Monday, March 31, 2014

Deal with anger like Christ?

One of Billy Graham's readers asked him about dealing with anger. Graham offers some decent advice, but misrepresents Jesus as some kind of expert at dealing with anger.
Q: I've heard that the Bible teaches it's not right to be angry, but how can you avoid it? When people get under your skin and you get angry, you can't just bury your anger or kid yourself into thinking it doesn't matter, can you? -J.H.F.
To be honest, you can't really avoid anger, but you can control how you react toward the anger that you feel. It is typically a bad idea to bottle up your anger, but that doesn't mean you should just yell at everyone over every minor slight. People deal with anger in many positive ways. Venting to a friend or loved one, working out, writing in a journal, etc.

But sometimes all that is needed is just keeping it to yourself for a few hours. Maybe your favorite sports team lost, or your boss said something or did something that pissed you off. In the heat of the moment, you may be very angry, but given a little time, you may realize that it wasn't as big a deal as you felt it was at the time. It was just a game after all (there's always next week), or maybe that last minute project went far better than you thought it would. The important thing with anger, is to not let it control you. Feeling anger is only natural, and nothing to be ashamed of. Just learn how to best react to and deal with it so that it doesn't run and ruin your life.
A: You're only partly right; unfortunately we often do put a lid on our anger or make ourselves think we aren't really angry - at least for a time. But hidden anger can eat away at us like a deadly cancer, hurting us both emotionally and spiritually - and sometimes exploding into uncontrollable rage.
As I said, sometimes time shows that we were overreacting in the heat of the moment. Though bottling up all your anger is certainly a bad idea.
On the other hand, great harm also comes when we allow anger to overwhelm us. As you go through the pages of this newspaper today, I'm sure you'll find many illustrations of this tragic truth. Murder, domestic violence, child abuse, terrorism, and even full-scale war often have their roots in uncontrolled anger. The Bible rightly says, "An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins" (Proverbs 29:22).
Or religious parents who refuse to obtain actual medical care for a sick child, violent religious conflicts, religious politicians trying to force their beliefs on the masses, etc. Yes, there is much in the news that can make people upset or angry. But the important part is how they respond to that anger. A Christian bombing an abortion clinic would be a failure to control anger. However, a non-believer who writes their congressman over a 1st Amendment violation directed their anger in a healthy way.
But the Bible points us to another way: the way of Christ. When we follow Christ, we don't let circumstances upset or overwhelm us, but turn them over to God and seek His peace and patience.  Things that used to make us angry will no longer do so, because we'll begin seeing them from God's point of view. I often think of Jesus in this regard. He was falsely accused and unjustly condemned to death, yet he never got angry or lashed out at His accusers. As the Bible says, "He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth" (Isaiah 53:7).
Wait... Is Jesus really that great of a role model to look toward in regard to dealing with anger? Sure, there was the whole 'turn the other cheek' bit, but that's far from the whole story. Try on Matthew 21:12-13 for size...
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.'”
Going all nuts and flipping tables doesn't exactly sound like a great anger management course to me...
Commit your life - including your emotions - to Jesus Christ. Then ask Him to help you face life;s situations the way He did - with trust and peace, instead of anger.
Yes, be just like Jesus and turn from anger. Or, you know... Just resort to destruction of property. Because with Jesus, it's all on the table.

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Faith Healing?

Whenever the effectiveness of prayer comes up in conversation or a debate, someone will almost always share a story about God healing someone. Perhaps their son was sick. They were receiving treatment, but it wasn't helping. Then they prayed to God and the patient started getting better. It is often claimed that the doctors couldn't explain it, so it must have been a miracle. But that's just lazy thinking.

Lets assume that the doctors can't explain it. Does that mean that they will never be able to explain it? Of course not! Medical science now has explanations and understanding of countless things that were once a mystery. Willow tree bark may have once been considered magical for it's mysterious pain relief properties. They didn't know why it worked, they just knew that it did. But today, it is not a mystery to us and is sold as the common Aspirin.

They were not showing signs of recovery from their treatment... Well, maybe the 'unexplained' recovery is an effect of the treatments that were being administered. Every person is different. Different medications work better on some people than others, and some people may require a larger dose, or a prolonged course of medication. Perhaps a child getting better later than expected was due to them needing more medication in their system. Or if multiple treatments were administered, that particular cocktail may be what did the trick.

Perhaps a case of spontaneous remission? Cancers have been known to suddenly go into remission. Sometimes the reason isn't known, and sometimes the body may have figured out how to fight back.

Also, there is quite a bit selection bias at play. They like to point out that they prayed and then they got better. But they leave out the bit where they were praying all along when they weren't getting better as well. To ignore the 'misses' and count the one 'hit' is quite dishonest. Let's not forget those that are prayed for and don't get better as well.

Funny how these patients that get better are always in the care of doctors. How many times have you read about a family who refuses to seek actually medical care, and chooses to simply pray for a sick child instead? Each and every case I've ever read about ends in tragedy.

Finally, lets just assume doctors can't explain a recovery. They were dying and then recovered after prayer... Does this prove anything? Actually, no. For every Christian that makes this claim, there is a Muslim that does as well. And a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Shintoist, Satanist, etc... If everyone makes the same claims, then there's something else at play. But since only one religion doesn't see 'results', a deity isn't it.

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Teach the controversy

Often times you'll hear a creationist saying that schools should 'teach the controversy'. That schools should teach evolution and creationism... Side by side... As equals, and then let the kids decide. I'm all for letting kids decide what makes more sense to them. But 'teaching the controversy' is just a
really bad idea.

When it comes to health class, should we be using tax money to give equal time to sexual reproduction, and the stork theory of reproduction? After all, some people may find sex 'yucky' and like the cute idea of a bird that delivers babies to new mommies and daddies.

Perhaps we should also teach the controversy in health class when discussing sickness as well. Do you think it's a good idea to teach the germ theory of sickness alongside the demon theory of sickness? What it the germs really are tiny little demons! *gasp*

What about death vs reincarnation?

How about chemistry? Should we only teach the periodic table of elements as the elements that everything is made of? Or should we also teach that the only elements are earth, wind, fire and water just like in the days of old? Also, what about poor old alchemy?

The pyramids are amazing structures. But should we only teach that they were amazing engineering feats of less advanced civilizations, or should we also teach that aliens are the ones that actually built them?

When it comes to astronomy, should we only teach that the Earth orbits the Sun? Or should we give equal time to the competitors that say that the Sun orbits the Earth, or that the Earth is a flat disc that sits atop giant elephants, which stand atop a giant turtle? Then there's that whole round or flat Earth issue, not to mention whether astrology should be taught to contrast astronomy.

What about the Holocaust? Perhaps we should teach that it did happen, and also that it didn't. After all, there are those that are adamant that it was all made up. The same goes for the Moon landings.

I could keep going on, but I'm sure you get the point by now. You may even be saying that it would be ridiculous to teach those alternate 'explanations'. And you would be very right indeed. But the reason it would be a joke to teach the alternates, is the very same reason it would be folly to teach creationism (of any stripe) alongside of evolution. And that's the fact that while the mainstream theories are supported by evidence, all of the proposed alternatives no not.

