Doggie Prayers

If you used to be or are currently a believer, then you’ve probably been in one of those prayer circles. You know where every one holds hands and takes turns praying. These happen at churches, in bible study groups or most anywhere that believers gather. I remember when my wife and I used to attend a weekly small home group. They were friends from a church we attended.

It was at the time when my wife first started having serious doubts about god, faith and christianity. It was very difficult for her to admit it to the group. It was difficult for me to hear as I still wanted to believe. I just knew god was going to show her what she needed to continue to believe. The group prayed for my wife. We prayed for the “holy spirit” to come down on her and touch her. To give her the evidence she needed to believe and have faith. Of course…nothing happened.

I’ve never seen anyone more honest and open about god and finding what is really true than my wife during that time. She really wanted it to be true. She really wanted to hear from and feel god somehow. But now we know the prayers were just going to the air.

I remember comments from our study/prayer group. They would say things like, “just keep praying, god works in his timing not ours.” But I say if he truly comes after the one sheep that strays, then several years ago when all this took place would of been a good time to show up.

My mind was boggled again over the past weekend. Our family (my wife, myself and our three kids) have a couple of small dogs. We’ve had these dogs for about 12 years. We had the dogs before we had any kids.

Well, the dogs are getting on in years and are beginning to have health problems.  Their quality of life has started to be affected and quite frankly so has our pocket book due to the vet bills. So my wife and I have been contemplating “putting them down”. We have been weighing the pros and cons. Its not an easy decision as they have been part of the family for so long. But we have to face the facts that the time is coming soon to let the dogs go.

My wife called a relative to get their advice about it. They basically told her they didn’t want to tell her what to do, but that she should pray about it. (This family member knows that we both are not believers anymore) My wife was told that she might be surprised about the results of prayer and to keep an open mind about god. She politely said, “ok, I might do that.”

It boggles my mind that anyone that knows us doesn’t think we’ve gone through this process with an open mind. We’ve spent the better part of ten to twenty years as christians. Believing solely on faith. I’d say that a person who believes in a god only on faith and not evidence for that long and continues their journey as honestly as they can, no matter where the journey takes them, has an open mind.

After being a christian for around 20 years, I know now that it is the believer who needs to keep an open mind for what is true. But I also know that christians can’t allow themselves to have open minds. It is forbidden. Because any REAL truth would challenge their faith to much as to come to the conclusion of unbelief. I know most believers would never admit it however. Some may admit that at times, they have had doubts, but that is far as most take it.

They will just continue to believe on faith. Any little coincidence that could be explained by natural causes is enough for them to hold on to their beliefs and think something supernatural has happened instead.

I  guess we should thank him for his advice, but don’t think we will be praying about the dog situation. I guess we will just know in very natural terms when it is time to say goodbye to our furry friends.

 

Can people be righteous or not?

There is a verse that I came upon recently that seems a bit confusing to me. It is Romans 3:10 which says “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one.” Later in verse 12 it says, “there is no one who does good, not even one.”

I then started to think about other passages I’ve read that states the opposite.

Of course we have the story of Noah in Genesis 7:1 which states,  “The lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.”

There was the servant Job who never turned from god.

And there is even the verse in James 5:16 that seems to speak to us normal people that states, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” This says to me that some men are righteous and their prayers are effective.

So again, I ask of this seeming contradiction in the bible. Can mankind be righteous or not?

I don’t believe in aliens

Yesterday my wife had a spirited discussion with a believer who was a bit upset that she is no longer a believer. The same arguments were made to try to persuade her to come back to faith. Let me just say that I know that this person does care for my wife a lot, otherwise he wouldn’t make any effort to talk to her about these matters. However, the arguments made for god once again, weren’t convincing.

The believer admitted that there is no evidence for god, science probably can’t prove god exists and that only through faith can one believe. All of this we agree with. Having faith or pretending to know what you don’t know is the only way for a belief in god that I can see.

As I pondered the conversation further during the evening I wondered what would be a comparable explanation for why I simply don’t believe. And I thought about aliens.

I don’t believe in aliens. I have never seen any proof or evidence that they exist. I acknowledge that there have been many reports from people claiming to have been abducted, seen aliens or flying saucers. So someone pushing me to believe in aliens would expect me to believe these peoples stories or testimonies. I could therefore, based on these claims only believe in aliens by faith through the testimonies of other people, since I have not seen proof or evidence myself. Would I REALLY believe it though? No.

I’m not saying that there absolutely can not be any thing else living out there in the universe. I just don’t know. I suppose it could be possible. I just haven’t seen the evidence myself.

