Tag Archives: religion

Vicarious Redemption of Sin

A lot of times I talk about the immorality of Christianity. Most of the time, Christians and even a few atheists jump to defend Christianity by talking about various good deeds particular Christians have done and continue to do. But I wasn’t talking about Christians being immoral; I was talking about Christianity being immoral. What can be more immoral then the vicarious redemption of sin?

The whole idea that I can go and murder someone or work on Saturday and have my sins forgiven vicariously by someone else is a license for crime. Christians often use the analogy of some small offense like a drunk driving charge (which for the record isn’t really a small offense) and they talk about how Judge God lets the offender off the hook because Jesus paid his or her fine. But that isn’t how the world works.

If someone went and murdered someone else and was found guilty, no one would be able to pay the fine of prison time except that person who was found guilty. There is an old expression, “If you do the crime, you will do the time.”

But that isn’t the worst part of the Christian redemption system. The way Jesus allegedly pays for your sins is through blood sacrifice. It is funny that when most Americans hear about some cult sacrificing an animal to the Gods they laugh and think such a ritual is absurd and yet 80% or more believe the same thing.

The whole Christian belief system centers around the idea of blood sacrifice. Back before Jesus allegedly came, the Abrahamic God wanted people to sacrifice goats to him so that he could forgive them for their sins. This is where the term scapegoat comes from. Everyone in the village puts all their sins on to the goat and kills the goat as a sacrifice to God. But God wanted more than just a goat.

Lambs were more desirable to God apparently, because he wanted the people to sacrifice an innocent lamb to show how much they care instead. Let me repeat that last part. God wanted people to sacrifice an Innocent Lamb.

Now of course there is no need to sacrifice an Innocent Lamb or any other lamb for that matter because Jesus is the “Lamb of God.” In other words, he is the innocent blood sacrifice that God needs for the redemption of sin.

Some people will say that not all Christians believe this and that I am generalizing. But the fact is that this whole blood sacrifice thing is a pretty central point the Christian belief system. I really don’t think one could seriously be considered a Christian if they don’t buy into the idea that the death of Jesus was a necessary sacrifice to God for their sins. That is pretty much the whole grounding of the religion. God forgives those who have accepted the sacrifice of Jesus for payment of their sins.

In reality, there is no vicarious redemption for sin. God can’t forgive you for your wrongs. Only those who you have wronged can forgive you. Next time you lie to a friend or family member about something, instead of asking Jesus for forgiveness, try slaughtering an innocent lamb instead. Let me know if that works out for ya.

Check out my Daily Blog @ DangerousTalk.net and my atheist news blog @ Examiner.com

Mel Seesholtz talks about the christianist war on equality and knowledge

On April 7th of this year, Penn State Abington English professor Mel Seesholtz spoke to the Freethought Society about theopolitics and how the religious right are supressing equality in this country. The video of his talk is now online. During his talk, he showed a few clips from the Bill Maher movie Religulous
, which have been removed for lack of copyright license. I also apologize for misspelling Dr. Seesholtz’s name in the opening slide, but in my defense, I was just copying a typo from the newsletter. 😉

Mel Seesholtz — Theopolitics: The Christianist War on Equality and Knowledge from Freethought Society on Vimeo.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Army chaplains “hunt people for Jesus”

Below is a video from alJazeeraEnglish (say what you will, but they do better reporting than any American news agency) showing how evangelicals in the army stationed in Afganistan are proselytizing. They deny that they’re doing so even as they pass out New Testament bibles translated into local languages and preach to their congregation to “hunt people for Jesus” and “get the hounds hound of heaven after them”. HOUNDS HOUND OF HEAVEN?????

A Science Lesson for Christians

Often times when discussing religion with Christians the conversation turns to science. I am not an expert in the sciences. My field is Philosophy. Just to make sure that I have all my facts straight, I e-mailed this blog to The Science Pundit for peer review. However, having gone to a fairly decent public school program which taught science fairly well, I would say that I have a slightly above average knowledge of the subject. I am beginning to think though that I am a bit more than just slightly above average. It seems that I run into the same problems over and over again. Many of the Christians that I talk to have no idea how the scientific method works.

The thing is that most of these Christians claim to know how science works and they claim to have studied in detail the relevant scientific theories that we are discussing. But then their mouths open (or in case of internet conversations, they write stuff). And based on what they are saying, it becomes painfully obvious that they have not studied the relevant theories and have no idea whatsoever how science works.

There are a few particular misconceptions that keep popping up. The first is that a “scientific theory” is “just a theory.” Here there is as Wittgenstein put it, a “Family Resemblance” between the two uses, but make no mistake that the term “theory” is being used in two very different ways. In the general sense the term “theory” is used to describe an analytic structure designed to explain a set of observations. As used in the scientific sense, a theory is an explanation or model based on observation, experimentation, and reasoning, especially one that has been tested and confirmed as a general principle helping to explain and predict natural phenomena. In other words, “just a theory” is very different than a “scientific theory” which has considerably more weight attached to it.

Another common misconception is that science is “faith based” just as faith based belief is faith based. These particular Christians don’t seem to understand the difference between the scientific process and the religious process. To them, all ideas are the same and deserve equal time. The problem is that all ideas are not the same.

Let’s start with religion. The way religious belief works, they start off with the belief in God and in the Bible. That belief supersedes everything else. Then they specifically look to find anything which might be considered supportive of their conclusion (This is called “confirmation bias.” The scientific method goes to extreme measures to minimize or eliminate this as all people—even scientists—are susceptible to confirmation bias). If evidence comes to light which disproves their belief, that evidence is attacked, ignored, and/or destroyed. Their view is that God exists and that the Bible is true and nothing “science” can say or show will convince them otherwise. Many times, they will even tell you that straight up.

