubts. We moved to a new area a few years later, and the Catholic churches were very fundamental which continued to eat away at me.

    The final straw was the Boston (Cardinal Law) abuse cases. The fact that Cardinal Law was not immediately excommunicated floored me. He knew about the abuse, he moved the priest to new areas where the abuse continued, and he just continued the cycle. Absolutely no regard for the children. Raised as a Catholic, I was horrified, and the event confirmed once and for all that the Catholic church talked the talked, but had no interest in walking the walk.

  • http://zlovers.blogspot.com Zabinatrix

    I disagree with the above cartoon’s presumption that being a Christian means you have to agree with all your church’s political issues.

    Well, I think that it is very important to remember one of the biggest reasons to leave a church. I think that leaving a big church is a good thing, regardless of if you’re a sane, moderate believer or a non-believer who used to go to church.

    All big churches, and probably the Catholic Church in particular, use their numbers as an argument to have power. Both when they try to convert people (“How could a billion believers be wrong?”) and when they exert their political power.

    The Catholics can get US schools to support abstinence only education. They can get a lot of people all over the world, even in the most AIDS-stricken areas of Africa, to reject condoms. They can get a man expelled from school for smuggling out a cracker. They can cover up sex abuse scandals. They can pull out of charities because they aren’t allowed to discriminate against homosexuals, etcetera…

    They can do all that and still be considered a great, big force of good by people in general – because they have a huge number of normal, sane, nice followers.

    The Catholic Church does crazy, oppressive, dangerous, homophobic, misogynistic stuff – utilizing their large amounts of money and power to push their, in my eyes frankly evil, agenda… and most people would never call them on it. Because for most people, saying “the policies of the Catholic Church are evil” would feel like the same thing as saying “my neighbors/friends/family/coworkers/ are evil.”

    Because the normal, sane Catholics don’t differentiate themselves from the overall power structure. Everyone knows that there are many millions of nice Catholics, so the Church can do whatever they want but it isn’t considered “nice” to question or call them on it – because “Hey, don’t say that Catholics do evil things! Most Catholics aren’t like that.”

    I would personally love it if only the hardcore, Pope Ratzi-like Catholics would stay in the Church and all the sane, moderate Catholics would take their tithings and the political pull their numbers bring and leave.

    I haven’t believed in God for a day in my life, but it doesn’t bother me if others do. I just don’t like it when they implicitly support a power structure doing really bad things by staying as members, even when they don’t agree with the bad things being done.

  • Gary

    As far as good people going to hell, you are missing the pertinent theological position that ‘there are no good people….’ The reason ‘good people go to hell, as you put it, is because they choose to ignore, denigrate, or otherwise reject His provision.

    I’m a little puzzled as to how I would apply this profound theological insight to a newborn child. If there are “no good people,” then either a newborn is not a good person and is accordingly destined for hell should he or she die in infancy, or a newborn is not a person at all (in which case the theological point would, I suppose, be moot). But if a newborn dies and goes straight to hell, surely it cannot be because he or she has “chosen to ignore, denigrate or otherwise reject’ God’s “provision.”

  • Neon Genesis

    “I don’t see the issues being brought up in the cartoon as being political at all, except for perhaps the covering up for pedophile priests which would be church “politics”, not civil politics. It’s definitely a moral decision, something churches claim to have a good insight on.”

    By political issues, I was referring to the panels on Catholics supporting the ban of condoms and birth control. Just because a Christian personally believes that premarital sex is a sin doesn’t mean they can’t also believe things like comprehensive sex ed are still better than abstinence only teachings. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to receive a decent sex education but still choose to save yourself for marriage. If the cartoon character making presumptions about what the Catholic girl believes, they could always you know, ask the Catholic what they believe instead of making presumptions which is what the cartoon character is doing. The cartoon is called stereotyping.

    “The Catholics can get US schools to support abstinence only education.”

    For the record, my Catholic friend I mentioned earlier is British, but I don’t know if Catholics in the UK are generally more moderate than Catholics in the U.S.

  • codemenkey

    i love the question “what if you’re wrong?” it implies that the fear of eternal punishment is reason enough to believe. unfortunately, to have a reason to believe denies faith, and without faith, one cannot be a christian (at least according to christian theology). thus, the “christian” who believes in god for fear of hell has shown himself to have no faith, and thus has effectively condemned himself to hell by his own logic.

    at least atheists have the courage to state with honesty and confidence that they don’t believe. it should seem that the faithless atheist will most certainly be held to a far lesser judgment than the cowardly, faithless hypocrite.

    isn’t it funny how that works? for some reason, i’m reminded of a parable regarding planks in one’s eye.

  • Mary

    Roman Catholics seem to ‘cherry-pick’ when it comes to belief issues…such hypocrites. I’m glad I was of sound enough mind to leave the church as soon as I turned 18. Life is awesome now, even though I will be burning in hell for eternity. :)

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  • John

    I either had to believe the Bible literally, or not at all.

    When I realized that every Native American, who had never heard of Jesus before Columbus, must be in Hell through no fault of their own, I could no longer accept the premise of a loving God. And it all fell apart after that.

  • Tom

    Yeah, definitely… things i renounced before i left the whole church-

    1) Angels
    – never really bought it. especially guardian angels.
    2)The “Word of God”
    – it didn’t make sense that an obviously imperfect human book was said to be god’s word.
    3) Prayer and Miracles
    – Even though i considered myself a devout Catholic, I hardly ever prayed on my own. Especially not for miracles, i considered praying for miracles a waste of time.

    It’s amazing, that even in spite of these things i was a Catholic for several years, but it’s no wonder that the bricks brought the whole building down eventually.

    Great cartoon!

  • Canadiannalberta

    I stopped believing in hell – I thought, God loves us all but he will torture us for not believing in him? Bullshit!

    Then without the fear of hell, everything else sort of fell away – it was such a slow process I didn’t realize I was an atheist until my Dad told me he thought I was an atheist.

    My mom’s in denial.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin

    @jeff:

    The reason “good people go to hell,” as you put it, is because they choose to ignore, denigrate, or otherwise reject His provision.
    If you are God, how good is someone who tells you, “No, I don’t need you. I am big enough, able enough and good enough without you.”?

    “Worship me or be punished!” is the clarion call of dictators through the ages. A good and fair god wouldn’t hinge eternity on whether a person worships them or not. A good and fair god wouldn’t create a universe that appears naturally made and expect people to reject scientific explanations for it, live in ignorance, and if they don’t – let them burn forever in punishment.

    A good and fair god would look at a person and realize their intents behind their lives. I attempt to be as selfless and kind as I can manage, for no benefit besides the fact I like to make people happy. I do it because I remember how my grandfather acted. I do not have to worship a god and tell people to worship the same god in order to be a good person.

    If a good and fair god looked at me, and saw my behavior, my attitude, and my infinite interest in the things of science – my curiosity into my existence – they wouldn’t punish me for it, they would reward that.

    A good and fair god would not reward people who treat other people in an ugly fashion, like a lot of Christian people do.

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Neon Genesis

    By political issues, I was referring to the panels on Catholics supporting the ban of condoms and birth control. Just because a Christian personally believes that premarital sex is a sin…

    Condoms and Birth Control are banned by the RCC even if you are married (it goes against nature). Its a theological topic not a political one. Don’t change the topic to premarital sex.