There is just as much evidence that life was created by a deity, as there is to show there is a china tea pot in orbit between Mars and Earth. That is to say, none.

You see, that is why evolution is taught as fact, and creationism isn't taught at all. Evolution has all the evidence in it's favor. An overwhelming mass of evidence in fact. Creationism... none, natta, zilch, zero.

 In schools we strive to teach the truth as best as we can see it. Reality thus far has told us that evolution happened. When creationism has some evidence on it's side, try again. But until then schools can not 'teach the controversy' because there is no controversy to teach. Just the evidenced truth vs and old fairytale. Which one should win sounds like a no-brainer to me.

-Brain Hulk

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Cosmos complaints

I'm sure it will come as no surprise that I am enjoying the new Cosmos, hosted by the amazing Neil deGrasse Tyson. I own Carl Sagan's original on DVD, and will undoubtedly have to purchase this updated series once it comes out. As great as it's been, there have been some complaints. And it should surprise absolutely no one that creationists are the ones doing all the complaining.

The gripe is that creationism is not being given equal time, and evolution and the big bang are being talked about as if they were fact. And you know what, there's a good reason that they are speaking about these theories in such a way... It's because they are facts!

Evolution and the big bang are theories that work. They are supported by evidence, whereas creationism is not. In fact, the big bang may have just received more evidence since researches may have just discovered the gravitational waves left over from the big bang. Something that Einstein had predicted would be present if it were true.

Yes, some news shows may like to present both sides of an issue. Maybe the topic is global warming or whether something a politician did should get them thrown out of office. But that's not how science works. Science looks at what works and what doesn't. If it doesn't work, it is discarded as a failed hypothesis. This is what happened with creationism. Cosmos is a science program that presents hard science. So that's what it is doing. It's not some cheap news show that manufactures controversy in order to get ratings. Creationism has been mentioned on the show though. But then it was quickly explained why that hypothesis fails, and what the evidence actually says.

So sorry creationists, you're out of luck. If you don't like that the show is telling the truth instead of parroting your ancient fable, flip the channel. Cosmos giving equal time to creationism and evolution, would be akin to giving equal time to the flat Earth hypothesis and spherical Earth theory. Doing so would be absurd, and grant a false hypothesis attention that it doesn't deserve.

Evolution happened... like it or not. It is as true as gravitational theory and germ theory. While some creationists may not be happy, the truth is that science works. And the truth is still the truth, whether they believe it or not.

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Embarrassed to share faith?

This time a fellow called AC writes Billy Graham with a question that doesn't really make sense at all. And Graham's answer? Equally as clueless...
Dear Rev. Graham: Why is it so hard for me to talk to those in own my family about my faith? Jesus is very important to me, but I just can’t seem to say anything to them about him. Do others have this problem, in your experience? -- A.C.
Sure, plenty of people have that problem. But they usually aren't Christians...
Rev. Graham: Yes, unfortunately this is a common problem, although it shouldn’t be. After all, if we truly love those in our family we should want what’s best for them -- and what could be better than for them to learn that God loves them and Christ died for them? Paul’s young friend Timothy apparently came to faith because of the witness of his grandmother and mother (see 2 Timothy 1:5).

Why are we embarrassed to talk about our faith to those who are closest to us? One reason may be because we’re afraid they’ll reject it -- and therefore they’ll reject us. It’s easier (we reason) just to keep quiet, and hope they’ll see that our lives are different because of Jesus. But why should we worry about their reaction? If we’ve prayed for them and trusted God to guide us, we can leave the results in his hands.

But sometimes we’re afraid to talk to those who are closest to us because we know we aren’t very good examples of what it means to be a Christian. We get irritable or impatient or moody or angry, although we know we shouldn’t be that way -- not if we’re following Jesus. We have forgotten Jesus’ words: “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15).Pray for your family, that they may realize their need of Christ.
Pray for yourself also, that God will help you be a witness to them of his love and grace -- both by the way you live and the words you speak.
 There's no doubt that some people are afraid to share their religious status with friends or family. They are afraid of rejection... being turned away from by those that they care for. But in my experience, it's hardly ever Christians with that worry. In the United States, 78.4% of Americans are Christian. Because of this it is usually assumed that everyone you meet, and those in your family are Christian as well. For this reason, I feel that AC is stressing about a problem that doesn't really exist for them.

But what if you aren't a Christian? I've heard the accounts from fellow non-believers that have had their families turn of them, and even disowned them for simply telling them that they don't believe. There are far too many cases of atheists being thrown out of their parent's house for simply not believing in the same god as their parents. I've heard of friends that went from very close, to not friends anymore at all simply because of the truth that they no longer believed in Christ being aired.
Heck, I've even heard a case or two of people being fired from their job due to non-belief. All this considered, I can understand the apprehension an atheist may have about sharing that they don't believe or no longer believe.

That said, there are some Christian groups that are quite exclusionary. The Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons have a history requiring the same type of disassociation that atheists sometimes suffer. If you are a Witness or Mormon and your child decides to leave the church (be it for a different Christian sect, different religion or to atheism), the typical response is that they are supposed to furthermore cut off all ties with the individual. Could you even imagine the reaction from a deeply devout Christian learning that their child was now a Muslim? I wager such a situation wouldn't end in familiar harmony. Yet, if I was a father, and my child told me that they were a Pagan, or believer in some other religion, I wouldn't turn away from them. It would be their choice, and since I loved them, I'd respect their choice.

So why is it that coming out as atheist can be so risky? In my case, I was lucky. My family and those around me were understanding and accepting. But many others aren't so lucky. And Christians... Please stop pretending that you are horribly persecuted. Because, admit it or not you receive far more favorable treatment in this country than any other religious group.

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, March 21, 2014


Childhood indoctrination seems to be standard practice within religious families. The parents hold a specific faith, so they decide that their offspring will as well. So the child is told the stories of the Bible, Koran, etc as if it was the unquestionable truth. It's drilled into the mind of the youth at an age
where they will accept and instruction unquestioned.

Personally, I don't like this practice. I feel like religion should be set aside until the child is of an age that they can make their own choice. At this time the parents can tell them what they believe and why, and their son or daughter can then take note of this and draw their own conclusions.

But this is how religions remain so large to this day. Get them young, and you may get them for life. In a way it's a lot like brainwashing. Convince someone of something early enough, and it will stick with them. Suppose you lived in a Coca-Cola house as a kid. Chances are you will always remain a Coke guy/gal. That's a benign example. But what about people who suffer emotional abuse from an early age. They may have been told they were no good and worthless on a regular basis. Eventually they start to believe it themselves, and can find that the mindset is very difficult to shake off.

