Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.
How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.
If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 16th) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.
This was originally posted on September 16, 2017.
Faith Versus Reason
My blogging buddy, Jim, wrote a fascinating post today entitled “Why is it So Hard to Believe in God.” In addition to being a provocative post, he managed to get in the WordPress one-word prompt, “recreate,” when he wrote, “We cannot recreate the Big Bang, so we may never understand all of this, but we can believe that we do exist.” Well done, Jim.
In response to one of the comments on his post, Jim wrote, “I believe in logic and God makes sense to me….” I found that notion to be particularly interesting. I believe in logic, reason, and rationality, and it’s because of embracing those things that God makes no sense to me.
For purposes of this post, I’m going to consider “logic” and “reason” to be synonymous, although technically they aren’t. Reason is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, applying logic, establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information.
That said, logic (or reason) is the antithesis of faith. It takes tremendous faith to believe that an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, supernatural being created everything that exists.
So the question I have for Jim, or for anyone who cares to weigh in is this. When it comes to belief in God, can logic and reason support that belief, or must one suspend logical and rational thought in favor of pure faith to believe in the existence of God as the creator of all things?
Please feel free to share your thoughts (or beliefs).
Jill Dennison has done it again! What has she done this time? I’ll tell you what she’s done. She’s published a post that puts down in writing what I’ve been thinking. She talks about the principle of the separation of church and state in America. And she points out how it seems to be eroding and what that could mean for the future of the American democracy.
I encourage you to take a moment to read her post. If you care to leave a comment, please do so on Jill’s post.
I think that the ‘wall of separation’ between Church and State is critical to maintaining the democratic foundations of this nation. If 100% of all …
There is a new (to me, anyway) Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie prompt called Sunday Confessionals. I suppose, like confessions, it’s meant to be an opportunity for us to get something off our chests. For this week, we’ve been asked to share something that we have felt like yelling into a hole; a secret, an unpopular opinion.
I am an atheist. That’s not a secret. But being an atheist makes me misunderstood by many and reviled by some. So consider this VERY LONG POST (for me) to be me yelling into a hole about my unpopular opinion. If you don’t feel like reading my atheist rant or will take offense at my rejection of your religious beliefs, you may want to stop here.
So let’s do this.
You were a natural-born atheist. You did not come out of the womb believing in God. Religion is something you were taught. Your religious instruction was dictated by your parents. You learned about religion and about God from your parents and from the pastor, priest, rabbi, or imam at the church or temple you and your parents attended. Your religious beliefs as a child were your parents’ religious beliefs. As with just about everything else, you did what your parents told you. You followed their lead.
But like all children, you were naturally curious. You were always asking the “why” questions. So much so, that sometimes your parents, tired of hearing you ask why over and over, would say, out of frustration, “Because I’m your father [or mother] and I said so.”
An unanswered question is better than an unquestioned answer
When you asked the really tough questions, the ones even your parents didn’t know how to answer, it was just so much easier for them to say to you, “Because it says so in the Bible,” or “Because God made it that way.”
As you began to grow a little older and to think for yourself, you discovered that Santa Claus was not real. The Easter Bunny was not real. The Tooth Fairy was not real. Monsters hiding under your bed or in your closet were not real.
But God? Yes, God is real. Of course God is real.
And then you got to high school and took some science, math, biology, chemistry, and physics classes. You thought about all of the things your parents taught you about your religion, about God. You thought about the Bible stories you were taught. And then you thought about what your science teachers were teaching you. And it dawned on you that something wasn’t right.
How can the earth be less than 10,000 years old when geologists, archaeologists, and paleontologists have uncovered rocks and fossils and bones that are millions of years old? Was Eve really created as a full-grown woman out of one of Adam’s ribs? Did she really succumb to the evil will of a talking snake?
Did God really instruct a 480 year old Noah to build an ark that took him 120 years to construct? Did Noah really collect one pair of every living animal on Earth while God flooded the entire planet and destroyed every other living creature besides those on Noah’s ark?
Did Jonah really live for three days and three nights inside the belly of a big fish? Did Moses really climb a mountain and come down from that mountain carrying two stone tablets with ten commandments etched by the hand of God? Was Jesus really born of a virgin mother? Could Jesus really walk on water?
Did all those things in the Bible really happen, or are they fairy tales and fables? Why do we give any more credence to our one God and to the Bible stories than we do the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman gods and their stories? Why is the God my parents believed in and the religion they practiced any better or more “right” than the gods and religions of others around the globe? Talk about a serious case of cognitive dissonance.
Pity the Poor Atheist
A lot of people believe that atheism is borne out of suffering or some traumatic event — some tragic, horrific experience — that caused these poor souls to lose faith in God. There must have had an abusive parent or relative who emotionally or physically tortured or sexually abused them.
