Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Emotional Charlantism of Christianity: Father John Powell

 I was recently forwarded the story below and decided to comment briefly on why it is perhaps the very thing that atheists hate the most about Christians. And that is because it is perhaps the worst kind of lie Christians can come up with. 

First -  Tommy is clearly NOT an atheist, because a person who says, "Do you think I will ever find God?" is, by definition, not an atheist. An atheist, after all, cannot both believe that God does not exist, and at the same time wonder if they will ever find the very thing they believe 'does not exist.' That's like saying I do not believe in Santa Clause and then asking if I will ever find Santa Clause.

Second - To say that "God is love" is to use one abstraction to define another. It is to say that God is proved by the existence of the emotion we call "love," which is to claim that atheists either do not know love (or, as Christians see it, they do not know the strongest, purest "love" of all, which only comes from God) or that, if they do know such love, they simply do not understand that such love is, by definition, God. Both suggestions serve only to convince the Christian that they possess something by being theists that atheists do not: true love, or true knowledge of what true love really is - God. 

Since neither idea can be proved any more than that God exists in the first place, as any atheist can see, both suggestions are simply attempts at manipulation, and nothing more. Such subtle emotional manipulation not only enables such Christians to feel that their belief in God makes them potentially emotionally or spiritually superior to the atheist,  it also equates Tommy's experience with "love" as being God, despite the fact that Tommy only had such an experience because of the impending angel of death. God, therefore, is not love, but death, while love was simply Tommy's emotional reaction to his own death.    

Third - I seriously question if such a story ever really happened at all, as anyone who seeks to defend them self against such emotional charlatanism naturally would. After all, if I told you a similar story and then asked you to enter your user name and password to your banking account, you would know instantly that this email is a scam (at least I hope you would). But what the Christian often fails to see, that the atheist sees all the time, is that this email is essentially just that. Why else do you think Joel Olsteen and so many other super rich televangelists make so much money?

Fourth - Nothing suggests such an email is simply a spiritual ponzi scheme more than the claims that "this is a true story and it has not been enhanced for publicity purposes" (whenever someone begins a statement "to be perfectly honest,..." it's usually a safe bet that whatever follows is probably a lie) and the request to "forward this email to a friend or two." By definition, these statements alone make this email qualify as spam, regardless of whether it is true or not.

And lastly, for these reasons and so may more, how could anyone ever respect someone - indeed, how could anyone ever respect anyone - who ever read this email and concluded it somehow proved, or even strongly implied, that God must be real?


Come, Holy Spirit! - 85 - Tommy's Story

For obvious reasons, this is my CHS today  Thanks!

Father John Powell, a professor at Loyola University in Chicago, writes about a student

in his Theology of Faith class named Tommy:

Some twelve years ago, I stood watching my university students file into the classroom for  our first session in the Theology of Faith.  That was the day I first saw Tommy.  He was combing his long flaxen hair, which hung six inches below his shoulders.

It was the first time I had ever seen a boy with hair that long.   I guess it was just coming into fashion then.  I know in my mind that it isn't what's on your head but what's in it that counts; but, on that day, I was unprepared and my emotions flipped.

I immediately filed Tommy under "S" for strange....very strange.  Tommy turned out to be the "atheist in residence" in my Theology of Faith course.
He constantly objected to, smirked at, or whined about the possibility of an unconditionally loving Father/God.  We lived with each other in relative peace for one semester, although I admit he was for me at times a serious pain in the back pew.
When he came up at the end of the course to turn in his final exam, he asked in a cynical tone, "Do you think I'll ever find God?"
I decided instantly on a little shock therapy.  "No!" I said very emphatically.
"Why not," he responded, "I thought that was the product you were pushing."