When I was a kid, there wasn't really any choice when it came to religion. Well... More importantly, I never realized there was a choice. I went to CCD school, we were a 'Catholic family', and as far as I knew, everybody was Catholic. At that young age, I wasn't aware there were competing religions or that you didn't even have to have one. I was taught that the teaching of the Catholic church were known truths, and that's that. I would have been shocked if realized that there were even different versions of Christianity. Eventually I did, but by that time I was old enough, and immersed in it enough that I didn't question the 'superiority' of Catholicism.

Why do we do this? Why don't we allow children to draw their own conclusions? Do the parents see it as a way to validity their own beliefs? Perhaps they genuinely fear for the 'eternal sole' of their child. Whatever the reasons (and I know that in my parent's case that they meant well), I believed for a while but was lucky enough to break free from religion's hold. But what would we think of a similar situation.

Suppose a child is brought up by fans of The Beatles. They tell their child that The Beatles were, and still are the greatest band ever. If you agree, all is dandy. But if you don't, or worse yet think the Rolling Stones were the best, you are in for a bad time. Rolling Stones fans are evil and will try and lead you astray. And those who don't follow the words of The Beatles will be forever forced to listen to the Beach Boys for all eternity. So say your Our Lennon's and Hail McCartney's every night before bed. Imagine a child utterly convinced that all of this was true. What would you think of those parents? Not very highly, right?

Well, that's what families do when they indoctrinate religion as well. Sure, they don't realize it, but they get a kid to believe that the Christian God is the unquestioned truth, instead of The Beatles. They warn about Satan instead of the Rolling Stones. Threaten Hell instead of the Beach Boys. Oh you better say you prayers still. Only it's , and Our Father and Hail Mary this time around.

Please take a moment to consider this double standard. Religion is very good at convincing people to do things and accept things that they'd find someone from a different religion doing. The only difference is preference and perspective. And always remember... What if your parents belonged to a different religion? If you are religious, you'd probably belong to a different one right now. So what doe that tell you about how unquestionable these religions are?

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bullies ignored...

The other day I heard of a story that made me rather angry. At a Lancaster County Pennsylvania school, a child was pulled into a restroom stall where three other boys proceeded to urinate on him to the point that they had to call his mother to bring in a change of clothes. His mother was understandably outraged, and demanded something be done about this obvious case of bullying. The school, however, maintained that they didn't feel it was a case of bullying and have decided to sweep
it under the rug. What?!

At first I thought, "Great... Another case of a student getting a free pass to be an asshole just because he's on the football team." I've visited and read about plenty of towns where the high-school football team is far more important to the administration than test and SAT scores. But upon further reading I found that this event happened at Price Elementary! The victim, a mere ten years old!

How is it that this school claims that urinating on someone isn't bullying? Well, they have a few different (and ultimately ridiculous) explanations. They claimed that the victim was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The three students in question were merely engaging in horseplay according to the school. Pardon, but how is pissing all over another person considered 'just' horseplay?

The school claims to have an answer for that as well. School district spokeswoman Kelly Burkholder actually had the gall to claim that they had determined that the three students in question accidentally urinated on the victim. How the hell does someone accidentally get pulled into a bathroom stall and then pissed on by three fellow students? Was is something like this... Well you see, they were trying to see if the three of them could overflow the toilet with piss with the stall door open. Then the one boy tripped and fell past them and across the toilet into their 'line of fire'. Oops. Sorry but I can't imagine a single scenario that doesn't involve copious amounts of alcohol where three people manage to accidentally urinate on someone.

Oh, but the school says they 'instituted corrective behavior' on those involved. So are they expelled, or at least suspended? It sure doesn't sound like it. Rather, it looks like they got away with a slap on the wrist. But don't worry, principal Saupp said that they "take bullying and student safety very seriously." Really now? Is that why the boys mother wasn't called until two hours after this took place? A two hour wait hardly sounds like concern. Also, considering urinating on someone not a big deal... What about all the potential health risks with being urinated on and being allowed to marinate in it for two hours?

Then there is the excuse that proves that the school either has no idea about bullying, or is just pretending that they are above the problem. They claimed it wasn't bullying because there wasn't a history of him being bullied by these students. Not bullying, but just boys being boys... The official position was that it was no more than an isolated incident. Move along, move along. Nothing to see here... So, if someone beats their spouse once and only once, does that mean that their not a victim of spousal abuse. Sorry ma'am, but there's no history of continued abuse (yet) so we're going to have to let it slide. Would anybody accept such an outrage? I sure wouldn't. But that's basically what Price Elementary is doing.

Being that I was bullied in my youth, I can confirm that the claim that there being no prior history means that it's not bullying is bullshit. True, most bullying is something that results in many cases, but one instance can be bullying as well. For me, bullying is not necessarily determined as much on quantity as it is on intent and other aspects.

The Oxford dictionary defines bullying as: 
Use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something
And defines it as:
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
Intent is a big part of what makes bullying bullying. Suppose that someone calls your girlfriend a whore. You get angry and get into a fight. In this case, anger was the motivation. Such a case would be assault, not bullying. But what if someone beat up another just for the 'fun' of it, because of a real or perceived difference, or just because of religion, sexual preference, etc? Then the motivation is very different. It would still be assault, but would also be bullying as well.

I was lucky in that the vast majority of my bullying was verbal rather than physical (though there were some instances). Some bullied me more than others, and some only once. While verbal abuse may not leave physical bruises or scars, it can certainly leave it's mark. I think that it all started for me in middle school (save one bitch of a racist elementary school teacher).

I was (and still am) rather slender due to my metabolic rate. As soon as we learned about eating disorders, the seeds of my bullying were planted. I was skinny, yet ate a decent bit at lunch. Couple that with me being new, and the assumption was made that I must have an eating disorder. Lunch time, and the surrounding classes became a predictable flurry of accusations and questions about why I bothered eating lunch if I was supposedly going to go throw it up anyway. This continued and I largely tried to ignore the lies and annoyance as best I could. But I didn't realize that it was retreating into a shell. I became very shy. I found myself introverted and feeling like an outcast that didn't fit in.

In high school, being the quiet kid that didn't really socialize or hang out with anybody resulted in more teasing and verbal bullying. Because of my shyness I never felt comfortable or even capable of dating, so I didn't. Oddly enough, I still felt that way when girls started asking me out. Surprisingly, even some of the more popular girls at my school. But I had no idea how to respond to that. A popular attractive girl was asking me out? Given my experiences with other classmates, I assumed that one of the jocks was probably having a cheerleader ask me out as a joke. If I accepted, I would find myself stood up, or walking into a trap.

Looking back, I actually feel bad because hindsight tells me that most (if not all) may have been genuine. Some asked me a few times, and the questions of 'why?' as well as the facial expressions that I assumed were an act, may have been that of actual rejection. Why did they show interest in me? Was it pity? Something else? I may never know. Luckily I eventually did find my wonderful wife though.

Of course, when a guy in high school doesn't date, and turns down the advances of female classmates the rumor that they are gay spreads rather unabated. No denial on my part made a bit of difference, and a whole new wave of taunting filled the void left behind by the previous abuse I had internalized and learned to deal with. But one note of physical bullying... Just like the student in this story, I was a victim of a school wanting to sweep a case under the rug to make it just go away.

