Friday, 26 September 2008
Why would any woman ever want to be a Xian? This is literally a mystery to me. The Bible is misogynistic - women are the property of men according to god's law. Women must subjugate themselves to men, women must be silent, it is woman's fault that humans fell, childbirth is a curse upon women, etc. It boggles my mind why anyone would want to subject themselves to this sort of treatment/harassment.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has a good write-up of the treatment of women in the Bible including a list of several verses that spell out how women are demeaned by Xianity. I suggest that all Xian women read it.
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
I've recently seen a couple of apologists talk about how Xianity somehow gave rise to science. One of the starting points of their argument is that in the Xian worldview, Xians hold that god created a natural world that is regular and conforms to natural laws that can be studied. Yet, upon reflection, this is a non-sequitor in that it literally does not follow.
Xians believe in a personal god, one that performs miracles. This goes directly against the idea that nature is regular. A god that performs acts that violate natural laws has not created a system that we can take for granted as being regular. Sure, things tend to fall towards the Earth, but who's to say that god won't cause a miracle to happen so that an object I drop won't float in the air in violation of natural law? This creates a situation where we can't actually count on the world to be regular and yield repeatable scientific results.
Monday, 22 September 2008
Many theists assert that god's truth as revealed by revelation is the best way to know about the world, that it is true knowledge, etc. But, is it really? Can anyone name anything that we can say that we know and learned via revelation? For every revelation that anyone can present, there are plenty of contradictory revelations. Each of these revelations are claimed to be from a deity (sometimes contradictory revelations are claimed to be from the same deity) with no way to discern which is true and which one to believe.
On the other hand, we do have a system that works that does bring us knowledge, and that is the scientific method. Through the use of this method, we have made untold discoveries about the world around us, have learned untold numbers of facts, etc. The success rate for science is sky high; it has proven itself to be effective. So, can any theists point to anything we've actually learned from revelation?
Thursday, 18 September 2008
When Xians claim that they know that god exists and that they can not be swayed from this belief, because they are 100% certain that god exists, they are making a rather extraordinary claim. And, the claim I'm speaking of is not simply that god exists, but that they are incapable of being wrong about this claim. This is nothing less than a claim of infallibility, which is ironic considering that a central Xian tenet is that humans are fallible beings and only god is infallible.
"Wait," you say, "The theist has only claimed certainty in one aspect of the real world, not all aspects, hence the theist has not claimed infallibility." Even if the theist only claims knowledge in this very limited sense, it is still a claim that the theist can not be wrong, hence is infallible. But, that's not really what the theist is claiming is it? The theist is also claiming that their religious opinions (how they shape their views on god) are infallible, that their senses (how they view evidence) are infallible, etc. To claim certainty in any one area means that there must also be certainty in other areas, since our thoughts and views are interconnected with other thoughts and views we hold.
We can never be 100% sure of anything. We can be reasonably sure of things - to a degree that it is rational to hold the position that those things are true, but 100% certainty is never attainable. When the theist claims this ability, they are stepping beyond the bounds of what is rationally or reasonably possible.
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
I've recently had a theist posit that god planned to have Jesus come and save us from the beginning of time, whether the fall had happened or not. Let's think about that for a moment, shall we?
If Jesus was always destined to come, then humans were always in need of saving, even before the fall. This wipes away any chance the theist has to claim that we deserve hell due to the fall (not that that is a good claim to make mind you). If we were in need of salvation from the beginning, the all humans regardless of our deeds or the past deeds of our ancestors were made by god to be destined for hell unless he comes to save us. What moral being would consciously make entities that it earmarked for hell from the very beginning?
Yet, in a strange way, it's probably one of the most logical stances that a theist could take. If god is omni-max, then anything and everything that happens in this world necessarily has to happen by this god's demand and according to this god's will. So, god wills that people die in horrible accidents, he wills that people are evil to each other, and he wills that people go to hell. The argument that god does not wish for anyone to perish is also obviously thrown out the window with this admission that Jesus was destined from the start. I'd score that one an own goal.
Sunday, 14 September 2008
Some Xians claim that god speaks to them or that they feel god's presence. OK, so how do you know that it is god's presence? In order to know that it is supernatural, that would require that one be able to eliminate all possible causes, both known and unknown - good luck with that.
But, let's say that some supernatural entity is talking to theists. How would a theist know that it is god talking to them and not some other entity? Many Xians believe in Satan and demons, and they automatically assume that anything that brings them closer to god is from god and anything that leads them away from god is due to Satan or his demons. This presumes that the theist knows and understands what leads to god, however. So, for Xians, what if Allah is the one true god? Then, demons might be leading you to Yahweh and they would be leading you away from the one true god and towards your eternal torment. How would one know?
There are, of course, other problems, like why god would allow demons to lead humans (that he supposedly loves) to their destruction, and the inherent confirmation bias of having one's personal views confirmed automatically leading to god, as well as the count the hits and ignore the misses inherent in such an exercise. In short, claims about hearing specific gods, etc., are patently absurd and useless.
