Friday, September 13, 2013

Caring letter, or yet more nonsense?

My wife and I were at a street festival in Pennsylvania when we came across a guy in the middle of the street handing out pamphlets. Unsurprisingly, they were Christian propaganda handouts. I do find it odd that this guy seemed under the impression that rural PA is so unaware of the Jesus story that he felt the need to act as if he was passing out exclusive news.

Um, rural PA is pretty damn religious and anyone who opens their eyes should be able to see that. Hell, tons of jewelry vendors had cross pendants and earrings, and there were plenty of craft vendors with faith themed items. But no, we need to spread the word of Jesus... Yes, and allow me to change your life with the news of gravity (at least that's real).

But let's take a look at his little booklet that he wasted plenty of time making...
A Personal Letter To YOU From Someone Who Cares!!

I am just a normal everyday guy! I worked for a living and was paid a salary.
Paid a salary? In what way is that slightly relevant  to a religious tract? Oh boy, I get paid to work! ...and so does everyone else. Do you know what being made to work without pay is called? Slavery. Something that your Bible is actually just fine with.
The father of a grown son and daughter, the Grandfather of a young man and three young ladies, and a great grandfather of a beautiful little girl.
Congratulations! You and your offspring successfully reproduced! But that's not anything miraculous. The same is true of the families of the faithful and faithless, as well as bad people and good. I sure hope you're not painting a picture for which Jesus is required. Because if you are, you're failing.
Was it always like this? No! In my younger years while living in a Government Project in South Philadelphia I was involved in things I'm not proud of today. Life had little, if any purpose for me. I thought of suicide more than once. 
Please don't tell me this is going toward the tired and absurd claim that nonbelievers find life meaningless, and that they are morally inferior. In my case, I'd say that  I value life more now that I don't believe,  and am just as moral, if not more so, than many of the Christians that I know or have met. Many have actually told me that they are moral only because of their God. I'm sorry, if God telling you not to rape, kill or steal is the only thing keeping you from these thing, then your problem is a lack of empathy. If God is the only thing keeping you from those actions, you are already a terrible person. Moral acts done only to please a god is not true morality.
At seventeen I quit school and entered the U.S. Army, serving in Korea, Vietnam and Panama. Again the only meaning life held for me was survival. I had done possibly everything you have done and possibly a little more. Maybe not - possibly you're saying "no-way" - "I've done it all" Maybe so! That is why I am writing you this letter. I found a reason for life. I found joy and I found peace! You say "that's not for me", or "it won't work for me". I assure you - if it worked for me it can work for you also!
 I'm sorry that you felt little of your life before, but it wasn't religion you were lacking. My non-belief  has actually led me to be amazingly full of gratitude for the life I have. Life is incredibly meaningful and  it's purpose is quite clear to me. As I said before, life is actually brighter now that I no longer believe. While I don't agree with your conclusions in the slightest, I do thank you for your service. As for how you think people will react to your story... I find those assumptions quite revealing of your clouded judgement and conclusions. No, most won't say "that's not for me". In fact, at least 70% of those you gave these to have concluded that it is 'for them', and that it will 'work for them'. After all 78% of Americans are already Christians.
I found seven facts about life - let me share them with you!
Seven facts? I'm skeptical, but I'll listen...
I. It is a fact that God loves you!
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." I don't care how empty you're feeling or how lonely you are - God Loves You!
Sigh... So much for seven 'facts'. Obviously you don't understand the meaning of the word 'fact'. Fact is defined as 'a thing that is indisputably the case'. So your first 'fact' isn't a 'fact' at all. How could it be when God himself isn't even factually proven? If we don't even know that a being exists, it can't be a fact that they then love us. What you have here is no more than an assumption based on your belief. If what you are saying was true, we would all be Christian and believe in the Christian god. The claims you make are no more valid than those of the other religions that you disbelieve in. Also, God's 'love' is far from it, as I've written before.
II. It is a fact that you are a sinner:

Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."All meaning - from the preacher to the prostitute - from Sunday school teacher to the pimp. When I read that, I knew I was a sinner and so do you.
Strike two! Two 'facts' in a row, that aren't facts at all. Just as there is no proof of God, there is no proof that the concept of sin is anything real either. Also, way to think the worst of everyone. You see yourself and everyone else and see a terrible sinner. What's wrong  with seeing the best in people? Rather than falling into the trap of an imaginary sickness? So no, I don't 'know' I am a sinner, or even believe that sin is actually even real.
III. It is a fact that you are now dead in sin.

Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death: but the gift of God is eternal life thru Jesus Christ our Lord." After reading this realized that my emptiness could be filled - there was a way out for me - yes! even me and yes! even you!
Strike three! Again, 'sin' isn't even factually known. It is no more than a belief that is propped up by, and  is wholly dependent on your religion. If you aren't a Christian, Christian sin is not a relevant belief. Are you concerned with sin in Islam? Christianity and it's claims are just as unfounded as theirs. Again, if these things you are saying were indeed facts, the entire world would already be completely Christian.
IV. It is a fact that Christ died for you.

Romans 5:6-8 "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Christ died a horrible death - a long suffering death - nailed to the cross - for me; a sinner - and you; a sinner.
Strike four! Guess we weren't playing baseball... Four claims, and none of them facts. It isn't even known for a fact that Christ ever even existed, let alone that he died on the cross for anyone. Again, you are simply taking your beliefs for granted. What if I told you that Prometheus died, and died, and died, and died for us all. He suffers a terrible and agonizing death every single day (for all eternity) for daring to bring mankind the gift of fire. Surely upon hearing that you are now a devout follower of Prometheus, correct? Why claim that this unnecessary and unevidenced 'sacrifice' is factual, when you aren't prepared to bow in thanks to Prometheus as well?
V. It is a fact that you can be saved by faith in Lord Jesus Christ.

Acts 16:30-31 "And brought them (keeper of the prison) out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." I said to myself, "What does it mean to believe? - I can't see air, but I know it's there because it gives me breath - I can't see electricity, but I know it is there for the lights in my house. The Bible said that Christ dies for ME. He took my sins upon Himself, past, present and future and died in my place - He died in your place. Do you think your sins are too great to qualify? I thought that. But He took them all - From the murderer to the liar; from the adulterer to the man with the bad temper - He took them all.
Now we're five for five  for 'facts' that aren't 'facts' at all. Again, there's no proof for Jesus, nor that he
could save anyone, had he even existed. Believers in Islam will tell you that they are saved by Allah. Hindu's are 'saved' by Krishna. Believers in every religion 'know' they are saved by their deity. The idea that you can be saved through Jesus is no more than hearsay. That's far from a fact.

Your comparisons to air and electricity are flawed. Both can be measured. Both can be used, tested, and verified. All are independently verifiable, and the results remain the same irregardless of ones beliefs. These things are not true of gods. And so what if the Bible said that Christ died for you? The holy books of all religions make all kinds of claims that you simply dismiss. So why should I grant one unevidenced book special credence above the others?

As for your statements about the severity of sin vs forgiveness, this does not highlight a positive thing as you think it does. How is it just that murder is considered equal to the crimes of eating shellfish or wearing mixed fabrics? Also, if any sin is forgivable with belief then we should expect that Hitler (a Christian) is in Heaven. Is that really a thought to be happy about?
VI. It is a fact that you can be saved and know it.

1 John 5:10-13"Anyone who believes in the Son of God (Jesus) has this testimony in his heart, anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this testimony; God has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." Am I sure I am going to heaven when I die - as unworthy as I am? Yes, I know for sure - As sure as I know there is electricity - as sure as I know there is air - you too, as unworthy as you are, can know - are you going to heaven?
Well I'll give you one thing... you're consistent. Just as all the others, this also isn't a fact. You are simply assuming from the standpoint of a previously held belief. There are no facts here, just assumptions. I did find one part of the verse quoted interesting. It claims that those that claim to not believe that the Christian god created them are liars. Really? what of those in isolated parts of the world that have never heard of Christianity? They don't believe in the Christian god or Jesus and have likely created different deities. Are they lying about not believing in a religion that they don't even know about? No, such a claim would be absurd, but that's the one you're making none-the-less.

No, you are not factually sure you are going to heaven, you simply assume the claims and the path you believe in is true. Even in the absence of evidence. You are not sure of this in the same way that you are sure of air and electricity. Again, they are verifiable and God isn't.

And if it is a 'fact' that we are saved by Jesus, it must also be a fact that Prometheus died and died to give us fire. It must also be a fact that Thor gave his life to defeat the great demon serpent during the battle of Ragnarok in order to rid the realms of it's evil. It must also be true that Odin rid the world of frost giants as he promised since there are no frost giants. Oh, but I forgot... you don't believe in those even though these beliefs have the same amount of evidence as your Christ. Be honest for a change and believe in what is verifiable instead of what you want to be true or were spoon fed as a child.
After reading these six facts I said to myself - "How do I become a Christian?
What? It's six 'facts' now? I thought you said it was seven... But then again you didn't even present a single fact, so perhaps simple addition is a bit much to ask of someone who doesn't even know what 'fact' means.
1. I had to realize I was a sinner.
2. I had to realize there was a penalty for sin (Hell).
3. I reflected on the fact that Christ suffered and died for mine and your sins (past, present, and future).
4. I realized I had to repent (turn away from) my sin and turn to God for forgiveness.
5. I finally received Christ as my Saviour and believed on His name and confessed Him as Lord.