One day in gym class, we were playing dodge ball. During play, I hear my name called from the sideline where my team-mates are waiting for someone to catch a ball so that they can return to play. I turn to see someone on my team, someone who fairly regularly teased me standing just over the sideline with a ball. The moment I was facing him was when he drilled me in the face with the ball at point blank range. My glasses went flying (but luckily didn't break aside from having to pop a lens back in), and I went down. As I look up, I see him and a buddy high-fiving and laughing in celebration.

Obviously, I went straight to the principal and reported exactly what happened. The precedent meant that he should at least be getting a few days suspension. But day after day he was still in school, and up to his old tricks. Confused, I went to the principal to ask him what was going on. He claimed to have talked to him and that he had said it was an accident, and since I said it could have been an accident he just told him to be careful.

There was a huge problem with that though... It obviously wasn't an accident, and I never told him that it could have been one. When I told him that I never said that, he responded that he had already turned in the paperwork, so there was nothing he could do. His hands were tied, supposedly... Sweet justice was done a few years later though, when he was arrested in the next city over trying to proposition a prostitute. He was shamed, lost his job, and I think his family.

The happiest day of high school wasn't our team beating an arch rival, a championship, the prom (that I didn't attend), a first love, or anything like that. While graduating as Valedictorian was a highlight, my fondest memory of high school is graduating and never having to see those that tormented me on a daily basis again. Though the bullying had come to an end, it would still take years and a few good friends to fully rid myself of many of it's effects.

Bullying is very real and serious whether it is verbal or physical. And while they may talk a good game, there are schools out there that really do just ignore this problem or sweep it under the rug. So it pleases me that friends of this kid's family are looking into setting up an anti-bullying group. Hopefully it will get the school to take the issue seriously, and maybe, just maybe, it will result in some parents ceasing to raise such asshole children.

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Mislead faith?

Here's one that's a bit ironic. Someone writes in to Billy Graham and he tells them that emotions can mislead one's faith. Really...?
DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: A friend of mine admits she isn’t a Christian but claims she feels God’s presence when she does something good for other people. I’m not sure what she means by this, but I admire her for her concern for others. — J.J.
Isn't a Christian, but feels God's presence? Does she belong to another religion?
DEAR J.J.: Yes, your friend’s concern for others is admirable, and we should be thankful for anyone who seeks to help those in need. God in his grace can use even people who don’t believe in him to bring comfort and healing to our hurting world.
So say you. Yes, it is admirable that JJ's friend does good deeds. But that doesn't mean that 'God' is using her. When an atheist or member of another religion does good deeds, it's not because the Christian god is working through them. What it means is that they're just good people. Also, what evidence is there for Graham's claim that God is making use of non-believers. Maybe the Buddha is making use of Christians that do good. Or maybe it's Thor guiding the mistaken Christians toward his righteous path.
I’m not sure, either, what your friend means when she says she feels God’s presence when she helps someone; you might ask her if you have an opportunity. Perhaps doing something good for someone makes her feel good inside, and she believes those feelings must be from God. Or perhaps she’s had people express their gratitude to her by saying that God must have sent her to them, and that makes her feel God must be with her.
 I do agree that it's odd that JJ chooses to ask Billy Graham what their friend means instead of simply asking her themselves. In fact, I often wonder why people ask Graham many of the questions that they do...
But our emotions can mislead us; they can even deceive us into thinking God is with us when he actually isn’t. True faith isn’t just a warm feeling. True faith is focused on God, and on his son, Jesus Christ. Warm feelings won’t save us, nor will they cleanse us of our sins — which is our greatest need. Only Christ can do that — and he will, as we open our hearts and lives to him and trust him as our savior and Lord.
If emotions can mislead one's faith as easily as Graham states, then it falls to reason that Graham himself, or any Christian, may be emotionally mislead in their faith. Emotionally attached to the idea
of Heaven, eternal life, or to the religion of their youth... Maybe emotionally attached to their church and it's fellowship. There are any number of reasons, but if emotions can drive you to pick the wrong religion, then Christians may have picked wrong as well.

Also, the qualifier that Christ is the some kind of exception that shows Christianity to be correct is of no help. Perhaps the emotional attachment to Christianity was the driving factor in creating that qualifier. What if someone else said that the Buddha was proof that Buddhism is correct, or Odin shows that the Norse beliefs are the truth whether influenced by emotion or not?
Pray for your friend, that she will see her need to repent of her sins and turn her life over to Jesus Christ. Then she’ll want to help others not just because of the good feelings she gets, but out of Christ’s love. The Bible says, “This is love for God: to keep his commands” (1 John 5:3).
Or perhaps Billy should hope that he is prayed for, that he shall see and recognize the awesome might of Thor. For without his sacrifice, mankind would have been devoured buy an Earth consuming demon serpent.

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Abstaining from education

It's 2014, and yet there are still states that insist that their sex education in schools is non-existent or hopelessly backwards. While teen pregnancy rates are on the decline, some states are far behind.
Abstinence only education in a nut shell.

In the USA, girls ages 15 to 19 are reported to total over 300,000 teenage mothers. Over 80% of these are unintentional. When one looking at the statistics, you start to notice a trend. The states with the highest rates of teen pregnancy are typically the more conservative states that either have no sex education at all, or stress abstinence only sex education. The logic is that not having sex = you can't get pregnant... Which is ironic for people that tent to believe in a virgin birth. But what this kind of 'sex education' is, is commanding kids not to do something. And something they are biologically becoming interested in at that age.

As a teen, I wasn't typical, but what is the typical outcome of telling a teen "Don't do X" and justifying that with "Because I said so!"? The answer is that they of course usually doing it anyway. Be it out of curiosity of rebellion, the outcome is still the same. They did what they were told not to do. In some things, it might not result in much of a ramification. If you tried smoking, you'll likely end up with a coughing fit. If it was alcohol, hopefully there was no driving involved and a hangover is the price they pay. But with sex... There can be a myriad of consequences.

If anyone has unprotected sex especially with a partner you don't know much sexually about, the list could include an STD, an unintended pregnancy, or even HIV. Primarily, what statistics are showing is that states with abstinence only education report higher rates of STD infection and teen pregnancy than states that teach comprehensive sex education.

It turns out that regardless what kind of sex education kids receive (even if they take a virginity pledge) they are all equally likely to end up having sex anyway. The problem arises in how they have
sex. Those that were virginity pledges and those taught abstinence only were half as likely to use birth control of any sort, and twice as likely to have an unintended pregnancy. So the better informed the kids are, they actually seem to make better decisions.

When I was in high school, our sex education started with anatomy, STD education, talked about abstinence, as well as actual forms of birth control. I'd say that I was well informed. I understood the biology side of it, as well as the very real risks involved. But if your 'sex education' is to 'just don't do it', kids may not understand the risks and will just succumb to their desires.

