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Monday, May 19, 2014

Being self-righteous

Self-righteous Christians Defined: Is This the Norm?
by Rich Deem


Christians seem to like to tell other people how to behave and act as if they never do anything wrong. They also tend to focus only upon a few moral issues - namely abortion and gay marriage - seemingly to the exclusion of more important issues, such as justice and care for the poor. Is this the kind of behavior the Bible commends or are these people acting against what biblical Christianity actually stands for?

What is being self-righteous?

To begin the discussion, it would be good to know what the words "self-righteous" really mean. Here is the definition from the The American Heritage Dictionary1:
self-right·eous (sělf'rī'chəs)
  1. Piously sure of one's own righteousness; moralistic.
  2. Exhibiting pious self-assurance: self-righteous remarks.
So, a self-righteous person is one who acts as if he is morally superior to everyone else.

Righteousness and the Christian

If there is anything that is antithetical to Christianity, it is a person who thinks that they can be righteous by their own good works. The Bible says that all people are sinners and that none can meet God's standard for righteousness.2
Yet, wait a minute. God allowed Noah to survive because he was a righteous man.

This is the account of Noah and his family.
Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. 10

How could Noah be righteous, if no one can achieve gods idea of perfection?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Definition of Conundrum

The definition of the word Conundrum is: something that is puzzling or confusing.
Here are six Conundrums of socialism in the United States of America:

1. America is described as capitalist and greedy - yet half of the population is subsidized.

2. Half of the population is subsidized - yet they think they are victims.

3. They think they are victims - yet their representatives who they elect run the government.

4. Their representatives run the government - yet the poor keep getting poorer.

5. The poor keep getting poorer - yet they have things that people in other countries only dream about.

6. They have things that people in other countries only dream about -yet they want America to be more like those other countries.

Think about it! And that, my friends, pretty much sums up the USA in
the 21st Century.

Makes you wonder who is doing the math.

These three, short sentences tell you a lot about the direction of our current government and cultural environment:

1. We are advised to NOT judge ALL Muslims by the actions of a few
lunatics, but we are encouraged to judge ALL gun owners by the actions of a few lunatics. Funny how that works.

And here's another one worth considering...

2. Seems we constantly hear about how Social Security is going to run out of money. How come we never hear about welfare or food stamps running out of money? What's interesting is the first group "worked for" their money, but the second didn't. Think about it.....

and Last but not least,

3. Why are we cutting benefits for our veterans, no pay raises for our military and cutting our army to a level lower than before WWII, but we are not stopping the payments or benefits to illegal aliens.

Am I the only one missing something?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Was god justified in killing people in the flood?

The question becomes, does God need a reason for this action? Without warning, the reader is thrust into one passage about his displeasure, and “the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and the beast, and the creeping things, and the fouls of the air; for it repented me that I have made them” (Gen. 6:7). According to God’s rhetoric and subsequent justification for his acts, it is his creation; therefore he may do what he wishes with it. There doesn’t seem to be any lengthy explanation, only the simply rhetoric of what amounts to, “I’m God and I can do what I want.”  Unlike in other sections of the OT, there is little reason given, and this makes God seem not only completely misanthropic, but more importantly, a fickle judge who is prone to making snap decisions that cause widespread damage. Rhetorically speaking, the only justification he deems to offer the reader (and presumably Noah and the rest of humanity that he so quickly wipes out) is that since he is God, this is his right.

But is this a valid argument? I suggest it is not. For example, Mankind is always wrestling with the proper way to handle lab animals. We have decided that treating animals so that they experience as little pain and discomfort as possible is the humane way to deal with them. I would like to think that God would consider us more important than lab animals. Additionally, we are supposedly formed in the likeness of god, so we should have similar perspectives. So, is a worldwide flood the most painless way to kill humanity? Actually, it would be one of the most terrifying.

So, is the point for God to show that he can kill us in a terrifying way? The fact that God could kill us all anytime he wants would be the critical point. He would have accomplished the same effect by turning us all into salt, as he did with Lot's wife. Additionally, he would not have wrecked the entire ecosystem that way.