Romans 10:9 "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved".
Why not realize that Prometheus blessed us with fire? Why not thank Thor for his sacrifice, or Odin for riding the world of frost giants? Why not confess your dismissal of Ganesh? Why not confess that the Buddha really is the wisest and knows all? Why not bow to the virgin birth, sacrifice and resurrection of Mithra?

Why cling to the belief that all are flawed, dirty sinners? Why not embrace a Shinto tradition of purity? Why live in fear of Hell rather than fear of Helheim, Tartarus, Hades, etc? Why reflect on the suffering of Jesus rather than the eternal suffering of Prometheus? What about Mithra's sacrifice, or the sacrifices of the Norse gods at Ragnarok? Shouldn't you see fire and realize that you need to repent for your disbelief in the Greek pantheon? There is fire, and Prometheus brought it to us, so stop wasting your time with Jesus. Thank Prometheus for his gift, and bow to the great power of Zeus.
Why did I write all this? Why did I pay out of pocket to have this printed? Because I care! I care about you and your eternal life.
Or it could be that you wholeheartedly believe in a fairytale that is no more real or verified than the story of Peter Pan. You have been convinced by the deluded and have become thuswise yourself. I'm sure that if a Muslim gave you this booklet, you'd be thinking the same of them. Furthermore, someone that cares does not tell complete strangers that they are horribly terrible people that deserve to burn and burn, and then follow up this threat with unevidenced mythology. Yes, maybe you believe it. But what's so wrong with letting people live their own lives? If your god was real, and as powerful as believers oft claim, your actions are unnecessary and counterproductive as they may come off as presumptuous at best, and pushy and judgmental at worst.
Someone cared about me and about my life and because of that I am more alive now then I have ever been - tho I've had cancer, a heart attack followed  by a mini-stroke, skin cancer and recently my wonderful wife of 53 years went home to be with our Lord, I am spiritually alive because of Christ.
You say you are spiritually alive because of Christ, while the Buddhist will say they are spiritually alive in their beliefs, or a Hindu is spiritually alive in Krishna and Ganesh. Yes, someone was looking out for you... but that someone was yourself, and maybe even your wife. Your positive outlook was not due to an actual god blessing you, but the curious power of the placebo effect.

You've been lucky with your health. You've survived many ailments due to the expert work of physicians and the treatments created by science. I'm also sure that any positive mindset you had probably also helped. But recovery from disease in no way suggests assistance from the hand of a god. I'm also sorry to say that your wife did not go anywhere. I'm sorry for your loss, but she is not in Heaven. Actually she's not anywhere. The moment she died what made her 'her' ceased to be. All that is left is the body that once housed the bio-chemical reactions that were what you assumed to be her 'soul'. She is gone forever, and one day we all shall meet that same fate.
Christ loved me then and he still loves me now. Christ loves you! And will give you the same peace (not as the world knows peace) that He has given me! I promise you - you'll not be sorry! From a friend who cares and loves you as Christ loves you.
So you're closing argument is that  you don't love me? So now I should listen to the unevidenced claims you've made? You said you love me as Jesus does. Jesus hasn't been proven to exist. A nonexistant being can't love. If Jesus can't love, and your love is equal to Jesus, then you don't love or care for me. I'm guessing you didn't think any of this through... Furthermore, even if we pretended that Jesus was real, his character in the Bible is far from love, rainbows and lollypops.

It wasn't until Jesus that Hell was presented. Jesus cursed a tree to death for not bearing fruit out of season. Jesus told a follower not to bother with burring his dead kin by telling him to 'let the dead bury the dead'. He said that he had come to drive a wedge between families and demanded that his disciples leave their families and love him more than their families. He upheld the veracity of the barbaric old laws that often ascribe death as the penalty for many absurd so called crimes and are often misogynistic.
Repent, for the FSM boiled for your sins!

Personally, I'm just sad that you can't see that the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) loves you just as he loves me. He will grant you the same peace and clarity that he has granted me. Pasta will taste infinity better, even divine once you have been touched by his noodley appendage. I Promise you that the FSM will grant you the happiness he has granted me and you will not be sorry. And in the next life you will witness the gift of his heavenly beer volcano. So shall you drink, and never become hungover. Ramen!

 -Brain Hulk

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