Go Doctors!

Something that really bugs me about believers and faith is when they claim that their prayers specifically made a difference in a situation and think that it should be evidence that their god is real and he listens to them.

Recently a friend sent me a link to a blog about a sick child. The childs parents use it to keep those interested informed of her condition. It also thanks the readers for continued financial support and prayers. The most updated post on it said that the kid had started to do better and was quite possibly going to make a 100% recovery. The writer of the blog, whom I believe is the dad, gave all the credit to god and all the prayers that had taken place.

Honestly in my opinion, all of this is fine. I have no problem with this family believing that their god healed their child. Its what they want to believe…fine. They are free to believe that. And I’m really glad that the child is making a recovery, because it looked like at one point she had a chance of dying. I can’t imagine how scary that would be. I would never tell a family what they should believe healed their kid in a situation like this. I would never go to their blog and tell them they are wrong for believing prayers did the healing. Only if they were to come to me and say something like, “look what god and prayers did” would I politely disagree with them and tell them the reasons why I don’t believe it.

However, to my friend who was trying to use this story to convince me that the “power of prayer” was not to be doubted and to come back to faith, I didn’t mind giving my opinion on the matter. However, even here I wasn’t terribly rude. I didn’t even mention that I didn’t believe that it was the prayers that healed the kid. I just told him that science and doctors are pretty cool. At this, I got no further response from him defending his position that prayer works.

Often times believers forget all about the hard work, years of education and practice doctors put in to be able to make their patients better. Often times saving lives in seemingly hopeless situations. Some believers are quick to dismiss advances in science. I’ve heard it said that you don’t see faith healers at hospitals. There is a reason for that. Go doctors!

 

12 years

Anyone who has read some of my posts may of noticed that I think highly of my wife. She has been kind of a hero to me. Several years ago, both of us were going through a doubting period in our faith. But it was her that really started to ask the hard questions and letting people in our circle of friends and family know she was doubting. She was the one who first said that she no longer believed and had damn good reasons for it.

I stubbornly held on to belief and wanted to continue taking our kids to church. She let me know she could no longer tell them she believed. She didn’t want to tell them or me what we did or didn’t have to believe. But she also couldn’t teach our kids it was truth when she no longer believed herself.

Needless to say, I have come around. Christianity, along with any other religion or gods proposed make no sense to me. Its been an amazing journey with my wife to get to this point. We’ve had our ups and downs and it hasn’t all been easy. But our marriage is in a much better place.

Today we celebrate 12 years of marriage! I love you honey. Thanks for being so brave.

Lying For Jesus

In another exchange with a christian believer about “Intelligent Design” this clip from Ben Steins movie Expelled was sent to us. It is the scene where Richard Dawkins talks about the “possibility” of an alien race seeding the earth to begin life. It is unclear what the point was for sending the video link. I think to show that even an evolutionary biologist and prominent atheist such as Dawkins can perceive of an intelligent designer starting life here on earth. And I assume the message for us should be to have an open mind about Intelligent design.

Here is the youtube clip.

Here is an article from Richard Dawkins himself stating the truth behind this interview and the “science fiction” that Dawkins proposes about the aliens. The part that Ben Stein or whoever put together and edited this movie fails to show the viewers. Thus attepmting to make Dawkins look silly. His explanation begins on paragraph 14.

Lying For Jesus by Richard Dawkins

How blatantly dishonest can these ID people be? It always seems their position can not stand on its own, so they stoop to these levels. This is why atheist and unbelievers can not trust what any of these ID people have to say. They try to sound scientific in these documentaries. But this example proves they are just liars for Jesus.

It’s just a theory?

Almost daily on Twitter there seems to be a debate or argument going on between those supporting evolution and those opposed to it. I see comments from people who support creationism like, “its just a theory” or the classic, “if we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” I even have to jump in from time to time on these discussions.

I know that christian creationists have to be opposed to a scientific theory like Evolution and Natural Selection. Evolution doesn’t line up with what they believe is true, which they get from their bible. So they have no choice but to be opposed if they want to continue to believe in their god and holy book. Regardless of the facts that the scientific community has proven about evolution. Some creationists will even bend and stretch their beliefs and their bible and try to make it fit what science says about how we evolved.

All of these exchanges and discussions got me wanting to look more into what a scientific theory is. What does it take for an idea to become a theory and did the theory of evolution have to go through the same scientific process to get to where it is today.

The first thing I had to clear up, is why do christians say, “it’s just a theory?” What do they mean by that? I tried to take my mind back to when I was a believer. I had absolutely no idea what evolution was about or what it said. All that I knew is what the bible said and believed it was true, hook line and sinker. If there was anything refuting the bible, then it must be a lie from the enemy. Therefore, I never bothered with it. So I can imagine in this mind set saying something like, “its just a theory” would take the meaning, its just a guess, unsubstantiated and speculative, which is an example from Wikipedia I found. I’m almost certain this is what most christians mean when they make that statement. Nothing against them, its just what most believers I was around for 20+ years would say and dismiss a theory like evolution and choose to remain uneducated about it if it threatened belief and faith. “It’s just the devil, so don’t even go there.”