Some will say that sex education is the parents job, not the schools, but the sad truth is that there are parents that just won't have that talk with their kids. Maybe their embarrassed, weirded out by it, or have religious motivation not to. Lets face it, some people are just bad parents. Instead of trying to tell kids not to 'do it' and just leave it at that, how about some alternatives.

Explain he risks. Maybe even go a step further and tell them what they are feeling is natural. That sex really is a pleasurable thing, but it is responsibility involved too. While enjoyable, there are risks. That while you'd prefer they waited, if they do have sex that they should wear a condom (if they are male, or provide one if female). Otherwise they can wind up with a terrible disease (exaggerate if you want... say they're member could drop off if they're not careful), or find themselves with the additional life-changing responsibility and financial burden of becoming an unexpected parent. Yes, it's true that sex can be great, but it can result in something terrible as well. So be careful.

And the oddest part about those that are very much in favor is that they are the very same people that
are anti-abortion. Someone using logic would think that they should welcome proper sex education. But they aren't using logic and instead rely solely on dusty old religious teachings. Buy why is their opposition to sex education ironic?

Remember, teens that are taught comprehensive education are half as likely to become pregnant. That's half as many teens that have to even decide if they should abort. Also, even if they don't use protection, emergency contraception avoids about 51,000 abortions a year. That number could be even higher should they not oppose it's use. The numbers tell us that abstinence only education = more abortions, while comprehensive sex education = less abortions. Awkward...

So can we just all agree for everyone's benefit to properly arm our youths with the relevant information so that they can make as informed of a decision on sex as possible?

-Brain Hulk

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Marriage on the rocks

What to do when you think your marriage is on the rocks? Ask Billy Graham for some bad advice!
DEAR REV. GRAHAM: My parents got divorced when I was 8, and it was such a traumatic time for me that I vowed I’d never get divorced myself. But now my marriage looks like it’s headed for the rocks. I can’t believe this is happening. What did I do wrong? -V.L.
Maybe VL gave Graham more info than this letter would suggest. But there's no way to tell who did what wrong, or if anyone did anything wrong at all by the text printed here.
DEAR V.L.: Over the years, I’ve noticed that parents who are thinking about divorce seldom realize the damage it often causes, especially to their children. Perhaps your letter will cause some to stop and reconsider - and then take steps to renew their marriage.

And that’s what I hope will happen with you and your husband. Your letter indicates that you don’t have children, but divorce still is a traumatic event - emotionally, economically, socially and spiritually. It may make you doubt your own worth, and even lead to depression and despair. One of the reasons divorce wasn’t part of God’s original plan is because He loves us and hates what divorce does to us. The Bible says, “For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce. … Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously” (Malachi 2:16, NKJV).
If divorce wasn't part of this supposed plan, why is it that believers get divorced more often that non-believers do on average?
The place to begin is to commit your life and your marriage to God. He loves you, and as you open your heart and mind to Jesus Christ, He’ll give you a new love and a new concern for each other. Instead of seeking only what you can get out of your marriage He’ll give you a desire to fulfill each other’s needs. He’ll also surround you with people who can help you, as you seek out a church where Christ is central.

One of the tragedies of divorce is that children often grow up without seeing what a loving marriage can be. But God is able to overcome this, and I pray He will for you.
I must say that I can't agree with this sentiment to renew and repair the marriage no matter what. Marriages can fail for any number of reasons. People may marry too soon/young and may not realize what they are getting themselves into, nor really know their partner well enough yet. You especially see this in young couples that rush into marriage due to an unplanned pregnancy.

Sometimes time is a factor. How long has VL been married. People can sometimes change over time.
They can become a different person, and relationships can grow apart. In a situation like this, no one really did anything wrong. They simply grew apart, and I see no good reason to feign happiness in a relationship that you aren't happy in. Sure, they should talk to find out if there is anyway it can work out. But if there isn't, it would be better for both parties if they just went their separate ways.

And if there is no love there, or even animosity, I'd wager that it wound be better for any kids involved if they did split. Granted, it's not a perfect situation, or and ideal one. But if you raise a child around fights, yelling, animosity and anger, that's all they'll know. If the situation is bad, sometimes it takes a split to create a better atmosphere.

What if VL's husband is cheating? Is she just supposed to pretend it didn't happen. Or even worse, what if he is physically of verbally abusing her? Graham acts like they should just 'make it work'. But sometimes that just isn't an option. If abuse is present, prolonging the marriage is not the option most conducive to a positive outcome.

Yet again Billy Graham ignores the fact that every situation is unique and requires an equally unique solution. Instead he adheres to a ridiculously old and stringent framework that is rather unrealistic just so he puff up his chest or imagined moral superiority.

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Roadside memorials

Here we have a bit of a touchy issue in Lake Elsinore, California (and everywhere). The city has put up a memorial cross, and it isn't clear how long it will remain there. Now, you may be wondering what the big deal is. They're just letting a family grieve. And if it was just a simple issue of a family honoring the memory of a recently departed loved one, it would be a non-issue. But lets look a little

Anthony Devaney was the victim that the cross is there to memorialize. He was hit by a car and killed in May of 2012. Yes, 2012... Almost two years ago. The city allowed the posting of the cross, but they finally removed it in December of 2013. It was a temporary memorial after-all. But after it's removal, Anthony's mother was very upset and demanded that the cross be erected where it once was.

So the city's decision was to put it back up and say that it could remain until January 6th. That came and went, and the city extended the date to February. That too passed and Mrs. Devaney's was told that her son's memorial would stay in place until March 19th. Given the city's track record, there's no telling how many extensions she will be granted.

Due to the fact that the city themselves placed the cross the second time, rather than the family, the American Humanist Association is fighting it's placement. Unfortunately, I have a bad feeling that the media is going to twist this into a mess. "Atheists refuse to let family grieve their lost son." Yeah... It's going to be a mess. But they are questioning it's display on the grounds of it being a violation of the Establishment Clause. While that may technically be true, there isn't really a need to bring the Constitution into this matter.

You see, most states and municipalities require permits for roadside signs on public land. And these permits only allow the sign to be up for so many days. Some states have even made roadside memorials illegal. This goes for religious and nonreligious memorials alike. The reasoning is that memorials are considered a safety threat to motorists. While some can be rather flimsy, I can see how some of these displays could become a projectile in the case of an accident.

Personally, I have no problem with a family being allowed to put up a cross, star of David, or what have you for a little while to honor the death of a loved one. I wouldn't do it myself. I don't see why you'd want to forever memorialize the place your child died and remember that place, rather than remember their life and put that first. I wouldn't want my place of death marked in that way if I was in those shoes. But, I do understand that people grieve in a number of ways.

The loss of a child is very sad. But after a couple rain storms
and a month or two, this will look like the yard sale that time
forgot... This cute memorial will be transformed into litter.
So yes, it's fine to allow a memorial. But how long do we let it stay there? A few months? A year? Indefinitely? The city seems to be quietly going down the path of the latter, but is that such a good idea? I go by a memorial cross every day. It is a well made permanent display. I'm not sure if it is on public or private property, but it's been there for over five years and still looks new. It is well maintained, but others are not. I also pass a memorial wreath daily. And quite honestly, it looks quite poor. It has seen much weather and wear and is barely recognizable anymore. It now looks like a lot of unmaintained roadside shrines that consists of a crooked cross and a bunch of fake flowers. The only real way to describe these particular memorials is 'trashy'.