The story is absurd. Actually, the entire bible is absurd, but I shall focus on this one story. God kills all of mankind for sin. However, he allows Noah's family to survive, even thought they would have been doing the same sin. How is that justified? If the sin that he killed all mankind for was so terrible, then Noah's family deserved to die as well.

I submit that God was not justified to kill everyone in the flood. Which is good, since it was only a fable anyway.

Since I wrote this, I had a debate with a Christian who posted this statement.

"God does not & can NOT "MURDER". God FORBIDS man to 'murder'.
"The Lord giveth. And the Lord 'taketh' away."

"... we intuitively know that man & God have different prerogatives.
It is inappropriate for men to take innocent life
simply because we are robbing other human beings of a God-given gift,
& we are not to play God in that regard.
But clearly God can play God.
It is His role & He is not robbing when He takes away what He has given in the first place.
It is something that is under His appropriate control.
He can take a life anytime He wants.
Taking innocent human life is wrong for us,
because taking life is God's prerogative, not ours,
which means it is appropriate for Him to do it,
not us,
He can dispense & retract life whenever He pleases."
- Greg Koukl

God is the Author of life,
the Beginning & the End,
the Alpha & Omega,
in whom we live, breathe & owe our being.
God may take His own."

My response: But god not only kills people, he commands people to kill other people. If he forbids man to murder, then he is inconsistent when he requires that people kill in his name. If god can kill mankind, then he should do so and not make people carry out his dirty work. He killed people in a flood, by turning them into salt or having the holy spirit kill children like the children in Egypt, so he is perfectly capable of killing anyone he wants.


Pascal's Wager

Whenever I debate with Christians, there comes a point when they will say something to the effect of, "If you are right, then at least I led a good life, however if I am right, then you will end up in Hell." This is, of course, Pascal's Wager. It also begs the question of whether or not they actually led a "good" life. I have known many Christians who cheated, lied, fornicated and stole, among other "sins". Whether their lives were any more moral or better than others is highly debatable. In addition, it assumes that the atheist did not live a good life, which is very insulting.  If you are not familiar with the idea of Pascal's Wager, let me provide some background information. 

Pascal’s Wager is the idea that regardless of whether the existence of God can be proven through rational means, one should live their life as though God does exist, because living your life that way means you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. It was proposed by a French philosopher, mathematician and physicist named Blaise Pascal.

However, there are several problems with this idea. 

First, it assumes that there are only two alternatives to choose from; belief and disbelief in the biblical god. However, that is not accurate. There are thousands of different gods that mankind has dreamed up over the centuries. Therefore, he must also choose the correct deity to believe in. If the Romans, Hindus, Aztecs, Muslims, early Greeks or any of the thousands of other gods were correct, then the Christian is in as big of a problem as the atheist. Now, I am sure the Christian is not worried about whether the Greek or Aztec gods of old are the correct deity. Yet, why not? Millions of people have believed in these gods, with the same devote fervour as current day Christians. It could also be possible that the true god has not yet been revealed. It has been said many times, that there is little difference between a theist and an atheist. A theist does not believe in all of the thousands of other gods that mankind has thought up over the centuries, they just believe in the one they think is correct. An atheist agrees that all the other gods are myths and fables, we just add one more to the list; the one the theist believes in. 

Second,  even if the Christian God is the correct deity, there is still a problem of deciding which of the 30,000 Christian sects worships him the correct way. If the Catholics are right, then the Protestants have a problem, and of course, the reverse is true for the Catholic. If the Mormons are right, then most of the two billions Christians in the world have a huge problem.
Keep in mind that Pascal was a Catholic, and he was advocating for the Catholic version of Christianity. This always make it even more ironic when Protestants invoke his arguments. 

Third, if you only say you believe in order to hedge your bet for getting into heaven, it is doubtful that an all knowing god would let you in anyway, since you really did not believe. You simply went through the motions. 

Fourth, it assumes that God would only reward a believer no matter what other circumstances exist. It is certainly possible that God would reward rational and researched reasoning and punish blind or feigned faith.