Now on to what a scientific theory actually is.

1. A Scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method and repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation. Scientific theories are testable and make falsifiable predictions. They describe the causal elements responsible for a particular natural phenomenon, and are used to explain and predict aspects of they physical universe or specific areas of inquiry. Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge. This is significantly different from the common usage of the word, “theory”, which implies that something is a guess (ie. unsubstantiated and speculative) *Wikipedia

2. ..large bodies of work that are a composite of the products of many contributors over time and are substantiated by vast bodies of converging evidence. They unify and synchronize the scientific community’s view and approach to a particular scientific field. *RationalWiki

Live Science has a good article explaining the scientific theory.

So, it seems to me that for an idea or hypothesis to become a scientific theory it has to go through a long, proper and strict process. The hypothesis is looked at by several scientist in the field who run experiments repeatedly and ending with the same or better conclusions. Once the hypothesis is overwhelmingly agreed upon within the community after testing, it then becomes an actual scientific theory.

Scientific theories are open to scrutiny and can be disproven at any time if evidence is found, tested and proven to show that scientific theory to no longer be valid. And they can also be improved upon as  more knowledge of the theory comes in and with refined technology.

With the knowledge of what a scientific theory is, I then looked to see if a similar process was taken by those claiming “creationism” was science. Is it really taken seriously by the scientific community? Does it have equal footing? I could not find anything that shows creationism to be a scientific theory. The creationist claim from what I can find just a guess, unsubstantiated and speculative. Creationism can only be believed and taken on faith. I know that creationist apologist try to argue their points in various different ways. They bring up one or two scientists that see things the way they do, but unfortunately for them, they do not have an actual Scientific Theory that has been peer reviewed and tested. They only have faith.

Secular Parenting

I’ve been in the Navy Reserves for 7 years now. I am a Seabee and have deployed once to Iraq which I am quite proud of. I am glad to have had the opportunity to serve in that capacity at least once in my life. No matter the different political outlook we all have. The things I did over there not only made our service members lives better but also local Iraqis.

Well, tonight I got some tragic news of one of the guys that I have served with. I learned that his daughter committed suicide at 18 years old. I hate to see one of my buddies go through such a thing. I can’t imagine. I can’t imagine losing one of my own children who are still very very young to such a thing. Especially over mothers day weekend. That shit sucks.  I feel so bad for their family.

Today I watched my oldest son ride his bike most of the day, even in the rain. Yesterday, on mothers day, was the first day that he rode his bike for the first time without training wheels. It is so awesome to see your own kids take next steps in life. In any way imaginable. Be it sports, education, learning mannerisms, etc. It is great to see them grow and learn. We all want the best for our children. We want them to grow to be successful in whatever area they chose to go in.

This weekend we had the in-laws over. Over our mothers day lunch conversation, they non-chelantly offered to keep our kids for a week in June. At first I was delighted as my wife and I might have some time together, but the way they brought it up made me suspicious. Sure enough, the motive came forth in the next sentence. They wanted to take the kids to Vacation Bible School. My thoughts immediately were disappointment and I wanted to say no. No way did I want my kids to be exposed and indoctrinated for a week of Jesus stuff. I figured my wife and I would talk about it later.

We did talk about it after they left and agreed we did not want our kids to be trapped for hours over a week being taught non-sense and lies. Her parents were saddened and disappointed of course. Our oldest son doesn’t even like going to church with them once a month, much less a whole week of that BS. Our younger daughter doesn’t know any better, but I just wouldn’t feel right exposing her to a week of stories and doctrines that aren’t true. The objective of these schools is to get the kids while their young. To get them to believe their myths before the are able to think and decide for themselves what they believe or don’t. I would feel horrible allowing my kids to be subjected to that kind of brainwashing.

I’m not sure how all this ties into the first part of this post other than I just want the best for my children. I want them to learn for themselves what is truth and with my guidance (I am their parent after all) what is best for them. I guess I just think about being a parent in general. I do my best every day. I can’t imagine losing one of mine to such tragedy. And I know what a tragedy it is to try to tell them what to think as opposed to how to think. And that is exactly what these “Vacation Bible Schools” do. No thanks.

What a prison

This week I spent some time on Twitter having discussions with believers.  It’s quite interesting and well…fun. I actually do learn, having to look up facts and understand my position more on different topics related to religion.

One thing that I try not to do is respond with my emotions or frustration. Sometimes this can be very difficult. Especially when you hear the same things over and over, like “if we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?”