  • http://www.belovedspear.org Beloved Spear

    It really doesn’t make sense to claim to be something if that thing is deeply and radically inconsistent with what you both reason and intuit to be true.

    The pastor who baptized me marched with MLK in Selma. My home church has women in leadership and pastoral positions. It was open to and tolerant of questions and discussion. It has accepted and empowered gays and lesbians. It leveraged it’s inner city location to provide food, shelter, and job training to the homeless. It’s message of Christ’s grace, God’s justice and inclusiveness was..well..one of the reasons I stuck around and am still doing the whole Jesus thing.

  • Miko

    This question would be more interesting if it were phrased in the opposite direction; i.e., what were the last elements that you held on to before stepping away from faith entirely?

    Kevin: If a good and fair god looked at me, and saw my behavior, my attitude, and my infinite interest in the things of science – my curiosity into my existence – they wouldn’t punish me for it, they would reward that.

    I doubt that a good and/or fair god would offer punishment or reward in any form. By definition of omnipotence, if god has free will then we cannot. If god were good/fair, it would give us free will. Hence god would be forced to give up the capacity to influence the world, including the ability to offer individualized reward or punishment (although designing the universe in such a way as to create structural rewards/punishments would remain an option). This could also be taken as a continuum, in which god allows people free will for most of their lives, only to restrict it at the last moment for the purpose of carting them off to heaven or hell, but this too is problematic: if you have control of all of your actions up to the penultimate but no control over the end, did the preliminary actions that you did control really matter, and were they really free?

  • Killer Bee

    jeff said,

    If you are God, how good is someone who tells you, “No, I don’t need you. I am big enough, able enough and good enough without you.”?

    I don’t see what feeling a need has to do with being “good” or “bad.”
    I don’t feel I need therapy. Does that make me a bad person to therapists? I don’t feel sick, does that make me a bad person to doctors? If it turns out I have cancer do I now owe the doctor an apology for not recognizing that I needed chemo?

    It sounds like your God takes rejection very hard.

    Listen, Jeff’s God, it’s not you, it’s me. OK?

  • jeff

    Theologically speaking, children are protected by God until they reach such an age (unique to the individual) when they are responsible for their own acceptance or rejection of Christ. I certainly never said, or implied that children “go straight to hell” upon death.

  • jeff

    Yes, my God takes rejection very seriously. It’s the most serious thing there is.

  • Gary

    Theologically speaking, children are protected by God until they reach such an age (unique to the individual) when they are responsible for their own acceptance or rejection of Christ.

    So you’re saying that salvation does not require “acceptance” of Christ?

  • Killer Bee

    Yes, my God takes rejection very seriously. It’s the most serious thing there is.

    That seems childish of him.

    When Rudolph was rejected by the other reindeer, he didn’t even wish them harm. But, his special gift made him important and eventually forced them to include him. If your God has any special talents or abilities I’m sure in due time they, too, will be recognized and appreciated. But he really shouldn’t force it. It needs to happen naturally.

  • jeff

    I’m sorry but such a comparison betrays your ignorance on the subjects of both Rudolph and God. What we know of Rudolph comes from one song (canonically) which doesn’t reveal what Rudolph’s reaction was. There have been other non-canonical Rudolph stories that suggest his reaction but the sole canonical source does not.

    As to your pathetic attempt to impose upon God what His behavior should be, you are quite similar to a tantrum throwing two-year-old who is smarter than his parent. He’s God. What may or may not seem appropriate to you from your limited experience and point of view is therefore immaterial.

  • Deepak Shetty

    @jeff

    Theologically speaking, children are protected by God until they reach such an age

    Wishful thinking? Do you have any actual scripture that says this?
    Also if said child is in some far away place where missionaries have not yet managed to interfere and grows up to be an adult , perhaps to be a pagan, is he also protected?

  • http://zlovers.blogspot.com Zabinatrix

    jeff said:

    As to your pathetic attempt to impose upon God what His behavior should be, you are quite similar to a tantrum throwing two-year-old who is smarter than his parent. He’s God. What may or may not seem appropriate to you from your limited experience and point of view is therefore immaterial.

    Ah, yes, the “mysterious ways”-card. I love that one. Many religious people get all “Hey, you can’t know the mind of God!” whenever someone tries to point out that they believe in a God that acts very strangely and inconsistently.

    But then, when it comes to interpreting God’s views on things like homosexuals, condoms, entertainment, when children are condemned to hell, or whatever – then they can suddenly know and explain exactly what God thinks and wants.

    Never seen anyone be able to explain that difference to me in any satisfactory way. Why do they sometimes know exactly what God wants, but as soon as God seems to be acting like a prissy, vengeful, childish supernatural brat it’s back to “Oh, His ways are not ours! Who are we to understand or judge!”?

  • Killer Bee

    There have been other non-canonical Rudolph stories that suggest his reaction but the sole canonical source does not.

    You know, I do recall a version of the song just this past Christmas wherein Rudolph expresses resentment and hostility toward the other reindeer. He even goes so far as to refuse their invitation to join in their games.
    Now, I believe this particular carol is a modern invention and, hence, apocryphal. I don’t even remember the name of the singer, but he was definitely not authoritative what with a completely untoward twang to his voice. However, I admit that I felt a great deal more respect for that Rudolph than the nambi-bambi pacifist one of ancient lore.

    As to your pathetic attempt to impose upon God what His behavior should be,

    I wouldn’t think of imposing. It was merely a helpful suggestion.

    He’s God. What may or may not seem appropriate to you from your limited experience and point of view is therefore immaterial.

    Fair enough. It just seemed that since it’s my acceptance he’s gunning for, he might want some feedback.

  • WishinItWas

    jeff:Theologically speaking, children are protected by God until they reach such an age (unique to the individual) when they are responsible for their own acceptance or rejection of Christ. I certainly never said, or implied that children “go straight to hell” upon death.

    So why are they immediately baptized and labeled followers of X religion before they reach this “age of responsibility”? shouldn’t they just “be protected” and then once at this age the can make their decision?

    Also, please site the scripture where this is implied, is this protection for 3days or 18years….. I seem to remember something about everyone being born into sin, and you know what happens to sinners!!

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Jeff

    As to your pathetic attempt to impose upon God what His behavior should be, you are quite similar to a tantrum throwing two-year-old who is smarter than his parent. He’s God. What may or may not seem appropriate to you from your limited experience and point of view is therefore immaterial.

    Ah and here the mask cracks. Well actually my God respects reason and intellect and will punish all these false religions and especially people like you. He’s God , and he laughs at your pathetic views. It may not seem appropriate to you based on your limited intellect , but your views are really immaterial.

  • Neon Genesis

    “Condoms and Birth Control are banned by the RCC even if you are married (it goes against nature). Its a theological topic not a political one. Don’t change the topic to premarital sex.”

    But again, just because a Catholic themselves doesn’t believe they should be used doesn’t mean they have to believe that other people who are not Catholics should be forced to not use them.

  • Carol B

    We are told that god loves us more than anything in the world, loves us! But gosh, if you don’t believe in him, if you don’t have blind faith, then so very sorry, but you’ll need to burn in the fires of hell for eternity. Ouch. Doesn’t matter how good a person you are at heart.

    I love my dogs more than just about anything in this world, I love them. And there’s not a single thing they could do, not a single thing, not a bite, not a “denial of my existence” that would make me hurt them or burn them or cause them distress or pain for a single second, not a single second.