So, as I stated in my last post. Just like Thomas, I need to see physical proof and evidence. Thomas’ closest friends testimony wan’t good enough for him. God acknowledged this and gave him his proof. Then he believed. Is this to much for us to ask in kind?

I suppose it is, because if there is a god, it remains elusive and determined for its followers to believe only by faith. I can’t attempt to believe in something that I just don’t believe is there. It isn’t genuine, it isn’t real. It just feels like a fake way to live. It’s not something I can do any more.

Where are gods morals here?

We hear it from christians all the time. “Without god, there are no morals.” “We can only get morals from god.” “God is the absolute authority on morality” “Atheist have no morals.” “Atheist are just baby killers!”

Ok, maybe that last one isn’t exactly one I’ve heard directly, but I’m sure that a lot of christians think that. Well, now I can say the same about god himself. And “his own word” is all the proof I need.

Today I was reading 2 Samuel where David sees the desirable Bathsheba naked and bathing from his rooftop on to hers. Bathsheba is married to a man named Uriah. David sends for her, has sex with her and impregnates her. David freaks out and sends for Uriah to himself away from a current battle taking place. He tries to set up Uriah with a perfect opportunity to spend some hanky panky time with Bathsheba. That way it will seem like it was Uriah that gets her pregnant instead. But Uriah is to honorable of a man and can not sleep with his wife while his fellow soldiers are sleeping in the dirt at the battle field. David then tries to get him drunk, hoping Uriah with sleep with his wife then, to no avail.

Then David sends Uriah to the front lines where he is then killed.

The bible then says that “what David had done displeased the Lord.” Its not clear if all of it displeased, or just him sleeping with another mans wife, getting Uriah killed… Who knows what upset god here.

Later in 2 Samuel 12:13 David admits he has sinned against god. But Nathan says in the same verse that god has taken away Davids sin. However in verse 14 Nathan informs David that the son that Bathsheba is about to give birth to will die because of his sin.

Verse 15 says “the lord struck the child and he became ill.” Verse 18 the child dies.

Now then, I understand that not a single man is perfect. Men will do stupid things like act out sexually. Which is what David did. Yes it was wrong and consequences should be expected for David. Even Bathsheba should expect them. I guess back then that would include being stoned to death for her.

But this whole passage just seems to skim over the innocent baby. The baby that god himself kills.

What did the baby do? What did he do to deserve a death sentence given by god? God killed this baby. Not David, not Bathsheba. God is the murderer of innocence.

Today we have christians going on about people killing fetuses in abortions, but why don’t they go on about god himself killing a baby after birth? Where is the outrage and outcries? Where are the questions towards god from believers. And please don’t tell me, “well god did it, so its ok.”

It is something to find out that the god of the bible is really the baby killer.

A new step in the right direction

Well, it finally happened. I got to talk openly this week to someone about my de-conversion and steps towards atheism. Its been about a year since I let go of religion once in for all. Over the course of the past year I’ve read books, listened to hundreds of hours of podcasts, attended my first free thought and atheist convention, read the bible critically and had many chats with my wife who is on her second full year of un-belief. But I’ve never talked to any one else close to me about it all.

I have been dying to talk to others about where I am at now with christianity and religion. But have been cautious about how to go about it. It is still quite a scary thing. Especially when it comes to talking to family about it. Which is who I had the opportunity to talk to this week. I had lunch with an in-law who is christian. And it was he who brought it up.

He started by asking me if my wife was still on her “atheism thing”. It kind of took me off guard, but I said, “yes..yes she is.” Then he asked if I was going in that direction as well. I knew it was on then. I stretched my arms as I thought of what to say. But I gave the simplest answer that I could. “Yes, I am.”

He asked what was leading me in that direction. I explained to him how I became a christian in the first place. It was out of fear of hell. When I was in high school, I had a few friends I hung out with that I had no idea were christians. I partied with them all the time. Then for some reason one night the subject of god came up. They asked the usual fear tactic question, “if you were to die tonight, would you go to hell or heaven.” Hell certainly didn’t sound like a desirable destination. So they lead me through the “sinners prayer” and evidently I was “saved”. Then we went back to partying.

So I lived the next 20-25 years as a blind faith christian, with the “fear of the lord” and fear of hell. I constantly had doubts that I just pushed back and lived on faith alone. I read the bible occasionally, but it was usually a laborious task. I constantly asked myself if I really believed it was the word of god and if god was even real. I never wanted to talk to or “witness” to anyone out of fear they might ask me questions about why I believe. I knew I didn’t have any good answers other than I just have faith.

Then, after about eight years of marriage, I watched my wife become honest with herself and began to question religion. I wanted to still be a christian (mainly because all our friends and family were) so it was difficult to see her go down that road. Over a period of a year or two, she decided she didn’t believe anymore. In our conversations about it, what she would say always made more sense. All I could say was, “I have faith.” That’s all I had.