But what I try to do more than anything is just ask question after question to the believers. By asking basic questions about their faith and religion, it becomes quite clear that some of them have done little to no research and all of them believe for no good reason their holy book and god is real. Ultimately it just falls on faith. Of course those of us who do not believe already know this about the religious. Its nothing new. “It’s true because the bible says! I know..that I know..that I know! You’ll never change my mind!” Says the faithful.

Another thing I find disturbing, (other than the fact that these Twitter believers think we atheist chatting with them are satan worshipping heathens. Then again, maybe my little dragon logo doesn’t help. Haha!) is how some refer to themselves. They call themselves wretched sinners, filthy rags, not worthy to live, not worthy of their gods love and grace. Yes, this is how some of the believers on Twitter speak about themselves! It is all certainly from the bible. How degrading.

When I see these people on Twitter credit themselves in such a way, it makes me think of the prison they live in. I feel genuinely sad for them. It is sad that the only value they place on themselves and others is what an imagined god holds for them. I lived like that for many years. Its just sad to think about really. I’m so glad I’m out of that bondage. It really is like breaking free of chains.

Another thing that I have to shake my head at that most christians do is give credit to their god when they accomplish deeds with their hard work or achieve goals. They will stand there after busting their ass on a project, or getting a job, etc and say, “god did this”. It couldn’t possibly be that you spent months, years or a lifetime hitting the grindstone to get where you are. Give yourself some credit folks!

The experience of either debating or simply discussing religion with believers on Twitter has been educational. I don’t expect to change anyones belief or minds and certainly I doubt anything will be produced to change my mind. I guess I see it as good practice in having the discussions in general and developing my own style of debating. Plus like I said, it forces me to know exactly how I see things and find evidence that I find convincing by doing the research for myself. I can say what I think and why I think it. Whereas, a couple of christians on Twitter that I’ve tried to pin down what they believe, why and where is the evidence just pointed me to other websites or just ended the conversation with their god is the one true god. End of conversation. They didn’t seem to care to tell me what THEY thought, but what others thought or just that god did it. Which I understand. I used to be the same way when I tried to believe, but had no good reason to.

One additional concern I have when talking to christians on Twitter is they consistantly seem to want the (I win) button, instead of furthering the conversation. They seem to want to end the questioning as soon as possible, let me know their god is the real god over all and can do anything. Bam done. Most of the questions I present don’t get addressed, which is not surprising. Or as I said earlier, they send me to some other web link instead of giving the answers of what they think themselves.

I will continue being open to conversations with christians or people of other religions. It really is fascinating. If anything interesting comes up, I’ll make sure to write about it here.

 

 

 

My final day

Last night, for some reason I was thinking about the last time I went to church. Well, at least the last time I went to hear a sermon. 

It was the weekend following the last devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma City, specifically Moore, OK. So it had to be at least two years ago.

It was at a time when my faith was being seriously challenged by my wife no less. She had already taken steps to unbelief and atheism. I was still trying to hang on to god, dragging her and the kids to church every sunday. Though my wife would usually get up, walk out in the middle of service and go get Starbucks.

We had been having discussions at home about god. Why she no longer believed and why I did. And of course her reasons made more sense than mine. I only “felt it in my heart” and had faith. But no real reason for believing.

So as my critical thinking skills and doubts started to kick in, so did my doubts about what my preacher was saying.

So it was the weekend after the tornado ripped up our city once again. Leaving thousands homeless and dozens dead, including children who drowned to death in the basement of their school. The pastor did a sermon called “Why?” It was to answer the question why god allows things like this to happen. It was meant to ease the hurt, suffering and anger people in our area might be feeling after such a horrible loss. I was genuinely interested in what he had to say. My wife had already checked out to Starbucks minutes into the sermon. I sat restlesslely in the back, hoping for something to strengthen my already doubting faith.

I don’t remember anything about that sermon except for the very last line that will always stick with me. He said to the crowd, “why does god allow things like this to happen? I don’t know, but I can say this, he is in control.”

I think it was supposed to be one of those profound moments. Where many of the belivers in the room just ate it up and said to themselves, yes it doesn’t matter that it makes no sense. God is god and his will be done. Praise ya Jeeezus!

But for me, that was it. That was no answer. Frustration boiled. I was done. I stood up then and there, never to return. It was at that moment I realized the god he was preaching about isn’t there and isn’t in control of anything.

My wife was happy to hear we would not be going back. We actually did continue to take the kids for a while longer as they still wanted the free donuts and enjoyed playing at kids church. But eventually they would lose interest too. Now we do family things together on Sundays.

Looking back today, I am very glad I went to that service and was able to see behind the curtain. For the first time the pastor that I had looked up to and though was so clever, was just as blinded as most who sit down to listen to him every week. I once was blind, but now I see.