    Sounds like I love my dogs way more than “god” loves us.

  • bitchism

    I used to believe because of fear. And that’s what I think motivates most people in their beliefs. The fear that just maybe, they will end up in hell, or that there is life after death.

    When I was a believer I was very paranoid. I was afraid of death, dead people, hell. Then I realized, WTH am I afraid of? Nothing is there! Now, I highly doubt there is an afterlife, and I think, ‘Why would you WANT to exist for eternity?’

    I don’t have faith, not only in religions, but a lot of other things (like I find it hard to believe in ‘true love’ or marriage). I’m pretty nihilistic and I over-analyze things… but I can completely understand why people still have faith. It’s fear of the unknown, it’s a comfort to people who are lonely (believing that someone/thing actually cares about them). For me, sometimes just thinking about the way things are or the future can be depressing, so I could see why someone would want to turn to religion. But, with my knowledge and skepticism, that’s never going to happen to me.

    But at the same time I’m dumbfounded that people STILL take religious texts and interpretations to heart. What really gets me are the ‘science-deniers.’ That’s when I start to lose respect for someone. Someone who has never picked up any sort of science text book, or gained any sort of knowledge on the subject, turns to me and tells me the Bible is pure fact and that scientists are ‘wrong’ and ‘trying to disprove God’. I’ve dedicated my life to science (biology) and research so it really offends me that religious ‘science deniers’ exist.

    I guess religion also kind of offends me because I think it’s wrong to give people false hope. To tell people that someone cares about them, that if they’re a good person they’ll be rewarded for it. No one cares about that starving bum on the street and no matter how hard he works all his life, he’s just going to die and rot in the ground.

    As far as I’m concerned, once your mind is gone, you’re gone. Just think. That’s it! You need your brain to think or preform any task. Once your brain ceases function, that’s it. I don’t see how this thing called a ‘soul’ can mysteriously fly out of your body and up [or down] in to some special place. As far as I know, out there is only space and down there (depending on how you look at it) is either the core of the Earth or more space… and other galaxies, stars, debris, etc… but that would totally kick ass if you could fly through space. I just have a lot of difficulty believing in any sort of “super natural” nonsense.

    Lyrics from Geddy Lee – The Angels’ Share:

    The angels’share
    The secrets of their universe
    It’s seldom fair
    Partly blessing, partly curse

    All those things we cannot know
    We dream, we hypothesize
    Maybe these are secrets shared by those
    Watching from the sky

    If we are only members of the human race
    No supernatural beings from a supernatural place
    If you can’t solve the problem
    Come and tell me to my face

    The angels’share
    All the human mysteries
    There is no prayer
    To the thieves of celestial history

    The myth of perfect reason
    We’re forgotten at birth
    It’s a kind of clandestine conspiracy
    A seraphin joke of eternity

    If we are only members of the human race
    No supernatural beings from a supernatural place
    If you can’t solve the problem
    Come and tell me to my face

    All those things we cannot know
    We dream, we hypothesize

    Maybe these are secrets shared by those
    Watching from the side
    If we are only members of the human race
    No supernatural beings from a supernatural place
    If you can’t solve the problem
    Come and tell me to my face

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Neon Genesis
    I believe the point is that most Catholics believe that condoms / birth control are not harmful/sinful even though the Vatican says so and believes it is important that Catholics do not use it(so there is a disconnect between what is practised and what is preached).

    But again, just because a Catholic themselves doesn’t believe they should be used doesn’t mean they have to believe that other people who are not Catholics should be forced to not use them.

    Ah surely you dont believe this? When abortion is banned , is it banned only for Catholics? When abstinence only is taught and/or funded is it only to catholics? Id probably agree that some catholics dont care ,but it isnt the official position, it isnt the public position.

  • muggle

    Jesus was the Messiah.

    I first stopped believing that because he flat out didn’t do all the Messiah was supposed to do: things like bringing all the Jews back to Israel and world peace. Little stuff like that.

    And the second coming excuse was such obvious bullshit. Nowhere do the predictions of a Messiah say well, hey, that Messiah you’re waiting for he’s gonna come all right see but then he’s gonna die, come back to life, take a powder for a bit — no, we don’t know how long; he said within the same generation as his but, hell, we know that was accurate since it didn’t happen — but, hey, don’t worry. He’s gonna come back some day.

    What’s that you say, Delta Dawn? Uh no, this is not the same as that man’s gonna come back some day to take you to his mansion in the sky? What? What’s the difference? Uh, uh, well, hon, this is god we’re talking about. No, no, hon, an actual god… You’re bordering on sacrilege now, hon.

    I mean it just freaking doesn’t make any sense. Then I almost converted to Judaism but the Jews make damned sure of you first and I was actually required to study Torah and take Hebrew classes and all and that too fell apart until such scrutiny…

    Frankly, the fact that I can still recite the Shema and sing “Jesus Loves Me” doesn’t mean any more than the fact that I can recite the alphabet or my times tables.

    I am, however, thinking I just accidentally found new meaning in Helen Reddy’s “Delta Dawn.”

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Deiloh said:

    I suppose if I’d belonged to a much more liberal church, I might still be there.

    I’m exactly the same way. It was my stint with fundamentalism that made me see the shallowness of what I’d believed before, and eventually to question the whole lot. Had I kept being a liberal, fluffy, cafeteria Christian, I’d probably still be a believer (and entirely unskeptical and lacking in critical thinking skills).

  • Neon Genesis

    “Ah surely you dont believe this? When abortion is banned , is it banned only for Catholics? When abstinence only is taught and/or funded is it only to catholics? Id probably agree that some catholics dont care ,but it isnt the official position, it isnt the public position.”

    You seem to be under the impression that the only way religious people can convince other people to agree with them is by force which frankly says a whole lot more about you than it does about Catholics.

  • Deepak Shetty

    You seem to be under the impression that the only way religious people can convince other people to agree with them is by force

    Strawman?
    I have merely pointed out that some religious people, especially high ranking ones , lobby to have laws passed, sometimes successfully (e.g. gay marriage) that impact everybody , not just people who claim to believe in their religion. Do you deny this?

  • http://zlovers.blogspot.com Zabinatrix

    Neon Genesis:

    You seem to be under the impression that the only way religious people can convince other people to agree with them is by force which frankly says a whole lot more about you than it does about Catholics.

    What? How did you get that from what he said?

    No, religious people don’t have to use force. But it is a fact that the Catholic Church does use force (in the sense of political pull, et cetera), pushing their beliefs on others. When laws and school curriculum change to suit the Catholic Church, when the Church spreads lies about the efficacy of condoms against STDs, and so on, it can affect everybody – not just the members.

    That is fact – it’s not speculation, presumptions or assumptions about any specific members of the Church, or about the majority of the members or anything else. It’s just the way things are – the Church does force their view of things on some areas of the world – regardless of what any individual members believe.

    And I’d say that people who do not agree with that practice should not be members. If they are members they do support what the Church does – even if they don’t agree.

    You can remain abstinent without supporting an organization that wants to remove comprehensive sex education from other people. You can forgo birth control without supporting an organization that spreads lies and tries to impede the legality of such things in some places.

    You can pray to the Virgin Mary, believe in the Holy Trinity and whatever else you want, without bolstering the numbers and coffers of a Church that protects child molesters. You can send them a message that you do not agree and that you’ll get along better without them. And I’d hope that more Catholics do that, to show that there are things they don’t support.