Consider this argument given by Thomas Jefferson: "Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear."

Richard Carrier adds to this idea with this statement: "Suppose there is a god who is watching us and choosing which souls of the deceased to bring to heaven, and this god really does want only the morally good to populate heaven. He will probably select from only those who made a significant and responsible effort to discover the truth. For all others are untrustworthy, being cognitively or morally inferior, or both. They will also be less likely ever to discover and commit to true beliefs about right and wrong. That is, if they have a significant and trustworthy concern for doing right and avoiding wrong, it follows necessarily that they must have a significant and trustworthy concern for knowing right and wrong. Since this knowledge requires knowledge about many fundamental facts of the universe (such as whether there is a god), it follows necessarily that such people must have a significant and trustworthy concern for always seeking out, testing, and confirming that their beliefs about such things are probably correct. Therefore, only such people can be sufficiently moral and trustworthy to deserve a place in heaven — unless God wishes to fill heaven with the morally lazy, irresponsible, or untrustworthy."

Fifth, it makes the assumption that a person can make themselves believe. This is, of course, nonsense. A person either actually believes something or they do not. You cannot force yourself to believe something. If someone was standing over you with a gun and said you either believe that green Martians are ruling the planet or I will kill you. You might tell them you believe. You might profess it wholeheartedly. You might sign a declaration to this statement. But you would not believe it. 

So, does Pascal's Wager hold up to scrutiny? I wouldn't bet on it.

The age of the Earth

One thing I constantly hear Creationists say is that people only believe in a old earth to allow Evolution enough time for all the changes in species that they claim occurred. This is, of course, nonsense. Darwin published his book on the origins of man in 1859. However Geologists had determined that the earth was far older than 6,000 years before Darwin published his book. 

James Hutton is often viewed as the first modern geologist.[59] In 1785 he presented a paper entitled Theory of the Earth to the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In his paper, he explained his theory that the Earth must be much older than had previously been supposed in order to allow enough time for mountains to be eroded and for sediments to form new rocks at the bottom of the sea, which in turn were raised up to become dry land. Hutton published a two-volume version of his ideas in 1795 (Vol. 1Vol. 2).

Followers of Hutton were known as Plutonists because they believed that some rocks were formed by vulcanism, which is the deposition of lava from volcanoes, as opposed to the Neptunists, led by Abraham Werner, who believed that all rocks had settled out of a large ocean whose level gradually dropped over time.
The first geological map of the U.S. was produced in 1809 by William Maclure.[60][61] In 1807, Maclure commenced the self-imposed task of making a geological survey of the United States. Almost every state in the Union was traversed and mapped by him; the Allegheny Mountains being crossed and recrossed some 50 times.[62] The results of his unaided labours were submitted to the American Philosophical Society in a memoir entitledObservations on the Geology of the United States explanatory of a Geological Map, and published in the Society's Transactions, together with the nation's first geological map.[63] This antedates William Smith's geological map of England by six years, although it was constructed using a different classification of rocks.
Sir Charles Lyell first published his famous book, Principles of Geology,[64] in 1830. This book, which influenced the thought of Charles Darwin, successfully promoted the doctrine of uniformitarianism. This theory states that slow geological processes have occurred throughout the Earth's history and are still occurring today. In contrast, catastrophism is the theory that Earth's features formed in single, catastrophic events and remained unchanged thereafter. Though Hutton believed in uniformitarianism, the idea was not widely accepted at the time.
Much of 19th-century geology revolved around the question of the Earth's exact age. Estimates varied from a few hundred thousand to billions of years.[65] By the early 20th century, radiometric dating allowed the Earth's age to be estimated at two billion years. The awareness of this vast amount of time opened the door to new theories about the processes that shaped the planet.
Some of the most significant advances in 20th-century geology have been the development of the theory of plate tectonics in the 1960s and the refinement of estimates of the planet's age. Plate tectonics theory arose from two separate geological observations: seafloor spreading and continental drift. The theory revolutionized the Earth sciences. Today the Earth is known to be approximately 4.5 billion years old.[66]