I told him how I had read the bible more over the past two years than I ever had. I explained that it doesn’t quite make sense that these books were so hard to understand. At this he kind of shrugged his shoulders as if to say (whats so difficult to understand?). I talked about how so many people interpret things in the bible so differently. I told him how I might read a questionable passage and how someone might say, “well, what is REALLY meant by that passage is…blah blah blah.” But the passage clearly says this, and someone else says it means that? How am I to make sense of it all? If my eternal soul is dependent on whats written in the book, it shouldn’t take some scholar, who also makes mistakes, to interpret the whole damn thing for me. I can read. I can see what it says, and it doesn’t make sense.

Another thing I talked about is how it became time for me to search for myself honestly about what is real and what is not. No longer could I simply have faith in what my friends and family had faith in. No longer could I believe just because they all did. In all my years as a christian I never had an “encounter with god” or “felt his presence”. I certainly made claims that I had been touched by god, but it wasn’t true. I wanted it to be true, but in all honesty, it wasn’t. It was just the christian lingo, to be in the presence of god. It’s all just atmosphere and emotions.

The conversation then turned to him telling me a story he had heard the night before at his bible study group. It was another story of a guy getting diagnosed with cancer and given only weeks to live. However, the cancer somehow leaves his body, he gets all his strength back and continues living. The man credited god with this miracle and tells his tale as proof for god. And I guess it was somehow supposed to be sufficient evidence to prove to me that it couldn’t be explained, therefore god DID heal him.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am very glad the guy is no longer living with cancer. Who knows, maybe there is a god who saw fit to heal this particular man of cancer. But it can’t be proven and therefore isn’t evidence. I can’t take this story, and many many stories like it (from more religions than just christianity by the way) and just say, “Ok, I believe it now because you said so.” This is exactly what I am trying to get away from. I would be starting at square one again.

Even if I were to get cancer, given a short time to live, then all of a sudden become free of it all, I wouldn’t take it as evidence for a divine healer. I would be happy as hell, but not convinced of a god.

What would it take for me to believe? Evidence that is testable, verifiable and probably not just some incident that only I can see. But is witnessed by more than myself.

Our 30 minute conversation came to a close by switching the conversation to business and work. I felt pretty good about how I made my points. No one got heated. It pretty much happened the way I played out in my thoughts several times before. I just didn’t know who the exchange would take place with. I’m sure there will be many more to come and with other family and friends as word starts to spread.

Just one more small step on the journey.

Get out of hell free card

John 20:24-29

This passage occurs after the resurrection and Jesus’ appearance to his disciples. All except Thomas was present  with the disciples when Jesus shows himself to be a walking ghost, zombie or whatever. The disciples excitedly tell Thomas later that  “the Lord” had been seen. But Thomas has doubts and does not believe.

Verse 25: “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Thomas was a skeptic that wanted verifiable evidence for the claim that was being made. He would not just take their story on FAITH!

Later Jesus appears before Thomas to give him his solid evidence that Thomas required before believing. “Stop doubting and believe.” Jesus says to Thomas. “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

My question is, was Thomas condemned to an eternity in hell at that moment? The rest of us sure are. Billions of people have the same doubts about whether Jesus is who an ancient book says he is. I would like to see some kind of evidence just as Thomas did. Other peoples stories of faith is not evidence. There are many many other stories of messiahs, gods, and so called miracles in many different religions. None of which can be verified with testable evidence. The claims can ONLY be taken on faith.

If Thomas is not destined to roast in hell like the rest of us doubters and skeptics are, what kind of justice is that? Did he get a free pass? Did he receive a get out of hell free card?

Religion is a bad word for the religious

Religion:
1.a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects. 2. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices. 3. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.

I know you’ve heard it from christians before. “Its not a religion, its a relationship!”

I used to say it myself. The word “Religious” is like a cuss word in the christian community. For some, it is like an insult to the status of their faith. Most believe they have a one on one hook-up and exchange with god, Jesus, or whoever. They want to distance themselves away from the word as much as possible.

The word Religion to the believer is like a set a rules that keeps the believer in bondage. It keeps their belief un-free to worship the way that their own version of their faith wants them to worship. It us just a word that they would rather not use or associate with.

Until….

They feel that their beliefs are being infringed upon. Then the word Religion is embraced in the form of the 1st Amendment. Religion become a pretty darn good thing when the religious want to keep their rights to worship however they see fit, or when they want to push their beliefs and faith onto others. Suddenly its not about “relationship” but all about religion.