Science doesn’t start with the conclusion. Science starts with observations. From the observations we make a hypothesis, which is an educated guess as to the explanation of an observable phenomenon or phenomena which makes predictions and is therefore testable. We then look for evidence and/or test the hypothesis through experimentation to see if our hypothesis holds up. One thing science tries to be very careful about is to make sure that when we run tests and look for evidence we do so in as non-biased manner as possible. We don’t want to fall prey to confirmation bias. We are not specifically looking to confirm or deny the hypothesis, just go where the evidence leads. If the evidence supports the hypothesis, then we keep looking for more evidence in the same unbiased manner. If the evidence does not support the hypothesis, then we revise the hypothesis and start the process over again. Science never draws a 100% certain conclusion. Science is always willing to change. But the more and more evidence which supports a given hypothesis the more and more certain we are that the hypothesis is correct. But we will never say that we are 100% certain. A theory is a more general model which includes facts, laws and hypotheses and explains a whole family of phenomena.

So as you can see, while science starts with observations and evidence and investigates as non-biased as it can, religion is the exact opposite. Religion starts with the conclusion and looks in a biased manner for anything which could be persuasive and rejects what does not fit with the already stated conclusion (i.e. God exists and the Bible is true).

Please keep in mind that this blog is only giving a basic and quick guide to science and the scientific method. I encourage anyone who lacks sufficient scientific knowledge to go online or pick up a science text book and learn more.

Check out my Daily Blog @ DangerousTalk.net and my atheist news blog @ Examiner.com

There’s a storm coming…a gay one…

As usual, it’s time for me to drop in with some light and simple humor to break up the deeper thoughts of my fellow FSGP bloggers.

Be scared, everyone. There is a storm coming. And it’s going to rain gay on everybody.

Moral Grounding

Almost every time I get into a prolonged conversation with a fundamentalist Christian the issue of morality come up. The claim of the Christians is almost always the same, “without God there can be no moral grounding.” Personally, I find that to be a pretty arrogant and inaccurate statement. The way I see it, with God there is no moral grounding. The shear number of differing sects of Jews, Christians, and Muslims who have completely opposite opinions on so many moral issues certainly suggests that God hasn’t grounded morality at all. If he had, all believers in the Bible who have the same set of morals and quite obviously they don’t.

It seems that God was so clear about his moral grounding after all since so many Christians disagree about God’s moral grounding. We really need to ask, how do we know what God commands? That is the real problem with believing is deities, you never really know what they want. From what I can tell by talking to so many Christians, God seems to communicate by one of two ways, either by divine revelations or through divine texts.

When it comes to divine revelation things get pretty problematic pretty quickly. This was a big problem early on for the Mormons when Joseph Smith declared that any Mormon could have a divine revelation. Very quickly people were getting some pretty opposite commands from God. It seemed to be impossible to know what a real divine revelation was and what thoughts were just people’s imagination, desires, or random thoughts or beliefs. And then of course mental illness is an issue with divine revelations too. You will find that there are often stories in the news of someone murdering their child because they had a divine revelation. How can you tell if someone had a divine revelation or is just crazy?

Divine texts like the Bible have a whole new set of problems. The Bible was written a long time ago and we don’t even have the original verses of the text. Over the years, the texts have been recopied complete with people’s deliberate and accidental changes. People seem to have revised the texts to fit their own personal philosophies, beliefs, or situations as well as miscopies words or mistranslated words as the text moved from language to language. People’s religious framework has become entirely dependent on their interpretation of inaccurate “Holy Scriptures.” With so many changes and translations and interpretations of the divine holy book, it is impossible to really know what God truly desire.

Even if we could deal with those issues, the problem doesn’t get any better. According to Christianity, God defines morality and this causes a host of other problems. What if God changed his mind? Some Christians will argue that God wouldn’t change his mind because God is perfect or God is his character or something. But the Bible claims in numerous places that God does change his mind and the real issue isn’t whether he will change his mind, but rather whether he could change his mind if he so desired? If God did change his mind, then morality would change with God. This doesn’t seem like moral grounding to me. If God declared tomorrow that rape was now morally good, I really don’t think it would be so.

Many Christians will then typically argue that, “either all morality is absolute or all morality is subjective.” This line of thinking is a very problematic one which deals with a limiting of options and an absolutism all its own. When we look at the philosophy of ethics and morality, we see that some of the greatest minds in human history have been working on this problem and have come up with some very complicated solutions which still don’t fully make morality clear to us. Some of the greatest of moral thinkers include, Plato, Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, Jeremy Bentham, John Stewart Mill, and John Rawls. There are of course many more, but these thinkers in particular have helped to shape modern concepts of morality.
Morality just isn’t as simply as a rulebook of do’s and don’ts. Morality isn’t all absolute nor is it all subjective. Morality is part principle based and part situational based. Personally, I think Kant and Aristotle have helped me better understand morality in that morality is more about the means than the ends as Kant viewed it and it is more about following moral role models or “men of practical wisdom” as Aristotle had suggested.

Currently, work is being done in the field of neuroscience to explain mirroring synapses and how that relates to compassion and empathy, which may help to teach us more about human morality from a biological level. But until more study is done, we are left in the philosophical realm. And from what we can gather, morality is in no small part linked those two aspects of human life, empathy and compassion.

So what is our moral grounding? Right now, there isn’t any. Not for Christians and not for atheists or anyone else. Morality is not completely absolute nor is it completely subjective. There is a delicate balance and we are all trying our best to navigate these often-difficult moral paths. As human society has progressed, we have learned more and more about how best to treat each other in a moral way but our moral journey is far from over.

Check out my Daily Blog @ DangerousTalk.net

Atheists caused the recession!

Even the unemployed atheists are part of Richard Dawkins’ diabolical agenda to sink us into a recession.