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Zabinatrix
    +1

  • BEX

    I am one of the fortunate few who grew up in an entirely secular family. My family didn’t go to any kind of church, practice any sort of rituals, or talk about any ‘gods’ or spirituality. Although I can’t be sure, I think I wasn’t even aware of the concept of ‘god’ until maybe 8 or so. We didn’t have a bible or any other holy book in the house until I was given one by a friend in highschool. My Mum had a small collection of books about eastern religions and philosophies, but she never shared with me. I think my Mum would have labeled herself some kind of “spiritual”, but my Dad is an atheist all the way. So am I and so is my little sister.
    When I finally learned about god I realized immediately that I didn’t believe in it. But I guess I didn’t label myself with the word ‘atheist’ until sometime in my teens.

  • Chelsea

    This rings very true for me. While I was never a Catholic, I attended a Baptist church for a brief period in my adolescence (I went with a Christian friend, as my entire family was rather secular). While I was determined to be the Best Christian Possible, I had a lot of problems reconciling the things that the Bible and my pastor told me. So I was a “Liberal Christian” for a while, and I believed that Christianity was essentially correct, but the Bible was a flawed rule book written by fallible men. I was even willing to believe that the Bible was wrong about who got into Heaven, and that everyone would just be judged on their deeds, because I couldn’t stand the thought of being in “Heaven” without my family and secular friends. That just didn’t sound very Heavenly to me.

    My breaking point was slow, but I think the last straw, finally, was all the stupid sex rules. Like most Christian teens, I had taken an abstinence pledge. But when I got into high school and some of my friends started experimenting with sex (one even had an abortion) I began to think more clearly: Who on earth has the right to tell someone how they can and can’t behave when it comes to sex? Who has the right to decide when the “right” time to have sex is? If gay people are in love, why can’t they have sex? Or even if they’re not in love… they’re just two consenting adults, being safe and honest with each other… why is that wrong? I started wondering why marriage was the only institution where sex was allowed, and pondered that maybe that would make people get married for reasons that are completely wrong. I started thinking that maybe I didn’t even want to get married, but I sure as hell didn’t want to die a virgin. In the end, I was still determined to wait for love before I had sex, but I no longer thought it was right to demand that other people wait until they’re in love, or engaged, or married.

    Once I threw out that belief and started thinking about how harmful it really was, it became a lot more clear that the Church was the #1 organization responsible for keeping women down for all this time. I started looking more closely at the clear sexism in the Bible, and I decided it was garbage.

    Then I decided the homosexuality stuff was garbage.

    Then the creation story.

    The last thing to go, I think, was belief in Jesus.

    Then, one very reasonable day, I don’t know exactly when it was… I just decided I could no longer call myself a Christian. Not even a “Liberal” one.

  • Neon Genesis

    “And I’d say that people who do not agree with that practice should not be members. If they are members they do support what the Church does – even if they don’t agree.”

    In an ideal world, the Episcopal church and the Catholic church would make a trade and all the moderate Catholics would switch to to the liberal branch of the Episcopal church and all the evangelical members of the Episcopal church would switch to the Catholic church. But as far as I’m aware, in Catholic doctrine, the pope is only infallible in issues on theology, not political stances.

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Neon Genesis
    Are stances against birth control, homosexuality, abortion, political stances? If so someone should really inform the Catholics.
    Second you are mistaken , the Pope is only infallible when he invokes something (I forget what exactly), which to my knowledge has only been invoked once.

  • AxeGrrl

    Secular Planet wrote:

    Liberal believers annoy me more than fundamentalists sometimes because they’re inconsistent.

    Not me. Give me someone who actually thinks about what they’ll ‘accept’ instead of someone who just blindly accepts the whole-damn-thing……simply to avoid being called hypocritical.

  • jeff

    Chelsea,

    You wrote, “Who on earth has the right to tell someone how they can and can’t behave when it comes to sex?”

    The answer is God. He has that right and He chooses to exercise it.

  • jeff

    As far as Scripture to support my argument for the safety of children there is a plethora, but here is one to consider.

    John 15: 22-24.

    No one who has not had a revelation of Christ will be held accountable for their sin, according to Christ Himself.

    Unfortunately there is no question that many on this forum have had a sufficient revelation but are choosing to stubbornly, obstinately rebel against Him. For those that have not and are in genuine unbelief, don’t sweat it. Children, the foolish, ignorant and mentally impaired are all covered.

    The baptism of infants is more a promise from parents to raise the child in the nurturing environment of the church. Baptism is an expression of personal faith not a substitute for it.

  • jeff

    Zabinatrix,

    Your primary mistake is a failure to recognize and appreciate the fact that God is categorically different than we are. What applies to our relationships with one another does not apply to Him. it is insulting and vain of you to suggest, imply or consider that He owes us some explanation.

    You may choose to love the cockroaches who live in your home but you would never be able to explain yourself to them.

    At the same time, whatever level of comprehension they were capable of you may rightly expect at least a stab at obedience and respect for whatever rules you set down, such as “stay off the dining room table!”

    Cheers to you.

  • jeff

    Killer Bee,

    Nope, wrong premise. It’s His acceptance you should be gunning for.

  • http://zlovers.blogspot.com Zabinatrix

    Neon Genesis:

    In an ideal world, the Episcopal church and the Catholic church would make a trade and all the moderate Catholics would switch to to the liberal branch of the Episcopal church and all the evangelical members of the Episcopal church would switch to the Catholic church. But as far as I’m aware, in Catholic doctrine, the pope is only infallible in issues on theology, not political stances.

    I don’t know if that last part is true, but even if it is it doesn’t change the reality that the Catholic church uses its vast number of members and funds to butt in on political issues. Even if the Pope and the members have a disagreement on how it should be done, it is being done and they are implicitly supporting it.

    An exchange with the Episcopal church might not be practical – but if they don’t agree with the practices that they support they can always leave the church and keep believing in what they do believe.

    Let’s say I joined the KKK because they had awesome tea-parties (not the political kind), a kickass classical videogame collection and nacho-nights. Then I go on a march with them, for a fun social gathering with my tea and videogame friends, but to my shock I realize that the organization I’m supporting is racist.

    Well, I’d quit. And if the people I like in the organization were also non-racists who were simply suckered in by the promise of tea and nachos, I’d convince them to leave with me. Then we could gather at my house to have our own tea-game-nacho-nights, without supporting a racist organization. It would be totally possible. And all the moderate, sane Catholics can do something similar – an ideal world isn’t needed.

  • http://zlovers.blogspot.com Zabinatrix

    Jeff:

    Your primary mistake is a failure to recognize and appreciate the fact that God is categorically different than we are. What applies to our relationships with one another does not apply to Him. it is insulting and vain of you to suggest, imply or consider that He owes us some explanation.

    I understand that you and most religious people say that God/Gods are categorically different than we are. I understand that you tell me “Who are we to question God?”

    But even though you said you replied to me, you seem to have missed my point. My point is, why is God only categorically different sometimes?

    If god is so very different that we should accept that he can commit genocide against the people he supposedly loves – if he’s so very, very different that we should accept that a creature with infinite power, infinite knowledge and infinite compassion lets even the most torturous, horrible diseases remain…

    Well, in that case, he’s very different from us indeed. We would never accept such things from a human. So if he’s SO different, how do you know to trust and interpret the Bible?