I let him get five steps from the classroom door and then I called out, "Tommy!  I don't think you'll ever find Him, but I am absolutely certain that He will find you!"  He shrugged a little and left my class and my life.
I felt slightly disappointed at the thought that he had missed my clever line -- He will find you!  At least I thought it was clever.
Later I heard that Tommy had graduated, and I was duly grateful.  Then a sad report came.  I heard that Tommy had terminal cancer.  Before I could search him out, he came to see me.
When he walked into my office, his body was very badly wasted and the long hair had all fallen out as a result of chemotherapy.  But his eyes were bright and his voice was firm, for the first time, I believe.
"Tommy, I've thought about you so often; I hear you are sick," I blurted out. 
"Oh, yes, very sick.  I have cancer in both lungs.  It's a matter of weeks."
"Can you talk about it, Tom?" I asked.
"Sure, what would you like to know?" he replied.
"What's it like to be only twenty-four and dying?
"Well, it could be worse.
"Like what?"
"Well, like being fifty and having no values or ideals, like being fifty and thinking that booze, seducing women, and making money are the real biggies in life."
I began to look through my mental file cabinet under "S" where I had filed Tommy as strange.  (It seems as though everybody I try to reject by classification, God sends back into my life to educate me.)
"But what I really came to see you about," Tom said, "is something you said to me on the last day of class." (He remembered!)  He continued, "I asked you if you thought I would ever find God and you said, 'No!' which surprised me.  Then you said, 'But He will find you.'  I thought about that a lot, even though my search for God was hardly intense at that time.  (My clever line. He thought about that a lot!)  But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and told me that it was malignant, that's when I got serious about locating God. And when the malignancy spread into my vital organs, I really began banging bloody fists against the bronze doors of heaven.  But God did not come out.  In fact, nothing happened.  Did you ever try anything for a long time with great effort and with no success?  You get psychologically glutted, fed up with trying.  And then you quit."
He went on, "Well, one day I woke up and, instead of throwing a few more futile appeals over that high brick wall to a God who may be or may not be there, I just quit.  I decided that I didn't really care about God, about an afterlife, or anything like that.  I decided to spend what time I had left doing something more profitable.  I thought about you and your class and I remembered something else you had said: 'The essential sadness is to go through life without loving.'  But it would be almost equally sad to go through life and leave this world without ever telling those you loved that you had loved them."
He continued, "So, I began with the hardest Dad.  He was reading the newspaper when I approached him. 
"Yes, what?" he asked without lowering the newspaper. 
"Dad, I would like to talk with you."
"Well, talk."
"I mean, it's really important."
The newspaper came down three slow inches.  "What is it?"
"Dad, I love you, I just wanted you to know that."  Tom smiled at me and said it with obvious satisfaction, as though he felt a warm and secret joy flowing inside of him. 
"The newspaper fluttered to the floor.  Then my father did two things I could never remember him ever doing before.  He cried and he hugged me.  We talked all night, even though he had to go to work the next morning."
"It felt so good to be close to my father, to see his tears, to feel his hug, to hear him say that he loved me."
"It was easier with my mother and little brother.  They cried with me, too, and we hugged each other, and started saying real nice things to each other.  We shared the things we had been keeping secret for so many years."
"I was only sorry about one thing --- that I had waited so long."
"Here I was, just beginning to open up to all the people I had actually been close to."
"Then, one day I turned around and God was there.  He didn't come to me when I pleaded with Him.  I guess I was like an animal trainer holding out a hoop, 'C'mon, jump through.  C'mon, I'll give you three days, three weeks.' Apparently God does things in His own way and at His own hour.  But the important thing is that He was there.  He found me! You were right. He found me even after I stopped looking for Him."
"Tommy," I practically gasped, "I think you are saying something very important and much more universal than you realize.  To me, at least, you are saying that the surest way to find God is not to make Him a private possession, a problem solver, or an instant consolation in time of need, but rather by opening to love.  You know, the Apostle John said that.  He said: 'God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in him."
"Tom, could I ask you a favor?  You know, when I had you in class you were a real pain.  But (laughingly) you can make it all up to me now.  Would you come into my present Theology of Faith course and tell them what you have just told me?  If I told them the same thing it wouldn't be half as effective as if you were to tell it."
"Ooooh...I was ready for you, but I don't know if I'm ready for your class."
"Tom, think about it.  If and when you are ready, give me a call."
In a few days Tom called, said he was ready for the class, that he wanted to do that for God and for me.  So we scheduled a date.  However, he never made it.  He had another appointment, far more important than the one with me and my class.
Of course, his life was not really ended by his death, only changed.  He made the great step from faith into vision.  He found a life far more beautiful than the eye of man has ever seen or the ear of man has ever heard or the mind  of man has ever imagined.
Before he died, we talked one last time.  "I'm not going to make it to your class," he said.
"I know, Tom."
"Will you tell them for me?  Will you tell the whole world for me?"
"I will, Tom.  I'll tell them.  I'll do my best."
So, to all of you who have been kind enough to read this simple story about God's love, thank you for listening.  And to you, Tommy, somewhere in the sunlit, verdant hills of heaven --- I told them, Tommy, as best I could.
If this story means anything to you, please pass it on to a friend or two.
It is a true story and is not enhanced for publicity purposes.
With thanks, Rev. John Powell, Professor,
Loyola University, Chicago