Thursday, 11 September 2008
Xians regularly claim that this world contains evil because we have free will. Having free will means that evil will necessarily exist. Therefore, god is not evil for allowing evil since he wishes for us to be free, autonomous agents capable of making decisions based on our free will.
Of course, the idea of free will with an omni-max deity is inherently contradictory, but let's grant that free will exists for a moment. The argument is that god can not imbue us with free will that causes us to want to do good, because that's not truly free. This is supposedly impossible. Yet, Xians claim that such a place exists - heaven. In heaven, there is no evil, and people strive to do what is good at all times, one would assume. Therefore, if it is impossible to have free will and eradicate evil, heaven must be a place where there is no free will. The Xian ideal, it seems would be to become an automaton for god - a robot, with no power to choose anything. Is this what eternal bliss is?
The Xian will no doubt object to this, saying that we must have free will in heaven, which means that it is possible for us to have free will and live in a world that is free from evil. The theist can not have it both ways. The Xian might also object and say that the people in heaven have used their free will to choose to be with god in heaven, thus free will is preserved. But, this only preserves the "choice" to go to heaven in this Earthly realm, not in heaven. Is one able to exercise one's free will in heaven and reject god? If so, and if this is "evil" then heaven is not a place free from evil and it is not eternal bliss.
Just another contradiction from the contradiction mines.
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
Some Xians contend that life is a gift. I believe that it is in the sense that life is a wonderful thing to have, but unfortunately for them, calling this life a gift is completely at odds with their beliefs.
According to Xianity, once we die we are headed for one of two locations, heaven or hell. (Note, Catholics also pontificate on purgatory, but that eventually leads to heaven, so for the sake of this argument, we can safely ignore purgatory.) So, let's examine the options.
Option 1: Person is headed for hell.
If a person is headed for hell, one might be tempted to think this life is a gift, but what kind of gift ends in eternal torment? The finite amount of time one has on this planet with its ups and downs is nothing compared to the permanent agony and torture that one would endure in endless amounts for eternity in hell. Even if one had the life of Riley in this life, and was always happy, this would quickly be overcome with the torture endured in hell. It would be far better for one to never have been born than to endure infinite torment.
Option 2: Person is headed for heaven.
If a person is headed for heaven, this life could not be considered a gift, as it is just a lowly way-station on the road to eternal bliss. Heaven is described as a place that is so great, that it far surpasses any happiness that is possible on this world. If one were bound for heaven, then one would be stupid not to want to get there as quickly as possible to start experiencing true happiness. Even living the life of Riley would not compare. This life is only keeping you from true happiness and is therefore not a gift.
As an atheist, I am free from these delusions of the afterlife and can truly enjoy life. But, a Xian that holds to a logically coherent view of the world must necessarily detest this life as it keeps that person from enjoying their true reward, while also noting that those poor schmucks bound for hell would be better off not being born.
Wednesday, 3 September 2008
Let's say that you and I are on a boat and I push you off the boat and into the water. Not expecting it, you start to drown. I finally decide to throw you a life preserver and pull you back on board the boat. Am I a hero? Is this a good action? Should you thank me for saving you? I think most people would recognize that my actions were not good. I should not have thrown you into the water and put you in that dangerous situation. Throwing in the life preserver was not so much a good act as an act that fulfilled my moral obligation to you for putting you in that position to begin with. Are we all on the same page? Good.
Now, suppose that we change it up slightly. Let's say that god creates you in such a way that you are doomed for hell. This is analogous to him pushing you into the water and you drowning. Now, god sacrifices Jesus in order to save you, which is analogous to throwing you a life preserver. As above, we can see that god's actions are not good. Putting you in a situation where you are in need of saving just so that he can save you is not a good action or a moral action. In fact, god is morally obligated to save us for putting us in the position where we are bound for hell, and he doesn't even do that for the majority of people if the Bible is to be believed. So, why is it that apologists claim that god is good and moral?
Monday, 1 September 2008
Let's do a thought experiment, shall we? Let's say that person X murders person Y 10 years before you are born. Further, let's suppose that the police come knocking on your door tomorrow and say, "Because person X murdered person Y 10 years before you were born, we are coming to punish you for that crime." You would surely be outraged. You would immediately see this as a completely unjust action, would you not? So, why is it OK for god to hold people accountable for actions they never had a part in? Let me explain.
In the Bible, god boasts about his wrath and that he will visit upon the sons the punishment for the crimes of the fathers down through the ages. He even carries out this boast on a number of occasions. He has Saul murder the Amalekites, for one, because he's upset with something Amalek did generations before. He also has done this to all of us in invoking original sin, the doctrine whereby he holds us all accountable for the actions of Adam and Eve. If you hold that god is infinitely just in everything he says and does, then you have to agree that it is just for one to hold another accountable for actions they had no hand in, actions that occurred before they were born, actions they had no chance to choose to do or not do, etc. Yet, in the case above, you would say that this very action is unjust. This is a double standard and one that clearly shows that god is not just.