    Even if God is real, such a strange, non-human God could have written the Bible as a joke. Or if God is so very different, His parables might have been meant as something quite different from what you think they mean.

    So I wasn’t demanding an explanation from God. My question was: how do some Christians know such specifics about what God wants and feels, if he’s categorically different from us?

    I don’t believe in God, but I know for a fact that many Christians (and people from other religions) are being homophobic, misogynistic, et cetera and defending this with “It is the will of God!” and some random Bible quotes. It is those people I want an answer from – not God.

    If they can’t know the mind of God when He chooses to let people die horribly, they can’t know the mind of God when they think God wants them to oppress homosexuals and women. You can have it one way or another, not both.

  • Gary

    Jeff writes:

    As far as Scripture to support my argument for the safety of children there is a plethora, but here is one to consider.

    John 15: 22-24.

    No one who has not had a revelation of Christ will be held accountable for their sin, according to Christ Himself.

    Unfortunately there is no question that many on this forum have had a sufficient revelation but are choosing to stubbornly, obstinately rebel against Him. For those that have not and are in genuine unbelief, don’t sweat it. Children, the foolish, ignorant and mentally impaired are all covered.

    What I’m hearing you say is that kids who die young, and adults who remain ignorant of the existence of Jesus, are the lucky ones.

  • Gary

    Jeff writes:

    Your primary mistake is a failure to recognize and appreciate the fact that God is categorically different than we are.

    Not true. Atheists recognize that people fall into the category, “Beings That Exist,” while God falls into the category, “Imaginary Beings.” Most atheists would probably put Jesus into a category such as “Famous Dead People.”

  • jeff

    Quite simply because we can know what God has chosen to reveal to us, and most of that revelation is based upon what is appropriate for us to be able to comprehend.

    And, Gary, the “lucky ones,” as you put it are those who have a living, vibrant, fulfilling relationship with the living God of all that is. The inference which is logical to draw from Scripture regarding those who die young and those who remain ignorant is that this same God is not capricious or arbitrary when judging the eternal fate of said same.

    The truth is that atheist have a particular habit of creating straw man arguments regarding God, attacking the straw man and congratulating themselves for dismantling the myth. I don’t believe in the caricature that most atheists are attacking here either. That “god” does not indeed exist. However, the true God revealed by the whole, comprehensive counsel of Scripture is Who He says He is.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin

    Eh, this wasn’t a productive comment.

  • Gary

    Jeff:

    And, Gary, the “lucky ones,” as you put it are those who have a living, vibrant, fulfilling relationship with the living God of all that is. The inference which is logical to draw from Scripture regarding those who die young and those who remain ignorant is that this same God is not capricious or arbitrary when judging the eternal fate of said same.

    What I’m hearing you say is that atheists would have been better off if they had never grown up. Indeed, they would have been better off if they had never been born.

  • http://zlovers.blogspot.com Zabinatrix

    Quite simply because we can know what God has chosen to reveal to us,

    Funny – most of what “God has chosen to reveal” to bigots who hide behind the Bible seems remarkably consistent with their own bigoted views. Oh how I wonder how they manage to figure out what is “revealed knowledge” and what is not…

    Meanwhile, the non-bigoted believers believe in an entirely different God, imparting entirely different revealed knowledge on them. Now isn’t that strange?

    How can you be so sure about your revealed knowledge?

    How does your God so utterly fail to reach Muslims, Jews, Hindus, atheists, Deists, Christians who do not believe exactly the same things you believe, Jainists, Buddhists, et cetera?

    Is His Revealed Knowledge™ so difficult for billions of people to understand, yet so easy for you to understand?

    Isn’t it a bit arrogant of you to think that you have understood correctly what billions fail to understand? Have you ever considered that someone else’s Revealed Knowledge™ might be right?

  • jeff

    Zabinatrix:

    yes.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin

    @jeff:

    You may need to clarify… since he asked a lot of questions, and just a ‘yes’ is not satisfying everything.

  • Renee

    Zabinatrix I do not recall anyone calling you names, so if you could refrain from naming believers ‘bigots’ it will keep everyones collar cool.
    Christians do not believe in different gods they simple have misconceptions of God most of which are based on an inability to accept the truth of what God has said.
    As far as revealed knowledge goes the only revealed knowledge that applies to all of humanity is that which is found in scripture. All other revealed knowledge that is imparted to people is for the individual or for a specific group of people, and it will never contradict the knowledge of God that He has given us in the Bible.
    God does not fail to reach Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc. There are millions who reach out to those groups. In fact any Christian who is near those of different beliefs has a responsibility to not only love and care deeply for them, but also to breach the topic of religion.
    Yes, revealed knowledge is difficult to accept because its true. There are billions of people around the world who hate others just because they are a different race, or they don’t understand them. The truth for them is there is not a logical cause to deny respect for that person, but billions do any way.
    It is not arrogant because knowing the truth about something is not about being right it is about knowledge and understanding knowledge.
    Personally I have deeply thought about the religions of other people and have found all to include elements of my own yet that is what makes them more believable. For the greatest lies are those that contain truth.

  • Gary

    Renee writes:

    God does not fail to reach Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc. There are millions who reach out to those groups. In fact any Christian who is near those of different beliefs has a responsibility to not only love and care deeply for them, but also to breach the topic of religion. Yes, revealed knowledge is difficult to accept….

    Wow. Jeff had just favored us with a bit of revealed knowledge from the Gospel of John (I offer here a different translation and a bit more of the passage):

    If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin.

    If you reach out to Muslims, Jews, Hindus, wouldn’t you be making them guilty of sin? Why would you want to do that?

  • http://zlovers.blogspot.com Zabinatrix

    Renee:

    Zabinatrix I do not recall anyone calling you names, so if you could refrain from naming believers ‘bigots’ it will keep everyones collar cool.

    And here I thought that I was clearly differentiating believers who are bigots and believers who are not bigots. I did not categorically say “all believers are bigots” – I mentioned that there exists believers who are bigots and hide behind the Bible as they oppress women, homosexuals and knowledge. That is a fact, just like it’s a fact that there are non-believers who are bigots – only they don’t have a Bible to hide behind.

    I also said that there are believers who are not bigots and who clearly interprets their “reveled knowledge” quite differently. But it’s much more fun to misrepresent my words and say that I “name believers bigots” – when I was careful to do no such thing. My entire point was that it isn’t defensible to hide behind the Bible when you oppress people, because being religious doesn’t necessarily make you a bigot.

    But this is like what I was talking about Catholics up above. We all know that there are millions of good, nice, non-bigoted Catholics. So it’s difficult to call the Church on any of its shady doings, because as soon as you do someone will swoop in with a “But not all Catholics are like that! Stop saying that!”

    And when I talk about the fact that some believers are bigoted, someone will swoop in and say “I’m not like that so stop saying that believers are like that!” – they try to make it impossible to complain about those who do wrong, for some reason.

    Christians do not believe in different gods they simple have misconceptions of God most of which are based on an inability to accept the truth of what God has said.

    So, a special way of knowing? Some interpret the Bible as “God hates fags!” (actual, well-known quote, I’m not misrepresenting Christians or saying that all Christians are bigots) while some interpret it as “God loves everyone!” – how do you know that you are right in whatever your interpretation might be? And can you really say that they believe in the same God if one person believes in a God who hates homosexuals while the other believes in a God who loves them? I’d say that those two Gods are very different.