Lord, my God, thank You for finding me and keeping me!  Please never let me go.  In Jesus' name I ask this.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Noah: Proof that God is More Sadistic than a Serial Killer

When Adam and Eve ate the apple in the Garden of Eden, they didn't just get thrown out of paradise on their keisters for doing so, they also single highhandedly barred humanity from entering the gates of Heaven. Jesus, so the story goes, came to redeem humanity for its apple eating forebears and reopen the gates of Heaven so souls could be saved. But if this is the case, then the story of Noah and the Great Flood only proves how truly sadistic God really is.

Christian's protest abortion specifically because they believe that all life is sacred, and necessarily a gift from God. Every person ever born, therefore, is only born because it is God's will. Those who end up in hell, on the other hand, do so of their own free will, by choosing to disobey God. The story of Noah, however, proves otherwise.

Taken at face value, the story of Noah claims that everyone on the planet had simply chosen to disobey God, including the unborn (unless we are to assume that no one was pregnant at the time of the flood). Like Sodom and Gomorrah, then, the entire planet was deserving of God's righteous wrath of global waterboarding, including infants still in their mother's womb. (What Christian's never address, of course, is why is it okay for God to "murder infants in their mother's womb?")

But here's the theological problem with the story of Adam and Eve, Noah, and Christ: If the sin of Adam and Eve barred the gates of heaven until Christ reopened them through his death and resurrection, then everyone who had ever been born between the time of Adam and Christ - or at the time of the flood, anyone who was even just a fetus in their mother's womb (apparently God is okay with such "abortions," if he is performing them to kill the mother) - presumably ended up in hell or some other netherworld.

What kind of "gift of life" can God be giving people, then, if anyone who was born during this time - or who was even conceived, according to pro-life Christians - was barred from entering Heaven, and therefore presumably ended up in limbo or even hell? And for all eternity, no less, since the Bible clearly claims that there is no way to exit hell once a person winds up there. Alternatively, if all those people - the born and the unborn - who God decided to give the "gift of life" did not end up in hell, then they ended up in purgatory or limbo or some cold, dark, cramped waiting room that wasn't heaven.

And the fact that Jesus is said to have gone to Hades during the three days after his death but prior to his resurrection (in other words, before he had reopened the gates of heaven) suggests that, if Jesus was indeed God, then he must have gone there just to rub it in. And if that was the case, then all of those in Hades could only have responded to Jesus's arrival to their fiery abode with the same reaction that Jeff Spicoli had when Mr. Hand tore up his class schedule: "You dick!"


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Why Forgiveness Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

My sister is quite possibly insane. Part of her insanity comes from an adamant addiction to how right she is - about everything. (I'm not kidding, by the way. And trust me, this is not hyperbole.) As a result, she suffers from a complete inability to ever admit, or even recognize, that she could be wrong. 

This inability to ever admit a mistake is made all the more ironic by the fact that she is more addicted to her Catholicism than the pope (an addiction, by the way, that can only be overcome through a 12 step program in Cath-oholics Anonymous). Yet even though some people might find it ironic that a person who claims to be made more humble by her Catholic Faith is completely incapable of every admitting she is wrong - which only demonstrates the placebo effects of Christian belief - I believe this inability is often the direct result of such a "faith" in the first place.  

