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!

 

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.

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?

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.

Did John the Baptist doubt Jesus?

The mothers of Jesus and John the Baptist both had some remarkable events happen at the time when they conceived. Both were visited by angels and told the details of their soon to come offspring, even down to what to name them. One of them was to come into the world magically.

I understand that John and Jesus may not of been around each other while growing up. Of course…there is no record of these cousins being together until the day Jesus went to John to be baptized. Though John didn’t greet him as a family member, but as someone who’s sandals John was unworthy to carry.

According to Matthew 3:14 (But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”) it is very clear that John knows who Jesus is. At least the god like nature that Jesus was supposed to be. Johns whole purpose was to “prepare the way” for Jesus’ coming. What a day it must have been when Jesus finally did show up on the scene. And even came to John to be baptized.

So there are a couple of passages that I recently read that are a bit puzzling.

Matthew 11:2 When John heard in prison what christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Luke 7:19 he sent them to the lord to ask, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

When I read this, I picture John sitting in prison saying, “Damn…I wonder if all this crazy magic stuff is true after all. Why hasn’t Jesus broke me out of here yet?!” I wonder if during Johns time in prison, he began to doubt if there was a god or began to doubt Jesus.

Reading further in the texts, I found no resolve to Johns questions or possible doubts. I found no passages where Johns disciples reported back Jesus’ response. Only that John is beheaded later.

Now then, I can already hear possible believers response to all of this. Things like, “John knew he was going to die, and wanted his own disciples to start following Jesus.” or “John wanted his disciples to be re-assured from Jesus himself.” But where does it say that? The bible never says that. Conclusions like this can only be made up. Christians can make up whatever they want in these gaps to make it all fit together. Regardless of wether the text actually says it or not. I can only conclude what the text itself says and it reads to me like John began to doubt the divinity of Jesus.

This is a perfect example of how the bible can be contradictory, confusing and an incomplete, fragmented text. If our very souls are dependent on what is written in it, why make it so difficult to understand. Just another reason to not believe it is the inerrant word of a god.

So, did John the Baptist doubt Jesus?

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.