    As far as revealed knowledge goes the only revealed knowledge that applies to all of humanity is that which is found in scripture.

    So, the Qur’an? The Vedas? The Edda? Theravada? The Five Classics of Confucianism? The Ginza Rba? The King James Bible?

    All other revealed knowledge that is imparted to people is for the individual or for a specific group of people, and it will never contradict the knowledge of God that He has given us in the Bible.

    Oh, of course the Bible – how could I believe anything else?

    So, when other holy texts talk about multiple gods, about reincarnation for everyone, about the lack of an afterlife, about other creation myths… it doesn’t contradict the Bible? Glad you cleared that up.

    Anyway, I was about to go on, but I’m being too verbose and long-winded again. I’ll just try to get to my point.

    You seem to be arguing for this whole “we all have a different way of knowing God, all believers are all one happy family and everyone will get to heaven because Jesus loves us all” or something similar.

    That is all very nice and good, theologically speaking. You can believe in that as much as you want and I’ll think that that’s great.

    But I really, really don’t care about God or the Truth about scripture. I don’t believe in it. I do believe in people. I believe that there is a big, beautiful world around me that I love. I believe that we should keep it as beautiful and wonderful as we can. Part of that is speaking up against those who oppress others.

    You might have some beautiful idea about the love of God, but many don’t. I’ll continue arguing against those who oppress no matter what beautiful Truth you personally believe in.

    And in doing so I’ll continue to point out that you can’t seem to agree on what “revealed knowledge” really is, so it’s not something you can use as an excuse for anything.

    You personally might or might not use it as an excuse, but I think that my argument still stands, and there still exists way too many bigots who use “revealed knowledge” as an excuse. So I’ll continue to argue against it even if you are a nice person.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin

    @Zabinatrix:

    Bravo.

  • gloria

    I started doubting at age eight. There were two things I could never accept even at such a young age. One, I couldn’t be an altar boy (no other term then) because I was a girl and two, only Catholics could go to heaven. These two things seemed so wrong and unfair I started doubting the whole thing.
    Personally, anyone who still puts money in any Catholic collection plates is supporting and promoting the protection of pedophiles. They (unfortunately much of my family) can spin it any way they want, but that’s what it is.

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Jeff
    having read your answers I don’t think there is any point carrying on further discussion. I leave you with Omar Khayyam

    And do you think that unto such as you;
    A maggot-minded, starved, fanatic crew:
    God gave the secret, and denied it me?
    Well, well, what matters it! Believe that, too.

  • jeff

    Regarding my cryptic “yes” response. I am affirming, with a “yes” response, every question posed by Zab that can be answered with a simple “yes”, or “no” response.

    To answer Gary re: witnessing to those of other faiths, we do so primarily because He instructs us to. Matthew 28:19 and 20 is one pertinent Scripture about that.

  • jeff

    Zab,

    If you’re referring to me you nailed it. I, along with you, am not a nice person. I am to some degree bigoted as is every other person born into sin, which at last count was the entire population of planet earth. To what degree does not matter because 1 drop of poison contaminates the soul.

    I am in desperate need of the God of the Old and New Testaments, not because I am any better or worse than anyone else, but because compared to Him we all fall immeasurably short, and that word (immeasurably) is not hyperbole.

    Pride is our chief downfall but it leads to a host of others. I make no apologies for the behavior of bigots, whatever other labels they may wear, as they come in every stripe and variety of humanity. Their existence within the ranks of Christendom demonstrates nothing about the veracity of said same any more then their existence within atheism indicts that philosophy.

  • jeff

    Zabinatrix wrote: “If they can’t know the mind of God when He chooses to let people die horribly, they can’t know the mind of God when they think God wants them to oppress homosexuals and women. You can have it one way or another, not both.”

    Well of course you can. You can know, regarding God, what He has chosen to reveal to you, probably according to what you are capable of comprehending. His moral code is fairly easy to comprehend and is obviously of great importance to Him since He chose to leave heaven and suffer the most agonizing torture, brutality and death ever inflicted by humans onto a fellow human, as the method of payment for it on your behalf.

  • http://zlovers.blogspot.com Zabinatrix

    Jeff:

    If you’re referring to me you nailed it. I, along with you, am not a nice person. I am to some degree bigoted as is every other person born into sin, which at last count was the entire population of planet earth. To what degree does not matter because 1 drop of poison contaminates the soul.

    I haven’t referred to you other than when I’ve explicitly replied to what you say. You see, I don’t care about theology, or some imagined sin that we are all born into.

    I only care about what is real, and something that is real is that some people commit vile acts. I care about those vile acts and think that they should be stopped.

    If you do not commit any such real acts against real people I will consider you a good person, however much sin you imagine you got born with.

    And I do absolutely think that degree matters – some people are demonstrably worse than others.

    Their existence within the ranks of Christendom demonstrates nothing about the veracity of said same any more then their existence within atheism indicts that philosophy.

    Yes, and something I believe I mentioned above (not sure – I am way too wordy and even I lose track of what I said or just thought I said).

    But, something else that I mention frequently: I don’t care if your theology is true or not. I don’t care if God exists or not. No one has been able to show me that God affects humans in any way, so I don’t care.

    I do know that real life bigotry affects real life humans.

    There are atheist bigots and religious bigots, and I will argue against both – but I will sometimes argue in religious terms against the religious ones. Not to “disprove the veracity of their religion” or anything, but simply because not all religious bigots are bad people at heart. Sometimes their bigotry is centered more on their view of their religion than their honest feelings.

    I see a lot of people who seem to think that they have to act in a way that oppresses groups like homosexuals and women, and suppresses knowledge. They do this because they are convinced that their theology says it and that their immortal soul depends on it.

    So I will argue the fact that no one can agree on what any religion really says and that they don’t have to act like bigoted asses just because they are religious. They can believe in a much nicer interpretation of religion if they want to.

    Some do and some change to that, and I respect that. And I care about that – real humans doing real things with a demonstrable effect on the real world – while I don’t care one mitten about who God is or what He/She/It said until it is proven to me that it has any effects that I should care about.

  • http://zlovers.blogspot.com Zabinatrix

    Jeff:

    Well of course you can. You can know, regarding God, what He has chosen to reveal to you, probably according to what you are capable of comprehending. His moral code is fairly easy to comprehend and is

    Well, you just get back to me when you can prove any of that, okay? Or at least when you can prove that any two believers received the same revealed knowledge?

    I had a couple of Mormons here recently, preaching to me. When I asked how they could know what God really wanted, they used the “he has revealed it to us”-thing. But the two of them couldn’t agree if the ban on “hot beverages” from the book of Mormon included hot chocolate or not.

    Usually believers disagree about much more important stuff, but regardless they don’t seem to have some crystal-clear line to God, giving them any exact instructions.

    obviously of great importance to Him since He chose to leave heaven and suffer the most agonizing torture, brutality and death ever inflicted by humans onto a fellow human, as the method of payment for it on your behalf.

    Please. Your Jesus had a bad weekend. Three days and then he was up in heaven living the good life.

    If the worth of your religion is measured in suffering, there are some other myths you can try. I seem to remember some from my school days, about people spending an eternity getting their liver eaten by a bird, an eternity holding up the world on their shoulders and stuff. And don’t forget the poor boar Särimnir from Norse Mythology – killed and eaten every day, just to come back to life the next day to be eaten again.