As a rapid Catholic, her religion (so she and other Christians argue tooth and nail) is the only thing that softens the hard hearts of the wicked, the prideful, and the self righteous. For her, only God and Jesus can teach people to admit their flaws, accept their short comings, and help the most stubborn among us see the beam in their own eye, instead of focusing exclusively on the splinter in someone else's. Indeed, for the Christian, Christianity is not simply the sole cure for the human condition of pride, it is also perhaps the only lesson that can teach humanity how to forgive, through both the example of Christ, and the continual practice of saying to God, "I'm sorry"  (in part for killing Christ, stealing apples, and too many other things to list here).

The problem with such Catholics is that they come to conclude that their willingness to say they are sorry to God (for being as obstinately imperfect as only He could have created them to be) makes them instantly perfect enough to never have to apologize to anyone else, for anything, for the rest of their natural born life. Once you are "right with God," in other words, you're pretty much right about everything else from then on. 

As anyone who has ever argued with a Christian can attest, then, this habit of seeing themselves as infallible as their Christianity, is by far perhaps the most practiced and venerated of all the Christian virtues; and is only surpassed in devotion by the Christian sacrament of always condemning in others that which the Christian practices  with self righteous abandon in every breath. The only thing such Christians continually prove, however, is their indefatigable belief that Christ's forgiveness means never having to say you're sorry.  

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Fish Bowl of Christianity: Why Christians Cannot Understand Atheism

Arguing with a Christian about God is like arguing with God about atheism, because they are in fact the exact same thing. The Christian is never trying to prove  that God is real, after all, but simply that their is no one in the world that can prove to them He is not; not even God himself.

They believe that their "faith" is being tested whenever anyone suggests that a belief in God is irrational, which it so obvious to atheists but sounds completely insane to Christians. Like Narcissus, the Christian has fallen in love with the reflection of their own exalted, personified perfection, that they call God, and they want everyone else to accept it, because the "picture" they worship is so beautiful.

The Christian can only see the young woman in that famous psychology picture, in this sense, and never the old woman. And anyone who tries to point out the other image ends up being crucified for it. 

Christians are not basing their beliefs on any verifiable evidence for God, in this respect, but on an experience that they then interpret to be either God, or proof of his existence and undying love for them.  They are trapped inside of that early arcade game, Pong, and batted back and forth in a badminton game between their hope and their fear, with one forever dreaming of perfection and paradise, and the other forever trying to outrun the reality of our mortality, and the grave.

And in order to keep these two fantasy's sternly moored in place, Christians construct a morality (based, of course, on what they personally define as "human perfection") and proceed to inoculate their children's souls through the syringe of indoctrination. That indoctrination is designed to create an emotional addiction to the God that continually proves his love for us by triggering our brains to salivate endorphins at the sound of Church bells, and the prospect of nourishing one's soul through an act of spiritual cannibalism.

That all of this sounds so obvious to an atheist but like pure nonsense to a Christian, is because the former understands the world through what science can teach, while the other understands the world only through what they have learned from their religion.  One seeks to understand who we are, while the other claims to know already. One sees everything and seeks to understand what it all means, and the other claims to know what it all means without having to see a single thing. One asks the question, "what is truth?" And the other presumes to answer, "Let me tell you." And as one follows the symbol of a fish, the other works to free people from the fish bowl.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Washing Machine of a Belief: Jesus and Martin Luther

When Martin Luther nailed his "Ninety-five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences to the door of All Saint Church in Wittenberg, to protests against clerical abuses, including the sale of indulgences, he unwittingly started the Protestant Reformation. According to Wikipedia, however, and contrary to popular belief, "Luther merely passed around the pages, a move aided by the advent of the printing press around the same time."

In either case, by challenging the Catholic Church, Luther had become the new Christ. After all, did Christ not "over turn the tables of the money lenders" who were operating within the temple, and threaten to "destroy the temple" (which has been interpreted to mean both the physical structure Christ was standing in when he made the claim, as well as Christ himself)?

Luther, therefore, was simply following in the footsteps of Christ. For Christ challenged the Sanhedrin and the Pharisees for their corruption in the same way Luther challenged the Catholic Church for theirs.

