Facebook video

I had a relative send me a text video this week on facebook. It was a Christian video that told a story that said it was going to give me chills.

Basically the story was of a person that felt god was telling him to get in his car at 10 o’clock at night. As he drove around aimlessly, he heard god tell him to stop at a store and buy a gallon of milk. Again he did as the “lord” was telling him.

Then the guy wondered what he should do with the gallon of milk. As he pondered this he “heard” god then tell him to stop at this random house and give the milk to the people living there. Reluctantly, he finally obeyed the voice in his head. 

It just so happened that the family living in the house needed the milk to feed their baby, as they couldn’t afford to buy any due to financial hardships. 

What a miracle. What perfect timing. 

No…it didn’t cause me to have chills. It actually just made me think about kids in hospitals with illnesses like cancer. I can only imagine how much of a slap in the face stories like this may be.

Is god concerned with a kid needing milk and providing for them, but not concerned with another kid with a life threatening illness? Where is the help for these kids? He can provide milk but not heal all the kids with cancer?

The milk story, that is likely pure fiction anyway, did not give me chills. It just raised more questions.

I’m not sure if this relative of mine knows about my unbelief. I haven’t exactly made an announcement to family. At the end of the video it asks if you would send this “amazing story” to everyone on your friends list. Also to send it to the person who sent it to you if you were blessed by it. Needless to say I didn’t send it back.

Tell the senate to oppose a 20 week abortion ban response.

Today I sent an email action alert to my local senator informing him I’d like him to reconsider voting for the proposal in the title of this post. Here is the response I got.

Dear Mr. Tommy Torres,

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.  While we may disagree on this issue, I appreciate the opportunity to have a respectful conversation with you.

As a Christian, I believe all people are created in the image of God.  Every human life is precious and should be protected.  Every person has value and deserves to be treated with honor and dignity.  Our Declaration of Independence begins with an affirmation of the right of each person to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

As you may know, H.R. 36 was introduced in the U.S. House by Rep. Trent Franks (AZ) on January 6, 2015. The legislation would prohibit abortions nationwide on unborn children who are beyond five months in gestation on the basis that children at and beyond that stage of development can feel pain. The bill passed the House on May 13, 2015, by a vote of 242 to 184.  Senator Lindsey Graham (SC) introduced a companion bill in the Senate on June 11.

The bill codifies what many people already believe: an unborn child at five months can experience pain.  The child is a unique life who deserves our protection. Science and medicine have rapidly advanced in the past decade, allowing better understanding of child development in the womb and greater opportunity for viability.

As a staunch advocate for protecting life, I am an original cosponsor of this legislation and look forward to the Senate’s consideration in the days ahead.  When I served in the U.S. House, I was an original co-sponsor of the previous version of this bill, H.R. 1797, which passed the House with my support on June 18, 2013, in a vote of 228-196.

In the United States, we have laws to protect children outside the womb from abuse, harm, and death. I believe the only differences between children inside the womb and outside it are size and time.  Just because they are smaller people, does not mean they should be any less protected by the law.  I have the utmost respect for mothers and the plight they face.  However, I will continue to stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

At five months most parents in Oklahoma have already seen an ultrasound to watch their baby kick independently, determine the baby’s sex, and count fingers and toes.  America remains one of a handful of nations in the world, including China, North Korea and Vietnam, that allows late-term abortions.  It is time for that to end.

I have sponsored numerous pro-life bills and remain opposed to abortion.  I realize many Oklahomans have very strong feelings in opposition and in support of abortion practices.  While we disagree on this issue, I look forward to working with you on issues where we share common ground.  I hope you will continue to contact me via email at www.lankford.senate.gov for more information about my work in the United States Senate for all of us.

In God We Trust,

James Lankford
United States Senator

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.

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?

Cussing and kids

At the recent Skepticon event last month, my wife and I attended one of the smaller workshops. I can’t exactly remember the name of the workshop, but I believe it was called (Cursing Secularly).