Also, if we allow roadside memorials indefinitely, what will the future hold in 25 year? 50? 100? People die in car accidents every day. Can you imagine what our roadways would eventually look like if each one was marked with a cross and then never removed? Roads everywhere would be lined with memorials. Visibility for motorists would be a nightmare. So obviously, I don't think they should be allowed indefinitely.

Should families be allowed to mourn. Of course! Let's just be smart about it and set a time table that allows them to find closure, while also not creating and eyesore and potential hazard.

-Brain Hulk

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

She could lose her job!

The next chain email installment is one that claims to be a letter to president Obama. One that could lose a school teacher her job. We'll ignore the fact that the purported author denies being the author, and that it has been sent around attributed to others as well. While who actually wrote it isn't known, it's quite a doozy. Lets take a look.
Give this teacher and true American a standing ovation. This 4th grade teacher has said it all, and
she was brave enough to attach her name to it.
To be fair, teachers can be fired for any number of ridiculous reasons. They often have a 'morality clause' in their contracts that means that they can lose their job if it is found out that they like to sext their romantic interests, have a side job at a bar, or any number of things that should make no difference to whether they are a good teacher or not, Likewise, they are not supposed to use their position as a soapbox on which to preach their own political views, be they liberal or conservative. But in this case, no one is getting fired because the teacher didn't actually write the letter.
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington , DC 20500

Mr. Obama:
I have had it with you and your administration, sir. Your conduct on your recent trip overseas has convinced me that you are not an adequate representative of the United States of America collectively or of me personally.

You are so obsessed with appeasing the Europeans and the Muslim world that you have abdicated the responsibilities of the President of the United States of America .

You are responsible to the citizens of the United States . You are not responsible to the peoples of any other country on earth.

I personally resent that you go around the world apologizing for the United States , telling Europeans that we are arrogant and do not care about their status in the world.
Did he apologize for America? Let's look at what he actually said...

"America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive toward Europe"

Isn't this true though? Under Bush, the Iraq war was not exactly universally accepted as a good idea. It was much less popular in Europe. Some countries were very much against the war. But we ignored them, many Americans took the stance that anyone that wasn't with us was against us. These countries were openly mocked, both by politicians and our citizens. And it turned out that they were right. There were no weapons of mass destruction after-all.

Also, while he only leads the United States, foreign policy and relations is also part of his job. Bush almost seemed to go out of his way to alienate all but a few allies. So is it so wrong for Obama to want to mend some fences? I don't really like the guy either, but he's just doing the job that should be done instead of going about it with the lone cowboy approach that will eventually leave us wondering where all our friends went.

As for Europe being overlooked, it's probably true that most Americans don't give them the credit they deserve. Many cling to the idea of default American exceptionalism. That we are always the best at everything. But this isn't true anymore. Our education test scores are languishing. We refused to fund what eventually became Europe's Large Hadron Collider. It was supposed to be built in American. The discovery of the Higgs Boson could have been an American one, instead it was Europe's.

We shut down our shuttle program, so now we have to hitch a ride with other countries to reach the International Space Station. This all saddens me. While the rest of the world is catching up and pulling ahead, many Americans mock Europe and Asia, and just chant "We're number one" as if everything is just fine. Obama may not be apologizing for us, but we sure have plenty to be sad about.
Sir, what do you think the First World War and the Second World War were all about, if not the consideration of the peoples of Europe ? Are you brain dead? What do you think the Marshall Plan was all about? Do you not understand or know the history of the 20th century?
Yes, these helped Europe, us and others. But that's not what Obama was talking about. He didn't even ever use the word 'apologize' on his supposed apology tour. Could we apologize for ignoring others and rushing into a pointless war? Sure. Could we apologize for nuking Japan? Sure. And even if we did, doing so isn't a sign of weakness. It takes a big person to admit when they did something wrong. And from that, we can learn and grow. But if you pretend you can do no wrong, you are disillusioned and in for a rude awakening.
Where do you get off telling a Muslim country that the United States does not consider itself a Christian country? Have you not read the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States ? This country was founded on Judeo-Christian ethics and the principles governing this country, at least until you came along, come directly from this heritage. Do you not understand this?
If this was a real letter, maybe she should have been fired for not knowing simple US history. The United States is not a Christian nation, nor was it built on Judeo-Christian values. The 1797 Treaty of Tripoli (signed by President John Adams) states, and I quote... "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion". So no, the US is not a Christian nation... Not even close!

Also, the 'year of our lord' and 'endowed by our creator' lines in the Declaration of Independence do not define a particular deity. Thomas Jefferson (as well as many other of the other founders) was likely a deist, and not a Christian. So if he did mean those in a religious sense, it wasn't a Christian one. But even that doesn't matter since the Declaration is not what the US is built upon. It is a very important document, but it was basically telling Britain to piss off. The Constitution is the document that the US and it's laws are built upon. The document that does not set an official religion, grants the freedom of religion, and instituted the separation of church and state. Odd behavior if the US was supposed to be a Christian country.
Your bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia is an affront to all Americans. Our President does not bow down to anyone, let alone the king of Saudi Arabia . You didn't show Great Britain , our best and one of our oldest allies, the respect they deserve yet you bow down to the king of Saudi Arabia . How dare you, sir! How dare you!
And Bush bowed to the same Saudi king, as well as kiss him and hold his hand. Your point? Why is it a scandal if Obama does it, but not when Bush does? And it it really a big deal? It's a cultural greeting, and not even a full formal bow by their countries standards. Refusing to bow in any way would be the equivalent of them refusing to shake hands with the president or if a soldier refused to salute. It's not like he was submissively bowing to show that the Saudis rule over him.
You can't find the time to visit the graves of our greatest generation because you don't want to offend the Germans, but make time to visit a mosque in Turkey ! You offended our dead and every veteran when you give the Germans more respect than the people who saved the German people from themselves. What's the matter with you?
Except that he has visited the graves of soldiers that gave their life for our country. Including WW-II and D-Day ceremonies.
I am convinced that you and the members of your administration have the historical and intellectual depth of a mud puddle and should be ashamed of yourselves, all of you.
Pot calling the kettle black...
You are so self-righteously offended by the big bankers and the American automobile manufacturers, yet do nothing about the real thieves in this situation, Mr. Dodd, Mr. Frank, Franklin Raines, Jamie Gorelic, the Fannie Mae bonuses, and the Freddie Mac bonuses.
What do you intend to do about them? Anything? I seriously doubt it.