What is interesting is why.

Martin Luther was convinced that his Christianity was real, and that Christ was the son of God. As such, no amount of corruption and bloodshed that the Church could commit, could ever change his mind. So, rather than concluding that perhaps he was wrong to believe such things, he concluded the very opposite; but all within the Christian paradigm.

Christianity is a belief system that claims there is heaven and hell, a God and the devil. So while an atheist would see evidence of corruption in the Church as proof that the Christian belief system is simply a charade operating as a spiritual ponzi scheme, Luther concluded that corruption was proof, not that the Church was a lie, but that the Church was in the hands of the Devil.

It never occurred to Luther, so it seems, that perhaps the entire game had been rigged from the start. Instead, his beliefs had limited his options: the Church was either good or evil, but it couldn't simply be an elaborate ruse. (Of course, you can't really blame Luther for this, since no one believed that the Germans or the Khmer Rouge could actually be committing genocide either.)

Since it had never occurred to Luther that he had been brain washed, in other words, he had never thought to climb out of the washing machine of his beliefs.     

The Hubris of Christian Humility

Christians often pride themselves on their sense of humility. It is as if the mere fact that they believe in a religion that requires them to be humble somehow makes them humble, no matter how insistent they are about being right. As Alanis put it, "isn't it ironic?"

When Charles Darwin looked at the world, he concluded from his investigations that, much like the universe, our planet must have evolved over time. And over the course of this processes, different species must have evolved as well, through what he referred to as "the processes of natural selection." Although the theory wasn't perfect, and some have argued that many holes have  been punched in it since Darwin was alive, it seemed to make more sense than any other ideas that science had come up with to that point. It seemed to make sense, that is, unless you were a Christian.

For the die hard Christian, Darwin's theory was pure heresy. Everyone knew, as far as the Christian was concerned, that the universe was God's version of Shake-n-Bake - ready made - fast food - "presto-magician"- viola! - instant potato! And only an idiot would think we "evolved"!

The problem with Darwin's theory, ironically enough, is that it did not allow humanity to see itself as the masterpiece of God's master plan; for which the universe and everything in it were simply stage props. From an evolutionary perspective, that is,  humanity is simply an infinitesimally small piece of something that could be potentially infinite. Christians, however, can only accept such a perspective if they consider that "potentially infinite" thing to be God.

Since there is absolutely no scientific evidence for the belief that the universe is simply God's version of instant popcorn, the only way to come to such a conclusion is to simply "believe" it (as if this is a far superior way of reaching a conclusion whenever "there is absolutely no scientific evidence" to support a particular theory). 

But to assume that the most awesome being we can imagine made the universe, and everything in it, specifically for our benefit, and that that "being" was once just like us, does anything but inspire humility. On the contrary! It requires the most egregious act of hubris humanity can muster! (In fact, we even see some of this hubris being expressed in the way each country tends to fashion pictures of God and Christ in their own ethnic image.)

For if there is no scientific evidence to support such a claim, than the only way to "know" such a thing must be true, is too necessarily assume to know the mind - and thus to understand "the divine plan" -  of God himself.  Darwin, on the other hand, based his theory on an interpretation of the only evidence he had at his disposal. Hence, even if Darwin is one day proved to be wrong, at least he was making an honest educated guess at trying to understand it all.

By believing that humanity is God's special Claymation, however, the Christian assumes to already "know it all," and thinks it is the exclusive role of science to simply prove what (at least to the Christian anyway) has been so bloody obvious all along. How Christians can claim to have such Godlike insight into the origins of everything, and still claim to be "humble" is a mystery of faith. 

And since Lucifer was God's "most wise and most beautiful angel," according to Genesis, one has to wonder which one appears to have fallen more in love with their own "wisdom" and "beauty" - Darwin, who suggested we were made in the image and likeness of apes, or Christians, who claim to have been made in the image and likeness of God?  For as one sees humanity through the lens of an anthropologist, the other has fallen in love with a reflection of its own "image and likeness," like Narcissus.

Religion is a disease masquerading as it’s own cure.