These poor atheists must have thought that God can’t exist because, if he did exist, he wouldn’t have allowed them to suffer that way. “How can I believe in a God who would let this happen to me, who would abandon me?”
But I’ve found that not to be the case when it comes to any of the atheists I know. We ask questions and seek evidence. Answers like, “Because it says so in the Bible,” or “You just have to have faith, you just have to believe,” don’t cut it with us.
We weigh all of the available evidence and, having done so, choose to not believe in any supernatural deity or supreme being. We tend to be pragmatists who think deeply, rationally, and logically. Most of us were raised in the religion of our parents, but became skeptical by the inconsistencies, and in some cases, the outright hypocrisies, of our religions.
Many Christians seem to believe that atheists are a bad, sad, miserable, immoral, lost lot. They feel sorry for or pity us because we have lost our way; we have strayed from the path of righteousness. They can’t understand how we can be moral individuals if we don’t believe in God or an afterlife. It’s so sad that we can’t or won’t allow ourselves to bask in the glory that is God, or to accept Jesus as our savior. Which is why they want to “save” us. How magnanimous of them.
Or if they don’t feel sorry for us, they are angry at us. How dare we question their beliefs? How do we have the audacity to suggest that the Bible isn’t “The Truth,” and that God didn’t create us in his image, or that we evolved from monkeys?
We, as atheists, are, therefore, condemned to eternal damnation unless we change our evil, secular ways and embrace God and Jesus. Only then will we be saved. Only then will the light of God’s truth reveal itself to us.
We are not people you should feel sorry for or be angry at. We just don’t live our lives built around your myths.
The following Editor’s letter in the latest issue of The Week magazine was penned by the magazine’s co-managing editor, Susan Caskie. The reason I’m posting it here is because I’ve been expressing to people, both in real life and on this blog, that America is rapidly heading toward becoming a Christian theocracy. The reactions I have received from many range from being told that I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, that I’m a Chicken Little claiming that the sky is falling, and to, “Well, America is a Christian nation, you know.”
So when I read this opinion piece, I felt at least some sense of relief that I’m not alone in my concerns and that I’m not a crazy conspiracy theorist crying wolf. Please take a moment to read this and let me know what you think in the comments.
A 40-foot Christian cross can stand on public land. A public-school football coach can pray to Jesus on the field. A U.S. state must extend its vouchers to Christian schools that teach “a Christian worldview.” The newly activist Supreme Court has given a green light to all these government-sanctioned expressions of religious belief, in defiance of previous rulings that the Constitution bars official endorsement of a particular religion.
Since John Roberts became chief justice in 2005, the court has ruled for religious organizations 85 percent of the time. And while past courts often protected minority faiths, this one showers freshly discovered rights on the Christian majority. Under Roberts, says Northeastern University law professor Wendy Parmet, “almost all of the decisions are issued on behalf of Catholics or evangelicals.”
That is not an accident. Republican presidents have for decades outsourced their court picks to the Federalist Society, whose co-chair Leonard Leo is a member of the far-right Catholic sect Opus Dei. The result is an overwhelmingly Catholic court. Only about 21 percent of Americans are Catholic (including — full disclosure here — my mother’s side of the family, the Irish side; the Scottish Caskies are Episcopalian). Yet six out of the nine justices are Catholic, or seven if you count Neil Gorsuch, who was raised Catholic. In theory, judges put their personal beliefs aside. But does anyone doubt that the worldviews of these justices strongly colored their opinions in these cases — and in overturning Roe v. Wade? The belief that full human personhood begins at conception and that the rights of an embryo trump those of a woman is a conservative Christian teaching — one not shared by a majority of Americans.
Our Constitution prohibits the government from favoring, or “establishing,” one faith as the state religion. But we are getting perilously close to doing just that.
Above is the headline from Slate that appeared on my iPhone’s newsfeed this morning. In yet another move to slowly transition America from a secular democracy to a Christian theocracy, a 6-3 ruling along party lines by the Supreme Court’s conservative justices today has removed foundational, decades-old constitutional limits on religion in public schools.
Today’s decision lowers the bar between church and state in an opinion that will allow more religious expression in public spaces.
Just last week, the Court made it harder for states to decline to fund religious education. In today’s decision, the Court is making it harder for secular schools to keep religion out of extracurricular activities. In the name of defending religious exercise, the Court’s conservative majority has neutered the First Amendment’s reference to the prohibition of a state sanctioning of religion, in this case, Christianity.
And this is hot on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade after a close to 50 year effort by conservative Christians to force their idea of morality on all Americans.
Welcome to the Divine Republic of America, one nation under God. In God we trust. Praise be.