What about the U.S. House members passing out $9.1 million in bonuses to their staff members on top of the $2.5 million in automatic pay raises that lawmakers gave themselves?
Citation needed on the supposed 'offense'... But there is no doubt that there are some that are getting away read handed. Why talk of these unfair bonuses that have historically been defended by the conservatives and the fact that they were a product of the situation/culture their party was very much involved in propagating? Sadly, but parties and for sale, but I find blaming Obama for something Bush did nothing about to be rather odd. And yes, the House raises and bonuses are ridiculous as well. Their compensation should be performance based and voted on by the people.
I understand the average House aide got a 17% bonus. I took a 5% cut in my pay to save jobs with my employer. You haven't said anything about that. Who authorized that? I surely didn't! Executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be receiving $210 million in bonuses over an eighteen-month period, that's $45 million more than the AIG bonuses. In fact, Fannie and Freddie executives have already been awarded $51 million not a bad take. Who authorized that and why haven't you expressed your outrage at this group who are largely responsible for the economic mess we have right now?
The above reply pretty much covers this section as well. Obama didn't punish them like I would have liked. But neither did Bush or anyone else for that matter. The problem is that our politicians all work for the high bidder now, and not us.
I resent that you take me and my fellow citizens as brain-dead and not caring about what you idiots do.
I would think about cooling the name-calling. Branding someone an idiot may not be wise when you don't know basic history or even fact check your claims.
We are watching what you are doing and we are getting increasingly fed up with all of you.
I can agree with that. I'm pretty much fed up with the Democrats and Republicans alike.
I also want you to know that I personally find just about everything you do and say to be offensive to every one of my sensibilities.
Strong language. But looking back... Yeah, I thought just as lowly of Bush. Sure, Obama's not great, but he's not as bad as Bush.
I promise you that I will work tirelessly to see that you do not destroy my beautiful country.
You mean actually destroy the country, or destroy the imaginary Christian theocracy with dubious facts that you think exists. You really ought to clarify that so I can decide how seriously to take this statement.
Sincerely, A real American
Ms Kathleen Lyday
Fourth Grade Teacher
Grandview Elementary School
11470 Hwy . C
Hillsboro , MO 63050
Sincerely, who knows... Because Kathleen says that she didn't write this letter.
PS: I rarely ask that emails be passed around ...but PLEASE SEND THIS TO YOUR EMAIL's time for all Americans to wake up !
Isn't it odd that most of these seem to say 'I rarely ask people to pass this on'? Seriously, I think almost all of them say that. And I will pass it on, but in my own personal style. Corrected and with commentary.

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Where to marry

A reader asks Billy Graham how to decide which church to get married in. They want to appease
their families, but are not sure how...
DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: My fiance and I deeply love each other, but we can’t decide where to get married. His family belongs to one denomination and my family belongs to another, and, of course, they each want us to get married in their church. How can we keep everybody happy? – R.O.
Without more detailed information, I would suggest them designing the ceremony that would made them happy. It's is their big day after all, not the parents. Personally I don't understand the need for a church at all. But RO is probably religious, so whatever floats their boat.
DEAR R.O.: Frankly, it may not be possible to satisfy everyone, although I commend you for trying. One possibility might be to find a church that’s willing to let you use its facilities, and then include the pastors of both churches in the service.
Selecting a neutral venue isn't a bad idea. That's what my wife and I did when we married. I'm and atheist and she is Wiccan, so we rented a hall, hired a officiant that would perform a secular ceremony, and designed a ceremony that was uniquely 'us'.
Your real goal, however, should be to look beyond your wedding day and decide where you will become active church members. (It may not be in either of the churches your parents attend, of course.)
Um... Shouldn't where they will live, and building their life together be higher um the list than where to worship? My local churches currently have signs out reading the "God is everywhere, so pray anywhere."  If that's the case, then selecting a church shouldn't even be a pressing matter. My advice would be to not pick a church at all. But that's just me...
Perhaps this hasn’t been an issue with you; like many people your age, you may have drifted away from church and no longer see it as important. But God gave marriage to us, and when you say your vows on your wedding day, you’ll be making them not only to each other but to him.
Wait, so if the groom is also saying his vows to God, does that make it half gay marriage and half hetero? And wouldn't that make God married to everyone that got married? Talk about polygamy! Seriously though, God didn't 'give us' marriage. Marriage is a very old institution. While the details have changed through the years, it predates recorded history, which means that marriage predates Christianity and the Bible by a long stretch. Consider the fact that the Sumerians already had laws regarding Marriage over 5,000 years ago, and the earliest books of the Bible were penned about 3,500 years ago. So no... marriage was not created by God or Christianity. Other religions and cultures were already taking part in this institution well before Christianity was ever dreamt up.
Why do I emphasize this? The reason is because God wants your marriage to have a solid foundation — and that foundation is Jesus Christ. As I’ve often said, a good marriage actually needs three people: the husband, the wife and God. Begin your marriage the right way, by committing your lives and your marriage to Christ.

Then, as a couple, learn to walk with God every day — reading the Bible together, praying together and discovering the joy of fellowship with others through your church. Marriage is more than warm feelings; it involves a commitment to each other — and to God. Make it your goal to “live a life worthy of the Lord” (Colossians 1:10).
If you ask me, the foundation every good marriage is love, commitment, understanding and honesty.  Also, if Jesus is supposed to be such a great marital foundation, why is it that statistics show that believers actually get divorced more often than non-believers do on average? Pretty odd that the religious are more likely to get divorced than someone like me, if Jesus is supposed to hold such
marriages together.

Marriage can be a religious thing, but it doesn't have to be. The church did not create it, nor does it hold a monopoly on it. I got married without God. Our ceremony was secular but was very nice indeed. And most importantly, I stood there in front of the woman I love, surrounded by those I care about, and entered into a commitment that I am very proud to be one half of. Religion is not needed for a happy, loving and lasting marriage, so stop pretending it is.

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Six reasons to believe in God?

Here we have an article that claims to present six 'straightforward' reasons to believe that there is a God. Here's how they describe their own list...
Just once wouldn't you love for someone to simply show you the evidence for God's existence? No arm-twisting. No statements of, "You just have to believe." Well, here is an
Deny Ra, and you'll regret it!
artwork by GENZOMAN
attempt to candidly offer some of the reasons which suggest that God exists.
Believe me, I'm going to hold you to your presented standard, Marilyn Adamson.

And as soon as she says that she starts the dishonesty right of the bat.
But first consider this. When it comes to the possibility of God's existence, the Bible says that there are people who have seen sufficient evidence, but they have suppressed the truth about God. On the other hand, for those who want to know God if he is there, he says, "You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you." Before you look at the facts surrounding God's existence, ask yourself, If God does exist, would I want to know him? Here then, are some reasons to consider...
Right... And Christians are just suppressing the evidence for Ra, Odin, and Vishnu. Sorry, but you can't just invent a defense that automatically defines anyone who disagrees as willfully incorrect. I could say that you really do know that Thor exists, you just choose to deny his power and might. As for knowing God, or wanting to... Wanting to know God and his word better actually ended up making me an atheist. If there is a God, I certainly still want to know though. So, on to the six reasons...
1. Does God exist? The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today.
Um... actually no, it didn't. The universe abides by constant laws of nature. Complexity can be explained by these laws, the sheer passage of great expanses off time, and the great numbers at play.