We walked into the room which was pretty packed with about 50 people. We stood in the back and listened to the already heated conversation taking place. The people involved were basically discussing if it was ok to cuss whenever and wherever we want as adults. One guy was on the side that we as adults should be able to say what we want, no matter the setting. Others preferred to let the company we may be around dictate the appropriateness of the words to come from our mouths.

It seemed, at least from the people who were actually speaking out in the workshop that gatherings like free thought conventions were fair game to say what ever you want. Free speech and free thought is after all what events like Skepticon is all about.

Though my wife and I agree that free speech allows us to say the things we want, we also feel we should speak in a responsible manner, depending on who else is around. Especially if some are children.

After the workshop my wife and I then duscussed wether or not we would feel comortable bringing our own kids to events like Skepticon.

For the most part we would feel ok with them coming. It would be great to expose them to other freethinkers other than ourselves. However, we did hear the occasional F bomb and sexual innuendos during the conference and have reservations bringing our kids around that.

I mean, I do let out the occasional curses myself. But never around my kids. I’m probably like a lot of parents in this regard.

So I guess I’m in agreement that adults should be able to say what they want, when they want. But at what expense when more parents might bring the future freethinkers to conventions. I would just ask the cursers in the crowd to use discretion and be mature about it.

Skepticon 6 Day 1.1

So the day is done. My wife and I are back in the room relaxing. Actually, she is asleep and I’m here pondering the day. The first day for me to ever attend any type of freethinker, skeptical or atheist event. I do have to say, I felt right at home with so many like minded people. It was great to be around everyone and listen to the presentations about thoughts and ideas about the the world around us. Ideas that pretty much are in line with how I think and believe to be true about our world. I haven’t branched out to what I think of the universe so much yet.

So after lunch we listened to Darrel Ray speak on secular counseling. I understand this topic all to well as I have experienced a christian counselor first hand as a skeptic on my way to unbelief. It was very difficult and I eventually had to quit.

After Darrel Ray, we watched Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist do a live broadcast. I was glad he made it through it as he has been feeling under the weather over the past week. Even though he didn’t feel well, it was still a great show. Well done Seth. I even got to shake his hand afterwards. I feel like “that guy” with some of my podcasting hero’s. But really I’m just thankful for the voice he puts out there about atheism and the manner in which he does. Very inspiring.

Next was another podcast that really was there for me at the beginning of my de-conversion journey just a year and a half ago, Dogma Debate. I can’t tell you how much David Smalley and the show, in all of its evolved states has helped me. I really feel they were there with me and helped me in so many ways. Maybe some that aren’t 4th listeners wouldn’t understand, but the rest of us do. I only wish Aron was part of it today. Not sure why he was missing.

Dogma Debate

Dogma Debate at Skepticon 6

I got to see two of my all time favorite podcasts live then PZ Myers was up. My wife was really pumped to see his presentation as she has recently talked to a family member about the topic of PZ’s talk, The Cambrian Explosion.

So, I am still quite new to a lot of these topics, especially ones of evolution, fossils and historical evidence. The Cambrian Explosion is something I’ve only heard about in the past few weeks. So I really know nothing about it. Until tonight. I admit that I didn’t follow most of PZ’s presentation, but still took mental notes and questions. I later asked my wife about it on the way to our room. She cleared things up for me and it all makes much more sense. I may post more on this topic in the future.

After PZ’s talk, my wife began to have contractions again and be in a bit of pain. We had called her doctor back home earlier in the day about it. He told her it was nothing to worry about according to the symptoms she was describing. But she was hurting and feeling tired, so we decided to call it a night and went back to the room.

I really hated that we missed Shelley Segal’s performance. My wife is an awesome jazz singer and guitar player. I think she would have enjoyed it. But she was really wiped. Maybe next time!

We are just so glad to be here though. It is great to experience this with my wife. This ride to where we are today has been quite something. Just a few years ago, I never would have imagined we would be attending an atheist convention and not church. It is really crazy how much closer all of this has brought us. It is really exciting. Looking forward to another great day tomorrow.