    Oh, and you can try to prove that Jesus existed, was crucified, was the Son of God and was here to somehow pay for our sins (whatever that actually means), before using it as an argument. So far I’m not convinced about any of those things.

  • Chelsea

    @jeff

    First off, before we discuss what God does and does not want, we must first prove that God exists. And until we can do that, what you, or my former pastor, or St. Paul think he wants for my sex life is irrelevant.

    Perhaps I should elaborate a little more on my thoughts on the Bible’s prohibitions on sex. I left a lot out, as my initial post was long enough.

    1) Sex is the most natural thing in the world. It is a basic human and animal need, as natural as eating, drinking, and sleeping. And yet it is condemned by the Bible. Why? Well, I personally like Dr. Darrel W. Ray’s response. To paraphrase (and I know I am unable to explain this as well as he does): religion, like all viruses, only cares about perpetuating itself. And a good way to accomplish that is by instilling inevitable guilt, and then offering only itself as the antidote. So, it gives us a rule which it KNOWS we will break so that we feel guilty, and then turn to religion as a moral bandage, to cure our guilt. The same goes for prohibitions about things like food: “Don’t eat this, but if you do, you need the Church to fix you.” I hope that makes sense, but to understand further, I recommend the AETV episode featuring Dr. Ray: http://blip.tv/file/3254265.

    2) If you read what the Bible has to say about premarital sex, polygamy, homosexuality, and human rights, it reads exactly as if it was written by ignorant men who fear female sexuality and the power it has over them, and who are grossed out by seeing two men together. Once I started questioning, I was able to see the Bible through different eyes. The noble soldiers of Jerusalem who commit mass genocide and infanticide, killing men, women, and children *except* for all the virginal girls (wink, wink), no longer sound like gold-clad, perfect soldiers of the Lord. Instead, they sound like what they were: ignorant barbarians. Dirty, brutal, Beowulf-esque barbarians who were taking orders from a Charles Manson-type man who claimed to hear divine orders for all this violence. A sociopath, and possibly a schizophrenic. Those soldiers would be brought before international courts for war crimes if that was happening today.

    Those men were afraid of women gaining power, and they were personally disgusted by gay men, so they made up “divine” doctrines to keep them down. They considered women to be their property, so they demanded that they stay virgins until they marry, while they were free to do whatever they wanted. The Bible was nothing but an instrument of power, used to oppress women and ensure that the Church would never lose its hold on society.

    To quote a certain comedian (the name escapes me): “Gee, if I wasn’t so sure Jesus existed, I would’ve thought that a bunch of white men made all this religion shit up so that they could do whatever they want!”

  • Gary

    Jeff writes:

    To answer Gary re: witnessing to those of other faiths, we do so primarily because He instructs us to. Matthew 28:19 and 20 is one pertinent Scripture about that.

    Yet your witnessing actually tends to work to the disadvantage of those witnessed to, by making them liable to be guilty of sin for which (as you have so cogently argued) Jesus is said to have claimed they would not otherwise be guilty. It seems as though Jesus actually wanted an increase in the number of people guilty of sin, and that’s why he left instructions to go around witnessing. Puzzling.

    Perhaps Jesus hadn’t thought through the implications of his teachings very carefully. Or perhaps some of the teachings attributed to him are not actually authentic. Certainly I have no difficulty questioning the authenticity of any statement said to have been made by a supposedly risen-again-from-the-three-days-dead-and-stinkin’ Jesus, because I don’t believe that such a Jesus existed. Curiously, that instruction seems to contradict the earlier instruction attributed to the not-yet-dead Jesus, “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

    The instruction suppsedly given in Matthew 28 to “go and make disciples of all nations” was impossible for the original followers of Jesus to carry out, because Jesus did not leave behind any information about where “all nations” might be found. Thus, the inhabitants of the Americas were spared the horrible burden of knowing about Jesus for fifteen centuries. Good thing for them, apparently, as they were thus spared the all-too-real risk of “rejecting” Jesus.

  • Gary

    Jeff writes:

    You can know, regarding God, what He has chosen to reveal to you, probably according to what you are capable of comprehending. His moral code is fairly easy to comprehend….

    Christians not infrequently disagree about what is and is not moral or immoral. That in and of itself seems to be a strike against the argument that there exists a God who has a moral code that is “fairly easy to comprehend” based on “what He has chosen to reveal.”

  • jeff

    That’s why I don’t believe in your god. . . far too small. The Bible God has no such human limitations.

  • jeff

    It’s easier to lie to myself than to anyone else I know. Every sin comes with a built in excuse which I freely buy, but it’s much more difficult to convince others that my actions are appropriate. According to Scripture those who will be held accountable know deep within that God is real, but many suppress the truth, often because they may want to stamp out the father image, or believe they have something to gain by denying any outside authority. Every man wants to be king.

  • Gary

    Jeff writes:

    According to Scripture those who will be held accountable know deep within that God is real….

    Well, that’s certainly good news. Even if I’m wrong about the existence of God, it sounds like I’m not going to be held accountable.

    Not damned if I do, not damned if I don’t. Hot damn.

  • jeff

    Well Gary being a free thinker should not mean you are free to think for others. In this case you aren’t representing what I’m writing in any sense. I know you think you’re making a clever paraphrase that somehow points to some inadequacy in my statement, but I choose my words pretty carefully.

    To be clear, you are most likely in the category of people which God will hold responsible for rejecting Christ, unless you confess Him and receive forgiveness.

  • Killer Bee

    Every man wants to be king.

    For a short time I had the strange ambition to be Comptroller of the Currency. I think it’s the title that drew me. Plus, monetary policy fascinated me when I was studying Economics.
    It’s really a god-like position in the banking industry. Do you think Lucifer ever wanted to be head of the OCC? If I were God, I’d probably find something for him in the financial arena. He’d argue at first, complaining that he wants to be in charge of the whole deal not some glorified bean counter sporting green shades. But, I’d convince him to try it just for a season. Maybe Alan Greenspan knows something about this. I’d check his clothes for the stench of sulphur, at the very least.

  • jeff

    Finite men can only have a finite knowledge of the infinite God. What knowledge we do have can be correct, but never exhaustive.

  • Neon Genesis

    “Let’s say I joined the KKK because they had awesome tea-parties (not the political kind), a kickass classical videogame collection and nacho-nights. Then I go on a march with them, for a fun social gathering with my tea and videogame friends, but to my shock I realize that the organization I’m supporting is racist.

    Well, I’d quit. And if the people I like in the organization were also non-racists who were simply suckered in by the promise of tea and nachos, I’d convince them to leave with me. Then we could gather at my house to have our own tea-game-nacho-nights, without supporting a racist organization. It would be totally possible. And all the moderate, sane Catholics can do something similar – an ideal world isn’t needed.”

    But what if you were raised in the racist south and later when you grew up, you realized racism was wrong? It might make more logical sense to move to the more open minded northern states but you might still feel attached to the South and wish the South wasn’t racist so you wouldn’t have to leave and stayed behind to reform the south from the inside.

  • WishinItWas

    jeff
    Well Gary being a free thinker should not mean you are free to think for others. In this case you aren’t representing what I’m writing in any sense. I know you think you’re making a clever paraphrase that somehow points to some inadequacy in my statement, but I choose my words pretty carefully.