The Earth is offered as an example. It is said that Earth is the right size and in the right location for life. The only such planet we know of. They ignore that evidence is showing more and more that Mars once had all the conditions for life, and may have once hosted it. They also claim that Earth is in such a perfect position that were it any closer to the Sun, it would burn up, and and further away, it would freeze. This is false. There is a habitable zone that Earth orbits in, but Earth does not reside in some inch-perfect orbit with no room for variation. If it did, Then one side of the Earth would be too hot, and the other too cold since the Earth is 12,742km wide. Also, the orbit of the Earth varies by 4,999,942km. That is not a trivial amount of variation at all.

The fact that Earth is pretty good at supporting life doesn't mean that it had to be designed expressly for life. When you consider that there are billions of stars in every galaxy, each one possibly hosing planets, and there are billions of those galaxies, that means there are a LOT of planets out there. Conditions on each will likely be a little different. So is it so hard to believe that given so many
possible planets, at least one had the right recipe for life as we know it? The conditions for life aren't here because we are here. Rather, we're here, because the right conditions were.

Water is another example offered. Yet their claims are easily explained by chemistry and biology. The brain and eye are also claimed proof of design. Two amazing organs that are beautiful results of evolution. They claim that evolution can not explain either, but they would be wrong. For example... With the eye, we know of many intermediate forms of eyes. All the way from a simple patch of light sensitive cells to the complex eyes found in humans and other animals.

But the eye is a very poor example for design. Yes, it is amazing. But the newest engineer could easily improve on it. If the human eye was designed, why do some animals have so much better eyesight than us? Also, when you consider the entire spectrum, our eyes can only see a small sliver. There are insects that can even see what we can't. But as for the human eye, if it was designed, it was done poorly. Part of our eye is 'built' upside-down and backwards, and our eyes also have a blind spot. Is it reasonable to claim that the human eye was divinely designed when a digital camera has a better 'eye'?
2. Does God exist? The universe had a start - what caused it?
The Big Bang, because... Evidence! Oh, of course they follow up by stating that it is not known where what went 'bang' came from. An odd thing to point out, since God don't explain things any better, for you then have to explain where God came from. They may claim that God just always existed. But why couldn't energy have always existed? If you ask me, it's far more likely that something simple like energy always existed, rather than an infinitely complex deity, if something had to always exist. In fact, a creator god would violate have to contain more energy than the universe itself in order to create the universe. So you tell me... what's more likely to 'just be'... static electricity or a machine made to create that electricity?
3. Does God exist? The universe operates by uniform laws of nature. Why does it?
Actually, the fact that there are natural unchanging laws suggests a naturally occurring universe. In a created universe, the laws of nature could be turned on or off or tweaked to the designer's whims. A universe where gravity is different from day to day would be what would throw a wrench into the view of a natural universe. If it was all created, God could simply choose to 'turn off' gravity for a moment to show his might. Or he could dial the laws of nature to different settings on other planets so that they would be able to support life after all. Instead, what we see is a natural universe that follows natural laws.
4. Does God exist? The DNA code informs, programs a cell's behavior.
True, DNA is amazing.But it's also a product of complex bio-chemistry. It is sometimes called a code or a language. But that terminology is more of a way to explain what DNA does. It's not a code in the sense that it was created and handed to the cells with an instruction booklet. But it is a code in the sense that the combination of chemical sequences result in different traits, etc.

But while DNA is wonderful, and can allow the passing on of good traits, it can also result in the passing on of negative ones. Perhaps the inheriting of hemophilia. It can even result in other results... say, Down's Syndrome. And DNA isn't even as good as it gets. Consider GNA for a moment. It does not exist in nature, but can be created in the lab. Yet GNA is more stable than DNA. If the 'coding' of life were intelligently created, why go with DNA instead? Not being natural wouldn't be a hurdle for a god to worry about.  Instead, it's far more likely that DNA followed RNA, and other chemical combinations came before them. Remember, when we get right down to it we're only talking about chemicals finding themselves in the right mix and the right environment.
5. Does God exist? We know God exists because he pursues us. He is constantly initiating and seeking for us to come to him.
Come again? An unsubstantiated claim is not even close to an explanation or a good reason to believe. Maybe Thor is constantly seeking to be known. He does have his very own day of the week, and perhaps every thunderstorm is a sign that he is there after all.

Marilyn claims that atheists worry about God and study religion because God is pursuing us. If that was the case, I find it odd that an all-knowing God would choose not to provide any evidence at all that would change my mind. I mean, I'm not looking for much. Yet the simplest of tasks must be too much for this god.

Atheists talk about God and study religion for all kinds of reasons. We want to fight the harm it is doing in the world. We want to point out when religion is unfairly striping people of their rights. We point out how hateful and violent supposedly peaceful or loving can be. We want to stop religion from getting in the way of progress, or religion denying things we now know to be truths. And in the USA, we fight those who try to illegally shoehorn religion into our secular government.

And if God is pressuring everyone would doesn't believe in him, why is it that Hindus, Buddhists, Native Americans, Inuits, or those that believe in tribal religions don't examine and study Christianity? If God is trying to stalk me into belief, then he should be doing the same to them. But they aren't studying anything other than their own religion. Seems God also forgot to try and convince a ton of people.

Furthermore, I not only study and show interest in Christianity, but many other religions as well. Is my thinking the Norse religion is also false, the fact that I'd defy the Norse religion becoming law, and the opinion that adherents to the Norse myths are delusional mean that what is actually happening is that Odin is reaching out to me? Sorry, but this argument doesn't wash in several ways and is pretty close to doing what the author said she wouldn't do right at the beginning. Saying God is actually trying to reach me and offering no actual proof is pretty close to 'you're just going to have to believe me on this'.
6. Does God exist? Unlike any other revelation of God, Jesus Christ is the clearest, most specific picture of God revealing himself to us.
Um... How? "Jesus claimed to be God"... Oh for crying out loud! Is that really the best you've got? Yes, the Bible says that Jesus claimed to be equal to God. But Thor claimed to be a god in his own right, as well as the son of the all father, the god Odin. I can write a book right now saying that I am equal to God. Does that make it true? Of course not.

Also, how can anyone say which theology is the 'clearest' picture of God, when we don't even know that he exists. If there is a God, and we don't know which one, we also don't know his traits. To claim the Bible is the clearest picture is to rely only on personal preference. It could just as easily be that the Egyptians were the ones that got it right, or maybe the Greeks. Or maybe they all have it wrong. But when you have nothing to compare all the stories to, you can't claim one to be more accurate that the rest.

So in the end we are left with six VERY weak 'reasons' to believe in God. None of them being reasonable, and either relying on fallacies, ignorance, or personal preference. And that's the great thing about the truth, it's true whether we believe it to be true or not. So keep on believing this list is anything other than laughable, and I'll continue see see it as the utterly worthless and oft refuted list that it actually is.

-Brain Hulk

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