    To be clear, you are most likely in the category of people which God will hold responsible for rejecting Christ, unless you confess Him and receive forgiveness.

    You had originally stated that “According to Scripture those who will be held accountable know deep within that God is real….” Gary made a comment about how he doesn’t believe deep down that god is real in a witty statement, to which you replied that he in fact is one of these people deserving of a hellish punishment for the denial of god…..

    what gets me is how in the first sentence of your response you make this statement ” Well Gary being a free thinker should not mean you are free to think for others.” then you IMMEDIATELY contradict yourself and proceed to tell Gary that he does know that god is real, and therefore will be judged. How can tell someone else what they do/do not or can/can not recognize ?

  • http://zlovers.blogspot.com Zabinatrix

    Neon Genesis:

    But what if you were raised in the racist south and later when you grew up, you realized racism was wrong? It might make more logical sense to move to the more open minded northern states but you might still feel attached to the South and wish the South wasn’t racist so you wouldn’t have to leave and stayed behind to reform the south from the inside.

    To me, my comparison still makes more sense.

    The KKK and Catholic Church are both organizations – not geographical areas. You can’t quit a geographical area and restart it elsewhere – it’ll stay put. But you can quite an organization and keep doing the things that you liked about the organization.

    And changing it from the inside is the only thing that makes sense when talking about general attitudes in a geographical area – those attitudes are disseminated among the population so it’s all you can do.

    In an organization with a top-down power structure like the Catholic Church it’s pretty much the other way around. Changing the minds and attitudes among the followers doesn’t do much as long as the Pope and his closest men preach what they preach.

    Look, your “change it from the inside” tactic sounds very good. But like I’ve said before I’m very sure that there are millions of great, wonderful people among the ranks of the Catholics – so why hasn’t it happened yet?

    How many years of scandals of the Church covering up sex abuse? How many years of the world complaining about the Church making the aids-problem worse by spreading misinformation about condoms? How many years of gay rights groups complaining about how they vilify homosexuality? Has there been any real change?

    If it was possible to easily change it from the inside, we would see all those wonderful Catholics I know are there change it already. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    Big churches have always lagged behind society in general when it comes to what is considered good and moral. Churches still supported slavery long after large parts of society started to question and fight it. Many churches still oppose homosexuality and equality between the sexes today, and even most liberal churches were behind society in conforming to changing values. Today the Catholic Church is lagging behind what most of rest of society thinks and it doesn’t seem to be changing very fast.

    However, this could change tomorrow – if nice, moderate Catholics used our modern communications to organize an actual effective protest. A few million members dropping off with an angry note about “Stop doing [this] and [that] and I might come back” at roughly the same time – that would make a difference. That would make a dent in their finances and their self-assurance. And in the meantime, all the moderate Catholics who quit can keep on being Catholics with a heart full of joy over the fact that they’re helping society move forward.

    Over the last few generations society has been steadily moving towards more equality, less bigotry, more understanding… and most would agree that it is a good thing. Catholics and other members of big organizations doing questionable things could change this – we have the chance to organize things like that today. Continuing to trust in “changing it from the inside” when no change is apparent and people are suffering…. To me it seems like the lesser of two options.

  • http://thinkingforfree.blogspot.com Eamon Knight

    Back to the original question: I became a fundamentalist at age 15, and like most teenage converts I was pretty hardline at first. I spent the next 28 years jettisoning one dogma after another until there was nothing left. W.r.t. the Bible, for example, I quickly realized that the first dozen chapters of Genesis contradicted everything we know about natural history (I was a young science geek, and not stupid enough to fall for creationist bullshit). And over time my skepticism seemed to march forward through the book. After it chewed through the Gospels, well there wasn’t much point any more, was there?

  • Neon Genesis

    “The KKK and Catholic Church are both organizations – not geographical areas. You can’t quit a geographical area and restart it elsewhere – it’ll stay put. But you can quite an organization and keep doing the things that you liked about the organization.”

    But I’m referring to the south as in southern culture and likewise for many moderate Catholics, their church is as much a culture as it is a religion. You just can’t quit going to church as easily as you can flip off a light switch as you seem to think.

    “However, this could change tomorrow – if nice, moderate Catholics used our modern communications to organize an actual effective protest”

    Like this? http://ncronline.org/print/17592

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  • Gary

    Jeff writes:

    To be clear, you are most likely in the category of people which God will hold responsible for rejecting Christ, unless you confess Him and receive forgiveness.

    And therefore I will receive the savage and eternal punishment I so richly deserve. Right, Jeff?

    I “reject Christ” in two respects:

    1. Unlike you, I think he’s dead. He has ceased to be. I cannot be forgiven by a dead person, and in any case I have done him no wrong for which I need to be forgiven.

    2. I disagree with many of the teachings attributed to him in the Gospels.

  • http://www.thebelievingagnostic.blogspot.com Shane Hayes

    The cartoon is not only funny but poses a legitimate question, one I often grapple with. I attend Mass regularly despite serious disagreement on matters like those raised in the cartoon. I see myself as Christian rather than specifically Catholic. I’m beginning to speak out for reform on my blog The Believing Agnostic. See my recent posting: “The ‘Third Rail’ of Catholic Policy Making” at this link: http://www.thebelievingagnostic.blogspot.com/. It has angered some of my Catholic friends, but no broken relationships yet. Shane Hayes

  • jeff

    Eamon,

    Not trying to offend you, as I am not, as you put it “stupid enough to fall for creationist bullshit” either, at least not all of it, but do you, therefore, fall for all of the evolutionary bullshit?

  • jeff

    Gary,
    So far as what punishment you deserve, I wonder, if you’re being internally consistent with your inner witness. If so, perhaps to you it will not seem like punishment at all to be separated from God for eternity.

    The one man, Jesus, who had the most intimate contact with the Father compared that loss and separation to living in the garbage dump (Gehenna) outside of Jerusalem and (figuratively I suppose, though I am not certain) burning, like the garbage that was burned there.

    i.e. to someone who was used to close, intimate fellowship with the Father that separation would be unbearable but perhaps to someone ignorant of what that fellowship entails it may be less agonizing. I do think that, like all of us, you enjoy tangible benefits to living in a world that God created that may only become clear when you are utterly separated from His presence, influence and government.

    I think it would behoove you not to find out.

  • Gary

    Jeff writes:

    Gary,
    So far as what punishment you deserve, I wonder, if you’re being internally consistent with your inner witness. If so, perhaps to you it will not seem like punishment at all to be separated from God for eternity.

    Separation-from-God anxiety is a peculiar psychological complaint associated primarily with God-besotted, cant-filled Christians.

  • Claire

    It’s an interesting question, and one I wish I would answer. But according to my parents I believed in Santa for longer than I believed in god. By the age of five I was already causing problems for the teachers at my (catholic) school. I’m inordinately proud of that.

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  • SkunkApeMan

    The turning point for me was when I was around 10 years old and for the first time I realized all the misery and horror that exists in the world. I decided right then that if there is a God, he obviously doesn’t give a shit about any of us since there is all this pain and suffering that a truly omnipotent God could take away in an instant. So why worship him if he doesn’t give two shits about us?
    When I got a little older I saw so much proof around me that there is no God that I even stopped believing in a dispassionate God who doesn’t care baout us and just accepted the fact that there is no God, period.


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